Opinion: Preserve the history of NH Savings Bank


Published: 04-12-2024 6:00 AM

David Woolpert lives in Henniker.

The former bank building currently being torn down for a legislators’ parking garage was primarily used by NH Savings Bank, not Mechanics Bank as stated in a recent Monitor article. Before 1980, commercial banks and savings banks had different roles controlled by the federal government. The building at 27 N. State Street was built in the 1950s to house one of each: Mechanics Bank, a commercial bank that made loans to businesses and offered checking accounts, and NH Savings Bank, a mutual savings bank that offered home mortgage loans and savings accounts for individuals, which moved to this building from its large headquarters on N. Main Street.

By 1976, when I first started working there, NH Savings Bank had taken over the vast majority of the building being torn down. Mechanics Bank no longer had offices there and the part of the building it had previously occupied was being rented out to AAA and the first location of the Gallagher, Callahan and Gartrell law firm.

By the mid-1980s, federal restrictions on savings banks were eliminated and NH Savings Bank began offering commercial loans and checking accounts as well as continuing its traditioinal role as a source for home mortgage loans and personal savings accounts. It also poured a lot of money into expanding the building with a third floor which housed the new commercial loan department and the executive offices of the holding company it had created to buy several smaller banks around the state.

Up until 1990 when the real estate crash ended the existence of many savings banks throughout New England, including NH Savings Bank, this building was the home of one of the largest banks in the city and one of the few that offered home mortgage loans throughout the state.

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