Magnificent New Home of Guaranty Bank Opens in 1919

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Heather Wise Matlock
The George Group, LLC
Office 888-548-7853
Cell 318-229-7613
Licensed in Louisiana

Transcribed from the Alexandria Daily Town Talk, originally published in Alexandria, Louisiana on Saturday, May 28th, 1921. Please excuse any errors, some parts of the article were not legible and I simply place an ellipsis where the unknown words were.

Page 1, Alexandria Daily Town Talk, originally published in Alexandria, Louisiana on Saturday, May 28th, 1921. Courtesy of the Rapides Parish Library Community Archives.

“EXACTLY two years and three months after the commencement of work on their new home the Guaranty Bank and Trust Company will move into their palatial offices in the new building today and tomorrow, and will open for business Monday.

On the 28th of February, 1919, the first step was taken in the realization of the dreams of a group of the public-spirited men of Alexandria.  On that date the first shovelful of earth was taken from the plot of ground on the corner of Third and Murray streets, the … of the then nebulous building which was soon to rear aloft as a manifestation of the spirit of progress in Alexandria.  On Monday the doors of that building, that realized vision, will be open to the public.  This date will mark a step forward in the race to progress, not only for the Guaranty Bank and Trust Company, but for the community as a whole.  The officers, the staff and the board of directors of this institution have given to the city more than a perfectly appointed, thoroughly modern office building.  They … given to it the personification of an ideal, and the city as a whole cannot … let live up to this splendid gift, and, in living up to it, the community will progress, and conditions as a whole will be bettered.

No Expense Has Been Spared

No expense has been spared in making this the most modern as well as one of the most beautiful buildings in the entire South.  The cost of the completed building will be in the neighborhood of $750,000, without taking into consideration the interest on the enormous investment period of over two years.  The superstructure of the bank was estimated at $412,000, while the lot originally … ,900, but today is valued at a figure far beyond that.  The vaults cost more than $40,000, while the elevators alone in the new building cost $22,000.

An example of the character of the entire building is given in the appointments of the banking room, on the main floor of the building.  This room is of the finest Rosetta marble, entirely imported from Italy, after a great deal of …, due to unsettled conditions existing throughout the Old World.  The marble for the banking room was the first shipload of marble to come to this country after signing of the armistice and practically the first marble quarried in Italy since 1914.  The beauty of this incomparable stone is sufficient … in itself for the great pains of the contractors.

Ten Stories High

The building is a ten-story and full basement structure, measuring 60×106 faced on the street fronts with Bedford, Indiana limestone of a uniform and … cream effect.  The stonework starts above a high grey granite base … highly polished against wear and weather.  The two exterior walls have … grey face-brick facing, which blends well with the stone fronts, and the … is surmounted by a moulded cornice, which, in the sunlight, casting shadows on the projecting members of the facades, brings out its details and … delightfully.


The architecture is of pure Italian Renaissance in its simple details, and … only placed at intervals, depending more on the proportions of its … surfaces and various recessed openings for its chaste effect.  The lower two floors act as a base and a shaft of the next six floors, which surmounted by the ninth and tenth-floor colonnade and cornice, forming a marvelous composition in its entirety.


The first floor is devoted to banking purposes, with a mezzanine for use of officer’s meetings, and entrance is had through a spacious lobby, from which access to the upper floors is had through two high-speed elevators, as well as a stairway leading to the mezzanine, occupied by the manager of the building, continues to upper floors.  A stairway leads to the basement from this lobby, … entrance is had to the banking room likewise through this lobby.  

The upper nine floors are devoted to offices with unlimited method of sub-divided possibilities, so that the accommodations can be provided for tenants’ requirements, no matter how large or small.  The corridors of all upper floors have marble terrazzo floors and base, and the stalls of toilets and subdivisions are of marble and tile.  The woodwork throughout is of quarter-sawed white oak, fumed finish, and … of corridors, being glazed with opaque glass, assure absolute privacy of various offices.

Banking Rooms

The banking room is of marble of simple dignity and refinement, simplicity … the keynote of all detail, which is carried out in its marble lobby and … surmounted by the bronze and glass enclosures, and the walls … with their marble and Caen stone effects, which Caen stone effect … on the ceilings as well, creating a warm tone, enhanced by the … regularly proportioned window openings assuring a maximum of light and every promise would indicate that little artificial lighting, at any time … would be required.  

The walls are tinted in a beautiful cream color, which, blending with a … lighter tint on the ceiling, produces a warm blend of color that is … to the eye at the same time producing a decorative scheme that is … from the standpoint of lighting arrangements.  

… lighting fixtures are most modern and grateful, and will afford an … of light properly distributed should occasion require same.  …walls and columns are amply provided with electric fans for use during … season and which will be removed when not required. 

… the center of the marble lobby and readily accessible to all cages, is a … check desk, and on the wall facing, this desk and visible to all of … officers and employees, is a clock of ornamental design.  

… officers command entire supervision through two stations and afford … space for the transaction of all business both general and confidential, a private office is provided for this latter purpose.

Mahogany Furniture

The desking and files and all furniture on this main floor are of mahogany, … the rugs covering the floors of the officers’ sections, the magnificent … will appeal to all.  On the mezzanine is the directors’ room, approached by stairway from the … section, and is pleasantly appointed, with its warm cream walls and … and blends with the marble floor and base, and, with its table and surrounding chairs, will meet all conditions of its intended occupancy.

Modern Conveniences

The building has two high-speed Otis elevators with signal systems, all of which will assure ample service to its upper floors, the speed of 400 feet per … being more than satisfactory for a building of this height.  … is provided a mail chute, with its receptacle on the first floor and openings on each floor providing a service of most modern ….

New Regime in Banking Annals

When moving into their new home the Guaranty Bank and Trust Company will also move into a new regime in banking.  The new building provides for the most up-to-date methods of bookkeeping and banking, and this will be adopted in all departments of the bank putting … on par with the largest banks in the money capitals of the world.  The unit system of banking will be the word of the day, eliminating all waste of time and making this bank the leading one of the South.  All departments of the bank are arranged around the central rotunda and, being intercommunicating, a thoroughly efficient system is being established and maintained.  There will be no lost motion in either the mechanical or physical operations of the bank.

Last Word in Banking

As in the bank building, nothing has been left undone that could in any way make the business the least bit more modern.  Fixtures, equipment and appointments are absolutely the last word in the banking world.  It is safe that there is not another bank in the country, without any exception, that is better equipped to handle an immense volume of business than the Guaranty Bank and Trust Company.  The vaults of the new bank, perhaps one of the most important details of any banking institution, are absolutely the finest and most dependable product in this line that is on the market today.  Made by the Mosler Safe Company and installed by them in the new building, it has been conclusively proven that these vaults are positively fire and burglar proof.  The main or specle vault of the bank is made of six-ply manganese steel, and is twelve inches thick at all points.  It is capable of standing the most intense heat for a protracted period, and the contents cannot be injured in any way, even by the heat of a bunsen burner, the hottest flame known to science, applied over the entire surface for days at a time.  Drilling with a diamond-pointed drill, after twenty-four hours of constant pressure with a tool that will cut through ordinary steel like putty – it has been proven that the result in this vault would be a hole not over an eight of an inch deep.

Four Massive Vaults

The vaults, of which there are four, provide for all present, and considerable future development, there being two devoted to storage of books and records, one for the specie and securities, and one, in its individual location, for the safety deposit boxes.  

The specie vault, with its massive round door, weighing nearly ten tons, is safeguarded with every modern time-locking and other safety devices.  The safety deposit vault has a door of like magnitude, rectangular in form, and has every detail of protection.  These vaults and doors are all of manganese steel, which is the highest recognized type of lining. 

In the basement, reached only from the banking room, are its records and storage rooms.  The safety deposit vault is as thoroughly fire and burglar proof as the main vault and the book vaults of the bank, and is completely equipped for the service and comfort of the box-holders.  The boxes are arranged in tiers, over seven hundred altogether, and range in size from small box or valuable papers to immense boxes capable of holding the entire family plate.  The majority of the boxes come in three sizes, which has given rise to the story that they come in half-pint, pint and quart sizes, but this little credited in banking circles.

Local Firm Sub-Contractors

Full provision has been made for the physical and mental welfare of the staff of the bank.  Well-equipped rest-rooms and reading-rooms are provided and the bank will take its place in the front ranks with other large commercial institutions in this respect.  

The rest rooms are on the mezzanine floor, reached through the banking rooms, and are equipped with everything that might make working conditions better in any way and thus increase the efficiency of the employees.

Drawn by Emile Weil

The plans for the building were drawn by Emile Weil, architect, of New Orleans, to whom too much credit cannot be given for so wonderfully combining beauty of design and modern business ideals in a perfectly utilitarian structure.  Mr. Weil is well known in all sections of the country for his wonderful buildings and has won many competitive prizes.  

Mr. J.E. Ingram, who came to Alexandria from New Orleans, has been the supervising architect, in charge of the building during construction, and has become a very prominent figure here through his work.  It has largely been through his able work that the building has reached perfection, and the community, as well as the Guaranty Bank, owe him a deep debt of gratitude.  Mr. Ingram has had many hard battles during the course of construction, due to the many industrial crises that the construction company has weathered, but has come through victorious, and states that he has achieved perfect success in the completion of the building.

Employees’ Welfare Considered

The excavating and construction of the foundation and basement was in charge of the Hudson Construction Company, of Alexandria, who ably carried out this most important work.  On completion of this, the work of the superstructure was turned over to the general contractors, Messrs. T.S. Moudy & Co., of Chattanooga, Tenn.  This company, known nationally for its integrity, did not allow their unusually high standards of construction to be violated in an way on this contract, and the result is a building which they are justly proud.  This high standard of construction was maintained throughout the building in every piece of equipment being judged solely by quality.

Electrical Work

The electrical work of the building was done by Evans Bros., a well-known local firm of electrical contractors, who are fitted in every way to carry out the ideals expressed in this building.  The lighting fixtures, the beauty of which attracts all eyes and which strike the keynote of luxuriance in the building, will remain an ever-present proof of the character of this firm.  The banking and building fixtures and the builders’ hardware in the building were furnished by Mr. A. B. Jones, of the Alexandria Electric Shop, who gave his able assistance in making the new structure an object of pride to Alexandrians.  The contacts for the cashier’s cages and the grills for the bank, after a search for the cream of the market, were awarded to the Charles Weanes Company, of New Orleans.  

Artistic Lettering by Pioneer Painter

One of the points of interest to the people of Alexandria in the new building is the exquisite gold-leaf lettering on the many doors and windows.  This lettering, entirely artistic from every point of view, is the work of Mr. J.C. Goulden, who needs no further introduction to the citizens of Alexandria.  Mr. Goulden was one of the first settlers in this portion of the State, and, although now well along in years, is still taking an active part in the business life of the community.  His hand is still the steadiest, while his eye is still the brightest, and the work on and in the new building is a credit in every way to that most worthy man, who refuses to be daunted by Father Time.  

Many other local firms and individuals have done their best in making the new building a success, and if mental help, as well as physical activity, were to be counted, the list of workmen on the temple would comprise a directory of the City of Alexandria.  

The following is a complete list of the officers, directors and staff of the Guaranty Bank and Trust Company who have constantly striven and worked in order that they might present to the community this wonderful gift:

Officers: J.A. Bentley, president; W.D. Hill, active vice-president; L.J. Hakenyos, vice-president; Gus Gehr, vice-president; T.P. Wheadon, cashier; Jno. T. Powers, Jr. assistant cashier; C.W. Crockett, assistant cashier

While the entire staff of the Guaranty Bank has been working with might and main, a great deal of particular praise must be given to Mr. Walter Hill, active vice-president, who has labored so mightily on this enterprise.  For the past two years, the hardest period that the country has been through, Mr. Hill has put forth his best efforts, and is now rewarded with the fruits of his labor.  

Directors: J.A. Bentley, W.D. Hill, L.J. Hakenyos, Gus Gehr, A. Watermark, R.M. Hetherwick, E.J. Barrett, L.A. Stafford, A. Albert, Stephen Barrett, E.J. Hardtner, Sam Warshauer, Ferd Brenner, Harry L. Simon, J.W. Alexander.

Staff: Felix Taylor, paying teller; Rutland Hyams, receiving teller; C.D. Baldridge, receiving teller; John R. Fell, note teller; L. Donohoe, general bookkeeper; H.E. Shumake, manager individual bookkeeping department; Page Huddle, manager savings department; C.B. Eglin, manager transit department; Mrs. Emma Moore, exchange teller; Henry Charrier, individual bookkeeper; C.W. Johnson, individual bookkeeper; Miss Annie Bell, individual bookkeeper; Mrs. Pauline Broussard, statement clerk; Miss Elizabeth Blossat, statement clerk; Ernest Furby, collection department; Donald Moriarity, collection department; Mrs. E.A. Tomb, stenographer; Miss Carrie Coleman, stenographer; John L. Billings, porter; George H. Hall, porter.

Salient Points

Ground Broken- Feb. 28, 1919

Foundation Completed- Oct 1 1919

Superstructure Completed- Sept 15, 1920

Southern Casualty Company Opened Office- May 10, 1921

Guaranty Bank and Trust Company Opened New Building- May 30, 1921

Architect- Emile Weil, New Orleans

Supervising Architect- J.E. Ingram, Alexandria

General Contractors- T.S. Moudy & Co, Chattanooga, Tenn

Sub-Contractors- Hudson Construction Company, Alexandria

Wiring & Lighting Fixtures- Evans Bros., Alexandria

Plumbing- Peachman & Peachman, Chattanooga, Tenn.

Glaziers- Pittsburg Plate Glass “Company”, New Orleans

Banking Fixtures and Building Hardware- A.B. Jones, Alexandria

Iron Grills and Cages- Charles Weaner Company, New Orleans

Vaults and Safes- Mosler Safe Company

In a final recapitulation of the epoch-making event of the opening of the new building too much stress cannot be laid upon the debt of gratitude that the community owes to the officers and staff of the Guaranty Bank and Trust Company, and to every one who assisted in making this beautiful building a reality and an everlasting pride to Alexandria.


A large number of contracts have been signed for offices in the new building, and the opening day will see the majority of the offices in the upper stories of the building occupied in addition to the contracts now complete, it is expected that many more will be signed within the next sixty days, and the building will be completely occupied before the end of summer.  

The following is a list of the tenants who have completed contracts.  Most of these tenants are already installed in their new offices, and a few will move into the new building within a period of two weeks.

Tenants: W.J. O’Pry Real Estate and Insurance Agency; State Gravel Company; Drs. Packer & Yarbrough; Drs. Gandy & Peters; Southern Casualty Company; Alexander, Bolton, & Lewis Insurance Agency; White, Holloman, & White; Floyd McKenzie; L.E. French; Hakenyos, Hunter, & Scott; Drs. Pierson & Levy; Hawthorn & Stafford; Drs. Simmons, Stafford, & Rand; Provosty & West; Judge James Andrews; J. F. Valieant & Co.; Smith Bros.; Home Investment Company; J.W. Alexander”

Published by historichousehunt

Heather Matlock REALTOR® THE GEORGE GROUP Cell: 318-229-7613 Office: 1-888-548-7853 Licensed in LA

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