HST 202 U.S. History 1840 to 1900
  • Thompson Bank
  • Bank Exterior
  • Bank Interior
  • Bank Interior
  • Bank Interior

Thompson Bank

Moved from Thompson, Connecticut. Built 1835.

The Thompson Bank gives the strong impression of safety and security, assuring its shareholders and customers that their business and their money were taken seriously. Chartered in 1833, it was financed through the purchase of its stock by prosperous farmers, merchants, and professional men. The building was constructed soon afterwards. Its Greek Revival style, widely fashionable in the 1830s, makes it a small temple of commerce. The structure served as a bank until 1893, remaining in Thompson for another 70 years, until it was carefully crated and moved to the museum. At the Village, its interior was restored to its original elegance and furnished with stylish astral lamps, a cast-iron stove with classical columns, and a regulator clock attributed to Simon Willard.

The counter, the cashier’s desk, the granite-walled vault safeguarded by a massive iron door, and the president’s office still seem to await the arrival of customers. The Thompson Bank was one of New England’s growing number of commercial banks, which loaned money to promote rural industry and trade. Craftsmen with orders to fill, storekeepers, and textile or shoe manufacturers were all likely borrowers. A printer who needed money to print a large order of school textbooks, for example, might apply for a loan in order to buy the paper, type, and ink needed for production. The printer would repay the full value of the loan when due; the 6 percent annual interest was deducted in advance. Each borrower received the bank’s own engraved notes, signed by the cashier and president, and used them as cash. From the late 1820s on, most of the money in circulation in New England was in the form of bank notes backed up by paid-in shares and widespread public confidence. 

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Excerpted from Old Sturbridge Village Visitor's Guide
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