First National Bank of Geraldine
In 1913, as workers laid track on the spur line from Harlowton to Great Falls, Milwaukee Road surveyors platted towns along the new route, including Geraldine. By October 2, Farmers State Bank opened in a wooden building on Main Street. Among the bank’s first acts was to offer loans to area farmers with grain on hand, so that they could hold their crops until the grain elevator was completed. The bank’s support was the beginning of a long commitment to the community and area agriculture. As the homesteading boom brought more farmers to the area, the bank prospered. Construction of a new building of Lewistown brick began in 1914. When it was finished, the two-story bank building—Geraldine’s first masonry structure—sported a stately cornice and a triangular pediment over the main door. Its solid construction and dignified neoclassical façade asserted stability and permanence, offering visual assurance to customers that their money was safe. In the 1920s, ten of Chouteau County’s thirteen banks failed when extended drought and low commodity prices caused record numbers of farmers to default on their loans. But this conservatively managed bank—by then renamed the First National Bank of Geraldine—survived both the agricultural depression of the 1920s and the Great Depression of the 1930s. Due to the bank’s sound management, it was among the first in the United States allowed to reopen after the Federal Bank Holiday in 1933. The bank (under several different names) has continued to serve Geraldine into the twenty-first century.