In the early eighteen-seventies Milford had no banking institutions of any kind. To deposit their savings, residents made use of banks in nearby cities. Recognizing the need for a bank in Milford, a group of public-spirited citizens applied to the State for a charter. An act of incorporation was passed during the 1872 session of the General Assembly and was approved by the Governor on June 26th of that year.
The first meeting of the incorporators was held in August 1872. Because of delays so frequently attendant upon the starting of a new enterprise in a small community, no active measures towards opening for business were taken until 1875. On January 18, 1875, at a meeting of the incorporators held in the Town Hall, it was decided to commence business. The bank opened shortly thereafter.
The first deposit was made by Miss Lucille A. Fowler, as Treasurer of St. Peter’s Church. Miss Fowler was a respected teacher in the Milford public schools and the daughter of Hon. John W. Fowler, the first Secretary of the bank and one of its original incorporators.
The original deposits were placed temporarily in a wooden cigar box in a safe at the store of Phineas S. Bristol, the bank’s first Treasurer. This cigar box and the original account books of Mr. Bristol have been carefully preserved by the bank and are currently on display in our Main Office Lobby.
At a meeting of the bank’s directors held December 21, 1875, after the bank had been operating nearly a year, the Treasurer reported earnings of $380.92 for the second six months’ period and a dividend of 3%. This amounted to $281.79. A surplus of $180.76 was reported, of which $97.00 was invested in an iron safe.
The bank was originally located in Mr. Bristol’s store on Broad Street westerly of the corner of Center Street. At first its sole equipment consisted of its books, an iron safe and the wooden cigar box. Later a desk was added, and then additional office equipment was purchased. Finally, after Mr. Bristol retired from business, the bank occupied the entire front room of the first floor.
The bank continued to serve depositors there until 1901, when it moved to larger quarters in the Masonic Building on Broad Street. In keeping with the growth of the bank, additional equipment was installed. The bank was located in these quarters for nearly thirty years.
In 1926, larger facilities and more modern equipment were needed to meet the demand of the bank’s increasing business. That year the first step was taken towards the fulfillment of the vision of the directors – a home for the bank. They purchased land on Broad Street, a short distance from the quarters then occupied, from James T. Patterson. This site, in the heart of downtown Milford, is considered one of the most convenient locations for a banking institution.
How far the bank has progressed since this modest beginning is shown by the following:
2020 was an extraordinary year by any measure. It was a year of a global pandemic, a global recession, unprecedented government actions, turbulent elections, and deeply felt social and racial injustice. It was a year in which each of us faced difficult personal challenges, a year when those among us with less were disproportionately hurt by joblessness and poverty, and it was a time when companies discovered what they really were made of and, sometimes, what they might become. Year after year, I champion the merits of the community banking model — how we bring people together, enable small businesses and individuals to reach for their dreams, and for being a source of strength in difficult times. Those opportunities were powerfully presented to us this year, and I am proud of how we responded.
Our dedicated employees remained committed to helping our customers and served as a stabilizing force in our communities during those early uncertain, terrifying, and unprecedented days. I’ve witnessed first-hand the pride, resiliency and loyalty that exists in our communities that we are proud to be a part of. Having a great team of people — hard workers with fortitude, brains and enormous capabilities who can navigate personally challenging circumstances while dedicating themselves to professional excellence — is what ensures our prosperity, now and in the future.
If there was one thing that defined 2020, aside from the global pandemic of course, it was the unprecedented government intervention. Targeted at our small business customers was the Payroll Protection Program loan (PPP). It was a tremendous opportunity for us to showcase our mettle as community bankers. Our team wrote 275 PPP loans totaling $21.5 million in 2020 supporting our small businesses in their time of crisis.
In addition to the PPP effort, we provided $49.8 million in new and renewed credit for our commercial customers. We worked with customers under financial duress by delaying payments for 46 loans. The retail lending side was profoundly impacted too. We offered delayed payments and forbearance options to 65 families with mortgage balances in excess of $9.15 million. We continued our tradition of generously supporting our communities, despite the cessation of events and fundraising opportunities and the financial hardship we faced, because we have always believed in the importance of community and corporate responsibility. The Milford Bank and our Foundation invested approximately $120,000 in com-munity partnerships last year. Despite the headwinds we faced, total assets increased in 2020 to $482.0 million and deposits grew to $420.1 million, an increase of nearly $60 million. Much of that growth is attributable to PPP funds and government stimulus money. Net income for 2020 was $1.1 million. Capital stands at $48.9 million and the Bank retains the highest regulatory capital rating of “well capitalized.” We remain strong.
The difficult interest rate environment we’re in is not expected to improve anytime soon so we are investigating ways to supplement our net interest margin and bring other sources of income into the Bank. We’ve recently launched an insurance agency — TMB Insurance Services. We hope you’ll allow us to quote your insurance needs. Last year only reinforced the criticality of digital banking channels and we will continue to expand our offerings. We have an ambitious agenda but whatever we do, we will do all of it with strict adherence to our standards and culture, while delivering what we call “The Milford Bank Experience.”
I would like to express my deepest gratitude and appreciation to our Trustees for their continued counsel. Their dedication, passion and commitment allow our Bank to be the very best version of itself. Our employees have demonstrated tremendous character and capabilities; they have faced these times of adversity with grace and fortitude. With their support, I am optimistic for our prospects in 2021 and look forward to a brighter future.