It breaks my heart to think that three weeks from today another piece of old Noblesville will disappear when Key Bank closes its downtown branch.
I don’t know what will become of that building, but it’s difficult to imagine it as anything but a bank. It’s been a bank my entire life.
I have to confess, I still tend to think of it as the American National Bank building, even though American National is long gone (replaced successively by Ameritrust, Society and Key.) It was American National’s headquarters longer than all the other banks put together.
In fact, American National was there so long, I suspect a lot of people don’t realize it wasn’t the first financial institution in the building. That honor goes to two other organizations, the First National Bank and the Hamilton Trust Company.
The First National Bank of Noblesville, chartered in 1893, was originally located on the north side of the courthouse square, while the Hamilton Trust Company, incorporated in 1905, started out on the south side.
In 1906, First National purchased the Carlin & Moss grocery on the northeast corner of Logan and North Ninth Streets. The plan was to tear down the grocery right away and make that site the bank’s new home, but work was delayed until 1909.
When the handsome, new two-story Bedford stone building finally opened, it was described as “the finest structure of its kind in Central Indiana.” First National moved into the south end, and the Hamilton Trust Company took over the north half. The second floor consisted of office space.
A detailed description of the new facility appears in the September 24, 1909 Enterprise.
Unlike today, the main entrance to the bank was on Logan Street. The trust company was entered from the lobby in the center of the building.
The vestibules and lobbies had white tile; the wainscoting around the vestibule, rises and stair landings was made of Olive Vermont marble; and the office furniture and fixtures were mahogany and marble.
A public restroom — long deemed a need for Noblesville — was located in the basement.
The bank vault had walls of 18 inch thick reinforced concrete lined with steel and and an outer door of four inch thick steel. Equipped with anti-dynamite devices, a triple time lock and compression bars, the massive door was said to be so perfectly adjusted it could be opened or closed with a single finger!
Everything was peachy for First National . . . until the Burdick Tire and Rubber Co. (the original forerunner of the Firestone plant) declared bankruptcy.
Burdick’s president, Henry G. Steinbrenner, bought the Burdick company in 1925, renamed it the Steinbrenner Rubber Co. and promptly began running a series of bad checks through First National. That forced First National to close its doors in 1926.
American National Bank purchased the building in July, 1928 and, after some renovations, moved in that September. American National went on to call it home for over 75 years.
A couple of notes:
The 21st annual Hamilton County Master Gardeners Association Plant Sale will take place Saturday, May 18 from 8:00 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Hamilton County 4-H Fairgrounds. All kinds of plants will be available, including hard-to-find native species and iris dug to order from beds at the fairgrounds. Remember to take your wagon!
Also, I’ve been told email sent to the address provided by the library for John Dierdorf, president of the Hamilton East Public Library Board, returns as “undeliverable.” If you want to voice your support for the Indiana Room, try one or more of the other board members’ email addresses. You’ll find them at www.hepl.lib.in.us/library-board-of-trustees/.

-Paula Dunn’s From Time to Thyme column appears each Friday in The Times. Contact her at younggardenerfriend@gmail.com