The Austin Chronicle

Day Trips: Alligator Bank, Alvin

Hometown financial institution makes a name for itself with a pair of reptiles

By Gerald E. McLeod, January 12, 2018, Columns

The Alligator Bank in Alvin looks like an ordinary five-story suburban bank building from the outside. On the inside the financial institution has a unique two-story glass atrium with two live alligators who give the First National Bank of Alvin its nickname.

It started in 1969 when a farmer brought in three 6-inch-long baby alligators he found in his rice field. The trio were a deposit that matured to over 7 feet long in what was once the bank's goldfish pond.

The three alligators – J. Paul Gator, Mitzi Gator, and William Teller Gator – became part of the bank's image and local lore. When a new building was constructed it included the Alligatrium with an alligator pond surrounded by tropical plants and waterfalls.

The bank was alligator-less for a while after the last of the originals died. The two current reptile residents, Lucy and Lizzy, are juveniles rescued from animal control. Most days the pair spend their time lounging around the plush cement pond waiting for feeding time.

Twice a week, on Tuesday and Friday around 9am, building maintenance man Troy Stuart enters the glass enclosure with a bucket of chicken parts for the alligators' lunch. Maintaining a safe distance, he talks to them and hands them pieces of raw chicken on the end of a long pole. The duo are more interested in poultry breasts than human leg bones.

The Alligator Bank, aka the First National Bank of Alvin, is at 1600 E. Hwy. 6 in the southwest corner of the intersection with Highway 35 about 25 miles south of Houston. Well-behaved visitors are welcome to see the alligators anytime Mon.-Fri., 9am-4pm.

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