Benton County’s oldest bank ‘corrects’ historical misspelling, plans renovation in Gravette

by Paul Gatling (pgatling@nwabj.com) 2,420 views 

Legacy National Bank and Bank of Gravette board of directors, from left: Brian Glenn (Bank of Gravette President), Loyd Swope, David Harris, Steve Stafford, Patrick Swope (Legacy National Bank President and CEO), Gary Jech, Don Gibson (Legacy National Bank CEO Emeritus), Matt Mawby and Gary George (board chairman).

The oldest bank in Benton County has a new name — sort of.

Springdale-based holding company Legacy BancShares Inc. has updated the name of one of its subsidiaries from Bank of Gravett to Bank of Gravette. Company officials unveiled a new logo with the extra “e” and are planning a major remodel of the bank’s headquarters on Main Street in Gravette.

Besides its status as Benton County’s oldest bank, Bank of Gravett has historically caused confusion because of the spelling discrepancy between the bank’s name and the city. Especially true to the thousands of residents who’ve relocated to Northwest Arkansas, who may have noticed the difference and believed they were seeing a typo.

On March 1, 1898, James Turner “J.T.” Edmondson founded the Bank of Gravett, making it the oldest bank in Benton County and one of the oldest in the state.

According to Michael von Ree of the Gravette Historical Museum, who writes for the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture: “With E.T. Gravett managing the project, the land was platted for the original town, and papers were filed July 26, 1893. The town of Gravette received its charter on Aug. 9, 1893. No one is sure how or when the town got the extra ‘e’ at the end of its name. The most popular story involves confusion within the postal service and a town with a similar name.”

That extra “e” was likely added sometime after Bank of Gravett was chartered in 1898. Thus, the bank retained the original spelling in its commercial name.

Rickie Stark, a longtime Gravette resident and the bank’s vice president of business development, said the story is well known in the community.

“The post office asked the town to change its name sometime in the 1920’s to avoid confusion with the town of Gillett, because it also ended in double ‘t,’ Stark said “For reasons unknown, the bank decided not to follow suit, until now. We think it’s about time.”

Bank of Gravette President Brian Glenn said even though the bank has added an “e” and plans to remodel, the Bank of Gravette will remain a hometown bank.

“Everything our customers love about the bank will stay intact,” Glenn said. “We’ll just be able to serve the community better and further Bank of Gravette’s legacy. We’re making an investment in Gravette with this extensive remodel on Main Street, because we believe in Gravette. Sharing the name of our town down to the letter is just a perfect opportunity to let the community know we are all in.”

Legacy BancShares, also the holding company for Legacy National Bank, bought the Bank of Gravette in July 2018. The two banks operate separately and independently of each other.

Bank of Gravette, with assets of $134.25 million as of March 31, has three full-service locations, in Gravette, Hiwasse and Centerton.

Legacy officials say upgrades to the bank’s most visible location will include new customer-friendly waiting areas for “relationship bankers” to greet customers closer to the front of the lobby. When the project is completed, the Main Street branch will have a more current look, with more natural lighting, large televisions and a more efficient floor plan.

CEO Patrick Swope said the name change and remodel is true to the holding company’s philosophy of supporting communities and locally owned, community-minded banks throughout Northwest Arkansas.

“We want to build banking relationships and invest in the communities we serve,” said Swope. “It was important for us to have a welcoming banking center for our customers in Gravette. When the doors open next spring, I hope all the citizens of Gravette and the surrounding area stop by to see and experience the renewed and enthusiastic culture.”

Bank officials say it will take several months to get everything updated to the new logo, but customers can expect to see it appear gradually throughout the company’s footprint.

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