"SHSI Certificate of Recognition"
"Best on the Web"

Encyclopedia Dubuque


"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
Marshall Cohen—researcher and producer, CNN

Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


From Encyclopedia Dubuque
Revision as of 21:20, 8 July 2021 by Randylyon (talk | contribs)
(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)
Jump to navigationJump to search
American Trust and Savings Bank

AMERICAN TRUST AND SAVINGS BANK. In 1991 American Trust was Dubuque's second oldest bank. American Trust is the successor of the GERMAN SAVINGS BANK.

In 1905 the German Savings Bank of Dubuque opened a branch office at the corner of 18th and Central to serve the citizens of the city's North End. (1) By 1907 the 18th and Couler (Central) Avenue branch had proven so popular that on October 14, 1911, the board of directors of the German Savings Bank met to consider opening another bank originally called the Eighteenth Street German Savings Bank. The two banks differed only in name and location. (2) The board of directors of the German Bank was asked to serve as provisional directors and officers of the bank until the first stockholders' meeting. Shareholders of the German Bank were offered an opportunity to buy stock of the new bank on November 30,1911. Each person was offered one share in the new institution for each share owned in the parent bank. By the time the State of Iowa chartered the bank on December 27, 1911 it had been renamed the German American Savings Bank. (3)

On January 16, 1912, the first annual stockholders meeting of the German American Savings Bank was held. The directors included Charles Christman, William S. Dennis, M. J. McCullough, Henry Michel, Nicholas J. SCHRUP, Sr., and Charles Joseph SPAHN, Sr. The German American and German Bank had identical directors and officers with the exception of Albert C. Lantzky. The furniture of the former branch bank was sold to the new institution, and the lease of the building was assumed for one dollar. Within nine months, the deposits of the German American Savings Bank had risen to $310,096.57.

The start of WORLD WAR I had a serious effect on banks in Iowa carrying "German" in their names. The charge was made that Germans were withdrawing their money from traditional banks and opening accounts in new banks because support had been demanded of them in the sale of war bonds.

The original Articles of Incorporation for the German Savings Bank had stated that "No person shall be eligible as President of the German Savings Bank or employed as Cashier or Teller, unless they speak and understand the German language." (4) Feeling the word "German" in their name would harm their business, the stockholders of German American Savings Bank changed the name of their institution. On April 28, 1918, German American Savings Bank became American Trust and Savings Bank. (5) A new charter was issued in August 1918.

Bank cup and saucer. Photo courtesy: Bob Reding

The change in name signaled an expansion of services the bank could offer in the field of trust services. With continued growth expected, a new bank building was constructed at 1842 Central and opened for business in August 1, 1918.

American Trust and Savings Bank lobby. Photo courtesy: Bob Reding
. Photo courtesy: Bob Reding

In 1934 American Trust opened for business in the BANK AND INSURANCE BUILDING. American Trust and FIRST NATIONAL BANK OF DUBUQUE were the only Dubuque banks to survive the Great Depression. (6) On February 19, 1945 American Trust opened for business in a new downtown location, the former location of the FEDERAL BANK AND TRUST COMPANY, its present location on TOWN CLOCK PLAZA. (7)

As the bank began its second half-century in 1962, additions and change occurred. American Trust and Savings Bank purchased the Tower Building in 1963 and rented out office space. This later became motor-bank office at Ninth and Locust and a third banking center was opened on Kennedy Road. Through the 1990s, American Trust opened offices in Key West and 32nd and Jackson. In 1986 American Trust acquired the Dyersville National Bank and the Dyersville office of Midland Savings Bank in 1990. In 1990 American Trust announced its American Trust Super Money Market, Dubuque's first full-service retail bank facility located inside a grocery store. Found inside ECONOFOODS on John F. Kennedy Road, the center offered residents the opportunity to shop and complete their banking business with one stop. The purchase of the former MARKET PLACE DUBUQUE led to the unveiling of the remodeled American Trust Financial Center in 1991. In 2003 a new facility was opened at the 32nd and Jackson location and a new office was opened in Farley. (8)

Block used in printing. Photo courtesy: Joe Jacobsmeier

In 1985 ATBancorp (originally incorporated as Amtrust, Inc.) was formed to serve as the bank holding company for American Trust & Savings Bank. In 2013 ATBancorp was a two-bank holding company for American Trust and American Bank & Trust–Wisconsin. Headquartered in Dubuque, ATBancorp was a banking organization with assets in excess of $900 million serving nine communities through seventeen banking facilities in Eastern and Central Iowa and Southwest Wisconsin. (9)

In August 1994 a hailstorm damaged the bell carillon. The manufacturer of the original equipment had gone out of business and replacement parts were impossible to locate. Eventually bank officials simply chose to replace the old with new equipment. The chromatically tuned bells were not heard again until May 12, 1997 when the bells again played popular melodies at 9:00 a.m., noon, and 5:00 p.m. daily. (10) Traditional carillons rely on manual striking of bells. The updated version on the bank features an electronic recording broadcast through four loud-speakers flanking the rooftop of the 158-foot building. The metal box controlling the chimes is about the size of a 1950s television set and operates from a room on the 13th floor. One person changed the memory cards on which the music was recorded and adjusted the times the chimes rung. He was also in charge of operating the weather beacon. (11)

In 1998, ATBancorp acquired the Cuba City State Bank in Cuba City and Hazel Green, Wisconsin. ATBancorp announced the expansion of services in Wisconsin with a new office in Lancaster in 2001. All three Wisconsin offices were united under the new name of American Bank & Trust–WI. The year 2002 brought added growth with an office in Fennimore, Wisconsin. In July 2006, American Bank's newest office opened in Platteville, Wisconsin. (12)

In 2003 the Trust Department of the bank was renamed the Financial Management Group to better indicate its scope including wealth management, retirement planning, investment and brokerage services. By 2011 the assets under management exceeded $1 billion making the Group one of the largest independent bank trust operations in Iowa. (13)

ATBancorp extended into other banking markets as well. In March 2003, the company became a significant investor in a new state-chartered bank formed in San Mateo, California. State chartered United American Bank (UAB) was formed in 2003 as a community bank specializing in commercial and private banking services. The bank grew quickly, and by 2007 UAB had grown to four California banking offices in San Mateo, Sunnyvale, Half Moon Bay, and Redwood City. (14)

The Financial Management Group division of American Trust with assets under management exceeding $1.2 billion is one of the largest independent Iowa-based operations in trust and related services. The Financial Management Group offers clients wealth management, retirement planning, investment, and brokerage services. In January 2005, the Financial Management Group began to offer wealth management services to United American Bank clients in California through its affiliation with ATBancorp. (15)

In 2006 a new office replaced the original bank in Key West and in 2007 an office was established at HARTIG DRUG COMPANY at 1600 University Avenue. (16) In 2006, a new ATBancorp subsidiary was formed to serve as a Registered Investment Advisory (RIA) company in the Financial Management Group division. ATFinancial Advisors provided strategic growth models and additional investment alternatives. (17)

American Trust's barometer in 2010 remained a distinctive landmark in the community.
Advertisement from 1975. Photo courtesy: Telegraph Herald and Paul Hemmer

Since 1975 one of the most distinctive features of the American Trust Building was its gigantic barometer that signaled forecasts of the National Weather Service. Looking like a large lighted arrow from a distance, the instrument was wrapped by bands of red neon and topped by a cube that alternated between white, green or red. Rising temperatures were shown when the red bands flashed from the bottom to the top of the tower. Falling temperatures were shown when the bands flashed from the top to the bottom. Steady temperatures were indicated by the red neon being lit continuously. The cube at the top showed white for clear weather, green for clouds, red for rain, and flashing red for snow.

In 2016 a program called, "Teach Children To Save," involved bankers from American Trust & Savings Bank going to elementary schools in Dubuque. An anticipated 1,400 students were expected to be taught concepts of saving including the value of compound interest. (18)

The 1987 Dubuque City Directory listed 9th and Town Clock Plaza, 280 Kennedy Road, Jackson at 32nd, 2600 Rockdale Road, and 301 1st Avenue East in Dyersville.

American Trust in 2013 had the following Iowa locations:

Dubuque Downtown---------------895 Main St - Dubuque, IA 52001

Dubuque 9th and Locust---------913 Locust St - Dubuque, IA 52001

Dubuque West-------------------280 Kennedy Rd - Dubuque, IA 52002

Dubuque North------------------3250 Jackson St - Dubuque, IA 52001

Dubuque South------------------2600 Rockdale Rd - Dubuque, IA 52003

Inside Hartig Drug-------------1600 University Ave - Dubuque, IA 52001

Asbury Rd and NW Arterial------4730 Asbury Rd - Dubuque, IA 52002

Dyersville---------------------301 First Avenue E - Dyersville, IA 52040

Farley-------------------------400 First St SW - Farley, IA 52046

Hawthorne Plaza----------------9350 University Ave, Ste 138 - West Des Moines, IA 50266

Dyersville Highway 136 Office--1422 9th St. SE - Dyersville, IA 52040

On August 23, 2018, officials of MIDWESTONE FINANCIAL GROUP INC. and Nicholas Schrup III. chairman and president of ATBancorp announced the acquisition of ATBancorp, a transaction valued at $170.3 million. ATBancorp was also the holding company for American Bank & Trust Wisconsin. The Schrup family owned more than 99 percent of ATBancorp which employed more than three hundred people including 275 in the city of Dubuque. Once the purchase was finalized the family would hold 25% ownership in MidWestOne. (19)

The sale did not include the retirement services portion of American Trust and Savings Bank. That was to be sold prior to the arrangement with MidWestOne. The investment firm AT Capital Management was also not part of the purchase. ATBancorp had $1.4 billion in assets at the time of the purchase. MidWestOne after the acquisition would have an estimated $4.7 billion in assets with 36 branches in Iowa, 13 in Minnesota, and 9 in Wisconsin. There were two branches in Florida and one in Colorado. (20)

In March, 2019 it was announced that as a result of the merger, 44 local bank employees would lose their jobs. Some would be cut when the merger was completed on May 1st. Other cuts would be on a staggered schedule. Positions cut were described as duplicative and non-customer-facing. (21)

Rare American Trust advertising umbrella. Photo courtesy: Bob Reding
Savings bank-front
Savings bank-back
American Trust trinket box
Base of trinket box
Pride in 100 years of service was shown in 2011 with banners.
Children's savings book for dimes ca.1959
Inside of savings book
Second type of dime savings book
Pocket Pig-savings book for quarters
Inside of the quarter savings book. ca.1950s
Matchbook. Photo courtesy: Mike Avitt
Cast iron bank.




1. "The American Trust Story," Julien's Journal, August 2011, p. 45

2. Ibid.

3. Ibid.

4. Ibid.

5. Ibid.

6. List of Banks Now Operating Without Restrictions," Telegraph Herald and Times Journal, March 21, 1933, p. 1. Online: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=8v1QAAAAIBAJ&sjid=Or4MAAAAIBAJ&pg=5239,5073995&dq=american+trust+and+savings+bank+dubuque&hl=en

7. "Announcing," (advertisement), Telegraph Herald, February 18, 1945, p. 2

8. "The American Trust Story," p. 67

9. American Trust and Savings Bank website. Online: http://www.americantrust.com/info-center/locations/locations-and-hours.html

10. "Clock Carillon Set to Ring After Repair," Telegraph Herald, May 12, 1997, p. 3A. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=aEyKTaVlRPYC&dat=19970512&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

11. Goldstein, Bennet, "Ringing Downtown's Routine," Telegraph Herald, Feb. 18, 2020, p. 1A

12. "Clock Carillon..."

13. "The American Trust Story," Julien's Journal, August 2011, p. 67

14. Ibid.

15. American Trust and Savings Bank website

16. "The American Trust Story," p. 67

17. American Trust and Savings Bank website

18. Descorbeth, Shirley. "Students Learn About Saving Money from Bankers," KWWL.com. Online: http://www.kwwl.com/story/31853370/2016/04/29/students-learn-about-saving-money-from-bankers

19. Montgomery, Jeff. "American Trust Sold to MidWestOne," Telegraph Herald, August 23, 2018, p. 1A

20. Ibid., p. 2A

21. Montgomery, Jeff, "44 Loal Bank Employees Losing Jobs," Telegraph Herald, March 30, 2019, p. 1

"Butchers, Bankers, and Cabinet Makers," Booklet accompanying the Robert Reding exhibit at the OLD JAIL 2007-2010