The Times photo by Betsy Reason
The downtown Noblesville KeyBank branch building, which will close in May, has been a banking center since 1910.
The Times photo by Betsy Reason The downtown Noblesville KeyBank branch building, which will close in May, has been a banking center since 1910.

By now, most KeyBank customers have learned that their downtown branch will be closing at the end of May.

Yes, it’s the handsome, limestone downtown Noblesville bank building that’s been on the bustling Courthouse Square, at Ninth and Logan streets, since before all of us were born.

Customers received letters this week, announcing the news. The KeyBank branch located at 110 N. Ninth St., Noblesville would consolidate into the Riverview branch, 480 Sheridan Road, on May 31, 2019. At the end of February, the bank announced plans to close 16 branches in Central Indiana.
While the bank promises that its team will continue to offer the same banking products, services and expertise at all of its banks, and that all accounts will automatically transfer, the bank’s physical presence will surely be missed in our downtown.

The space has been a financial institution since the First National Bank was built in 1910, according to a 1998 article in The Noblesville Ledger, provided by Hamilton County historian David Heighway.

The bank, which was chartered and established in 1823, had originally been located in the last ground-floor unit of 864-70 Logan St., on the north side of the Courthouse Square.

The building was of Beaux Arts architectural style and displayed two-story Ionic pilasters. It was the first new building of the decade and had all the elements of a modern banking house, “the finest bank in Indiana.”

First National Bank in 1928 was sold to American National Bank for $14,500. American National had been established in 1910 by a group of local businessmen, George S. Christian, Marion Alred, W.E. Longley, J.W. Smith, George Craycraft, M.L. White and John S. Craig. The bank had been located on the north side of the Courthouse Square and needed a larger building, according to The Ledger newspaper, where I worked as a reporter and then lifestyle editor beginning in 1986. That same year, I opened an account at American National Bank, because it was so convenient to the newspaper office, which was across the street at 957 Logan St.

The Noblesville Trust Co. owned the north half of the new bank building; the bank found the south end of the building adequate. 

“The finest vaults and equipment were located in the basement under the banking rooms,” The Ledger reported. “A system of safety-deposit boxes was also available in the building, the first in Noblesville. American National Bank soon became one of the strongest, best-managed banks in the country.”

Offices were above the bank, and Dr. Earl Brooks, a well-known dentist, practiced there. 

The bank grew, and in 1940 needed to expand. So Bensons Meat Market was obtained and is now the present lobby and main office. A new vault was purchased, and installed where in the location of the former Pursel Jewelry Store and Hege Shoe Store, which were bought out by the bank. Spandrel panels and a metal roof were also added over the southern portion.

As noted in The Ledger article, the building still exhibits most elements of its well-executed limestone facade.

In 1933, when the famous bank robber, John Dillinger, was robbing many banks in the Midwest, Ben McLaughlin, the bank president, received a telephone call that Dillinger’s men had been casing the Noblesville bank. But fortunately, Dillinger was captured before then.

Ameritrust National Bank became the owner of the bank in 1990, then Society Bank, and then the current KeyBank, since 1995.

The building would have celebrated its 110th anniversary as a banking center in 2020.

“Key Bank has been a supporting member of the Chamber of Commerce for 30 years, and we’ll certainly miss their physical presence on the Square,” said Bob DuBois, president and CEO of Noblesville Chamber of Commerce. “Banking, like most industries, reacts to consumer demands and new technology. Consumers now have several access points to financial services, and the traditional banking branch systems is evolving to reflect this trend.”

DuBois said, “The soon-to-close bank location at 9th and Logan in downtown Noblesville is a beautiful limestone building with an excellent location. We look forward to the opportunity the vacancy provides the Square to expand its commercial mix.”

City of Noblesville spokesperson Robert Herrington said, “Nationally, we are seeing a trend that financial institutions are cutting overhead and moving toward digital banking options. While we are sad to hear of KeyBank’s closing downtown, we are fortunate to have two other locations in Noblesville - Sheridan Road and Harrell Parkway.”

Herrington isn’t worried about the space going unused. “There is always lots of interest in our downtown from businesses, especially when there are available spaces. We have an extremely limited supply and a lot of demand,” he said. 

However, the building is owned by (American National Bank/) KeyBank (out of Irving, Texas), and “they have the decision of what goes there next,” Herrington said of the building that “sits prominently at the corner of Ninth and Logan streets and connects with the other historic buildings in our downtown with its columns and stone facade.”

Retired Sen. Luke Kenley, a downtown businessman, agreed about current-day trends. 

“Free-standing branches are disappearing,” he said. “Maybe some small bank can see it as a headquarters. The exterior is nice and looks like a bank.”
He has a lot of memories and ties to the banking center, which is next door to current property that Kenley owns downtown. 

“Dad (Howard Kenley), Stanley Craig, Earl McMahon, Don Hinds, Phil Klotz, Ralph Waltz, Ron Miller, Jack Davis and Bob Armstrong were all officers and directors of American National Bank, the largest in Hamilton County,” Kenley said.

The former Indiana senator, who retired in September 2017, and who operated a third-generation family grocery business in Noblesville, that started with his father’s store that was once in downtown Noblesville on the Courthouse Square, said, “Time marches on. Downtown Noblesville is strong. Something good will happen.”

-Contact Betsy Reason at betsy@thetimes24-7.com. Read more about the bank building in Betsy Reason’s column in an upcoming edition of The Times.