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Wells Fargo Bank mural, displays stir memories of the past

By Scott Swanson
Lebanon Local

Manager Martin Forbes holds an antique adding machine, with others of his extensive collection of antique business instruments in the background, as Forbes stands behind an old bank ledger. The machines are exhibited throughout the bank.

Martin Forbes has always liked old stuff, and since he’s a banker, that includes antique finance-related equipment: adding machines, cash registers, check canceling machines, coin counters – you name it.
“I’ve had that black one there since I was 12 years old; found it in a thrift shop,” said Forbes, gesturing toward an ancient adding machine near his manager’s desk at Lebanon’s Wells Fargo bank branch.
Displayed around his desk are a wide variety of machines. Others are scattered throughout the bank.
Also visible from his desk is the bank’s newest feature: a giant mural displaying historic photos of Lebanon that’s mounted on the wall next to the entrance.
The inspiration for that started when Forbes was carpooling to work with his wife, whose job at the time was in Albany.
“I had time before and after (business hours),” he said. “There was a photo album full of old photos in the break room and I started looking through that one night.”
Inside were old photos of Lebanon and of the bank, which began in 1910 as the First National Bank of Lebanon. Following a series of mergers and buyouts over the years, Wells Fargo took over in 1996 and has remained since.
“I thought how cool it was, that this bank had lasted more than 100 years.”
Forbes said he took a weekend trip to a discount store and bought some rust-colored photo frames “to match our Wells Fargo red” and mounted them on pillars inside the bank, where they are still displayed.
Then he got the idea of putting historic photos on a wall mural.
“We had been scheduled last year for a branch refresh/remodel,” he said. “Just because you get a remodel doesn’t mean you get a mural.”
But the regional president, Cindy Johnson, approved the idea and the bank’s Mural Team solicited and colorized them and put them together in the 10½ by 14-foot mural. It was unveiled Dec. 17.
The mural includes historic photos of downtown Lebanon, the bank, Cascade Plywood, Scroggins Feed and Seed, the Lebanon Express newspaper, and community life. Contributors of photos and other items displayed include Tony Hayden, whose parents once owned the Express, Forbes, the Bolf family, and Jeff Smith, who contributed work by photographer John Eggen, who worked in Lebanon for 40 years.
“People love it,” said Stephen Lemmon, service manager at the bank. “We’ve had multiple family members come in of people who are on the mural and they’ll say, ‘Hey, that’s my great-granpa’s truck.’ We’ve had a lot of non-bank customers come in to look at it.”
Forbes said his equipment collection, which currently numbers 24 items, has always been a hit. He said he enjoys finding instruments bankers used before the age of computers.
“I find them inexpensively in thrift shops. People will say, ‘Hey, I’ve got something in my attic.’ I’ll say, ‘Sure.’ Kids love playing with them.”
And, he noted, “When we’ve got this stuff, the computer’s down, who cares?”