On January 13, 1849, the Oneco Lodge of Odd Fellows deposited $44 with the North Adams Savings Bank, the first deposit in the bank’s history. Twenty-two years later, the Hoosac Savings Bank would be founded with similarly humble beginnings. These two banks would one day unite, bringing together their strengths under a common goal: to help community members thrive and prosper, and to serve as a dedicated and dependable participant in community life—a tradition that remains to this day.
1848 – A Savings Bank Chartered
According to the original charter, the North Adams Savings Bank was incorporated on April 26, 1848 by Issac Hodges, Thomas Robinson, William E. Brayton and their associates. The bank was located at 86 Main Street, just a few doors down from where Hoosac Bank stands today.
By 1861, when the Civil War began, the bank was 13 years old. By 1875, when the Hoosac Tunnel was completed, the bank was already a quarter century old. In early years, the bank’s growth was remarkable. When Lincoln was assassinated in 1865, deposits were $100,000. By 1903, when the Wright Brothers made their first flight, deposits had grown to $3.35 million.
1871 – Hoosac Savings Bank: A New Foundation
In 1871, another savings bank was incorporated, just a short distance away: the Hoosac Savings Bank.
At this time, North Adams was a manufacturing hub. An 1896 document describes Hoosac Bank’s lofty goal: “inculcating and cultivating in that class of people who constitute the back-bone and sinew of American society a disposition to save a portion of its earnings. Upon these savings as a foundation rests largely the prosperity of the American working man, and the hope of the continuity of the republic.”
Between 1876 and 1896, deposits increased more than 10 times, from $70,000 to $750,000.
For a few years, the Hoosac Savings Bank was located on the Blackinton block of Holden Street. It moved for a short time to the south side of Main Street, then across to “the sunny side of the street.” In May of 1893, the bank moved into its present building, erected at a cost of about $60,000.
1962 – A Merger of Strengths
On January 15, 1962, the North Adams Savings Bank and the Hoosac Savings Bank merged into the North Adams Hoosac Savings Bank. They adopted the charter of the North Adams Savings Bank, the older of the two institutions, and consolidated under the roof of Hoosac Savings Bank, the newer of the two.
The size of this new bank created a larger pool of mortgage funds. Since the legal limits for the size of individual loans were based on deposits, the bank was able to make larger loans, as well. V. Herbert Gorden, who had served as president of North Adams Savings Bank for the previous eight years, was elected president of the combined banks. In just two years under his leadership, bank assets grew by 14%, from $33 million to $38 million. Deposits grew at an even greater rate, from $29 million to $34 million.
Over the next two decades, through the leadership of Lloyd P. Tyrer, Bernard Garceau, and Leon K. Berry Jr., both bank assets and deposits nearly tripled. By the time Raymond Ranzoni was elected president in 1983, assets stood at $116 million, and deposits totaled $104 million.
A Community Center for a Manufacturing Hub
Just as North Adams was a hub for manufacturers, North Adams Hoosac Savings Bank became a hub for factory workers. Factory paydays were busy, social times for the bank. Each Thursday, thousands of people left the Sprague Electric plant to deposit their paychecks at the North Adams Hoosac Savings Bank. Tellers knew their customers by name, and took time to ask about their families. Main Street remained open late on those evenings, and when customers finished their banking, they often visited many of Main Street’s offerings: Roberts Company, the Paramount and Mohawk Theaters, or restaurants like Apothecary Hall or Florini’s.
Because so many community members visited the bank for their financial transactions, North Adams Hoosac Savings Bank became a place that people came simply to socialize. On busy days, the bank became a place to chat with friends, catch up on community news, and even escape the heat on summer days. One warm day at closing time, the bank president had to gently wake an elderly woman who had fallen asleep while enjoying the air conditioning.
For many of these years, the bank shared space with J.C. Penney’s – possibly the only bank in America to have done this. Today, customers sign mortgages in the same space where once their family members selected shirts, socks, and blazers.
Change and Growth
As local manufacturing waned in the 1980s and 1990s, new economic sectors – tourism, technology, and the arts – arose. As the economy changed, so did the community’s banking needs. Retirement planning became a topic for everyone, and the bank responded with Keogh accounts and IRA accounts. Home equity loans became a popular way for homeowners to borrow against the equity in their home. To meet local business needs, Business Checking and Business Lending were added to the bank’s product line.
North Adams Hoosac Savings Bank – renamed simply Hoosac Bank on March 16, 1998 – also added an array of services that would have been unimaginable even a few decades before: ATMs, drive-thru banking, and online banking, to name a few.
2012 - Working Together For Our Customers
Since the founding of MountainOne Financial Partners in 2002, Hoosac Bank and Williamstown Savings Bank worked closely together as partners. On June 25, 2012, Hoosac Bank and Williamstown Savings Bank formally consolidated and Williamstown Savings Bank began operating as a Division of Hoosac Bank. This consolidation allows the bank to enhance services further and continue as a strong bank for generations to come.
A New Millennium of Community Banking
Through all these changes, Hoosac Bank has remained firmly rooted at the heart of the community. Although the community no longer appears in our lobby en masse on a single payday, we have found new ways of participating in community life.
Our community spirit is evident not just in the support that the bank provides to local organizations – from large contributions, like a newly-modernized hospital wing, or a gallery at MASS MoCA, to smaller, but equally important contributions, like Little League sponsorships and the holiday elf program for needy children. It’s also evident in the many ways our staff volunteer their time – singing for the elderly, forming teams for the Walk for Life, and serving on countless community boards and committees.
Our connection to the past can be seen in the small details that create a highly personalized customer experience at Hoosac Bank: the fact that the phones are still answered by a real person, not an automated machine, or the coffee and donuts that we serve in our lobby on special ‘customer appreciation’ days. It’s not surprising that we have so many staff members who fondly recall visiting the bank as children with their parents and grandparents. These staff members, like all who work at Hoosac Bank, are dedicated to providing customers with a friendly, personalized banking experience—and to keeping the bank a vibrant, active member of the community.