A Minnesota town's bank is celebrating 100 years in one building


A lot of things have changed since Woodrow Wilson was president.

But in southeastern Minnesota, people are still walking up the steps of Winona National Bank just like they were in 1916 when the building was new.

The bank actually traces its roots to 1874. Its home on Main Street is turning 100, though, and bank executives celebrated Friday by unveiling a new stained glass window designed for the occasion.

The Winona Daily News reports bank president Jack Richter said "A big thing people like is the stained glass ... it's an iconic piece of the building.

The new window was done by stained glass artist Melissa Janda. It contains 1,923 pieces of glass, the Daily News says, and was put together in five months – making it a rush job by stained glass standards.

The window's centerpiece shows the front of the bank inside a depiction of the vault.

Banks vanishing

It's no secret that the number of banks in the U.S. is shrinking and that seems to be especially true in small towns.

The Des Moines Register wrote two years ago that empty bank branches were starting to litter small town business districts – and a similar version of the same story earlier this year.

Winona, with 27,000 people, may not qualify as a small town. But The Economist used Erie, Pennsylvania (population 100,000) as a case study in an article titled Small Town Banks in America: Wonderful While it Lasted.

Regulatory changes limiting bank fees in recent years have made it harder to make money – especially at banks that lack big city economies of scale, industry experts say.

Benefits to Winona

Winona National Bank keeps chugging along, though, inside its Egyptian Revival/Prairie School building, which you can tour during bank hours. Or take the armchair tour by browsing their brochure.

Having a locally owned bank in town has advantages that go beyond loans and interest payments. In February Winona National's Chili Cookoff raised $5,086 for Ready Set School. In December their Bears & Blankets drive collected a record 679 items for those in need.

The Daily News reports that at Friday's ceremony one Winona National executive said "We’re excited to be part of our customers’ lives for another 100 years to come.”

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