Society

The Historic Little Kanawha Valley Bank

On July 12, 1901, the Little Kanawha Valley Bank was incorporated in Glenville. That same year the bank was constructed with wood coming from a local plaining mill, and the decorative metal work being brought in on river packet boats. In 1906, two Glenville banks merged – the First National Bank and the Little Kanawha Valley Bank forming the Kanawha Union Bank, which is now United National Bank.

It was in the historic Little Kanawha Valley Bank that the WV State Folk Festival first established a Country Store in 1960. Volunteers were Starling and Nelson Wells, Nellie Engelke, Myra Mick, and Festival president, Fern Rollyson. Around 1970, the Country Store and Museum was relocated to the old Ruddell General Store, which was built in 1890 on Court Street.

The Little Kanawha Valley Bank needed to be moved because Kanawha Union Bank wanted to expand their property. In March of 1977, the president of Kanawha Union Bank, Jack Stalnaker, offered the historic bank to the West Virginia State Folk Festival if the organization would preserve it as a landmark. In addition, Kanawha Union Bank donated $500.00 toward the moving fee. Folk Festival volunteers met on Monday, March 21st, 1977, and voted to accept the offer. Nelson Wells was appointed a committee of one to seek donations, contact movers and builders for the foundation, and to direct the restoration of the building. On Monday, March 28, 1977, the move was completed within one week, and the bank set up on the corner of Fern Rollyson’s property on Howard Street, where it still stands.

In 1991, the Little Kanawha Valley Bank was listed on the National Register of Historic Places through the efforts of the West Virginia State Folk Festival and the General Federated Woman’s Club of Glenville. At that time Mack Samples was president of the WV State Folk Festival, Pearl Moore was president of the Glenville Woman’s Club, and Virginia Grottendieck was the Festival Board Member who conducted the correspondence with the WV Division of Culture and History.

During the Folk Festival, you can visit the Little Kanawha Valley Bank which will be the site of the Kemper Family Bird Carvings. The late Claude Kemper’s son Ron and his wife Lynne will have some of Mr. Kempers’s birds on display, and Lynne will demonstrate carving and painting birds.

Inside the bank, you will see the oak framing and marble counters and the original metal grillwork around the two bank work stations, one for the cashier and one for the bookkeeper. Several old cash registers are also there. An old bank safe stands open in the back room of the bank. Photographs on the walls tell the history of the bank, including its move from the original site to Howard Street.

If any readers know of the whereabouts of any original fixtures or equipment that were in the Little Kanawha Valley Bank, the West Virginia State Folk Festival would be very happy to have those items returned to this important structure listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

WV State Folk Festival volunteers are still in the process of preserving and restoring this local landmark, which, of course, requires more funds. A donation box is located in the bank where visitors may help in the Festival’s efforts to preserve and restore the Little Kanawha Valley Bank as a unique part of West Virginia history.

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