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100 YEARS AND STILL GROWING AT ESSA

ESSA Bank & Trust has had its corporate headquarters on Palmer Street in Stroudsburg since 2003. - (Photo / Bill Kline)

One hundred years ago this month, ESSA Bank & Trust began as a state-chartered savings and loan in a small office in East Stroudsburg.

One hundred years ago this month, ESSA Bank & Trust began as a state-chartered savings and loan in a small office in East Stroudsburg.

It was known as The East Stroudsburg Building & Loan Bank.

Describing it in a way that conjures up images of the bank from the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life,” Gary Olson, ESSA’s president and CEO, said people would make deposits and get a share in return. ESSA would then take that money to fund the mortgages of other customers’ homes.

The original bank was a far cry from the institution it is today. ESSA now boasts 29 branches in Pennsylvania and is one of the 20 largest banks headquartered in the state.

It’s a bank on a growth trajectory that has fanned out beyond Monroe County, where it’s been a bank for generations of families, into territories in the Lehigh Valley, suburban Philadelphia and the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area.

“We’ll definitely keep growing,” Olson said.

Yet ESSA also remains vital to its hometown and community, said Armand Martinelli, mayor of East Stroudsburg.

“ESSA has been a very important part of our community,” Martinelli said. “They are extremely community-minded and have donated to or financed many large projects in the area that benefit the community directly such as PMC [Pocono Medical Center].”

While it jumped between a number of buildings and name changes over the years, ESSA remained mostly the same one-office institution it began as until 1978, when it opened its first branch location in the Stroud Mall, Stroud Township.

But real growth didn’t come until later. ESSA became a larger player in Monroe County in the early 1980s because of a housing boom caused by an influx of residents from the New York and New Jersey regions.

Stacy Wescoe
Writer and online editor Stacy Wescoe has her finger on the pulse of the business community in the Greater Lehigh Valley and keeps you up-to-date with technology and trends, plus what coworkers and competitors are talking about around the water cooler — and on social media. She can be reached at stacyw@lvb.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 4104. Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.

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