Tempo Bank Tempo Bank History
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Tempo Bank’s History

Tempo Bank’s humble beginnings flowered from a group of Trenton businessmen and interested citizens that met regularly during 1889 to organize, capitalize and charter the town’s first and only building and loan association. After many months of meetings and deliberations the necessary capital of $13,500 was raised, the Articles of Incorporation were drafted and the charter application was submitted to the Illinois Secretary of State for issuance. The application was subsequently approved resulting in the official charter being issued for Trenton Building and Loan Association on November 9, 1889.To see the original Charter click Original Charter

According to historical information received from the Illinois League of Financial Institutions, Springfield, IL, Trenton Building and Loan Association was one of 496 building and loans chartered and/or operating in the State in the late 1800's providing the mechanism for individuals to accumulate enough savings and the ability to bid for money to purchase a home. In the years that followed and into the 1920's, the business or “movement” as it was then called consisted of literally thousands of small, locally based building and loan associations whose mission consisted of thrift and homeownership.

Each charter’s life varied from community to community, association to association and ranged from just a few years to a maximum of 99 years. Somewhat like the “Sunrise and Sunset” provisions we find in today’s legislation, each organizing group was empowered to select an appropriate charter period during which their mission was to be performed. Trenton’s visionaries chose a charter of 99 years, assuming that individuals could conceivably buy more than one home during a lifetime and that the association’s mission might never be complete as long as there was someone still seeking to purchase a home. By the mid-1950's, following legislative changes to the chartering provisions of Illinois law, Trenton’s charter was amended to a “Charter in Perpetuity”.

It was also at this time that Trenton Building and Loan Association joined the Federal Home Loan Bank System and applied for Insurance of Accounts from the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corporation. Still being a state chartered mutual association, membership in the federal banking system would give rise to certain specialized products and services not available from traditional banking sources and with insurance of accounts, depositors would be more comfortable having the insured safety guarantee of a federal agency. The association's office was moved from the first block of South Main to 8 West Broadway to gain more visibility and traffic from U.S. Highway 50 which runs East and West through the center of town.

In the early 1960's, the State again modernized the charter law by incorporating the words “savings and loan” as being more descriptive of the business and the services such charters were providing. Trenton Building and Loan thus became known as Trenton Savings and Loan Association.

Also in the early sixties, the Savings and Loan moved temporarily into the vacant Farmers Bank building, just a couple of doors West, while the 8 West Broadway location was remodeled and a new addition built. With its impressive decorative glass block facade, increased office space and drive-up window, the Association was again modernizing to keep pace with business and service improvements. The 8 West Broadway location was re-occupied in 1966.

By 1980, ground once held sacred and secure by the banking industry began to breakdown. Interest bearing checking accounts called “Negotiable Orders of Withdrawal” or NOW accounts for short, were authorized for thrift institutions following a successful experiment conducted in the New England states during the late 1970's. Previous service lines of traditional passbook and certificate accounts could now be expanded to include this form of interest bearing checking. Public response to this new type of checking account was such that by 1981, Trenton Savings and Loan was once again feeling the building squeeze and began planning for expansion.

While not wishing to abandon the downtown business district, the Association looked at several alternate site locations, including three parcels in the downtown area. Sites outside the downtown area had space advantages, however convenience, distance and related commerce were of great concern. Downtown parcels presented different complications such as displacing existing businesses, but with study, cooperation and ingenuity, all the displaced businesses except one, were able to relocate and reopen on the North side of Broadway with little or no disruption. Site demolition was begun in June 1981.

During the planning and design phase, every possible idea was on the table. Except for its contemporary exterior appearance, the interior quarters were to convey a comfortable feeling of hominess with private offices held to a minimum. Three huge wooden trusses constructed on-site provide a focal point of strength and mass in the clerestory with the floor space underneath them devoted to a large open atmosphere customer service area. Improved off-street parking, multiple lane drive-up facilities, safe deposit boxes, coupon booths, public restrooms, zoned heating/air conditioning and lighting systems and handicapped accessibility were all designed into the structure. Construction began in December 1982 and by January 1983, Trenton Savings and Loan Association was again on the move, this time to 28 West Broadway.

In late 1982, Trenton Savings and Loan expanded its operations by entering into a definitive agreement to purchase certain assets and assume the liabilities of the Breese, Illinois branch of Mid State Savings, then headquartered in Carlyle, Illinois. Even though Trenton did have a presence in the Breese community, the addition of the branch location and deposits solidified its relationship in the community. The transaction was a good faith, non-assisted purchase that was consummated in November 1982. Situated at 304 North 4th Street, this main East/West thoroughfare in Breese is also U.S. Highway 50. In 1984 the branch was extensively remodeled and modernized to provide enhanced customer service conveniences.

Since the main office’s move to new quarters, the old S&L office remained empty. Requests would be periodically received to rent or lease the space for businesses like an aerobics hall, a pizza parlor, a pub and the like, however, none were considered to reflect the tenure of the previous occupant. The City of Trenton had moved its offices to the vacant Farmers Bank Building and by 1988 needed additional usable space. A couple of conversations were held with the Mayor about our vacant building and whether there were any plans to sell or lease the space. This lead to several more discussions and finally a signed agreement stating, in part, that the Savings and Loan and City would swap buildings (the old S&L’s office for the Farmers Bank building) and then share the cost of demolition of the old bank building and an adjoining structure the Savings and Loan had purchased in February 1988. With City Council approval, the swap took place in June 1988 and demolition in late March of 1989. The site has been maintained as a green space.

By late 1989, with the dark cloud of the growing national “savings and loan” crisis on the front page and on every televised news program featuring the broad brush of criticism and mistrust and financial malady that was seriously affecting the genuine aspect of the thrift industry, Trenton Savings and Loan Association, at a special meeting of the members, adopted a plan of conversion that would change the Institution from a state chartered mutual savings and loan to a federally chartered mutual savings bank. It’s new name would be Tempo Bank, A Federal Savings Bank and would be chartered and regulated by the U. S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Thrift Supervision. On September 18, 1989, only two months away from its one hundredth anniversary as a state chartered mutual, unanimous consent by vote of the members was granted for the charter conversion.

It was difficult to give up that many years of association and community name recognition, but it had to be done to dissipate growing customer fear. The public’s general impression was that every “S&L” was going under. We knew the generalizations were not true, but whom could the customer believe. Our repeated “safe and sound” messages locally went unheralded amidst the volume and presumed credibility afforded the national press.

On August 7, 1989, the Financial Institutions Reform Recovery and Enforcement Act (FIRREA) was signed into law by President George Bush. This massive piece of federal legislation restructured the federal deposit insurance system by declaring that the FSLIC was bankrupt; that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) would collect premiums and manage both the Bank Insurance Fund (BIF) for banks and the newly created Savings Association Insurance Fund (SAIF) for savings and loans and savings banks; a new federal agency, the Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS), was formed within the U.S. Treasury Department to regulate and supervise the thrift industry; and, another new agency, the Resolution Trust Corporation (RTC), was formed to act as conservator for insolvent or failing institutions. New capital standards were mandated for every financial institution with compliance by a date certain or be thrust into the RTC's conservator program. Other elements of FIRREA were designed to rid the industry of fraud, deceit, mismanagement and incompetence and to forever preclude this kind of scandal from happening again.

The harsh reality of the RTC's task at hand meant that in addition to acting as a conservator of insolvent or failing institutions, it would be called upon to first seize control of these institutions and fire management, remove boards of directors from their posts, strip stockholders of their investment, use the civil and criminal justice system to recover dissipated assets and, to put the institutions out of business by either liquidation, sale or merger. The RTC wound up its affairs in 1995, some six years after it was formed to liquidate, sell or merge failing institutions, and although the fury of this malady has passed, the impact on the industry and impression it has left in the minds of the public will take years to clear up.

Here we are in 1996, one hundred and six years of continuous operation later and still performing our chartered mission. Some scoff and criticize. Others downplay the significance of our age and our continuing role as a financial services provider. But what do they know? We are not ready for the scrap heap, and we believe that our clientele doesn’t think so, either. After all, we've accumulated a considerable amount of experience in delivering specialized consumer and residential mortgage services. We have the knowledge and experience to deliver a variety of insured saving, checking and certificate products. And, who can provide more “value added” services like personalized one-on-one banking where you are known by name, not just a string of numbers? Could it be possible that the very people you will be relying on for your future banking services are already in place today planning for this new era in banking?

Our outlook today is no different than those original incorporators had of over a century ago. We still have the original mission to perform and we are preparing to perform it with new and innovative technologies and electronic delivery systems that do not take the word “personalized” out of banking services. Personal contact and feedback will continue to be a very important issue for a long time into the future.

Is Tempo Bank prepared for this new direction in banking?” In a word, “Yes”. We have the accumulated knowledge and experience; we have been using electronic accounting systems and technology to our advantage for over 25 years; and, we offer and provide personalized financial services via a traditional delivery mechanism. But our vision carries us much farther. This is why we are here to establish an early presence. We want to keep our products and services fresh, out in front of the public and ready for the real dawn of home banking when it arrives.

Is it that important whether we have been called a “building and loan”, a “savings and loan” or a “savings bank”, or whether we have had a state or federal charter? Perhaps not. These things are historical and part of a business's corporate evolution and adjustment to change. What does matter, however, is that we are a corporation, comprised of friends, associates, neighbors and business acquaintances that has evolved and adjusted to change, remained independent, forward-thinking, and a conservative yet progressive mutual thrift institution. We have been around a long time and our corporate strategy today is based upon the accumulated staying power, recognition, community involvement and acceptance, trust, honesty and integrity. While others may have folded their tents or crumbled under economic or regulatory adversity, not Tempo Bank. Our mission is still far from over eleven decades later.

 

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