The Union Bank


In January 1937 a swollen Ohio River flooded much of downtown Huntington, including the
Union Bank and Trust Building at 4th. Avenue and 9th. Street. Later that same year the
building's first-floor bank lobby was remodeled to house a Walgreen drug store.


HUNTINGTON -- The first home of Huntington's Union Bank and Trust Co. was a modest
frame building built on the northeast corner of 4th Avenue and 9th Street.
Its first building may have been small, but the bank had a big dream.

In 1923, the Union Bank installed a veteran Huntington banker, Robert L. Archer, as president,
 luring him from the old First National Bank. Starting as a bookkeeper in 1890, Archer had
 successfully served First National as a teller, assistant cashier, cashier
 and vice president before resigning to join the Union Bank.

Shortly thereafter, the bank moved to make its dream a reality when it hired the Huntington architectural
 firm of Meanor & Handloser to design for it an impressive new home - a 15-story building that for
 many years was the tallest building in West Virginia. Today it remains the tallest in Huntington.

The bank's old frame building was quickly demolished, and workers began constructing the
 towering new structure on the corner site. Meanwhile, the bank established temporary
 quarters at the Farr Hotel across 4th Avenue from the busy construction site.

In a series of newspaper ads, the bank kept the public posted on the construction of its new
 home. "The First Lap Is Completed," advised an ad published Aug. 30, 1924. "You will
miss the rat-tat-tat of the air hammers, and can put aside your fear of
 red-hot rivets hurtling through the air. The steel construction
 work on our new building is a finished job."

The new Union Bank and Trust Building welcomed its first customers in 1925,
 but the bank's stay there would prove to be brief. Like many other of the
nation's banks, it was forced into receivership by the Great Depression.

In 1937, the building's first-floor bank lobby was leased by the Walgreen chain, which
 remodeled it to house a drug store. The building itself was purchased by a group
 of Huntington businessman and renamed, becoming the West Virginia Building.


Note:  This Article and picture appeared in the Herald-Dispatch Newspaper on July 10, 2017.


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