FARMINGTON — Franklin Savings Bank will celebrate its 150th anniversary this year, President Tim Thompson told the Franklin Rotary Club last week.

He said many accounts date back to the early years, but the oldest one still open could be that of Flora Pearson, grandmother of local attorney and town historian Paul Mills. She opened it in the 1880s.

“That might be our oldest account still open,” Thompson said.

He recognized Mills and bank employee Anna Lyon for putting together the historical presentation to Rotarians on Jan. 25.

Farmington became a town in 1794 and Maine became a state in 1820.

“Agriculture was obviously an important occupation, but Farmington’s water power attracted many other industries,” Thompson said.

With the Maine Central Railroad came the means to transport freight and people. The growing population in the region led to the charter for Franklin County Savings Bank.

Gov. Joshua Chamberlain signed a bill into law incorporating the bank on Feb. 24, 1868. Robert Goodenow, Joseph W. Fairbanks, Stillman Tarbox, Daniel V.B. Ormsby, Samuel Belcher, Hannibal Belcher, Simeon H. Lowell and Reuben Cutler, all of Farmington, Charles J. Talbot of Wilton, Jeremy W. Porter of Strong, Daniel Howes of New Sharon and Seward Dill of Phillips were the original incorporators.

The bank’s early mission, Thompson said, was “to help the people of Franklin County lay by something each year and deposit it in some good bank where it will be safe and earn a little something.”

The bank’s first location was in Goodenow’s law office near where the Pierce House  stands. He served as the first treasurer. During 1868, the bank’s framework was built. The first corporators’ meeting was in November and the bank opened for deposits on Dec. 7, 1868.

“The 1880s were a time of reconstruction for Farmington, which had been devastated by an 1886 fire,” Thompson said.

The Great Depression of the 1930s was a time of transition. Franklin County Savings Bank purchased Phillips Savings Bank, which existed until 1951, when it was consolidated with Farmington.

Broadway in Farmington was modernized during the mid-20th century. The dirt road was paved and parking meters put in.

It was a time of change at Franklin Savings Bank as well. In 1957 CEO duties shifted from the treasurer to the president. At the time, the bank had just under $9 million in assets. It now has more than $400 million.

In 1964, the bank on Main Street in Farmington was constructed. Later, the loan building was put up, with a grand opening in 1980. There is a 78-foot tunnel between the two buildings that still exists, Thompson said.

The bank also expanded its branches into Oxford County, with one in Rumford in 1968 and in Mexico in 1975. They were combined in Rumford in 2014.

A branch opened in Jay in 1970, in Rangeley in 1975, and in Skowhegan in 1976.

The bank also began focusing on commercial lending, with Mike Mansir as a commercial lender in 1992. In 1993, a branch opened at Mt. Blue High School where students could get career experience in banking.

In January 1998, Franklin Savings Bank became Maine’s first bank mutual holding company. The reorganization protected the bank from any acquisition threat.

In 1999, Franklin Savings Bank purchased Robert E. Bean Financial Services on Front Street, which is now Western Mountain Financial Services. It provides investment advisory, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, annuities and long-term care insurance. In 2016, the bank opened a commercial loan branch in Ellsworth.

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At the Jan. 30 Farmington Rotary Club meeting, Franklin Savings Bank President Tim Thompson, right, presented a history of Franklin Savings Bank. The bank celebrates its 150th anniversary this year. (Barry Matulaitis/Franklin Journal)

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