Robinson State Bank Building
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Robinson State Bank Building

Although the building on W. Main Street dates to 1890, Dr. James Isaac Bonner and William Brice Robinson founded the institution responsible for its construction about a decade earlier. Around 1880, Bonner and Robinson opened a public banking facility in nearby Palestine. According to one source, the Moody family of Galveston encouraged them to open a banking house. "It was under their guidance that the Bonner and Robinson Bank was organized. . . .The Moody's felt very strongly that the railroad center needed the banking facility" (Thornton n.d.: 147). Originally, the bank was called Bonner & Robinson, Bankers, and Dealers in Exchange, and occupied a building in Palestine's bustling downtown.

The business flourished and in 1890 new construction began on the Romanesque Revival building on Main Street (the original location of the bank is not known). At first, Robinson was the principal manager of the bank. Following the death of Bonner around 1900, Robinson's younger brothers (G.S. Robinson and Z. Lee Robinson) and sister (Margaret Robinson Boulware) came to Palestine from their native South Carolina to assist with the bank's operation. At this point, each became an officer of the bank and they renamed the institution Robinson Brothers, Bankers.

Z. Lee Robinson assumed control of the bank after his brother and bank co-founder William Robinson died on April 25, 1905. G.S. Robinson II, William Robinson's grandson, served as manager. Around 1920 the name changed to Robinson Guaranty State Bank & Trust Company, and eight years later it changed again, this time to Robinson State Bank & Trust Company.

On December 30, 1937, the bank merged with Royall National Bank, which Nathaniel R. Royall founded in Palestine in 1904. Z. Lee Robinson and Guy Thornwell Robinson, son of W.B. Robinson, became officers of Royall National Bank, which today is one of the largest banks in the city. All banking operations were moved from the Romanesque Revival building on Main Street and a variety of businesses have since occupied the space.

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