A History of Service - Since 1861
The year was 1861 and Abraham Lincoln was President. The Civil War had begun, putting the country in turmoil. It was a time that called for people of vision. Ten Wilmington, Delaware businessmen rose to the occasion. Despite the uncertainties and pressures on the economy brought on by the war, these 10 men boldly suggested the creation of a bank for working people: the "Artisans." They envisioned a unique financial institution - one that returned its money to its depositors in the form of mortgages, loans and interest on savings. A mutual institution, for the benefit of its depositors.
The 10 founders each put up 4 dollars. Faith and $40 dollars were all they had. Of that amount, $12 paid for a charter and 50 cents for a minute book, and most of the rest paid for stationery. What remained was $1.93 for working capital. The charter was granted by the state legislature on February 28, 1861. Artisans' Savings Bank opened for business on April 1, 1861 at 117 Market Street in Wilmington, with William S. Hillis as the Bank's first president.
After three years, the fledgling Artisans' proudly repaid each original investor 4 dollars, plus 72 cents interest. The Bank's secretary, Mr. John P. McLear, in his letter to the original investors dated April 15, 1864 concluded "...that the influence of the institution throughout its history will be so marked for good as to cause you to remember with satisfaction that you had a part in its small beginnings."
The Bank steadily grew and in 1865 moved to larger quarters at 602 Market Street. The Bank again moved in 1871, when it purchased the historic Indian Queen Hotel on the corner of Fifth and Market Streets, and built the Clayton House on this site. For many years, the Clayton House enjoyed the reputation of being one of the finest hotels in the east, with the Bank occupying offices on its first floor. As the Bank continued to prosper, larger offices were needed. In 1908, the Bank moved to 505 Market Street, the current location of the Delaware Historical Society annex. It stayed at that location for 64 years, until moving in 1972 to the former Goldey College building at 9th and Tatnall Streets. The continued growth of the institution, the advances in technology and the need for a modern facility lead the Bank to construct a new corporate headquarters complex at the Red Clay Center at Little Falls. The Bank moved to this new complex at 2961 Centerville Road, Wilmington in January of 2008.
In 1959, Artisans' Savings Bank began opening branch offices. Today, 12 branch locations, as well as 2 commercial/consumer lending offices, serve our community statewide. To meet the challenges of the future, the Bank's charter was modernized in 1996. The word "Savings" was dropped from its name, and Artisans' Bank's products and services grew and expanded to provide a full range of financial coverage for consumers, small businesses and commercial customers.
The vision of the original founders continues. Artisans' Bank continues meeting the financial needs of working men and women, retirees, students, small businesses, developers and craftspeople: the "Artisans." A strong, local and independent financial institution serving its community: Artisans' Bank.