The Bank Building is an Ever Evolving Piece of Downtown Cottage Grove History.
Bank Building Built
The two-story brick Bank Building was the original home of the First National Bank. Costing $14,000, it also housed Welch and Woods clothing store, Woodmen of the World – a precursor of the Chamber of Commerce – Benson’s pharmacy, Eilers Piano House, attorneys, a physician, and dentist.
First National Bank Relocates
The anchor tenant builds a new building and moves across Sixth Street. The Bank of Cottage Grove occupies the Bank Building creating Cottage Grove’s first “financial district”.
Bank Building Major Remodel
The Bank Building undergoes a major remodel. The front facade is considerably altered, including the removal of the bay window, to draw attention to the Bank of Cottage Grove entrance. A large new clock is added.
Flooding in Cottage Grove
Flooding in Cottage Grove occurred often before the dams were built on the Row and Coast Fork Willamette rivers.
The Great Depression
The severe economic depression lasted until the late 1930s. Unemployment rose to 25% and international trade plunged by more than 50%. Mining and logging suffered the most.
Bank of Cottage Grove Closes
The bank failed and closed its doors forever. Soon after, the upstairs commercial area is converted to apartments.
Gustafson’s Ice Cream
Dutch Girl Ice Cream, originally called Gustafson’s, got its start in the Bank Building. We now have Bartolotti’s Pizza in this prime corner location.
Current Owners Purchase Building
Longtime Cottage Grove residents, Len and Deb Blackstone, purchase the “biggest, ugliest building in the downtown” with the goal to help grow an economic revival of Cottage Grove’s historic district.
Len Blackstone forms a construction company and hires a crew of 10. The restoration goal is to return the Bank Building to its original grandeur. The front facade window alignment and balance returns.
Bay Window is Replaced
Dry rot timbers are removed and a new bay window, replicating the long missing structure, is framed. The historical windows are restored and put in place.
Apartments are Remodeled
Upstairs, six new apartments have custom cabinets and countertops, gas cooking, microwave, microwave, heat pump, recessed lighting and washer-dryer. The upstairs also has a community parlor with a gas fireplace.
Renovation is Completed
The Bank Building is finally completed by summer. In the early Spring, the apartments will begin renting as they are finished; then the Offices downstairs, and finally the eatery on the corner is almost here.
The Bank Building Flourishes
The complete renovation of the Bank Building is finally completed by summer. In the early Spring, the apartments will begin renting as they are finished; then the Offices downstairs, and finally the eatery on the corner is almost here.
What We Found
Stories From The Past
When the workers pulled off the T-1-11 on the sixth street they uncovered windows and a door. An elderly woman walked by and noticed one of the windows and told one of the workers of buying ice cream from that very walk-up window as a little girl. That was Gustafson’s Ice Cream that eventually became Dutch Girl Ice Cream, and it got its start right here in the Bank Building in Cottage Grove.
Stories From The Past
One day during the remodel a woman came by and shared that she thought she remembered washing diapers up in the attic and hanging them to dry in the 1940’s. Len took her around the corner and showed her the very washing machine that was still sitting in the attic all these years later. There were tears all around.
Today, it can be seen holding a fern in the entrance lobby. Like everything else in this building, it’s been given a second story.