THE OLD BANK
Before it was Station 2 Cafe, our building housed part of the Ste. Genevieve Volunteer Fire Department. The old Merchant's bank of St Louis also sat on this very same spot, and was seated here on the corner of Main and Merchant Streets until the mid 1930s. After the bank was torn down, a service station was built. This service station occupied what is now the kitchen of the restaurant. The current dining room was added at a later date.
THE CIVIL WAR
On August 15th, 1861, a large Union force, commanded by Major John McDonald, arrived in Ste. Genevieve, surrounded the town, and remained in hiding until daybreak.
Finding no Confederates closer than Pilot Knob, MO, Major McDonald used the visit to relieve the Merchant's Bank of St. Louis, located in Ste. Genevieve, of $58,000, which he took back to St. Louis aboard the steamer Hannibal, openly threatening to return and take his vengeance upon those doing harm to local Union sympathizers.
FRANK, JESSE JAMES & THE YOUNGER GANG ROBBED THIS SPOT MAY 27TH 1873
From a St. Louis newspaper account of the robbery:
St. Louis Weekly Globe May 30, 1873:
“If there is any operation in which the audaciousness of pure deviltry ever be displayed, it is in the exercise of robbing a bank in broad daylight.
Situated upon the corner of Merchant street and Main stands a two-story brick house, formerly occupied as a dwelling but now used as a banking-house by the Ste. Genevieve Saving Association; General F. A. Rosier is President and O. D. Harris, Esq., Cashier...
...When halfway in the room the Cashier happened to turn his head and was startled at sight of two pistols pointed at his temples, and was most thoroughly aroused to the delicacy of the situation, as he felt the cold muzzles quickly pressed to them. The force used by the robbers was so great that for hours afterwards one of his temples showed the mark of the pistol barrel. Before he could remonstrate he was saluted with a stirring command, “open the safe or I’ll blow your damned brains out.’’ Mr. Harris hesitated about opening the safe, which being observed, caused the robbers to level their pistols at Rozier, threatening to shoot him if he should run.
But Rozier broke away and was confronted by the two other men on horseback, who were concealed from observation.
…The robbers speedily released Mr. Harris, mounted their horses, and the four commenced firing in all directions in intimidate pursuers. Above the report of shots was heard a wild “Hurrah! For Sam Hildebrand, catch the horse-thieves if you can,” and the rapid hoofbeats of the retreating horses showed that the “job” was finished.
…Two of the robbers slept the night before at a farm house two miles out. They knew that General Rozier, the President, whose room was on the same floor with the bank room, was absent.
The robbery, one of the boldest on record, did not pan out very handsomely, as the booty amounted to only $3600.”
From the Ste. Genevieve Fair Play, May 29, 1873:
A Four Thousand Dollar Haul!
Four men walk into the Merchants Bank of Ste. Genevieve in open daylight and rob the safe of its contests and escape!!
Tuesday morning at 10 o’clock...Four men rode into town on horseback and hitched their horses in the vicinity of Mr. Anderson’s store, they walked leisurely up to the bank; two of them stopped outside and two of them started into the bank....
...each one drew a pistol and presented it to Mr. Harris’ head and said, ‘Open the safe, damn you, or I will blow your brains out.’”
THE GAS STATION AND THE FIRE HOUSE
After the old bank was torn down, the building which you see today was built on top of the old site. Built in the mid 1930s, the building was originally the main gas station for downtown Ste. Genevieve, MO, owned by Standard Oil. The hydraulic floor lift that they used to work on the cars in the service section is still in the building today....look under the bench!
Eventually the gas station closed down in the 70s, the underground gas tanks were removed, and the building was taken over by the Ste. Genevieve Volunteer Fire Department (which was established in 1894) and became the Station 1 Firehouse. Station 1 was eventually changed to Station 2, when the fire department built the newer building next door (which they then named Station 1).
Over the years there were many different fire trucks and firefighters that were part of our building. In the 2000s, the Ste. Genevieve fire department built a new and larger building, and our building became open for purchase to the public. After purchasing the building, we renovated and remodeled the building, plumbing, heating, paint, bathrooms, kitchen, etc. into the cafe that stands today.