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The First Bank

Odds and Ends From The MUSEUM!

By Trudy Wyman, Curator, Millinocket Society Museum

The Millinocket Trust Company was the first official bank in the town of Millinocket. It received its charter from the State of Maine about 1906. Located next to the newly erected fire station on Penobscot Avenue, Millinocket Trust Company operated for a time from an office across the street until the new brick building was finished. The site across the street at that time was A.C. Smart’s grocery store. Today it is a municipal parking lot. John J. Moore was the first president, John King was treasurer and Miss Emma Gonya was the clerk.

The new bank made the headlines in November,1909, when an inspector went to check the bank’s vault. It was late in the day in late fall and the inspector struck a match to light the lamp in the space. He didn’t know someone had left the gas jet on and a huge explosion occurred. Windows were blown out, money scattered everywhere and unfortunately the inspector was killed. Miss Gonya received praise for locking the outside doors and preventing onlookers from entering!

According to a Millinocket Journal article (1947), when established in 1906, the bank had capital of $25,000. At the writing of the 1947 article. The bank’s capital was listed as over $400,000. The article states, “This bank is equipped to do business as any of the larger banks in metropolitan cities, having commercial accounts, personal certified checks, gift checks and Christmas clubs. The bank is also equipped with the latest modern mechanical equipment including the Recordak machine which photos all checks., etc., passing through the bank.”

The museum collection contains several coin banks from Millinocket Trust Company that were given to children to encourage saving. They are in various shapes and designs. All have one or more slots to feed coins into with the latest donation being a lucite model with slots for pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters and half dollars. Others are metal or plastic and one is the shape of a book. These all have only one coin slot. People tell us that these locked banks were intended to be filled and then brought to the bank to be opened. Neither children nor parents had the key. When the coin bank was opened by a bank employee, the child was then encouraged to place the funds into a savings account!

In the 60’s, during improvements to Penobscot Avenue including changing it to a one-way street, the bank also made changes. An addition was added to the north side and the old façade was cut away to give the building a modern look.

Millinocket Trust opened a branch office in East Millinocket which operated for many years. In the 1960’s, another branch was opened in the new Northern Plaza on Central Street.

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