Filed Under Business

Farmers State Bank/Rusty Spur

Prior to becoming a popular watering hole and part of the set-dressing of Scottsdale’s self-conscious efforts to become “the West’s most Western town,” the building now housing the Rusty Spur Saloon was the Farmers State Bank of Scottsdale. The opening of the bank on January 22, 1921 signaled the promise of the burgeoning community.

Scottsdale was growing slowly but steadily as the power of the Salt River had been harnessed by the Roosevelt Dam. Scottsdale functioned as a market town for the numerous families engaged in cotton growing and citrus farming, which paved the way for the town’s eventual prosperity. Then, as now, uncertainty was a fact of life for those whose livelihood depended on agricultural production, but residents of the area had confidence in the town’s potential. This confidence was undoubtedly bolstered by the recently built a cotton gin, used to process the cotton grown nearby, and the arrival of electricity in Scottsdale.

The bank provided more than just a symbol of this confidence; it provided a vital service to local farmers and businessmen. The Farmers State Bank of Scottsdale allowed them to avoid the time-consuming trek to Phoenix to take care of their banking—a journey made onerous by the lack of paved roads—and enabled them to access local capital. And while E.O. Brown’s General Store next door remained the “see and be seen” hot spot, the bank was also an important community center, housing the first chamber of commerce and the lending library.

It represented the growth of the young community; but its fall in 1933 to the financial woes of the Great Depression indicates how the development of Scottsdale is tied to a larger American story of alternating prosperity and hardship. After the bank closed its doors, the community felt the pinch of its absence as residents struggled to find new ways to conduct their banking business during the lean years of the 1930s. Though it now holds liquor instead of money, they old bank vault persists as a vestige of early Scottsdale’s evolution.

Audio

The End of the Bank A longtime Scottsdale resident contemplates the importance of the bank to the bustling community. Based on an interview with Paul Messinger. Written by Amy T. Long; narrated by Jim Newcomer. Recorded at Scottsdale Channel 11; courtesy of the Papago Salado Association.

Images

Center of Town
Center of Town The bank building also housed the town's first chamber of commerce and lending library often hosted street dances and parades right outside its door. Photograph by Suzanne Starr. Image courtesy of Scottsdale Historical Society, Scottsdale Public Library. Source: Scottsdale Historical Society, Scottsdale Public Library Creator: Suzanne Starr
Farmers State Bank, ca. 1920s
Farmers State Bank, ca. 1920s Though the Farmers State Bank building hasn't changed much, the rest of Scottsdale has. This image from the 1920s shows E.O. Brown's always-popular General Store (middle) and the bank Brown helped to found (right). Image courtesy of the Scottsdale Public Library. Source: Scottsdale Public Library
Most Valuable Neighbor
Most Valuable Neighbor The Farmers State Bank (center foreground) was conveniently located for farmers needing to make a deposit and pick up goods at the general store next door. The general store also housed the first ice plant--an all-important resource for beating the Valley's brutal heat. Image courtesy of Scottsdale Public Library. Source: Scottsdale Public Library
Cocktails Come to Town
Cocktails Come to Town The iconic Rusty Spur clearly defies Scottsdale founder Winfield Scott's 1897 intention "never to let alcohol get a foothold in this part of the valley." Image courtesy of Scottsdale Public Library. Source: Scottsdale Public Library
The Bank Vault, ca. 1980
The Bank Vault, ca. 1980 Since the Rusty Spur Saloon opening in 1958, the vault has held another precious commodity--liquor! At one point in its past, a former owner was so worried about someone being trapped in the vault that he drilled a hole in the ceiling. You can still see the hole today. Image courtesy of Scottsdale Public Library. Source: Scottsdale Public Library

Location

Metadata

Amy Long, “Farmers State Bank/Rusty Spur,” Salt River Stories, accessed July 16, 2024, https://saltriverstories.org/items/show/24.