The PNC Bank branch on the Leonardtown square closed its doors Friday afternoon. The last transaction made was a $2,600 deposit to the building fund of MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital from the Gough/Broun family.
Sisters Mary Leigh Harless and Jo Ann Gough have fond memories of the bank building. Their father and grandfather were both presidents of First National Bank of St. Mary’s, which built and occupied it. PNC closed the downtown branch to merge its operations with its Breton branch farther north on Route 5. Harless called it the “ending of an era.”
The First National Bank of St. Mary’s was established in 1903 on Washington Street and moved to the corner location next door in 1921 in a larger brick building with a high ceiling in the bank’s lobby. Another three-story addition to the building was constructed in 1966.
During the Great Depression, Harless said, “My grandfather was called in to reopen the bank” in 1930 from the Northern Neck of Virginia as the conservator after customers made a run on the Leonardtown bank to withdraw their money.
“He worked right up until the day that he died,” she said of Roswell Bascom Broun II. He died in 1976 at the age of 87 at St. Mary’s Hospital in Leonardtown. He was still the chairman of the bank’s board, but had retired as bank president seven years before, according to his obituary.
“My dad,” Joseph Marion Gough Jr. “married the boss’ daughter,” Harless said. Joseph Gough died in 2005 at the age of 78. He started work at First National Bank of St. Mary’s in 1952 and became president and chief executive officer in 1968. He retired from chairmanship of the bank board in 1998, according to his obituary. The bank became Mercantile Southern Maryland Bank before it was merged with PNC.
Harless’ sister, Jo Ann Gough, also worked at the bank as a teller, in collections and in bookkeeping. “We’re going to miss the building,” she said.
“Dad was always a longtime supporter of the hospital; grandfather, too,” Harless said, explaining the donation that marked the last banking transaction in the building.
Christine Wray, president of MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital, who received the $2,600 donation, said it’s a historic building and a historic family. “Thank you for thinking of us,” she said.
As crews continued to remove furniture and equipment from the bank, the family made sure they made the last transaction at 3 p.m. when the doors were locked.
Shirley Gross of Mechanicsville made the second-to-last transaction, cashing a check. “I didn’t know they were closing down,” she said and was wondering why there were so many people inside. “I’m going to miss this place,” she said.
PNC Bank is looking to sell the two-building property and the town of Leonardtown would like to buy one building, using part of the space for its offices. Harless said she was encouraged that the town government wants to move in.
“As long as the facade of the building stays,” Jo Ann Gough said. She said he hopes that whatever entity moves in helps to draw people into the county seat “because we love this location.”
“I certainly appreciate everything the Gough family has done over the years for the town of Leonardtown,” said Mayor Dan Burris.