"The standing of every community is to a certain degree based upon the soundness of its banking institutions, and the progress made upon the broad, yet conservative management of its bankers. The Bank of Saginaw has been a tower of strength in the upbuilding of Saginaw, and is one of the pillars on which the commercial rating of the city depends. It was organized in 1888, succeeding to the business of the Citizens National Bank which was one of the leading banks of Saginaw City." James C. Mills, A History of Saginaw County, Michigan, 1918 One normally thinks of landmarks gracing and helping define a community for generations. However, sometimes they have very short lifespans. The Bank of Saginaw's 1928 main office was an elegant - almost extravagant - structure; however, it didn't survive a generation - at least in a recognizable form. In the 1920s, Saginaw was booming! The community's financial institutions were also expanding and many were commissioning elegant new offices - monuments to their success and statements of their strength.
A c.1922 newspaper article reported that Saginaw's two largest banks had each purchased sites for a new main office. Second National bank acquired property on the northwest corner of East Genesee and North Washington Avenues and the Bank of Saginaw bought a parcel in the 600 block of Federal Avenue. The Second National Bank Building was completed in 1925. However, the Bank of Saginaw's new home was completed three years later.
Organized in 1888, the Bank of Saginaw traced its roots back to earlier financial institutions. Through strategic mergers, by 1918, the firm claimed to be the largest of its kind outside of Detroit. From 1907 until 1928, its east side office was located at 310-312 East Genesee Avenue. In 1928, the bank relocated to an elegant new home immediately behind Jeffers Park on Federal Avenue. Well-known Detroit architect Albert Kahn designed the building that housed the bank, an adjoining Consumers Power store and office building.
Described in the newspaper as being "considered the finest in the state of Michigan from the point of beauty and utility," the building's classical exterior was matched by a vast, sumptuous interior. Its marble clad walls were complemented by a richly decorated ceiling. Although it was elegant, the firm was not destined to last.
The Bank of Saginaw closed during the Great Depression, and in March of 1933, the people of Saginaw learned the community's largest bank was not reopening. As attempts were made to settle the institution's affairs and reimburse depositors, the building sat vacant and boarded. In 1939, it was remodeled and and became a Sears Store. It remained in use until Sears moved to Fashion Square Mall in the early 1970s. The building was demolished and the City of Saginaw Police Department's station was constructed on the site.
The Castle Museum of Saginaw County History preserves several items related to the Bank of Saginaw's history. These include blueprints for the building, architectural drawings for its conversion into a Sear's store and one of the bronze window grills from the exterior of the building.