Dudley S. Gregory
Photo: A. Selvaggio, 2003
The Provident Savings Institution was the first bank in Jersey City and Hudson County and is New Jersey's oldest mutual savings bank.
The bank was granted a charter in 1839 with John F. Ellis as president,
but it did not begin to conduct business until 1843 under the leadership
S. Gregory, who was its president from 1841 to 1874.
The incorporation of the bank also occurred one year after the incorporation of Jersey City as an independent municipality and one-year after Gregory's first year as mayor.
The Provident opened in a room in the Temperance Hall, at Washington
and York streets, on October 16, 1843. To accommodate the growing number
of depositors, Gregory moved the bank's operations in 1846 to the office
of its treasurer Peter Bentley at 23 Montgomery Street for daytime transactions
and to the Mechanics and Traders Bank providing evening hours.
During the Civil War era, the Provident again shared a building with
the Mechanics and Traders Bank, now called the First National Bank, on
the corner of Hudson Street and Exchange Place. The Provident took over
the building and formally referred to itself as "The Beehive Bank" and
then "The Old Beehive."
In 1890, the Provident opened a new bank building, and present-day main office, at the northwest corner of Washington and Grand street at the site of the fort at Paulus Hook during the Revolutionary War. That same year, the ground floor of the bank, which had an entrance on Washington Street, became the temporary site of the beginnings of the Jersey City Free Public Library until its present building on Jersey Avenue was constructed.
Although Gregory, known as the "architect" of the bank, had secured great stability for the Jersey City-founded banking institution, the Provident like other banks faced challenges during the financial crises of the nation and banking industry, such as the panics of 1873 and 1893. But none was more threatening to its future than era of the Great Depression. In 1932, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared a "bank holiday" in response to the banking crisis, the Provident was forced to close its doors for the first time since its inception. It was also one of the first banks allowed to resume business.
The Provident's success allowed it to open new branches in the twentieth century. Bank president James B. Throckmorton opened the bank's first branch office at 533 Bergen Avenue in 1928 and another in the Lafayette section at (350) Communipaw and Pacific avenues, taking over the Title Guaranty and Trust branch-office building. Additional branches were started in the Greenville (1553 Kennedy Boulevard) and the Heights (3670 Kennedy Boulevard) sections of Jersey City. President William Neuman Jr. designed the Heights bank branch in 1964. Prior to his banking career, Neuman was an architect and designed buildings for Christ Hospital, St. Francis Hospital School of Nursing, and the Jersey City Chamber of Commerce Building. The Bergen-Journal Square branch at 895 Bergen Avenue opened in 1965.
Today, Provident Bank has commercial and retail branches in several other New Jersey communities and counties. In 2004, Provident's parent company Provident Financial Services Inc. received approval from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to merge with First Sentinel Bancorp Inc., making it New Jersey's eighth-largest bank.
Provident Saving is publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange and in 2003 began the Provident Bank Foundation to contribute to local educational and community projects.
| By: Carmela Karnoutsos
Project Administrator: Patrick Shalhoub