The MG Mercantile Building: A brief history
Mount Gretna has been a popular destination since the late 1800s. Many of its local buildings have a unique and interesting history. Ours is no exception. This building has had multiple uses over the years. But locals still refer to it as “the bank.”
In 1977, the Lebanon County Trust Company purchased the site with plans to open a Mount Gretna branch. They heavily renovated the existing building, designing it with a “Mount Gretna theme.”
On June 21, 1978—about one year after the bank opened—it was robbed at gunpoint.
A man described as 5-feet, 8-inches tall, thin, in his mid-20’s, entered at 12:55 p.m., wearing a maroon ski jacket and a green and gold ski mask.
Branch manager Nancy Bender, and tellers Pamela Seiders and Laura Sutherly, were preparing to close for lunch, putting cash away with the vault wide open.
The robber ordered them to hand it over and then forced them into the vault. Although he didn’t lock it, he lowered a bar latch so that they couldn’t release themselves.
Fortunately, one teller managed to trip an alarm and Trooper Bainbridge arrived on the scene “less than a minute after the guy was gone.”
State Troopers from Jonestown, Lancaster, Harrisburg, and Reading—as well as state police helicopters from Harrisburg and Reading—assisted in a manhunt. But they were unsuccessful. The gunman got away with an estimated $25,000, and the investigation remains unsolved.
At the time, local officials could not recall any other bank robbery in the Lebanon area during the previous 30 years. One observed: “Maybe it’s because there’s no place to park.”
After the robbery, stockholders in the Lebanon County Trust Company voted to merge with National Central Bank, based in Lancaster. Within one year, they closed the Mount Gretna branch.
Later, Penn Realty operated here, helping many residents and visitors buy or rent Mount Gretna cottages. After they relocated, the building sat empty.
Tanya Mann, a Mount Gretna resident since 2018, saw potential. She purchased the building in 2022 and opened MG Mercantile in 2023.
We are proud stewards of the building and its history—and we thank you for your continued support.