Bank for Savings
The Bank for Savings, 278-280 Park Ave. South at 22nd St. (2002)

This was the central bank for The Bank For Savings, New York's oldest savings bank (chartered in New York State 3/26/1819). The bank was located here from 1894 until 1982 when they merged with the State Buffalo Savings Bank and the name was changed to Goldome Bank for Savings.

The address was 280 Fourth Ave. until the early 1960s when this area of Fourth Avenue was renamed Park Avenue South. Prior to 1894 the bank was located on Chambers St. (until 1857), then at 67 Bleecker St. A history of the bank was written by Charles E. Knowles (published in 1929 under the title History of the Bank for Savings in the City of New York, 1819-1929). President at the time of construction of 280 4th Ave. was Merritt Trimble (1824-1903). His son, Walter Trimble (1857-1926), was president of the bank from 1907 to 1926. The building was designed by Cyrus L. W. Eidlitz (1853-1921), better known for his Times Tower (1903-05) in Times Square.

This portrait of Merritt Trimble appeared in Moses King's Notable New Yorkers of 1896-1899 (1899).

The early years of the Bank for Savings were described as follows by Stephen Jenkins in his The Greatest Street in the World: The Story of Broadway, Old and New, from the Bowling Green to Albany (1911): "On March 26, 1818, the first savings bank ever operated in the city was opened in a basement room [of a building on Chambers Street built in 1796 as an almshouse]; it was called at first the Chambers Street Bank, and later the Bleecker Street Savings Bank; it is now at Fourth Avenue and Twenty-second Street."

Moses King's Handbook of New York City (1892) says, "The Bank for Savings in the City of New York is the oldest savings-bank in the State of New York, and one of the oldest in the country... It was founded in 1819, the philanthropic object of its originators, as quaintly stated being 'to cherish meritorious industry, to encourage frugality and retrenchment, and to promote the welfare of families, the cause of morality and the good order of society.'" At the time of King's writing the Bank for Savings was located on Bleecker St. opposite Crosby St., but had plans for a new building on Fourth Ave.: "The Bank for Savings has bought a new site at the corner of Fourth Avenue and 22d Street; and it will soon begin the erection of a banking-house especially designed to accommodate its large and increasing business."

In the late 1980s this elegant banking space was converted to the demeaning status of a grocery store (Morton Williams Associated)... But the night depository box is still there (as of Feb. 2003). For image click here.

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