Lake Stevens Journal - Your hometown newspaper since 1960

 

By Fred Cruger
Contributing Writer 

A Look Back

 

April 2, 2012

Key Bank in 1907, seven years before the first robbery.

"Where Service meets Safety" was the slogan of the Granite Falls State Bank for decades. Built in 1907, the bank stands today looking much as it did when built, albeit with much nicer outdoor lighting and "false" awnings. Partially covered by a decorative mansard-style roof in the latter half of the 20th Century, it was restored to a more original appearance by removing that roof and cleaning/painting the blocks from which it was built.

V.G. Wood, long-time resident (GF Class of 1913) and teacher in Granite Falls, told the story of how he witnessed the 1914 bank robbery, saying "I saw a man standing by the door of the bank, shooting up and down the street I was on. Two more were doing the same thing on the main street. All at once I heard the sharp zing of a bullet as it sped past me." The group made their getaway on foot into the woods about three blocks away, by forcing an elderly couple who had been in the bank to walk behind them.

The next robbery was more peaceful, involving a late-night break-in through a rear window in 1922. A number of safety deposit boxes were violated, but the vault was never breached. The robbers spent a couple of hours inside. It appeared to have been a group of four folks, whose stolen car broke down in Granite Falls after the robbery, and who then had to steal a car from Ashe's Garage to make their escape. That car was safely recovered in Seattle.

Key Bank in 2007, after 38 consecutive years robbery free.

In September of 1923, a modern electric alarm system was installed, with many sensors and modern conveniences. so that "no ingenuity of the part of a robber will help him the slightest". It apparently worked quite well, but with at least one "false alarm" due to improper setting causing more than a little excitement in following years.

But in 1969, two armed gunmen accosted the bank teller as she opened the door in the morning. She was forced to open the vault, but refused to give up her purse. Her husband showed up only moments later, and they were both bound tightly while the robbers escaped in an unidentified automobile, despite roadblocks set up by police only a short while later.

Three robberies in 100+ years of service to the community. The bank building itself stands as a reminder of the permanence and resilience of this community. And it's got to be the most ageless looking 100-year-old in town!

 

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