Commerce to celebrate 120th anniversary

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Barry County's oldest bank will celebrate its 120th anniversary this Friday. Commerce Bank will host a celebration in honor of its milestone birthday from 5 to 8 p.m. on Aug. 24 outside the bank's Main Street location.

The event, which is free to the public, will feature burgers and hot dogs, door prizes and live entertainment. Performances will begin at 5 p.m. and will include music by Walk-Ins Welcome, Tonya LeDawn Davison and Point South.

"We are anticipating a great event on Friday night to celebrate our 120 years in the community and look forward to seeing everyone there," said Mike McCracken, bank president.

Those who plan to attend the celebration and enjoy the live music are asked to bring a lawn chair for seating.

Commerce Bank's beginnings in the Cassville community date back to January of 1887 when the Barry County Bank was established with $10,000 in capital stock.

W.K. Bayless was president of the county's first financial institution and J.M. Bayless served as cashier. Original incorporators included both W.K. and J.M. Bayless as well as J.L. Padgett, William Earle, D.D. Bayless and Thomas M. Alen.

The original bank building, which was located where the main Commerce Bank building sits today, was destroyed by fire on April 18, 1893. While a new building was being constructed, the bank was moved temporarily to a home owned by John Bayless, which is now being lovingly restored by members of the Barry County Genealogical and Historical Society.

By the time the bank moved into its new building, assets had grown to over $100,000. In 1947, the bank celebrated its 60 anniversary and listed over $1 million in assets.

Over the past century, the bank experienced many changes, expansions and milestones.

In 1962, Barry County Bank installed the area's first drive-through, and in February of 1975, the bank was purchased by Commerce Bancshares, Inc. That same year, Commerce financed construction of a small park, sitting area and customer parking lot to the north of the bank building.

Other renovations and additions have included: a vault expansion and construction of the Eagle Rock Branch in 1978; the addition of 1,000 square feet of space to its main facility in 1984; and construction of a South Main banking facility in 1988, which featured three drive-up teller windows and walk-in lobby service.

The bank currently employs 19 individuals and continues to be an integral part of the Barry County community. Commerce Bank frequently sponsors community events, civic organizations and educational endeavors and has been an integral part of the area's economic prosperity for the past 12 decades.

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