DEL NORTE — Del Norte has a long history here in the Valley and though back in the day when building and loan banks were just beginning to hit the market, they did not generate much interest outside of families that were looking to buy or build a home, now 100 years later, the fact that Del Norte Bank is still offering their services to the community is nothing less than a huge accomplishment and a testament to how far the industry has grown over the years.
Del Norte Bank President Mike Hurst is working on a book that will take readers back in time to when the bank was founded and even highlights the history of the town it was built to serve. The bank was created on May 9, 1921 and has since grown into a substantial financial institution that has two branches in Del Norte and Creede.
“We were formed in 1921 as Del Norte Building Loan. It was formed with a lot of fan fair because half the buildings here in the Valley were built by these building and loan institutions that were around. Building and loans were formed about the time of the founding of the country in Massachusetts to help people build homes and it didn’t really take hold in the San Luis Valley until the early 1900s,” said Hurst.
In an excerpt from the coming book about the history if Del Norte Bank it states, “Del Norte Bank has been through many transitions and transformations over its 100-year history. Incorporated on May 9, 1921 as Del Norte Building and Loan, it began with much fanfare as the best way to assure a robust housing expansion.
As laws and the banking system changed, the Building and Loan changed too. While incorporated in 1921, the Del Norte Building and Loan began its long evolution with its first change through the Federal Home Loan Bank System and the Home Owners Loan Act of 1933. On May 14, 1934, Del Norte Building and Loan Association modified its charter to become Del Norte Federal Savings and Loan Association. While this signaled a modernization of the Building and Loan system, the mission remained the same. Assuring access to capital to build adequate housing was to be the association’s sole mission for another 70 years.”
Through the years, the bank found its home in several locations including law offices, the Windsor Hotel at one point but it was not until later in the 1960 when the bank moved into its own building next to the Del Norte Post Office and later into the building where it now reside to this day in 2007.
From another excerpt of the book, it talks about some of the struggles the bank was able to overcome in recent years, marking the growth of the establishment and its resiliency here in the Valley, “The nation’s banking environment continued to weaken, with hundreds of banks closing each year, but Del Norte Federal Bank continued to perform adequately throughout 2009. There was a stable income stream and Return on Assets of .36 percent and assets of $45.8 million. Asset quality now began to show more stress, as people were impacted by the nation’s economic problems. While past-due and classified loans increased, they remained manageable, with the lending staff making individual contact with each struggling household to form appropriate plans and strategies to make it through the difficult times. That personal contact resonated throughout the community, with the slogan ‘True. Local. Bank.’ becoming a real asset that carried more and more weight. The Mutual Holding Company was completed on November 16, 2009.”
Hurst is hopeful to hear more stories from local people and to add to the book in coming years, “I can see this book growing as more and more people come forward with their family stories and we are hoping to have more people come in to share their stories for another edition of the book. We would like to have this be a growing account of Del Norte history as well as the history of the bank,” said Hurst.
Del Norte Bank is planning to host a celebration later in the summer to coincide with Covered Wagon Days at the beginning of August. Hurst stated that more details will be reported as they come available as far as specific dates and times. The event would be subject to change depending on state and local COVID restrictions at that time, but Hurst remains optimistic for a summer celebration. Stay tuned for coming details!