Columns Were Pretty Cool, You Can Bank On It
Editor's Corner by Mike Brown
Rockdale Reporter - 2016-02-18
They began tearing it down 40 years ago this week, Rockdale’s Greek temple.
No joke, a downtown building with an impressive edifice — we’d say “interface” today,
wouldn’t we? — drew plenty of turned heads and was a town landmark on the south side of
the 100 block of East Cameron Avenue for more than 60 years.
Ironically, it was built about 1913 as Citizens State Bank and today that space is
occupied by Citizens National Bank. No relation, sorta, except there actually is a
relationship. More later.
It looks like a Greek temple on purpose. The facade has all the classic parts:
• The Pediment. That’s the triangular doo-hicky on top.
• The Architrave—That’s the big beam on top of the columns.
• The Capital —That’s Austin. No, wait, in architecture that’s the ornate, decorated
frou-frou on top of the columns. That’s what determines whether the columns are Doric,
Ionic, or Corinthian. (I think they were Corinthian, but if I’m wrong, the morning
coffee-drinking bunch at Texas Burger will correct me.)
• And, of course, those four 30-foot columns.
The bank’s owners were so proud of it, rightly so, when it was new they had an ad which
ran on The Reporter’s front page for many months with a drawing of their “temple.”
Citizens State didn’t survive the Great Depression.
Many banks didn’t.
Rockdale’s three banks became one. Rockdale State purchased Citizens State and First
National Bank. Rockdale State was across the corner, then moved to this site in the 1980s
after the 1974 fire which eventually led to the “Greek temple’s” demise.
That RSB building is now Citizens National Bank. So you figure out what relationship that
makes it to the old columned bank. I can’t.
The “temple” once housed Rockdale’s telephone exchange back in the “Hello, Central” days
of real live operators.
With no roof in 1974, it was Rockdale’s “topless tavern during the Centennial
It was one more thing. It was pretty cool. Cooler than any columns I’ve ever done.
One of the old bank’s last photos,
from February, 1976.