June 1, 1984 marked Hills Bank’s entry into the Coralville community with its 3rd office location at 1009 2nd Street. Hills Bank purchased uniBank & Trust which was originally chartered in 1958 as Coralville Bank and Trust Company. Coralville Bank and Trust Company was the first bank in Coralville and its only main bank location for 26 years. At the time of purchase, the assets of uniBank totaled $23 million.
As we celebrate the 30th anniversary of our Coralville location, we are pleased to share some interesting historical facts about Coralville and how Hills Bank and Trust Company became a part of Coralville’s “Hub of Hospitality.”
The development of the Johnson County community that we now know as Coralville began in 1843 after the construction of what was the largest dam in Iowa along the Iowa River and Coral Mills, which made use of the dam’s power. By the time of its incorporation in 1873, Coralville’s population had grown to almost 300 and it boasted a blacksmith shop, wagon shop, meat market, lumberyard, dry good store, and four saloons.
- In 1848, the dam and mill were purchased by Ezekial Clark who was said to have been gifted with money sense. Mr. Clark brought prosperity to the settlement that grew up around the Coral Mills and it soon became known as Clarksville.
- In 1855, Mr. Clark’s brother-in-law, Samuel Kirkwood, bought into Coral Mills and became its manager. Mr. Kirkwood was elected governor of Iowa and served during the Civil War (1861-1865).
- The town was christened Coralville in 1866 shortly after Louis Agassiz, a Harvard zoologist, spoke at The University of Iowa about the “Coral Reefs of Iowa City” and was impressed by the samples of fossilized coral that he found in the limestone around the mills along the Iowa River.
- Coralville began to grow again in the late 1920s and boom after World War II, largely due to the number of students, mostly veterans, who were arriving to attend The University of Iowa. Coralville was an attractive place to live because of its inexpensive housing, lower taxes, and proximity to the University’s campus.
Due to the number of hospitality-based businesses in Coralville, the Coralville Commercial Club dubbed the city “The Hub of Hospitality.”
- The population of Coralville grew from 433 in 1940 to 977 in 1950. Automobile travel and tourism became common, and the “Coralville Strip” became well-populated with retail shops, service stations, discount stores, restaurants, and motels.
Authorized in 1938 by Congress, begun in 1949, and completed in 1958 by the US Corps of Engineers, the Coralville Dam was built four miles upstream from Coralville and designed to provide better downstream water management of the Iowa River.
- By 1960, Coralville’s population had reached 2,357, and tripled that by 1970.
Construction of the portion of Interstate 80 north of Coralville began in 1963.
- Commercial and housing development continued throughout the second half of the 20th century, along with growth in city services. The former power station, which had been shut down in 1968, reopened in 1972 as a riverside restaurant.
- By the 1990s, the “Coralville Strip” was ready for a makeover, complete with decorative street lighting and plantings. A city center was developed around the post office and city campus.
- In 1996, work began on Coral Ridge Mall, the state’s second-largest indoor shopping center at the time, at the intersection of Interstate 80 and Highways 6 and 965.
- According to the 2012 Census, Coralville’s population has reached 19,692, and it is one of the fastest growing cities in Iowa.
- A remarkable, 180-acre mixed-use development located in Coralville called the Iowa River Landing. Perched along the Iowa River and includes more than 300,000 sq. feet of retail, office, residential and entertainment space.
I am proud to have spent my entire banking career in the Coralville community. I fondly remember my first day of work at Coralville Bank and Trust Company on November 29, 1971. As I pulled into the Bank parking lot, a work crew was unloading a bulldozer that would begin digging the basement for the building that is currently home to Hills Bank. We moved into our current location in September of 1972 and the name was changed to uniBank.
In 2000, Hills Bank completed a 6,000 square foot addition to the original bank building. Some of my favorite memories of working in Coralville include the Coralville Summer Reading Program that Hills Bank has sponsored for the past 27 years; our partnerships with our local elementary, junior high, and high schools; and our involvement with Coralville 4th Fest parades and activities for the past 30 years.
It all comes down to a phrase Hills Bank coined many years ago: “You just can’t hide that Coralville Pride!”