North Shore Bank History

Peabody Square in the late 1800s.
Peabody Square in the late 1800s. 
Photo courtesy of www.old-maps.com

North Shore Bank opened its doors in 1888 — one hundred and thirty years later it’s still serving the individual and business needs of Massachusetts. Electricity had yet to be widely established and the most prevalent means of transportation was still the horse and buggy.

There was no Central Bank – the forerunner to today’s Federal Reserve — and the country had neither a common currency nor uniform check clearing mechanism. Within this climate it was hardly surprising that fraud and mismanagement were common occurrences and bank failures were not. In fact, during the 1800s more than 1,000 financial institutions across the country shuttered for these very reasons. 

Nevertheless, in April of 1888 a meeting of citizens was held at the Peabody Institute to discuss the creation of a new bank. Attendees were addressed by then Massachusetts Lt. Governor, John Q. A. Brackett, who would later become governor of the commonwealth.  Brackett was one of the foremost advocates of the new form of co-operative savings and loans and in this group he found a receptive audience. As a result, in May of 1888 the Peabody Co-operative Bank was formed with 15 directors.

The first President was George F. Sanger, who also operated a glue factory, while Patrick H. O’Conor was named Vice President and Henry F. Walker, Secretary and Treasurer.
The bank was first located in O.B. Chadwick’s insurance office, rent free. 

As business activity increased in what was then the town of Peabody, the bank experienced space problems and ultimately moved to a suite of rooms located at 12 Peabody Square, which was also known as the Thomas block. During this period the bank had just a handful of employees at any given time — they knew their customers by name and recorded every transaction by hand. 

Peabody Co-operative Bank, 32 Main St. office under construction, circa 1952
Peabody Co-operative Bank, 32 Main St. office under construction, circa 1952

Unfortunately there is little published history about the bank for the next 75 years. However, persevering through multiple financial crises, World Wars and punishing economic cycles, including the Great Depression, Peabody Co-operative held true to its charter and continued to promote personal savings and home ownership throughout the area.

While the town of Peabody would eventually incorporate into a city in 1916, and prosper greatly following its shift from an agrarian-based economy to industrial manufacturing, the bank’s fortunes expanded along with the cities; increasing in assets from $13,160 in 1888, to over $7 million by 1952.

By this same year, it was fairly apparent that the bank had outgrown the confines of its shared Thomas Block office space and it began construction of a new facility on 32 Main St. This colonial brick building would become a Peabody Square fixture and serve as the bank’s corporate headquarters for the next fifty-five years. 

In 1970, it was announced that the Peabody Co-operative Bank and the Danvers Co-operative Bank would consolidate into a single bank. This new entity would then operate under the name of the George Peabody Co-operative Bank, honoring the prominent philanthropist for whom the city was named. The terms of the consolidation were agreed upon by the Board of Directors of each bank and the assets of George Peabody Co-operative Bank climbed to over $31 million, making it one of the largest co-operative banks in Massachusetts at that time. 

Official ground-breaking for North Shore Banks Corporate Headquarters located at 248 Andover Street (Route 114), Peabody.
Official ground-breaking for North Shore Banks Corporate Headquarters located at 248 Andover Street (Route 114), Peabody.
Left to Right: Craig Fishman, George Sophinos, David LaFlamme, David Ankeles, Francis McCormack, Gary Cowles, Mayor Michael Bonfanti, Michael Zellen, Thomas Kostinden, Frances Bresnahan, Jean Delios and Nicholas Decoulos.

In 1982, George Peabody Co-operative Bank again merged with another prominent area financial institution, this time the Roger Conant Co-operative Bank headquartered in Salem. The resulting growth from this transaction brought the bank’s assets to over $100 million. 

Under the leadership of then President Francis J. McCormack, in 1996 the bank’s name was officially changed to North Shore Bank. Having expanded its service area considerably over the preceding decades, it was felt that the new name was more representative of the growing bank. In addition, the new name more accurately conveyed the full range of services indicative of a modern community financial institution. That year, the bank also formed North Shore Bancorp, a bank holding company, and established the George Peabody Community Loan Fund — providing affordable loans to small businesses, real estate owners, and first time home buyers in the community. 

One by-product of all of this business activity was the resurgence of office space challenges . . . North Shore Bank had clearly outgrown its 32 Main St., Peabody location. Consequently, in 2007 a new Corporate Headquarters was built on Andover Street, Route 114 in Peabody, and later that year David J. LaFlamme was named President of the bank. 

In 2014, North Shore Bank and Saugusbank, a Co-operative Bank, entered into a definitive agreement to merge. In Saugusbank, a $210 million community bank with a 100 year legacy, NSB had found an ideal partner. Located at the “Gateway to the North Shore” the addition of Saugusbank extended the North Shore Bank footprint to the southern-most point of Essex County. Upon completion, North Shore Bank became an eleven branch community bank with almost $700 million in assets. 

In November of 2015, North Shore Bank and Merrimac Savings Bank announced the completion of their merger. The combined entity, operating as North Shore Bank, became a $750 million financial institution serving more than 25,000 consumers and businesses in eastern Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire, adding branches in Merrimac, Massachusetts and Newton, New Hampshire. 

In 2016, North Shore Bank announced that Chief Executive Officer, David J. LaFlamme would retire after a 40-year banking career, and he would be succeeded by the Bank's President, Kevin M. Tierney, Sr., who would assume the role of President and Chief Executive Officer. 

For over 130 years, North Shore Bank has provided quality banking services to families and businesses throughout the North Shore. As a well-capitalized community bank, we are committed to developing strong customer relationships by providing quality products along with outstanding customer service. Supported by a growing network of offices, our customers find convenience in dealing with a local institution willing to meet their needs.