Maplewood History: More from Mary Piles of Citizens’ Bank

If you are a regular follower of this space you should definitely recognize Mary Piles’ name by now.  I should not have to tell you she is the in-house curator of the historic images and documents at our town’s Citizens’ National Bank of Maplewood and St. Louis (6 locations).  Recently Mary shared with us the fascinating images within Gerry Vazis’ Red Album of Photographs, (Parts I and Part 2) stored these many years in the bank vault.

All the while Mary has been working on a history of her bank.  There was an epic flood in 1915, the same year that the bank was founded.  Mary was curious if the flood had any connection with the beginning of the bank.  I am not sure what her thinking is on this at present.  She can give us an update in the comments section below.

She has been kind enough to share with me the results of her research as she has progressed.  Here is some of what she has found.

The corner of Canterbury and Tremont. Photo by Mary Piles.


Mary has shared much more with us than is contained in this article.  I’m sorry to report that I am still having great difficulty loading images.  Editor Miner had our interface updated but something is still wrong.  I’m going to try a program my grandson has sent and see if it will help.  Keep your fingers crossed.

Hope you all are enjoying this weather.  Missouri is a hot spot for Covid as you all probably know.  So wear your masks.

Doug Houser     September 21, 2020


14 thoughts on “Maplewood History: More from Mary Piles of Citizens’ Bank

  1. I really enjoyed reading not only the article, but all the comments as well. My Dad, Robert Fennell, was 6 years old in 1915 and his family lived at 2400 Laclede Station Road. I had never heard about the flood before. Thanks so much for all this information.

    • You are very welcome, Nancy. Thank you for all of the material you have contributed to this effort. The latest fascinating pile from the Fennell/Bland families that you have sent is in the lineup.

  2. Thank you, Mary and a Doug!! P.S. Some of Maplewood is higher ground than other parts. Would be interested, if possible, in knowing the parts of town effected by the flooding at that time. (The portion of the picture is very much lower.).

    • The highest point in Maplewood is the Southwest corner of Ryan Hummert Park. (USGS Topographic map with contours.) From there you can see the Arch when the trees are leafless.

      • That sounds about right. I thought it was a little further to the north like on Richmond or Gayola, but that’s splitting hairs.

    • Pickett, there is a map of the area affected, I am unable to insert it, I’m not sure if Doug has a copy so I will send it to him. It is a very crude map without street detail, as Tom stated a modern TOPO map with streets will lend more detail to what is shown in the map I have.
      Thanks, Mary

  3. That may be but it looks like years later Bank of Maplewood was forced out for redevelopment of downtown Maplewood while Citizen’s Bank kept their property. From photos, the Bank of Maplewood’s building was a lovely building. What a shame it was torn down.

    • It is a shame, it was a beautiful building, I LOVE the feeling you get in the history of an older building. The redevelopment was 50 years in the future at that time, neither board of directors may have been aware of their original roots at that point. All of those gentlemen were long dead by then. Even the redevelopers are all dead now.
      Maplewood has had a fantastic history, the more I dig the more I enjoy finding out about those who have shaped today. If those early founders could have looked into today, what would they have thought about those who struggle with enduring the times we are given to live in. We are the founders for our grandchildren’s future. I hope I make good decisions. Thanks Gary

      • My grandparents’ home was one on Sutton taking for that development. It actually belonged to my mother and aunt by then. They had a house and a 2 family flat. I wish I had a photo of those houses on Sutton.

    • Gary L, I agree it was a shame to lose the 1925 Bank of Maplewood building on the NE corner of Sutton and Manchester. It is true that many business and residential properties were taken by eminent domain for the ill-fated redevelopment of the 1970s. But I’m not sure what the situation was with the bank that had by then been renamed Pioneer. Do you have evidence that they were forced out? We have to remember that our downtown business district was in trouble. The flight to the suburbs made possible by widespread ownership of automobiles had upset the business models of many towns like ours all across the country. I suspect that the bank may have used the opportunity to move. I imagine the folks in charge may have thought the location at Folk and Big Bend would be better than their one on Manchester. Also they moved from their 50 year old building into a brand new, larger, very modern one. So who knows?

  4. Hi Doug, the flooding of Deer Creek and River Des Peres, the death of 11 citizens, was a catalyst for Federal funds to be appropriated for the building of a sewer, ( under River Des Pares, to separate wastewater ) and an enlarging of a channel for street water to safely drain to the river. This flash flood from August caused a lot of damage to homes in Maplewood, and the rest of the city, citizens were stranded on their roofs, homes swept off their foundations, the city of St Louis sent boats up to Deer Creek to rescue people who were stranded. In the months following the flood, all of the work was done to open a new bank by December. I believe the Bank of Maplewood may have already been over extended, as in 1929 after the stock market crash they could not pay their customers but 10 cents on the dollar. There was no FDIC at that time. (Meeting the needs for loans after such a large disaster would push many banks past their abilities.) Almost all of the original Board of Directors were men who would be involved in the rebuilding of these homes, they invested their own money to start the bank (lumber, hardware, contractors, heating) none of them claimed the profession of banker on their census. Our banks first years of service (when we examine of oldest transitions) were geared towards building and rebuilding homes. I don’t believe we were in competition with the Bank of Maplewood as many of our Directors were involved (through family) in both Banks, we even rented their building (after they moved) for several years until we built our own. Why would you help a competitor to succeed. This is speculation on my part, but it makes sense as to why a new bank would be needed in Maplewood at this time.