PPNB retains ties to Westside

       When Pikes Peak National Bank (then called Pikes Peak Bank of Commerce) opened for business in Old Colorado City in 1957, its vault was the same one that had been used by the one-time First National Bank of Colorado City.
       Although that symbolic link to the past is no longer used for its original purpose, the current bank ownership/management believes Pikes Peak National still has a bond with the traditional Westside business and residential community.
       “It's a Westside bank with Westside people, 100 percent locally owned,” said Earl Georgeson, a Westside resident who has been chairman of the board for Pikes Peak National since 1976. “That's another advantage to our borrowers - that decisions are made right here. We don't have to go to Chicago or North Carolina.”
       There's even a family tie: His son, John Georgeson, became chief executive officer in 2001 after being associated with the bank for 15 years. Although not a Westside resident, John Georgeson said he is “very supportive of Old Colorado City” and has worked with other building owners and the Old Colorado City Historical Society “to support the historic integrity of the area.”
       But both Earl and John would rather talk less about themselves and more about the bank's philosophy of providing the community with a solid, sensibly run financial institution.
       “We try to be prudent,” John Georgeson said. “We like to think we're one of the safest banks you could put your money in. You don't have to worry about FDIC insurance because we're not going to fail.”
       When it comes to making loans, people should also rest assured that care will be involved, according to Earl Georgeson. This is because “we're not lending our money,” he said. “We're lending our depositors' money.”
       One area that investors ought to research with a bank (but often don't) is the relationship between assets and deposits, the Georgesons said. A solid bank's assets (which includes building values) will typically be only slightly higher than its deposits, meaning it doesn't make a practice of borrowing money for investment purposes. This conservative approach has been true even as Pikes Peak National has grown over the years: A report from 1982 listed assets at $26.7 million and deposits at $23.9, while a report for this year lists assets at $84 million and deposits at $75 million.
       Speaking of growth, the bank now has two branches away from the Westside - one at North Academy and Flintridge and another at Camden and Plaza in Fountain. There are 42 employees in all, 30 of which are at the Westside facility.
       “We're considering a couple of other locations,” Earl Georgeson said, adding that they would be in the Westside area.
       Even now, the bank's service area is just El Paso and Teller County. “We're really just a small to medium-sized business,” John Georgeson said. “We're not a bank that goes after big, glamour businesses, but one that's interested in residents and local businesses.”
       The bank on the Westside is at 2401 W. Colorado Ave. The site is across the street from the Colorado Building at 2418 W. Colorado Ave. The Michael Garman Gallery has been there for nearly 30 years, but from 1957 to 1966 it was the home of the Pikes Peak Bank of Commerce. In 1966, the bank moved to the 2401 site, where it got a new building and its current name.
       According to historical sources, it was the third bank at the 2418 site. The first was the First National Bank of Colorado City, which opened in 1906 and kept that name until Colorado City was annexed to Colorado Springs in 1917.
       (Historical side note: A marble slab that served as a cashier's countertop at the Colorado City bank is preserved at the Old Colorado City History Center.)
       Because of a name conflict with the First National Bank of Colorado Springs, First National Bank of Colorado City changed its name to City National Bank, staying in business until it merged with Colorado Springs National Bank in 1932.
       After that, Old Town had no bank until the 1957 opening of Pikes Peak Bank of Commerce.
       (Another historical side note: Legend has it that when a drug store operated at that location in the 1930s - after City National closed - a drug store owner used the old vault to store his liquor inventory.)
       Early leaders of Pikes Peak Bank included two former Colorado Springs mayors - C. Harry Blunt of Blunt Mortuary (who was chairman of the board) and William Henderson (who was bank president).
       Earl Georgeson first came to the Westside in 1943, assigned to Peterson Field for a time during World War II. After the war, he pursued a financial career. He and his family moved to the Westside in 1967, then relocated to northeastern Colorado for a time before returning here for good. “We've always liked the Westside,” he said. “And I had faith in Pikes Peak National. I bought stock in it when people might not have thought that was wise.”
       He is blunt about his early years as chairman of the board. “The management wasn't as strong as we would have liked,” he said. “But we got that straightened out in 1978. Since then we've had good, sound, management… I made it more aggressive, more interested in serving the public.”
       He spoke highly of Dennis Richie, who was bank president for 22 years before retiring 2 years ago. Robin Sapien, whom Richie hired, is now the president. “She does a tremendous job,” Earl Georgeson said. “She's on the board of the Red Cross and involved in so many things. That's one of her great values to the bank.”
       Sapien, who has been with PPNB for five years in all, said she enjoys working for a locally owned bank. “It's always unique when you can work at a place where the ownership is so close,” she said.
       The Pikes Peak Bank of Commerce was the first in the city to open on Saturdays (back in the 1950s). The service continues to this day from 9 a.m. to noon in the bank lobby and in the drive-up facility on the southeast corner of 24th and Colorado. The lobby and drive-up are also open during daytime hours Monday through Friday.
       As for the big old bank vault, it hasn't gone anywhere. If you want to see it, all you have to do is walk into Garman's and look at the wall behind the main counter. That's one side of the vault. It's been sheetrocked to look like any other wall; in fact, the interior is now the store manager's office. But the giveaway is the office door opening, which was once the vault entrance. It's about 2 ˝ feet wide. According to a Garman employee, the vault walls are made of steel-reinforced concrete that remain, to this day, undrillable.

Westside Pioneer Article