Founded on the West Side of Manchester, New Hampshire in 1908, St. Mary’s Bank is the nation’s first credit union. Guided by a long tradition of service and community outreach, time has only strengthened our motivation to serve members, our community, and the credit union industry. Today, with over 100,000 members, we are a trusted advisor to individuals, families, and businesses throughout New Hampshire and beyond, and continue to remain true to our mission.
In 1908, Monsignor Pierre Hevey, Pastor of Sainte-Marie’s parish in Manchester, New Hampshire, organized what was soon to be known as the first credit union. The goal was to help the primarily Franco-American mill workers save and borrow money. On November 24, 1908 our credit union officially opened its doors in Manchester, New Hampshire as “La Caisse Populaire, Ste-Marie” (The People’s Bank) and became the first credit union in the nation. In April 1909, the New Hampshire Senate and House of Representatives approved a Charter to incorporate under the name of St. Mary’s Cooperative Credit Association. Transactions were conducted at the home of Joseph Boivin, the credit union’s first president, on Notre Dame Avenue. An all-volunteer staff assisted with daily activities.
In 1917, the state legislature approved a bill changing our name from “St. Mary’s Cooperative Credit Association” to “La Caisse Populaire, Ste-Marie”. And, by 1923, our credit union’s assets exceeded $1 million. In 1925, an amended charter allowed the institution to be called either “La Caisse Populaire, Ste-Marie,” or “St. Mary’s Bank.” Over the years, St. Mary’s Bank has helped members through difficult times, including the Great Depression. Our credit union made it possible for Manchester’s immigrants to achieve the better quality of life they had envisioned. For just $5, the price of one share of capital stock, anyone in the community could become a member. Savings were accepted from workers, families, and children. The accumulated savings were, in turn, lent to members to purchase and build homes, establish neighborhood businesses, and meet the personal financial needs of the community.
Today, our credit union is a full-service financial institution serving a diverse population. St. Mary’s is as welcoming to new immigrants today as we were to the French Canadian population at the turn of the last century. Whether it is meeting basic financial needs through traditional banking services, providing sophisticated online services, or helping with long range financial planning, we serve individuals, families, and businesses. It costs no more to belong to St. Mary’s Bank now than it did in 1908. For just $5, anyone can become a member, by purchasing one share of capital stock.
The building where Attorney Boivin first managed the business of the credit union became America’s Credit Union Museum in 2002 (his private home), located at 418-420 Notre Dame Avenue, Manchester, New Hampshire.
In 1930, St. Mary’s Bank moved into “The Marble Building,” a landmark in the center of what was then the commercial heart of Manchester, New Hampshire’s West Side.
St. Mary’s Bank’s headquarters in the 1970s, located at 200 McGregor Street in Manchester, New Hampshire. The credit union occupied this building until the new headquarters building was constructed in 2013.