The original Port Austin Bank building was built in 1884 by Richard Winsor and his associate, Horace G. Snover, to house their successful banking, law and insurance firm of Winsor & Snover. Both men were important factors in the political affairs of that period. Mr. Snover served as a probate judge and also as U.S. Representative. Richard Winsor was an early settler in Port Austin and, at the age of 23, a member of the state legislature serving four terms. He then served in the state senate.
Built at cost of over $ 84,000, the Winsor & Snover Building was considered “one of the most complete business structures in the state.” It was built on solid rock, heated by steam, and had “all the most approved modern appliances” for the time period. The bank’s vault was lined with four inch thick steel railroad rails. To gain access, one passed through a steel outside door and a burglar-proof inside door made of two-inch steel. Within the vault was a burglar-proof chest constructed of steel three and a half inches thick.
Former Michigan governor Albert E. Sleeper purchased the building in 1894, and John E. Wallace assumed control in the early 1900’s. The bank joined with Ubly and Bad Axe lending institutions in 1918 to form the Sleeper Banks.
In 1933, during the Great Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared a “Bank Holiday”, and the Emergency Banking Act was passed. That same year, the bank was reorganized by a group of local men. Robert E. Thuemmel was appointed president, Harold F. Finan as cashier, Arnold J. Schumacher as assistant cashier, with A.C. McGraw and Fred W. Kinde as directors. A.C. McGraw and Fred Kinde were later replaced by Mike B. Burns and Ted Schubel, and Harold Finan was named president. Mr. Finan served in that position until his death in 1974. Willet H. "Pete" Schmidt was named his successor, and when he retired in 2000, his son, Steve Schmidt, was named president. (Worth noting, Mr. Finan began his employment in 1918 making the Finan-Schmidt family leadership almost a century old tradition!)
After 74 years, a new bank building was constructed one block west of the original building (our current location). On December 19, 1957, the doors were opened to the public. The new building boasted terrazzo tiles, marble teller windows, “state-of-the-art” equipment including safe deposit boxes and a maximum security main vault. (The original building on the corner of Lake and State Street still exist now functioning as The Bank 1884 restaurant. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.)
The current bank underwent a total interior and exterior renovation in 1997 that incorporated a twenty-six foot extension at the rear of the existing building. The remodeling included a new lobby and teller stations, a new front office, conference room, computer room, employee lounge and heating/cooling system. Exterior improvements included a drive-up ATM machine, and a three-lane exterior drive-up.
Credit: Our thanks to Huron County Michigan Historical Society who graciously allowed us to use their research in creating this section.