Dreams and Dollars

The sensational history of the St. Louis Park State Bank.

THE IMAGE ABOVE is a rare photograph of the St. Louis Park State Bank, which opened in August 1915, when St. Louis Park was still a village, at Walker Street and Dakota Avenue. Just east of the building was the new high school, the first iteration of what is now Central Community Center.

The building was narrow and long—perhaps those pillars were expensive—and the post office was in the rear of the building. Mail carrier Art Blacktin was the first depositor at the bank, irking the local marshal, who wanted the honor. The owner of the bank was Roy Quimby, who opened 13 other small banks around the state. The bank was designated as the official depository for the Village of St. Louis Park in November 1915.

But trouble started in the summer of 1918, when Quimby sold all 14 of his banks to William H. Schaefer, a so-called “promoter” who made motion picture titles and supplies. Schaefer commenced to rob the banks by “impairment of capital due to insufficiently secured paper.” He was suspected of obtaining $10,000 from the St. Louis Park bank alone and $700,000 in total.

In February 1919, the bank was closed by the state, and deputy sheriffs had to be called in to keep crowds from wrecking the building.

After a sensational trial, Schaefer went to jail, 14 banks went bankrupt and the village was out $20.07. It would be decades until St. Louis Park once again had its own bank, when Citizens State Bank was founded in 1950. As for the building, the post office moved to the front and stayed until 1937. The building was also severely damaged in a 1925 tornado. Now, in its place, stands a brick warehouse belonging to the school district that gives no hint of the financial hopes and dreams of our village 100 years ago.

-Jeanne Andersen is a trustee on the board of the St. Louis Park Historical Society.