MC History Spotlight: State Savings Bank of Scottville.

April 3, 2019

State Savings Bank early 1900s.

MC History Spotlight: State Savings Bank of Scottville.

MC History Spotlight is a weekly history column brought to you by Ludington Woods Living and Memory Care. Each week this column features a story from our county’s past.

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

Scottville was once home to two banks. The People’s State Bank of Scottville, founded in 1911, was a victim of the Great Depression, and went out of business in 1933. See previous article. The State Savings Bank of Scottville, founded in 1898, still exists today as West Shore Bank.

On June 30, 1898, banker Curtis W. McPhail (grandfather of baseball legend Larry MacPhail) formed the State Savings Bank of Scottville. On July 25, 1898, the first board of directors meeting was held in Detroit. Board members included C.W. McPhail, his wife Catherine McPhail, H.G. Flint and his wife M.A. Flint. The bank was chartered the next day by the state banking commission. C.W. McPhail was named first president, M.L. Williams was vice president and H.G. Flint was cashier. Catherine McPhail and Mrs. Flint were also on the board of directors. Total bank resources were $17,000.

State Savings Bank 1941

The bank was originally housed in a one story building to the north of the Stearns & Mack Store, located at 130 S. Main St. This building is the modern day northern portion of what was formerly South Main Tavern (Steve’s Bar). See previous article on J.N. Mack. Mack built the building specifically for the bank.

In 1902, the bank opened a new building located on the southwest corner of State and Main streets at 100 S. Main St. That year, E.L. Cole succeeded Flint as cashier.

The bank’s capital stock was increased to $25,000 in 1908 and up to $35,000 in 1911. By 1915, it had a capital and surplus of $51,713 and deposits of $217,858.

While the People’s State Bank did not survive the banking crisis of the early 1930s, the State Savings Bank made it through and prospered. On May 24, 1937, it purchased the Security Bank of Walkerville, which had also been founded, in June 1906, by C.W. McPhail and E.L. Cole, along with L.O. Bloomer. The bank branch continued to operate in Walkerville until June 2015. McPhail and Cole bought out Bloomer’s interest in the Walkerville bank in January 1914; McPhail purchased Cole’s interest in September 1920. E.L. Cole’s brother, Dan Cole, was appointed the Walkerville branch’s first manager in 1937. The building was remodeled in 1968.

McPhail was president of State Savings Bank of Scottville for 41 years, until his death in 1937 at the age of 72 but E.L. Cole, as vice president, served for many years as the operating officer. Editor’s Note: I am working on a story on the legacy of the McPhail family.  That same year, Robert J. Smith took over as president. Smith became associated with the bank 1908 and served as president until his death in 1948 when he was succeeded by his son, Robert Smith.

The interior and exterior of the corner bank building were reconstructed in 1939 and again in 1952. The A&P store was added to space in the bank building.

State Savings Bank acquired the Fountain State Bank in 1953 and added that bank as its second branch office, in addition to Walkerville. Like the Walkerville branch, the branch was closed in 2015. The Fountain bank was established in 1908. Some of its early board members included Warren Cartier, W.H. Lawrence, and H.J. Gregory. Most of the bank’s founders were associated with Ludington State Bank.

The headquarters of State Savings Bank of Scottville were moved in 1969 to 107 W. State St., the present location of the Scottville branch of West Shore Bank. The former corner building became known as the Scottville Office Center. State Savings Bank, along with Manistee Bank & Trust Co., and Lake-Osceola State Bank formed a computer center in the corner bank building. Eventually, the service became known as West Shore Computer Center also in 1969 and moved to a building located to the north of Scottville City Hall. The service grew to serving 14 banks, 11 of which were owners. While the computer center no longer exists, West Shore Bank still uses the building for several bank functions.

People’s State Bank, foreground with State Savings Bank across the street.

In the bank’s 121 year history, it has only had seven presidents. Bruce Draper became president in 1970. He had been manager of the bank’s trust department since it was established in 1965 and continued in that position while serving as president. Draper came to State Savings Bank from the Luther State Bank in 1951. While he served as president, the bank opened a Ludington branch, at 5725 W. US 10 in Pere Marquette Township, in 1975. A temporary structure was placed at that location until the building was completed in 1976.

Draper died in 1976 and was proceeded by Charles S. Chisholm. Robert Pinkerton Jr., a Scottville businessman, once recalled the effort that was made in the 1970s by the bank to increase its shareholders. Those efforts paid off as the bank’s capital, surplus, and undivided profits reached $3.6 million in 1979 with total assets totaling $37.3 million.

When Chisholm retired in the mid-‘80s, he was replaced by Tom VanBuren, who had served as vice president and cashier since 1977. In 1997, VanBuren oversaw the change in the bank’s name to West Shore Bank and in 2002 moved its headquarters from Scottville to a newly built building on the southwest corner of Rath Avenue and Loomis Street in Ludington. The bank also expanded its market into Manistee and Hart.

VanBuren retired in 2008 and was proceeded by Raymond A. Biggs, as the bank’s seventh and current president. Biggs is a native of the Detroit area who began his banking career in 1991.

In 2016, West Shore Bank acquired West Michigan Bank & Trust of Frankfort and now operates an office there and in Onekama. It also has two offices in Manistee, and continues to operate an office in Ludington, Pere Marquette Township, Scottville, and Hart, along with offices in Muskegon, Traverse City and Grand Rapids. It employs over 100 people and donates several thousands of dollars a year to community programs throughout its region.

Today, the bank’s assets have reached nearly $450 million

Special thanks for photographs and information: Nancy Lynn, Mason County Historical Society, Mason County District Library.

Ludington Woods Assisted Living and Memory Care, 502 N. Sherman St., Ludington, MI 49431; 231-845-6100;

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