Southern Michigan Bank & Trust donates painting to SJC Historical Society

Donation made at artist’s request

THREE RIVERS — Southern Michigan Bank & Trust (SMBT) publically donated a 48-year-old painting to the St. Joseph County Historical Society (SJCHS) on Wednesday, May 17, at the request of local artist David Recher.
Recher, who resides in Three Rivers, wrote a letter to SMBT CEO John H. Castle in March, requesting that the bank “publically donate the painting to either the SJCHS or the Three Rivers Public Library.” He made the request after hearing the bank planned to sell its building on 88 N. Main Street in downtown Three Rivers, and consolidate its Three Rivers business to its site on US 131.
“This would obviously benefit the community, and visibly lend emphasis to the bank’s care for the community,” Recher wrote. “The better choice of recipient, in my view, would be the (SJCHS), with doors open to the public right on Main Street. Viewers would be primarily those with an interest in local history and the painting would be a useful learning tool in the hands of knowledgeable people. It would attract few viewers at the library.
“Many more people pass through the library but historical paintings there are not displayed in areas frequented by most of them, and I doubt that librarians are given responsibility to educate people about them. Volunteers of the (SJCHS) are charged with that very duty, as well as proper care of items entrusted to them.”
Recher completed the tempera painting of a street scene of downtown Three Rivers in 1969. He said he painted the scene, which prominently features the old Three Rivers Hotel, shortly before the hotel was “displaced by First National Bank, forerunner of SMBT.”
Recher said the First National Bank purchased the painting, and “hung it in a prominent location in the bank until its removal to the office of the bank’s president.” In recent years, the painting has been hanging in a main floor office in the southwest corner of the bank
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