BY MICHAEL C. JULIANO, REPUBLICAN–AMERICAN NEWSPAPER
The country was in its first year of healing after the Civil War ended when a group of leaders founded Union Savings Bank, marking the beginning of an important chapter in Danbury history.
It was 1866 and James S. Taylor brought together investors to open a bank named to reflect the country’s union, according to bank history.
To honor its longevity, the mutual bank, with 12 of its 26 branches in Litchfield County, will hold a series of special events to celebrate its sesquipedalian anniversary — or 150th anniversary — this summer.
“Through 150 years, Union Savings Bank Danbury has been unwavering in our support of the individuals and businesses that have driven Connecticut’s economy and generated jobs for its residents,” said Cynthia C. Merkle, president and chief executive officer.
Merkle credits the bank’s sound credit and service philosophy for its ability to weather the ups and downs — and its customers, of course.
“We have a very dedicated customer base that has stood by us through the various cycles,” she said.
Union Savings Bank’s longevity is a testament to its customer-focused culture and long-kept status as a mutual bank, which is essentially customer-owned, said John Carusone, president of the Bank Analysis Center in Hartford.
“You have to tip your hat for a remarkable record and history that is becoming increasingly rare in American banking,” he said.
Leaders famous in Danbury history, including James S. Taylor, the bank’s first president and a descendant of Thomas Taylor, a Danbury founder, gathered together to build the bank.
It’s the sesquipedalian, or 150th anniversary of the bank’s incorporation by the state legislature on June 20, 1866. It was originally named Union Savings Bank of Danbury to reflect the country’s union. It officially opened July 23, 1866 in trustee Samuel Stebbins’s store on Main Street, welcoming local resident Margaret Pepper as its first customer and opening 355 accounts in its first year.
Since 1887, the bank moved into its current headquarters at 226 Main St., in Danbury, a three-story terra cotta brick building, designed in the Romanesque Victorian style, the bank stated. The “United Banks Building” was built by New York architects Berg & Clark after being chosen in a contest held by the bank and the building’s co-owner and co-occupant, National Pahquioque Bank.
In 1925, Union Savings Bank Danbury took over the building and became its sole occupant, taking up the entire first floor and adding its signature Tiffany-themed McClintock clock, to the exterior in 1927, and ever since, it has been a part of Danbury history. The building, which once housed a high school and a 500-seat ballroom, and YMCA on the second and third floors, has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1983 as part of the Main Street Historic District of Danbury, the bank stated.
The bank grew to 19 branches over the years, and in 2010, added nine more outlets when it acquired The First National Bank of Litchfield, the state’s oldest nationally chartered bank, founded in 1814.
In addition to Union Savings Bank Danbury, the bank has 26 branches in Bethel, Brookfield, Canton, Danbury, Goshen, Kent, Litchfield, Monroe, New Fairfield, New Milford, Newtown, Ridgefield, Roxbury, Southbury, Torrington and Washington. It employs almost 400 workers and has $2.3 billion in assets.
Union Savings will hold a Silent Community “USB Gives Back” campaign, during which branches and departments will provide financial or volunteer support to nonprofit entities. It has also held a 15-week social media campaign since March 15, posting on Facebook about Danbury history, as well as the bank’s and its customers, employees and community.
“Given the significance of this milestone, our 150th anniversary, we felt it was important to commemorate with a yearlong celebration dedicated to our heritage: the communities we serve, and our loyal employees,” Merkle said.
Courtesy of Republican–American newspaper