First Hope celebrates a century

| 14 Mar 2012 | 03:09

HOPE — Four generations of family leadership and 100 years later, First Hope Bank celebrated its centennial anniversary by hosting a party last Friday at its founding location in Hope. The owners and associates along with customers and friends commemorated the one hundred year old history of the bank and its service to the community. “The celebration of our 100th anniversary is a very humbling experience because my grandfather was instrumental in establishing the bank. And both my parents worked here for 62 years,” said Norman E. Beatty, Chief Executive Officer and President. Five more branches and three mortgage subsidiary locations later, First Hope has come a long way in terms of growth and assets as well as the products and services offered. But to appreciate its success today is to take a look back at the historic roots of this company that are visible in this 230-year-old building in Hope where it all started. History of the building This 1782 building was built as the church for the Moravians who settled Hope in 1769. Original walls, wainscoting and crown moldings remain in what was called the Saal or worship room. The Moravians eventually left to settle other areas, and in 1824 the upstairs floor was used as a meeting room where the decision was made to separate Sussex from Warren County. It then served as an inn until March 4, 1912 when it became the First National Bank of Hope. Half of the first floor was a bank and the other half was the living quarters for the cashier. Teller barricades were built in 1935 that were composed of Navy gunmetal steel along with bullet proof glass and electrified wires above — which was considered state of the art. Until 1938, the tellers were armed with pistols and gas masks. History of the business Under the leadership of Lewis C. Beatty Sr., the bank thrived despite the impact of World War I. His son Lewis C. Beatty Jr. took over and was known as “Uncle Lew.” He installed the first drive-up window and depository in northwestern New Jersey during the 1950s. Throughout the bank, there is memorabilia from the past like the original bound journals that depict the first loans made by the bank and the original vault. An old advertisement from 1927 offers savings accounts with 4 percent interest rates. In 1965 the bank expanded to take over the whole first floor and Norman Beatty and his sister lived on the second floor while his parents worked during the day on the first floor. In 1972 his parents moved out to a new house, and in 1988, the building was renovated. “Customers in their mid-90s like to remind me of Lou Beatty stories." During the depression he allowed farmers to pay whatever they could and didn't foreclose on anyone. "There were over 80 farms in the area, and customers today remain grateful for that,” said Beatty. Some customers showed their thanks by giving gifts to the bank. One in particular that stands out was a savings book of Sadie Swayze Hartung dating back to March 20, 1912 that was given to Beatty by her grandson along with a congratulatory note. The first entry written was for $47.86. A month later, a deposit for $50.00 was recorded. And Beatty, along with his two sons, is committed to carrying on the legacy: “I look upon myself as a steward of assets who can increase the reach of the bank through technology, products and services. I try and listen to each customer and develop a plan within the knowledge of the banking system based on their situation and needs.” “The success of First Hope has always been rooted in our community. As we celebrate and reflect on the past 100 years, our greatest success has been our customers’ greatest successes,” said Daniel Beatty, Chief Operations Officer and great-grandson of the bank’s founder. “We are privileged to have played a part in helping customers purchase a new home, send their kids to college and helping local businesses, volunteer groups and other community organizations.” And to bridge the past with the present, the Beatty’s commissioned Carlo's Bake Shop — home of the infamous "Cake Boss" TV show — to make the 100th anniversary cake. It was a replica of the bank and the founders are depicted in front of the cake. “We called them around February — we had to send photos of the bank and the people. They were great to work with,” said Daniel Beatty. “It is with great pride that we celebrate our bank’s 100th anniversary. It is a true testament to the great men and women who have been a part of this organization before us and are with us today. As we reflect on the great legacy of First Hope Bank and its founders, we look to the future with even greater excitement. Here’s to the next 100 years!” Norman Beatty added.