The first bank in Lancaster, the Antelope Valley Bank, was opened in 1891 within a general merchandise store. It had only operated for 3 years when it was destroyed by a fire in 1894. The town went without a bank until 1912 when J.W. Jeal opened the first Bank of Lancaster on Antelope Avenue. George Fuller and others established the Farmers and Merchants Bank, also on Antelope Avenue, in 1913. These two banks united in 1915 and became known as the Antelope Valley Bank.
In March of 1924, three bandits held up the Antelope Valley Bank in a large robbery. After the bandits fled the scene a local car posse chased them down, capturing them and returning them to Lancaster for sentencing.
After decades of successful operation, the Antelope Valley Bank was bought out by the Bank of Italy (now the Bank of America) in December of 1931. This bank served as Lancaster’s only bank throughout the 1940s.
In 1953, the old Bank of America building was demolished to make way for the new sheriff’s station, and the Antelope Valley Bank opened at 665 West Lancaster Boulevard, which is now the site of the Lancaster Museum of Art and History (MOAH). When visiting the museum today, you may still be able to see some aspects reminiscent of the old bank.
"Gurba, Norma H. Lancaster. Arcadia, 2005.
Photo courtesy of MOAH Collections"