In "History of Westfield, New York, 1802-1997, part 1 (1802-1952), Chapter XI Industrial Expansion," Westfield Historian Dorothy Hopkins Curtis describes the Westfield banks, starting with the Bank of Westfield, a state bank opened May 25, 1948 by Sextus H. Hungerford. By 1964, the First National Bank of Westfield was organized, and Hungerford sold and transferred his bank to the National Bank. The National Bank was located in the Brewer Block which had been built somewhat earlier and which stood on the south side of Main Street between Elm Street and Moore Park where the telephone building is now located.
The National Bank of Westfield continued until 1940 when it became the Westfield Branch of the Jamestown Union Trust Company. Later it became known as the Marine Midland Bank which outgrew the space in the Brewer Block so a new building was built at the corner of Union Street. Most recently this bank has been known as HSBC, but even that is now changing.
"There have been several other banks in Westfield, for short periods," writes Curtis. She names the Merchants Bank in 1853 until the National Bank was formed, the Citizens Bank located in the Kent Block on the north side of Main Street across from the Brewer Block from 1908-1917 when it merged with the National Bank in 1917.
While researching the Grape Belt National Bank of Westfield, N.Y., another item of interest was located in the May 29, 1979 Westfield Republican on Page 4 — an announcement and illustration of the beloved bank clock that hung on the Brewer Block from 1929 until the building was razed in the spring of 1970.
Curtis then writes, "The Grape Belt Bank opened in the Kent Block January 2, 1924, with Dr. C.E. Welch as President. After Dr. Welch's death in 1926, Rx Crandall became President, and he was succeeded by Edgar Welch ... This bank, too, merged with the National Bank, December 17, 1930." This was the Grape Belt National Bank of Westfield, N.Y., which filed application for Charter for new national bank in May 16, 1923.
The Westfield Republican issues from Dec. 19, 1923 until Dec. 24, 1930 provide almost weekly advertisements for both the Grape Belt National Bank directly below ads for the National Bank of Westfield. Some of these ads are quite creative and/or of historic interest.
Research in the Patterson Library archives has only been successful in locating financial journals and script from the National Bank of Westfield. Local bank historians also have collections of bank notes and other ephemera for the National Bank of Westfield.
Marybelle Beigh is the current Public Historian for the Town and Village of Westfield. Her office is located at 3 East Main Street in Westfield, N.Y, 14787 - inside Parkview Ice Cream Parlor. Her scheduled office hours are Monday through Friday 9 to 11 a.m.; other hours by appointment.
Beigh can be reached at email@example.com or by calling 326-2457 (office), 326-6171 (home) or 397-9254 (cell).
Now a call to readers for information, photos, bank-related items, bank notes and other such memorabilia and ephemera from the Grape Belt National Bank of Westfield, N.Y., 1924-1930. Contact the Westfield Historian as indicated at the end of this article. Thanks.