The Mechanics Bank Building, recently restored and expanded on the corner of South Main Street and Park Avenue West, is a landmark that has occupied an important corner in Mansfield history since its construction in 1926.
In the early years of the city, that corner was occupied by a two story brick residence owned by Robert Bowland. Bowland’s son was involved in one of the most notorious crimes in early Richland County history, an event chronicled in “Two Sons: The Bowland-Barker Murder” by Alan Wigton (available at Main Street Books downtown).
The institution it serves dates to 1886, and 130 years later remains the only locally-owned and managed financial institution of its kind in Mansfield. The bank’s website provides an interesting overview of its first operation, noting that Mechnics operated from a private office, and then only for two evenings a week. Moving in 1913 to the May Building at 30 South Park Street (which stands today), its headquarters building opened on September 23, 1926.
The structure was designed by prolific local architect Vernon Redding. Profiled elsewhere in this series, Redding’s many Mansfield designs included the Farmers Bank Building (now Chase Bank Building), the Leland Hotel, the Barrington Building, and others.
In the 1920s brochure “Examples of Bank Work in Georgia Marble,” a photograph of Mechanics Bank (left) joins many others from across the country, each sporting an exterior of the unique stone. Georgia marble is “composed of small crystals that overlap and interlock in much the same fashion as the dove-tailed joint,” the work declared, stating that “…it has been used with great effectiveness in the largest financial institutions in the country.”