The second bank founded in town, Williamstown Savings Bank has been a hometown financial partner – and community asset – for over a century.
1892 – Foundation in a Changing Economy
Williamstown Savings Bank was chartered in 1892, on the Gale Block of Spring Street, the geographic heart of the community. The bank filled a tremendous need; some decades earlier, Williamstown had precious little money in circulation – most exchanges were made with produce instead of cash – and only two individuals provided monetary loans in Williamstown. As late as 1883, any true banking had to be done in North Adams or Pittsfield.
The bank’s founding reflected the growth of commerce in Williamstown. By 1892, commerce had joined agriculture as a pillar of the local economy. Small mills had begun to appear, the general store was a hub of town activities, and some family farms were just beginning to market their products commercially.
John Bascom, former president of the University of Wisconsin, and a professor of sociology and political economy at Williams College, was the bank’s first president. He continued to teach and write even as he led Williamstown Savings Bank.
The Early Years: Rapid Growth
The bank’s early growth was impressive. Just over two decades after its founding, in 1916 – the same year that President Woodrow Wilson learned while visiting his daughter on West Main Street that he had been re-elected – Williamstown Savings Bank had reached $1 million in deposits. By 1948, despite two world wars and a depression, deposits had reached $5 million.
In 1950, the bank modernized its Spring Street facilities and equipment. However the bank quickly outgrew even this upgrade, and in 1957, it erected a new building on Main Street – the very building it occupies today. A book celebrating the new building highlights that for the ten fiscal years ending October 31,1956, Williamstown Savings Bank increased deposits nearly 145% -- compared to just 54% for other Mutual Savings Banks in Massachusetts, and 89% for those in Berkshire County.
1950s, 60s, and 70s: A Community Pillar
Williamstown Savings Bank paid dividends each April and October, so the bank’s lobby was always bustling on the first of these months. Nearly the entire town came in to get their passbooks stamped on those days. While there, customers might hear George Walker, one of the tellers, tell an amusing story punctuated by his signature, airy laugh. Or they might catch the bank president Brainerd Mears, as he crooned the “Grand Old Royal Purple,” in honor of his alma mater, Williams College. As one former teller relates, “it was a hometown experience, the kind you could only find in a hometown bank.”
During those years, interest was calculated manually. After being posted by hand, a teller would enter it on an NCR hand posting machine – then the cutting-edge of technology. That machine preceded an IBM mainframe computer, the bank’s first foray into computerization, which set the stage for increasingly sophisticated and secure technology.
1980s and beyond– Expanding Services
In 1987, Williamstown Savings Bank added an Automated Teller Machine, and in 1988, teller Nicole Yarter served the bank’s first drive-through customer. Around the same time, the bank expanded its business lending department, increased its hours, and began offering IRAs and CDs. This expansion of services proved profitable. In 1988, the bank had reached $50 million in deposits, and just four years later, when it celebrated its 100-year anniversary, deposits had risen another 40%, to nearly $70 million.
Over the course of the next decade, Williamstown Savings Bank would add even more services, like Online Banking and Home Equity Loans. By the year 2000, deposits stood at $116 million.
2012 - Working Together For Our Customers
Since the founding of MountainOne Financial Partners in 2002, Williamstown Savings Bank and Hoosac Bank worked closely together as partners. On June 25, 2012, Williamstown Savings Bank and Hoosac 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.
Today: A Community Tradition in Exciting Times
Although many things have changed since Williamstown Savings Bank was founded on the dirt road that was Spring Street, we remain a bank at the heart of the community.
One of the most important ways we keep the spirit of community alive is through a collective nurturing of our local resources. Each year, through our Community Dividends Program, Williamstown Savings Bank donates 10% of income to community non-profits. Through an annual voting process, bank customers help us choose which nonprofit agencies receive Williamstown Savings Bank’s support.
In addition to the Community Dividends Program, we provide ongoing support to an array of other agencies – from the Health System to the Youth Center to the Williamstown Community Chest. Even more importantly, we also donate countless hours of personal time. You’ll see employees of Williamstown Savings Bank lending a hand at Riverfest, running Chamber of Commerce meetings, and handing out cocoa and cookies at Santa’s Workshop during the Holiday Walk.
We do these things for the same reason we make customer service such an important part of our staff training, and for the same reason we won’t answer calls with an impersonal recorded phone system. We do them because, nearly twelve decades into our history, we remain not just your financial partners, but also your neighbors and friends.