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Stress Test: 1936

May 1936. "Bank that failed. Kansas." Medium-format nitrate negative by Arthur Rothstein for the Resettlement Administration. View full size.

May 1936. "Bank that failed. Kansas." Medium-format nitrate negative by Arthur Rothstein for the Resettlement Administration. View full size.


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A lot of towns died

I lived in an area of Kansas where several small towns once existed. Now you'll be lucky to find the town name on a map. Some towns were completely wiped from the face of the earth. There are no remnants left to know that anything was there. Just open farm ground. Towns like Ray, Hopewell, Neola, Zook just to name a few. You have to wonder how much different the state would be if things had turned out the way these towns had hoped.

I beg to differ!

Ummm. There is no Columbus County in Kansas. The city of Columbus, however, is in Cherokee County.

[Oops. I meant Jefferson and Cherokee counties. - Dave]

From Bank to Restaurant

In the early 80`s there was a restaurant north of Detroit located in a former bank. What impressed me was the salad bar, named "The Green Stuff," was in the vault.

Looks like western Kansas

My guess is this is far western Kansas, near the Colorado line.

It might be a town like Ulysses, Johnson, Leoti or Tribune. It's a shame there's not more to go on. Much east of there and you see at least a few trees of which this photo has none.

Many of the old stationary threshers as pictured are still scattered around that country, to this day. They haven't served a purpose other than yard art since before WW2. Some machinery is too hard to part company with.

[This photo is among dozens taken by Arthur Rothstein in Jefferson and Cherokee counties in eastern Kansas. - Dave]


Our Drive-Up Window will be closed until further notice.

In Kansas

Any idea where in Kansas this is? Also curious if the building is still around and what it's now used for.

Hitchin' post

Tie up your horse and come on in.

Amost Identical Design

That failed bank design is almost identical to a bank that failed in my very small Kansas town in 1936. It was vacant for years when an older couple bought it and turned it into their home. Then about 25 years ago it was sold to a man that turned it into a BBQ restaurant. It is very successful and has been highlighted as one of the 10 most unique restaurants in Kansas. It has the original charter and some bank papers hanging on the wall in a frame.

Long before 1929

I'd say this bank, and the surrounding town, died long before
the Depression. Many towns in Western Kansas boomed in the 1870's
based on false expectations and advertising by speculators. When
it turned out that most kinds of farming weren't really practical,
the towns faded and died.

Farm equipment

Off to the left there looks to be two threshers, a steam tractor, and some implements. I work at Case IH, a manufacturer of farm and construction equipment. I'll bet they're Case pieces. Thanks Dave!

Great expectations

It's interesting how often these buildings were designed and built in clear anticipation that something else would be built right next to them. It's clearly meant to be a corner block, with the rest of downtown spreading right off its wings. I'd love to know if it still stands today.

No deposit.

No returns.

Looks mean nothing

The sleek and shiny, super-size behemoth Merrill Lynch Bank on Wall Street failed just last year and looked much more promising to millions of investors. Don't judge a book by its cover.

Blazing Saddles

Looks more like a Mel Brooks movie set than a financial institution.

It looks like . . .

it never even had a chance.

Tom Guelker

This looks like a bank that Dillinger might have assisted in closing, even with the horse hitch out front.

[No to mention the infamous Tom Guelker. - Dave]

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