By Barbara Scott
According to a May 7, 1936 article appearing in the Aroostook Republican, “Aroostook County is practically assured that a Federal Savings and Loan Association will be opened in Caribou within the next few months to assist in financing homes on very easy terms, as well as to provide a place to save money regularly, with each dollar insured against loss.”
Aroostook Republican photo/Natalie Bazinet
Aroostook County Federal Savings and Loan has been servicing Caribou’s financial needs for the past 75 years.
In the June 4, 1936 edition, citizens were informed that — “At the meeting held Tuesday evening of the charter members or subscribers to shares in the Aroostook County Federal Savings and Loan Association in the high school library, the following men were elected as directors of the new association: Sterling E. Shaw, Charles T. Bishop, F.S. Tibbetts, Willard P. Hamilton and M.D. McGrath of Caribou; Earl H. Roberts and Alfred T. Barry of Fort Kent, Eugene A. Bouchard and Levito E. Rossignol of Madawaska; G. G. Vermette of Grand Isle; Wilfred J. Sirois of Van Buren; Grant A. Hunt and M.P. Roberts of Fort Fairfield; and H.F. McGlauflin and George R. Noyes of Presque Isle. The meeting was presided over by Dr. F. L. Gregory, chairman of the organization committee and the secretary of the meeting was George M. Carter.”
On July, 16, 1936 the Republican reported “The first loans to be issued by the Aroostook County Federal Savings and Loan Association were approved last Tuesday evening at a meeting of the directors. In all, 11 loans were considered; three of them were passed for amounts totaling approximately $5,000. The other eight applications were held over for further investigation. Two of the applications approved, were for Caribou borrower, one for refinancing, the other for repairs.”
This year, The Aroostook Federal Savings and Loans Association, is celebrating its 75th anniversary.
At the annual meeting of members held on January 17, 1973, Elizabeth Kirkpatrick, secretary/treasurer, stated, “This is the last report I will be presenting to the members as their secretary-treasurer of the Aroostook County Federal Savings and Loan Association. Over the years it has been a great satisfaction to me to help people achieve home ownership and encourage thrift and make it profitable for people to save money.”
“It might be interesting to turn the pages back for a few minutes to the beginning of our Bank on May1, 1936 when a group of nine citizens met and set up an organization committee for the purpose of obtaining subscriptions amounting to at least $50,000, the minimum needed to obtain a charter, upon the issuance of the Charter, $5,000 was to be paid. By June 2, of the same year, 580 shares had been subscribed and the association was formally organized on that date. F.L. Gregory was elected Chairman of the shareholders, directors were appointed and F.S. Tibbetts subsequently was elected President. The Charter was received July 24, 1936.”
“At the time I began working, Oct. 1938, there was a desk space in Mr. Tibbetts office, my desk and chair was loaned by directors and Mr. Tibbetts let me use his typewriter and adding machine. When directors meetings were held I brought folding chairs from home. I was given $25 to do business with. The securities were kept in W.E. Sincock’s safe.”
“In 1940 we moved to new quarters on Washburn St. At this time they bought me an adding machine and typewriter. Some time later I heard of a second-hand safe for sale in Presque Isle and several of the directors drove with me and we carefully inspected the safe and bought it for $200.
“Dr. W. Edgar Sincock succeeded Mr. Tibbetts in 1943 as president and served until his death in 1954 when lawyer W.P. Hamilton took office until his death in 1961. Ralph. T. Scott (at that time) served as president until 1983.”
“From the Washburn Street office we moved to the present building in May, 1949 and during the summer of 1966 the present building was enlarged to furnish several private offices and more working area.”
“In January 1961, we opened a branch office in Presque Isle. In July, 1961, we held an open house celebrating our 25th anniversary; at that time our assets were $7,821,860.”
Through the years between 1936 -1994, the lending institution saw its assets grow from $5,000 to $2.9 million and from 1994 to 2011 this capital continued to increase to the current amount of $9.6 million.
John Swanberg, president/CEO since July, 1994, stated, “We have tried very hard to listen to the people and help where we can to so they can make a good life for themselves.”
When the board of directors meet today in the enlarged recently redone board room, one of the massive tables is the original at which loan requests were discussed 75 years ago. The two other tables adjoining the original are identical replicas, creating an impressive atmosphere with portraits of former board presidents displayed on the wall seemingly watching over the current members as they make their decisions.
Swanberg said, “We have strived to stick to the association’s original plan providing our clients with the assistance to buy, build or renovate their homes and we do not sell our mortgages. We have also tried to open up to a 30-year mortgage plan; provide the option for 10 percent down — hopefully allowing a chance for our younger residents to have a home of their own.”
“Aroostook Federal Savings and Loan, “your home town bank,” provides complete banking services including online banking and “savings rates as high as we can,” said Swanberg. “We continue to work on providing more commercial loans to help local businesses. The association manages the savings and loans accordingly, remaining a sound financial establishment.”
When Swanberg came onboard at the Aroostook Federal Savings and Loans Association as president/CEO there were 17 employees, today there are 27.