Born from an economic boom as timber was harvested from the mountains surrounding Wardensville, W.Va., and more recently tested by the economic downturn of the last decade, Capon Valley Bank has demonstrated resilience in good times and bad, marking its 100th anniversary in July of 2018.
“We are humbled by this milestone,” said Alan L. Brill, President, “and we know that a century of community banking isn’t possible without the support of the communities we serve, coupled with the efforts of our dedicated employees.”
For a bank that now holds approximately $150 million in assets, operates five offices (three in West Virginia and two in Virginia), and employs more than 60 people, Capon Valley Bank’s beginnings were humble. Newspaper articles in 1918 took note of a “healthy boom at Wardensville” brought about by timber deals, which fueled development of a branch railroad line and a lumber mill. Because of this economic activity, there was a need for a local financial institution, and a group of investors, including representatives of the timber and railroad companies, met to organize Capon Valley Bank with $30,000 in capital. William Barney was elected president, and B.F. Sine was named secretary and cashier.
During the bank’s first day of operation, July 30, 1918, there were 26 deposits totaling $4,958.96, and one $850 loan was approved. The bank’s office was a rented room on Wardensville’s Main Street that would be home to the bank for the next 30 years.
Bank operations weren’t seamless in those early days, and Capon Valley Bank faced its first major challenge early. Barely two months after its first stockholders’ meeting, held in January 1919, the bank’s president, William Barney, passed away. Despite this turmoil, the bank marked its first anniversary with more than $85,000 in assets and $54,000 in deposits. A second stockholders’ meeting in August 1919 saw the election of J.V. Warden as president.
Warden, a scion of the town’s namesake family, provided leadership for the next 36 years, and that steadiness helped the bank weather a host of tumult through the 1930s and early 1940s. Locally, the timber boom turned to bust, the lumber mill closed, and the railroad halted operations. Nationally, the Great Depression was bearing down on Americans and banks were closing across the country. Internationally, the world would wage war. Capon Valley Bank certainly did not grow during this trying period, but the bank weathered the challenges, applied for membership with the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation in 1933, and emerged from the close of World War II with plans for a new home.
In 1946, the bank announced it would build a new office on a lot down the street from its rented quarters. On Feb. 25, 1949, the office at 2 W. Main St., Wardensville, was formally opened. The star of the new office was the massive vault door, purchased from Diebold for $5,971. The building, and its vault, is still the core of the bank’s main office today, albeit in a different configuration due to several building renovations and expansions completed in 1974, 1984, and 2001.
As the bank moved into the 1980s, long-term plans turned toward providing additional services for neighboring communities. In May 1986, a mere seven months after the horrific November 1985 flood inundated South Branch Valley communities, Capon Valley Bank opened its first branch banking office in Moorefield, W.Va., By opening the office so soon after the devasting flood, the bank demonstrated its support for the Moorefield community and its recovery.
One month later the bank’s board approved a merger with Highlands Bankshares Inc., a holding company affiliated with nearby Grant County Bank. After the merger Capon Valley Bank, now a subsidiary of Highlands Bankshares, continued to operate independently with its own local board, an operational structure that is still in place today.
Capon Valley Bank opened its second branch office in Baker, W.Va., in June 1997, and in June 2001 the bank looked eastward and opened its first out-of-state branch office, located in Gore, Va.
With the success of its Virginia branch, the bank anticipated growing into neighboring communities, and began work on a new branch office in Stephens City, Va. Unfortunately, the timing of that office’s opening, September 2010, was dampened by the ongoing national economic crisis that again reshaped banking across the country. However, with the aplomb and resilience that has shaped its identity since 1918, the bank persevered and has solidified its place in the Frederick County, Va., market.