Taos Plaza U.S. Bank branch set to close | Business
After 12 years, the US Bank location in the southwest corner of Taos Plaza will close on February 16, potentially ending a 100-year history of banking services in the city’s historic square.
A note at the front entrance of the bank reminds customers of the branch closure announced in November.
“Customer banking preferences and behaviors are changing, including a rapid migration to digital and mobile banking platforms and a desire for greater simplicity,” Jada Campaore, the bank’s business line communications manager, said in an email to Taos News. “As we continue to evolve with our customers, we are re-evaluating our physical footprint and, in some cases, consolidating branches in select markets.
“We understand that the closure of a store is disruptive to both our customers and our employees,” continued Campaore, “and we are working to make the transition as smooth as possible for everyone involved.”
According to Campaore, branch employees are “encouraged to apply for open positions” if they want to stay with the bank. US bank employees who worked at the Plaza branch claimed they were not allowed to speak to the media about the closure.
Title to the property remains with US Bancorp, the parent company of US Bank. However, that does not mean that the long history of the bank is coming to an end. This location was not always flagged by US Bancorp; The first bank to open on this property was the First State Bank of Taos.
According to a June 17, 1965 Taos News article, the First State Bank of Taos was formed in 1922 from the literal ashes of the First National Bank. Alex Gusdorf, founder of First National Bank, was elected president of First State Bank, originally located in the northwest corner of the plaza. At its original location, a fire destroyed the north side of the square, the bank was only saved because the roofs were doused with water.
At this location, the bank withstood more than one fire. On October 13, 1955, a burglar successfully robbed the bank and ran away with $8,000, according to the Taos News article. Although the robbery was successful, the escape was not. Two days later, the burglar was found on the side of the road. The entire fiasco ended with the thief resisting arrest, threatening the life of a police officer, and then being shot dead by an FBI agent.
The plaza’s southwest corner was occupied by a variety of businesses before the First State Bank moved there. First it was the Gerson Gusdorf general store, then the Don Fernando Hotel that burned down completely in 1933. Safeway Store called the corner home until 1963, and in June 1965, the First State Bank of Taos took over the site and renovated the property. At that time, deposits at the bank were in the $7 million range.
The First State Bank wasn’t finished yet; A branch was opened in Questa in 1966 and a Southside branch in Taos in 1978. Both new locations offered drive-over windows, a luxury at the time. As they expanded within Taos County, First State Bank was acquired by First Bank in 1988.
According to a Taos News article from the June 27, 2002 issue, as of March 31, 2002, the First State Bank had $820 million in assets. Later that year, they acquired First Community Industrial Bank, but dropped the “Industrial” from the title. A December 8, 2005 Taos News annual report said First State Bank changed its name to First Community Bank after a 2004 lawsuit began between New Mexico and Colorado. The First State Bank of Taos then changed its name to First Community Bank.
More than five years later, on January 28, 2011, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation declared the First Community Bank in Taos a “failed bank.” Both the Plaza and Paseo del Pueblo Sur were quickly sold to US Bancorp.
US Bank’s Taos Southside branch remains open. It is located at 1021 Paseo del Pueblo Sur, next to Storyteller Cinema 7.