“Mr. C. L. Cobb was the man who transformed Rock Hill’s economic standing in the Carolinas.”
City Directories and History: 1908 – C.L. Cobb, 1922 – C.L. Cobb, 1946 – J. Harold McFadden Jr., 1963 – Vacant – 1975 – Southern Bank and Trust
“The most interesting architectural feature of the Hyder Ratterree house at 324 East Main Street was a tower-like corner room with a cupola roof. This attractive two-story frame structure was built by Hyder Ratterree and wife, Minnie Hope, who was a daughter of Dr. Robert Harvey Hope, probably between 1880 and 1885. The Ratterrees had only one child, Janie Hope, who was the first wife of Rock Hill banker Charles Lonergan Cobb. The writer remembers that Miss Alice McFadden owned this house and occupied it in 1942.” [Robbins – White Tour History]
The Cobb house was one of the smaller dwellings on East Main Street and was dwarfed by the expansive Friedheim home next door but it had beautiful Gothic Revival lines of an late 19th century house and along with the old Mills house [burned and replace by the Friedheim house] on East Main were two of the city’s oldest structures.
Mr. C.L. Cobb of Rock Hill was one of the most influential citizens of Rock Hill’s development history. A banker and gigantic supporter of economic development for Rock Hill, he helped move Rock Hill from a small farming community to one of the state’s largest banking centers. Mr. Cobb was so successful he was featured by Post Magazine and noted for his character. Besides being a principal of People’s National Bank he created the Cobb House on East Main Street, helped develop what would become Myrtle Drive, Rock Hill’s most prestigious address, and untold acts of support for the city.
ROCK HILL’S “FIRST SKYSCRAPER” WAS A WONDER – Contributed and written by Paul M. Gettys
In 1910, the local newspapers were full of enthusiastic articles about the new Peoples National Bank Building on Main Street. The building, which was converted to residential use several years ago by Harry Dalton and now houses several condominiums, elicited excitement among Rock Hill’s citizens when it was under construction. The Rock Hill Herald, in articles on April 21 and 22, 1910, gave detailed descriptions of the building and its opening. It noted that “Rock Hill’s first ‘skyscraper’ presents a handsome appearance, both inside and out. Built of brick with stone trimmings, it is four stories high and has also a roomy basement…”
The main floor was occupied by the Peoples National Bank and the Peoples Trust and Insurance Department. The bank space was “a marvel of quality, elegance, and good taste. The fixtures are of purest white marble, the gratings of bronze, the woodwork of highly tones golden oak, and the floor beautifully tiled.” The lobby featured columns supporting the ceiling and three large stained glass lights. The writer noted “an especially attractive feature, adding greatly to the bank’s facilities, is the ladies’ booth, occupying the center space. In an alcove is a table and chair where ‘my lady’ may sign her checks unmolested by the bustling crowd.” It seems the banking world has changed.
In addition to the bank and insurance business, the building housed a number of other tenants. The second floor housed the Wilson and Wilson law firm and the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company office. On the third floor were the Spencer and Spencer law firm and Mr. C. K. Chreitzberg. The basement was ready for occupancy by a barber shop. On the dizzying heights of the fourth floor, the Catawba Club had great views of the city far below. On the Thursday before the building’s opening on Monday, April 25, the elevator was running and “many citizens took a ride on Rock Hill’s new ‘vertical trolley.”
The Herald reported on April 11, 1925 -” Peoples National Bank had assets of $2,743,867., the National Union Bank has assets of $2,200,654. and Citizens Bank and Trust has assets of $1,002,576.”
The Dalton Building is still a handsome presence on Rock Hill’s Main Street over a century later.
Click on the More Information > links found below the picture column for additional data on the history of Rock Hill and it’s commercial history via Mr. C.L. Cobb. Also see further information at: The Herald Article – 2015 And be sure to click on Lauelwood Cemetery Tours for his gravesite.
Click HOME to return to the numbered site tour of Rock Hill’s downtown.
The McElwee Store ledger of 1915 – 16 states that C.L. Cobb was an account holder at their store on Main Street.
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ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Re-typed by Paul Gettys from papers provided R&R by the Cobb – Allen group.
Mr. Cobb is a member of the Board of Trustees of Winthrop College, Director of the Mechanics Federal Savings & Loan Association, is a Kiwanian, Mason, Shriner, Elk, a Presbyterian. He is also a member of the Financial Public Relations Association. Mr. Cobb has been Director of the Peoples National Bank’s Public Relations Department since its organization. He has written copy for the “Old Reliable’s” daily column in the Rock Hill Evening Herald since December 1, 1911, without a repeat in copy.
Any national activities Mr. Cobb engaged in would benefit the state of S. C., wouldn’t it? Hence, my stating that during the first days of the Federal Land Bank activities, Mr. Cobb strongly advocated a similar financial agency to finance home ownership in villages, towns, and cities, as he has always been strong on the citizens of S. C. owning their homes. Finally, the Congress did enact legislation authorizing the establishment of the Home Owners Loan Corporation with Federal Home Loan Banks which helped owners of homes to save them. He was a strong advocate of the Federal Housing Administration which helped the working man own homes of his own through payments over a loan period of years.
After his return from Washington in 1932 where he headed the Crop Production Loan Agency with 19 states under him (being offered the entire U. S. the following year) he was a strong advocate of citizens of South Carolina getting civil service ratings, whether they intended to enter the service right away or not. He saw the value of civil service ratings during those depression years.
For 42 years he has been more or less active in the affairs of the S. C. Bankers Association, for a long time was a member of the Ass’n’s Executive Council, Vice President, and elevated to the Presidency in 1922. As I told you, he brought about competitive bidding on the State loan around 1922 or 23, saving the state thousands of dollars in interest, which course has since been pursued.
Mr. Cobb was one of the promoters and directors of the American Exports and Imports Corp. of S. C., formed for the purpose of making loans to farmers against cotton in an effort to stabilize prices.
He was one of the original members and directors and still holds membership in the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce (formerly Organized Business, Inc.).
I think one of his greatest services to South Carolina is through his membership on the Board of Trustees of Winthrop College, since 1938, when elected by the General Assembly re-elected in 1942 and re-elected again unanimously in 1948 for a 6 year term. He takes this responsibility seriously and is ever alert to Winthrop’s needs, giving much time and thought to the welfare of the College. Of course, this affects the good of the state through its hundreds of young women who attend Winthrop.
He holds the second longest record of continuous active bank officer service in South Carolina, although he has just passed his 65 birthday on April 14, 1948. Or rather, in point of service he is the second oldest active bank executive in S. C. Mr. Cobb entered the banking field on August 11, 1898, nearly 50 years ago, in the capacity of a messenger at a salary of $5.00 a month.
He has been a strong advocate since his early banking career of improved farming conditions in S. C., stressing diversification of crops and livestock production. His words and deeds of encouragement to the farmers of upper S. C. have helped to bring about greater production of sweet potatoes, peaches, and poultry. His own County of York is the leading turkey producing county in S. C. His interest in the boys and girls on the farm, especially those belonging to the 4-H Clubs, has been most helpful in his advocacy of better agriculture.
Charles Lonergan Cobb, Chairman of the Board of Peoples National Bank and President of Peoples Trust Company, of Rock Hill, S. C., passed away Saturday afternoon, March 14th, following an illness of several months.
Mr. Cobb was 69 years of age, born in Chester, S. C., son of Charles Edward and Mary Ann Frew Cobb. He is survived by his widow, the former Miss Ruth Catherine Beachy, of Roanoke, Virginia, and one son, Charles L. Jr, one grandson, Charles L. III, and one brother, Morris F. Cobb, President of the National Bank of Lumberton, N. C.
Mr. Cobb, a nationally known and brilliant banker, was in point of service the oldest active bank executive in South Carolina. He served as President of the South Carolina Bankers Association in 1922, past Executive Committeeman, National Bank Division of the American Bankers Association; in 1930 he was elected a Director of the Charlotte Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, a Director of the Mechanics Federal Savings & Loan Association, member of Financial Public Relations Association, Kiwanis, Newcomen Society, Elk, Mason. Member First Presbyterian Church of Rock Hill. A former President Rock Hill Chamber of Commerce and continues active member, serving as Chairman of the important New Industries Committee for 25 years. While heading this committee the giant plant of the Rock Hill Printing & Finishing Company, subsidiary of M. Lowenstein & Sons of New York City and the new multi-million dollar Celriver Plant of Celanese Corporation of America were established in Rock Hill.
In 1932 he headed the Crop Production Loan Agency with 19 states under his direction; a promoter and director of the American Exports & Imports Corporation of South Carolina, formed for the purpose of making loans to farmers against cotton in effort to stabilize prices.
One of his greatest services to South Carolina was through his membership on Board of Trustees of Winthrop College since 1938 (the State college for girls). Member War Finance Corporation World War I. Area Chairman 5 counties U. S. Savings Bonds Committee World War II.
Funeral services will be held at First Presbyterian Church in Rock Hill at 3:00 p.m. Monday, March 16th.
April 18, 1953
It’s Saturday afternoon and I am about through my work so will get a few lines off to you, a chat with you before going home for the weekend.
We surely have missed the children this week, and just hope that everything goes well with them. Won’t expect to hear until they get back to Rock Hill.
This has been sort of a dull week in Rock Hill, although the town was full of students, somebody said 5,000, from all over South Carolina for the Music Contest. The merchants have wonderful stocks of pretty spring and summer goods but Albert Friedheim told me this week that business was dull. I see they had a sale today which is early for a spring clearance. Didn’t you get a kick out of the story about Albert going to Salisbury in the Herald for the Centennial? Paul Dupre’ is in the hospital, some trouble with his stomach. He has had flu so often.
Yes, Charlie wrote Billy Hayes in behalf of the S. C. General Assembly Resolution and also to Winthrop Training School. Marjorie Young wrote a most interesting account in her Tri-State Safety Journal about Mr. Cobb which I am enclosing. She approached it from a different angle, and definitely attributes the Bleachery to Mr. Cobb that there can never be any question about it in future years. I wrote to Marjory in Anderson and told her that I was sending a copy to you and that I was telling you that I had written her in appreciation. It will not be necessary to write her until after you come home, if then. You know, she is the wife of James R. Young who used to be a foreign correspondent, now editor of the Anderson Independent. Mr. Grier brought his copy of the paper up to the office in person to give to us, and seemed pleased that she had associated our wonderful bosses to her write-up. He called me yesterday and said he had had a sweet wire from Beachy.
Mrs. Hargrove’s initials are Mrs. John Hargrove, 109 Spruce St. Don’t know whether she is still in the hospital or not.
I asked the Herald to send to you the paper for a month longer. Only had it sent for a month the first time. We can cancel when you get home if that is too long.
That was not a bill from Memorial Hospital but a claim for hospital insurance I had sent them weeks ago. Your bill was paid some time ago. Miss Agnes, Johnny Anderson and Boyd Hull called about you today.
Beachy, the Boards of Directors of the Bank and Trust Company adopted beautiful resolutions in respect to Mr. Cobb which I have typed on parchment for you, and do not know whether to send to you in Philadelphia or hold for your return. Mr. Charlie Spencer is back home and those who have seen him say that he looks much better.
Mr. Barron has just come up and I told him I was writing you and he said to give you his love too, and lots from me.
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