Multnomah Bank

Multnomah Bank, ca. 1956.

Multnomah Bank, ca. 1956.

After the Multnomah Commercial & Savings Bank closed in December 1934 the merchants and people in this area had to either go to Beaverton or Tigard to do their banking, a real inconvenience. Multnomah merchants wanted a better way to work with their customers. People tended to go where they could cash their paychecks and spend their money. The Multnomah Community Club in April 1939 appointed their Banking Committee chairman, Werner Raz, to contact the merchants with a new plan they had come up with. He wrote the following letter to the merchants:

Dear Businessman:
It is a known fact that the absence of a bank is a chronic ailment of our town. The Multnomah Community club appointed me to feel out the business houses regarding possibility of pooling funds in order to make change and cash checks. About $300 would supply the change and from $1,000 to $2,000 would cash the checks.

If the funds can be raised, the following charges will have to be made to offset the expenses of insuring against hold ups, burglary, messenger protection, auto allowance, safe upkeep, etc. [He then outlined the specific for each category and the amount of change to have on hand.]

Any person contributing to the fund could withdraw his money without notice, as none would be invested in anyway.

If you are interested in establishing the set-up indicate how much you are willing to lend to the pool.

Creating the plan outlined here showed how badly the merchants needed a bank. Then came the war and the order of the day was just to stay in business the best you could, just get by.
Early in 1946 Dwight Gard was looking over the state to find a place to start a small independent bank. One of the first persons he was told to see was Werner Raz. Werner had worked in Multnomah’s first bank, was postmaster and knew all the right people for Gard to contact. With the merchants backing he began to organize the bank in Multnomah.

On April 21, 1947 A. A. Rogers, Superintendent of Banks approved the Articles and the organizers of the Multnomah Bank began to get everything in order for the opening of temporary quarters at 7840 S. W. Capitol Highway where the old bank had once been. Prominent architect Pietro Belluschi would design the new building. Construction would soon start.

Officers of the new bank would be: Dwight E. Gard, president, Walter Raz, vice president, John B. Matheny, cashier. Bank directors were: Mr. Gard, W. A. Siegfried, pioneer Multnomah druggist, Milo G. Renner, Multnomah restaurant owner, Walter Raz, manager of Portland Milk Producers Association and Multnomah resident, Jesse J. Gard, former V. P. at United States National Bank and brother of Dwight Gard, Paul M. Rising, real estate and insurance broker of Multnomah, and Floyd H. Weatherly, pioneer Multnomah grocer.

Dwight Gard, CEO of Multnomah Bank, 1959.

Dwight Gard, CEO of Multnomah Bank, 1959.

The bank became an immediate success, growing to four branches (Multnomah, Barbur Boulevard, Hillsdale, and Progress) by 1968. In 1970 it merged with First State Bank of Oregon, in 1982 First State merged with Citizens Bank of Oregon, and changed the bank’s name to Pacific Western., in 1986 PacWest merged with Key Bank. Key bank now occupies the Multnomah Bank building on SW Troy St.


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2 Responses

  1. Kirsten Nielsen says:

    I still have my Chief Multnomah piggy bank issued by the bank!

  1. July 17, 2017

    […] here, or our Winter 2000 newsletter for a more complete history of the Multnomah […]

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