The SF earthquake/fire Moved A lot of buildings in HMB

{Image below: Here’s one shot of what’s called the “Bank of Half Moon Bay,” and this is, as far as I can see, the east side of Main Street, the site of the City of Half Moon Bay’ls offices or next door. But there was a Bank of Italy and I believe it was located across the street in the Debenedetti Building at the corner of Mill and Main]


[Image below. The Bank of Half Moon Bay located in the Debenedetti Building on the west side of Main Street.  Note the old Catholic Church at the western end of Main Street, and it doesn’t look like the San Benito House had been built yet.)




Story from John Vonderlin

Email John ([email protected])

Hi June,
   This short notice from the July 19th, 1905 issue of the San Francisco Call announces an important step in Half Moon Bay’s development. That being the formation of the first bank.  I found a Chamber of Commerce website that claims it later became “The Bank of Italy, then the “Bank of America,” and that the City Hall now uses the building. Yet, they say the City Hall was built in 1922. I wonder if they meant to say that is when the City Hall remodeled the building? Can you clear this contradiction up?  Enjoy. John
ISSUES LICENSE FOR NEW BANK–The Board of Bank Commissioners issued a license for the establishment of The Bank of Half Moon Bay at the town of that name. The new institution is capitalized at $25,000 and will open its doors for business immediately.
June to John:
The first Bank of Italy may have been located on the west side of Main Street in Half Moon Bay at the corner of Mill and Main Streets.  Seems to me, but I will confirm with a photo, that the bank stood at Mill and Main because also visible was the old, beautiful Catholic Church. The original Catholic Church was remodeled in the 1950s, and I know a lot of locals miss the older, more beautiful place of worship than its cold-looking replacement.
After the 1906 earthquake, photos do show the Bank of Italy on the east side of Main Street, the location of the City of Half Moon Bay offices. The bank seemed to move about, maybe next door, and then back to the corner of Kelly and Main.
Eventually,  A. Giannini, founder of the Bank of America, added Half Moon Bay’s Bank of Italy to his collection of banks. Today the Bank of America is located on the west side of Main Street, near the Moonside Bakery, wine and cheese store and other businesses located in a small “indoor mall.” 
I remember Irene Debenedetti Bettencourt, now gone, telling me that she used to babysit the children of A. Giannini, the founder of the Bank of America. As I recall,  Irene said she rode the Ocean Shore Railroad to San Francisco to do the babysitting. She lived to be 100 so she was a young woman then, not yet married to Judge Bettencourt, better known as “The Judge.”
Bottom line: I agree with the “San Francisco Call” that the first Bank of Italy opened in 1905. But most of the ols  buildings that stood on the west side of Main Street were torn apart a year later by the earthquake. There are photos at the San Mateo County History Museum that show Levy’s General Store totally leveled; I think it was made of brick, a good reason for its vulnerability. 
One last note: The Gianninis’ did live in San Mateo County later, perhaps right after the earthquake. A descendant, if still alive, owns a horse ranch near Woodside.