Bank of Commerce

The Bank of Commerce at the corner of Main and Kasten Streets in Mendocino, 1908. Note the concrete sidewalks along its street frontage. The “Bank House” can be seen behind it to the right, while the top of the bank’s water tower is visible above the roof. (Perley Maxwell (photographer), Emery Escola Collection, Kelley House Photographs)

August 22, 1905 – Mendocino Bank of Commerce incorporation papers were filed with the county clerk. The incorporators were Casmir J. Wood, John S. Ross, William B. Coombs, Fred H. Perkins, Joshua Grindle, and Fred Stickney. Grindle was elected President, and Stickney served as the bank’s first cashier.

For the first few years, the Bank of Commerce operated out of the former Everson Store building on West Main Street. In the spring of 1908, construction of a new bank building began on the northwest corner of Main and Kasten streets, under the direction of Vice-President J. S. Ross. Perley Maxwell was the head carpenter with assistants Fred Jarvis and George Mann.

In August 1908, the Beacon reported, ”The Mendocino Bank of Commerce’s new two-story bank building is nearing completion. This structure is the most imposing business house in town. The large windows, symmetrical cornice, round cornered front with Roman-Doric columns, one on either side of the entrance, and with flat roof, make a handsome exterior. The interior is being finished in native pine. This building will reflect credit not only upon the owners but the town as well.” When the Bank of Commerce building opened, the second floor offices were occupied Dr. Russell Preston.

The first floor continued to operate as a bank until 1993. The Bank of Commerce merged with the Fort Bragg Commercial Bank in 1921. That bank was purchased by Bank of Italy in 1926, and then Bank of Italy and Bank of America consolidated in 1930. Bank of America closed the Mendocino branch in January 1993. Since 1993, the first floor of this building has housed Out of This World, a retail store featuring books, games, puzzles, science kits, space music, telescopes, and binoculars appealing to sky-gazers and those with scientific interests.

Fun Fact: The building appeared as the “Bay City Bank” in the 1954 movie “East of Eden,” starring James Dean.

Mendocino and the Movies: Hollywood and TV Motion Pictures Filmed on the Mendocino Coast” by Bruce Levene. More than 50 films from 1904 to 2001 used local scenery and local actors. $20.