Wells Fargo Wagon No Longer Comin’Down the Street.
By Tom McDermott
On September 12 at noon, the Wells Fargo branch at 12 Purdy Avenue shut its doors. The building, a quaint brick reminder of passing village life, will be sold. At press time, a number of longtime employees, who have come to personify the various versions of the bank, had not yet found positions at other branches. Customers have been singing the praises of Linda Fizzinoglia, Judy Kelly, Lucy Fontanello, Annette Davis, and others since the announcement was made in late spring. And the feelings were mutual.
The three longest-serving employees, Linda (29), Judy (39), and Lucy (39) have a combined 107 years of service covering a number of iterations of the bank which traces its local history back to the opening of Portchester Savings Bank in 1865. That was followed by Port Chester-Rye Savings Bank, Village Bank, First Fidelity, First Union, and Wachovia and Wells Fargo where its run ends.
A spokesperson for the bank said that branch employees could apply for openings at other branches and would receive “salary continuance” based on years of service.
Rye customers have been directed to Wells Fargo branches at 243 South Ridge Street in Rye Brook and 291 Halstead Avenue in Harrison. But many will miss the convenience of downtown banking with their favorite tellers and bankers.
According to Kevin Friedlander of Wells Fargo, the closing is due to customer traffic at the branch declining for some time and customer’s increased use of online or mobile banking. The Rye branch is one of over 400 that Wells Fargo will close by the end of the year.
But digital banking was not the only cause of the retrenchment: In July, Wells announced a $142 million settlement for claims that it had opened accounts without customers’ permission, and in 2017 the bank was chastised for selling unneeded auto insurance to 800,000 car loan customers.
With the branch shut down and the closing of Parker’s on Purchase Street in August, it has not been the best summer for Rye’s Central Business District. Still, although downtown business districts like Rye’s continue to swim against the internet current, they demonstrate some resiliency with a wave of restaurants, salons, and food shops, businesses that satisfy a desire for immediate consumption.
The Wells Fargo building on Purdy Avenue will be sold.
Longtime employees Lucy Fontanello, Judy Kelly, and Linda Fizzinoglia with their certificates.
Bank patrons George and Robin Latimer stopped by to honor their friends at Wells Fargo.