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VisionBank History

VisionBank: A Story of Persistence and Strength

1884. It was the year of the first long-distance telephone call (March 27; Boston to New York). Alaska became a U.S. territory (May 17), the Statue of Liberty was gifted to the United States (July 4), the first World Series was held (October), and John B. Meyenberg patents evaporated milk (November 25).  And, on June 1, 1884, a private bank was started in Ogden, Iowa which would later become VisionBank®.

Wallace Farley and Fred Lorenzen – with $40,000 cash capital organized City Bank of Ogden, a private bank started by taking in and paying out gold and silver. Farley served as the bank’s first president, while Lorenzen served as cashier.

The $40,000 grew, gradually, to $85,000 by 1892 and never lost a penny. In 1907, City Bank of Ogden became a state institution, incorporated as City State Bank, and recorded assets of $293,704. F.M. Lorenzen served as bank president from 1907 to 1915.

In 1929, the world became a different place because of the October 29 stock market crash (aka Black Tuesday) and the Great Depression that ensued. Between 1929 and 1932, worldwide Gross Domestic Product (GDP) – the monetary value of all goods and services produced in a country – fell 15%. While across the country many banks went out of business, in Ogden there were four banks in operations in 1931: City State Bank, Farmers Security Bank, First National Bank (formerly Sylvester Bank) and Farmers State Bank. While there was one week in 1932 where all four Ogden banks didn’t open for business to protect against a “run,” they were all in good financial condition. That year the depositors of all the banks met at the high school auditorium, and then unanimously signed an agreement to not withdraw money already deposited for a period of three years.

Later in 1931, the Owner E. H. Jenkins of Farmers State Bank wanted to retire, and the bank merged with City State Bank. In 1934, Farmers Security Bank repaid all their depositors and closed their doors. And in 1935, First National Bank stockholders bought a large block of City State Bank shares in order to make it possible for the remaining two banks to merge, retaining the name City State Bank. 

According to a January 10, 1935 article in The Ogden Reporter, the final merge was a gain for the community. “Ogden now will have a banking institution of which it can be proud. One that everyone need have no fear of its safety.  Both institutions have been managed by capable, conservative employees who have kept both banks in a strong condition throughout the entire critical period. With the new consolidation, Ogden’s bank will be doubly strong. It will be enabled to do a more active banking business and to generally be of more service to the community.”

At a time when the rest of the country was struggling to recover, the Ogden banking community and its customers triumphed as four banks became one and never lost a single dollar for their depositors (Connie Rudy, Ogden History).  As the rest of the country was still in the throes of the Depression, City State Bank had grown to over $1 million in assets.

Over its history, the bank has employed dozens of people who have made a tremendous impact on its growth and development in the community. One such individual was Leonard Good, hired by City State Bank President Walter Rosene in 1921. When Good began his work at the bank as a young man, he did “just about everything there was to do, including scrubbing the floors and windows,” according to an interview with Good in 1983. Other responsibilities included cleaning the spittoons, and Good recounted that the men “missed most of the time.” For his efforts, he received $60 each month.

But Good stayed and grew with the bank and saw significant changes to the banking industry during his tenure. Eventually becoming President of City State Bank (1958 – 1978) and then Chairman of the Board, Good purchased additional stock to make him owner of the majority interest.  Good also led the bank through the construction and move to a new building still located at 217 W Mulberry Street.

“The new City State Bank building is the answer to a dream and a prayer,” said Good after the building’s completion in1983.

The building wasn’t the only change to the bank and the industry, though. Good recounted, “It’s kind of a wide-open rat race. The loan rates can change every week or maybe even twice per week nowadays.” He added, “And there are more regulations on the banks now which make banking much more complicated.”  Today, more than 30 years later, the same and more can be said of rates and regulations.

City State Bank continued its growth trajectory over several decades. By 1984, the bank had reached more than $33 million in assets, more than a dozen employees, and a full board of directors, and it was celebrating its 100th Anniversary in their new facility. Though quick to praise his coworkers and colleagues, Good championed the bank’s success throughout his lifetime and even later through the Leonard Good Trust.

When the law changed in the mid-1990’s that prohibited Trusts from owning financial institutions, a group of local investors was formed to create Ogden BancShares in order to purchase City State Bank from the Leonard A. Good Trust in 1995. At the direction of the new holding company, three new banks were started in Boone (Community Bank of Boone), Ames (Ames Community Bank), and Grimes (VisionBank of Iowa) along with additional branches coming within those market areas.  By 2010 all the banks had merged into a single charter, allowing the company to better and more efficiently serve their customers, while still providing local decision-making and leadership.

In October 2012, all the separate bank names were changed to a more cohesive VisionBank® of Iowa. Today, with eight full-service locations in five communities (Ogden, Ames, Boone, Grimes and Huxley), and an additional VisionBank Mortgage location in West Des Moines, VisionBank boasts more than $425 million in assets and 100 employees. Still committed to local decision-making and community investment, VisionBank is positioned for even more growth in the years to come, and it is looking forward to all that lies ahead in the next chapter.

Founder / President
Wallace Farley

 

Founder / Cashier
Fred Lorenzen

 

Front counter
City Bank of Ogden

Behind the counter
City Bank of Ogden

Newspaper article reporting the merge between First National Bank and City State Bank of Ogden.
Ogden Reporter; January 10, 1935

 

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