Commercial Banks, 69, Savings & Loan, 30, Mutual Banks, 1
This brochure map of the “Highways of Hennepin County” opens to reveal the half-century long struggle of the Farmers & Mechanics Savings Bank to reform Minnesota banking law to allow it to open a second location. The mutual bank, “run solely for the benefit of the depositors,” and opposed by independent commercial banks wary lest “profits per bank would be lessened,” seeks to rally the confused traveler to its cause through a series of questions put into the mouth of the presumably shocked and indignant reader, and answers by the bank, calling upon quotes from newspapers, professors and dignitaries, a timeline of its legal battle, demographic statistics, a table of comparisons to other states, and a sardonic bank-search photograph.
The F&MSB won a victory in this crusade in 1979, when the bank was allowed to open its first branch in Southdale, but it was absorbed by the Marquette National Bank in 1982 in a deal arranged by FDIC. Journalist Jim Fuller, writing in the February 28th 1982 Minneapolis Tribune, attributed the bank’s failure to “sinking in a sea of low-rate mortgages and high rate savings and borrowings. Its assets, mostly mortgages, were earning an average of 8.7 percent, but it was paying an average of 10.7 percent on the money it took in on savings and borrowings. And unlike savings and loan associations, it had been forbidden for many years to tap the important suburban markets though the establishment of branches.”
Dick Gray, a F&MSB trustee, in a March 1982 column in the Minnetonka Sun, reminisced about the 108 year history of this former “backbone of Minneapolis life. ‘You were loyal to two things: the Republican Party, and the F&M Savings Bank.’ When immigrants arrived either by train or river boat, they were met by representatives of F&M… [in] 1909, F&M led the country in school banking, and by 1910, one-half of the Minneapolis public school children banked weekly with F&M in their classrooms.”
Today the F&MSB’s most visible legacies are the two buildings it commissioned in downtown Minneapolis, both of which are now in the National Register of Historic Places. The first, 115 S. 4th St., completed in 1891, is now the Downtown Cabaret, a strip club. The second, 88 S. 6th St., finished in 1942, which features a bold Art Deco relief of the bank’s eponymous figures, currently houses the Westin Hotel and B.A.N.K., a restaurant which uses the former teller windows as a bar.
This map and other records of the F&MSB’s long history are available in HCL’s James K. Hosmer Special Collections.