The former Lincoln County Bank building on West Main Street, a portion of which has been standing since 1912, is currently being demolished.
In August of 1897, Lincoln County Bank was formed by August H. Stange, L.N. Anson and R.J. Collie. It was originally operated as a private bank with Stange as its first president. The bank was originally located at 404 West Main Street. In 1900, Stange purchased the property at the southwest corner of West Main and Prospect streets for the purpose of constructing a new bank building. A review of early fire insurance maps shows that the corner had previously been home to a butcher shop as early as 1884. A drug store stood on that corner in 1888 and the property was listed as a candy shop in 1898.
According to a Merrill Daily Herald article published in August 1900, the new 30×90-foot building was expected to be “the most substantial building in the city. It will be made of solid brick, finely ornamented, and will be first-class and up-to-date in every particular.”
Lincoln County Bank became a state chartered bank in 1903 with stock holders.
In 1912, Lincoln County Bank again had outgrown its quarters and began construction of a new adjoining building constructed to the west of the 1900 building. An existing drug store building on that site was presumably razed for construction of the new bank building.
An article in the May 15, 1913, issue of the Merrill Star-Advocate detailed plans for the new bank opening, slated for May 23.
“It was apparent that the bank had outgrown its quarters and remodeling of the old building was long considered, but that plan was eventually abandoned, resulting in the creation of the creation of the now completed new home,” the article stated.
The 1912 building has remained until the current demolition.
The original 1900 building on the corner was home to a doctor’s office, a dress shop and various other businesses until 1967, when it was demolished for an expansion of Lincoln County Bank. A newspaper ad from October 1967 includes a picture of the demolition work, with the wording “Down comes the old to make way for the new! Watch us grow! Our 70th year marked a new expansion program for Merrill’s full service bank.”
The more modern two-story addition was built to adjoin the 1912 building and housed the bank’s offices. The facade of both the 1912 building and the new addition were wrapped with metal panels to provide a uniform appearance and tie the two buildings together.
The upstairs of the new addition would house the equipment for a new state-of-the-art computer system. A 1968 ad in the Merrill Shopper’s Guide stated that “within the near future complete computerized bookkeeping will be processed on premises with the installation of a Burroughs Computer Processing System.”
In 2007, Lincoln County Bank relocated to a brand new facility on East Main Street, changed its name to Lincoln Community Bank, and gifted the West Main Street buildings to St. Vincent de Paul. The former bank was rechristened as the Community Care Center and housed the food pantry and other non-profit human services agencies.
Faced with an expensive roof replacement, St. Vincent de Paul began a fundraising campaign in 2015. During that process, they were offered space in the Menard Center on the Good Samaritan campus. Ultimately, St. Vincent de Paul, the food pantry and several other agencies moved to the Menard Center and the former bank building was sold. It has since remained vacant.
Once demolition is completed, the city of Merrill has agreed to purchase the property. The empty lot will be used in the short-term to help stage the ongoing construction across the street of the Stone Bridge Apartments by the Merrill Area Housing Authority.