CATSKILL, NEW YORK – In April 1889, the founders of a newly minted building and loan association rented out their very first office in the basement of 345 Main Street, Catskill. Just upstairs was the headquarters of Tanners National Bank, at the time the community’s dominant commercial lender.
It was a humble beginning for what would eventually become the Bank of Greene County. A small group of visionaries toiling underground in the shadow of a competitor, paying a mere $30 per year in rent plus a small share of the building’s upkeep.
In an ironic twist today, the former tenant became the landlord as the Bank of Greene County (BOGC) completed the purchase of 345 Main Street, according to President & CEO Donald Gibson. The property was acquired from Trustco Bank, which closed its branch there at the end of January.
“I’m pleased to announce another major investment in both our bank and our community,” said Gibson. “Our goal is to completely renovate the building with state-of-the-art banking technology while maintaining its historic character.”
BOGC expects to begin renovations in the spring. Plans call for the building to house 40 to 50 employees as the bank continues to grow and expand. BOGC already occupies five buildings up and down Main Street: an operations center at 288 Main, an administrative center at 302, a lending center at 341, a branch and investment center at 425, and a customer service center at 491 Main Street.
It’s all part of Gibson’s master plan to weave the bank’s physical plant and staff into the community, rather than isolate them in an office park. “I think it would totally change our culture if we hid ourselves in a big office building somewhere,” Gibson said. “We’re creating an integrated campus that puts us right in the midst of our customers.”
The newly acquired building at 345 Main Street was built in 1910, replacing an original structure that first housed Tanners Bank and BOGC’s rented basement office. After a temporary relocation, the Tanners employees returned to the new building while the BOGC staff had moved on to new quarters elsewhere on Main Street. The Bank of New York acquired Tanners Bank in 1972, and eventually sold the branch to Trustco in 1980.
“It is a true architectural and community treasure,” said Gibson. “I’m honored we’ll have the opportunity to preserve this piece of history.”
The building at 345 Main Street is next door to another historic structure at 341 Main, which BOGC bought in 2013 and eventually converted into a lending center. The names etched in the stone facades of these two buildings are telling: Tanners National Bank and Catskill Savings Bank, both one-time market leaders that ultimately sold out to larger banks.
“We rose up from the basement and met the challenges of the last 133 years,” said Gibson. “Looks like we figured this community banking thing out. We’re still here and growing, while so many others have departed.”
Headquartered in Catskill, New York, the Bank of Greene County is the only locally based bank with offices in Albany, Columbia, Greene, and Ulster counties and has proudly served the Hudson Valley and Capital Region for over 130 years.