The Bank of Florence
The Bank of Florence was chartered by the Nebraska Territorial legislature on January 18, 1856. It was located in this substantial building, constructed during the same year. Sheet steel one quarter inch thick, shipped by river steamboat from Pennsylvania steel mills, was used in conjunction with three foot thick masonry to build the vault.
The bank was owned and operated by the respected Iowa financial firm of Cook and Sargent. It played an important role in the aspiration of the town of Florence to become the leading transportation and financial center of Nebraska. Frontier banking practices were lax and along with other banks in Nebraska Territory the Bank of Florence issued quantities of unsecured "wild cat" currency and financed speculation in land. Weakened by the financial panic of 1857 the Bank failed in 1859. Only one bank in Nebraska territory survived the Panic.
The building housed a variety of subsequent business operations including a second Bank of Florence which was chartered in 1904. It is now restored as it appeared in territorial times.