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History Blog: Bank of Alvarado

Founded in 1902, the Bank of Alvarado was the first bank in Alvarado or Decoto.

For the first 50 years of Alvarado, there was no bank in town.

In January 1902, plans were in the works to form the Bank of Alvarado. The bank started with 1,000 shares valued at $25 each.

Early subscribers were I.V. Ralph, F. B. Granger, F. P. Hellwig, August May, F. C. Harvey, George Althauser, and others.

In their first meeting, the subscribers elected a board of directors for the bank, which included, W.H. Layson, I.V. Ralph, August May, G.R. Althauser, E.H. Stephenson, F.P. Hellwig and F.B. Granger. Those board members met and elected three officers and a cashier: W.H. Layson, President; I.V. Ralph, Vice-President; F.P. Hellwig, Secretary; August May, Cashier.

Once incorporated, the bank purchased land and started the work in the bank building. The land purchased was the same lot where the first County Courthouse stood, at the end of Smith street on Levee Street (now Union City Boulevard). The new bank building was completed in May 1902.

In August 1910, the bank changed its name to Bank of Alameda County. In November of that same year, the bank opened a branch in Irvington.

In April 1915, the first attempt was made to rob the bank. Five bandits tried to blow the bank safe where $27,000 sat. The dynamite wrecked the safe and seriously damaged the building, but the safe did not open. The blast also alerted the town folks and so the bandits took off in an automobile, only getting $19.20 for their efforts.

The bank was again robbed in 1920, where August May was shot in a ruckus in the bank. Three men had come into the bank during lunch. After May tried to disarm one of the robbers, he was shot twice then put into the safe with the other bank employees. The bandits got away with the $24,000 in cash.

In August 1925, a new building was built for the bank at the corner of Smith and Levee Streets. In October 1929, the Bank of Alameda County opened a branch in Niles.

In July 1936, another robbery attempt was made on the bank, but an alert night watchman foiled the robbery when he found a man attempting to break in to the bank. A few shots sent the robber scurrying and the watchman was not able to capture the robber.

In January 1938, the Bank of Alameda County was sold to Central Bank of Oakland, including the branches in Niles and Irvington.

Then original bank building is long gone and paved over by the southbound lanes of Union City Boulevard. The second bank building still stands at the corner of Smith Street and Union City Boulevard. Many restaurants have tried that location, but none of them have lasted too long.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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