Gardens to Gables

No Deposits, No Withdrawals: The Moorefield Deposit Bank

There are some abandoned buildings I’ve sadly grown used to seeing: houses, barns, stores, and old garages. Our crossroads communities across Kentucky boast these types by the hundreds (if not the thousands). For some reason, though, I encounter abandoned bank buildings less frequently. And I’m always surprised when I do. Banks exude an air of solidity and gravity (although having worked as bank teller in the summers during college, I know that the projected air of solemnity was not present on our teller line…), so finding a forlorn brick bank building gives me pause.

The Moorefield Deposit Bank

The Moorefield Deposit Bank

Moorefield, Kentucky, located in southeast Nicholas County (not far from the Bath County line) dates to around 1818, when the first post office was established.  Situated at the intersection of Routes 36 and 57, the community benefited from traffic traveling to both Carlisle and Sharpsburg. Around 1825, Dunlap Howe and Jerry Hall established a general store to serve the surrounding farmers.

The Moorefield Bank in better days, circa 1980. At that time, it housed a beauty salon.

The Moorefield Bank in better days, circa 1980. At that time, it housed a beauty salon.

Like many similar communities in the Commonwealth, Moorefield had a period of prosperity and growth in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. The B.F. Reynolds Masonic Lodge #443, established in 1883 in Moorefield, remained there until the building burned in 1947. Grain mills, stores, and a tobacco warehouse also opened during the late-19th century.

This Italianate/Queen Anne style T-plan house has seen better days, but gives an idea of Moorefield's greatest period of growth and development.

This Italianate T-plan house has seen better days, but gives an idea of Moorefield’s greatest period of growth and development.

The Moorefield Depoist Bank was organized in 1903.  The one-story brick building has a handsome facade, with an arched entry door (with transom, originally) and a Palladian window. Above the openings, the name of the bank is spelled out in stone, and a denticulated and corbelled cornice (with an occulus), forms a pedimented parapet wall that hides the shed roof. Laid in six-row common bond, the well-built building sought to convey everything that a bank should be: dependable, secure, and with the architectural flourishes present in the cornice – full of aspiration and set to be community landmark.

A detail of the cornice of the bank building.

A detail of the cornice of the bank building.

In 1976, there were 63 homes in Moorefield, at least two churches, and although the Moorefield Deposit Bank closed in 1953, the building was still being utilized. The ensuring years have not been kind to this little gem of a building, and the trees and vines are close to choking it into pieces. The sense of permanence and solemnity granted by its design and construction method fades as the bank, with open windows and missing mortar, slowly dwindles away.

Another house dating from the late-19th century in the community of Moorefield, KY.

Another house dating from the late-19th century in the community of Moorefield, KY.

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One Thought on “No Deposits, No Withdrawals: The Moorefield Deposit Bank

  1. Dennis Webb on February 7, 2016 at 10:07 am said:

    Thanks for posting the bank picture. I have driven past it on country drives and always wanted to go back a get a picture.

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