ESSA Bank & Trust (ESSA) was established in 1916 when Mr. John Gish founded the East Stroudsburg Building & Loan Bank at 93 Crystal Street, in East Stroudsburg. Through the years, what we now know as ESSA Bank & Trust evolved at a slow but steady pace.
After operating from several locations on or near Crystal Street in East Stroudsburg, the Bank moved into new headquarters at 75 Washington Street in 1966. In 1969, a resolution was passed to merge East Stroudsburg Building & Loan with Commonwealth Building & Loan Association of Stroudsburg and Keystone Building & Loan Association of East Stroudsburg. The merger was completed in 1971, forming East Stroudsburg Savings Association with combined assets of $20 million.
ESSA continued to operate only one office until 1978 when it built its first branch office inside the Stroud Mall in Stroudsburg. Additional locations were added in Brodheadsville, Stroudsburg, Mount Pocono, Marshalls Creek, Tannersville (inside Weis Markets) and Bushkill in 1983, 1985, 1989, 1991, 1993, and 1997, respectively.
In 1998, the Brodheadsville branch opened inside Weis Markets, the Asset Management & Trust Division was added, and the ESSA Foundation was formed to fund the needs of 501(c)3 organizations in the Monroe County region. The bank earmarked 10% of its net income each year for the foundation to use in awarding grants to charitable organizations in our community which enhance housing programs, parks and recreation, educational programs, community health, and the arts.
More branch openings followed in East Stroudsburg (inside Weis Markets), Stroudsburg (inside Weis Markets), Pen Argyl (inside Weis Markets), and Blakeslee in 1999, 2000, 2001, and 2002, respectively. Then, in 2003, the bank completed construction of the new corporate headquarters in downtown Stroudsburg. That same year, the bank's assets reached a milestone at $500 million.
East Stroudsburg Savings Association had started out as a traditional thrift institution back 1916, but by 2004 it had become much more than that. Over the previous 20 years, ESSA had grown to include a full spectrum of products and services, including a highly personalized Asset Management & Trust Division. With this in mind, the institution underwent its third name change since it was first established; to ESSA Bank & Trust. As ESSA Bank & Trust, the new name more accurately reflected the institution ESSA had become.
In 2006 ESSA determined that the best way to continue its growth was to convert from a mutual to a publicly owned entity. ESSA Bancorp, Inc., the holding company for ESSA Bank & Trust, received regulatory approval to complete its conversion in 2007 and shares of ESSA Bancorp, Inc.'s common stock began trading on April 4, 2007 on the NASDAQ Global MarketSM under the symbol "ESSA". On April 11, 2007, members of ESSA's executive management team and board members traveled to New York City to take part in the closing bell ceremony at NASDAQ where Gary Olson, President & CEO of ESSA Bank & Trust, rang the closing bell.
That same year, the Tannersville branch opened and the ESSA Foundation was replaced by the new ESSA Bank & Trust Foundation. The new Foundation became permanently funded with ESSA stock.
The bank's assets reached $1 Billion in 2009. Rapid branch growth followed in 2010 with the opening of four new branches in Mountainhome, Bethlehem (inside Weis Markets), Allentown (inside Weis Markets), and Schnecksville (inside Weis Markets).
In 2011, ESSA Bank & Trust demonstrated its continuing commitment to expand its presence in the Lehigh Valley region by opening an office in Bethlehem, PA to house experts in commercial lending, trust, mortgage loan origination, and brokerage securities. That same year, the bank acquired two established employee insurance and benefits consulting firms. These have become ESSA Advisory Services, which is headquartered in the Bethlehem office.
On August 1, 2012, ESSA acquired First Star Bancorp, Inc ("FSSB") and its wholly owned subsidiary First Star Bank and added 9 (nine) branch locations throughout the Lehigh Valley (Alburtis, Allentown, Bath, two in Bethlehem, Nazareth, New Tripoli, Palmer, and Wind Gap). After the acquisition of First Star Bank, total assets reached $1.5 billion.
ESSA purchased the deposits, loans, and a branch facility located in Marshalls Creek, PA on January 24, 2014 from First National Community Bank (FNCB). ESSA consolidated two of its branches located in Bushkill and Marshalls Creek into the new facility on January 27, 2014 to further improve efficiency.
On April 5, 2014, ESSA acquired Franklin Security Bancorp, Inc. ("FSB") and its wholly owned subsidiary, Franklin Security Bank, which had two banking facilities serving Scranton and Wilkes-Barre, PA. This acquisition provided a platform for ESSA to enter two new markets adjacent to Monroe County.
On December 4, 2015, ESSA acquired Eagle National Bancorp, Inc. ("ENB") and its wholly owned subsidiary, Eagle National Bank. ENB operated five branches in the western suburbs of Philadelphia (Devon, Haverford, Lansdowne, Upper Darby, and West Chester). This acquisition brought the bank’s total assets to $1.8 billion.
It would be hard to imagine that John Gish could have envisioned that the institution he founded in 1916 to meet the housing needs of Monroe County would evolve into what it is today – a financial institution offering a full range of consumer and business deposit and loan products as well as full service brokerage, insurance, employee benefits, and asset management & trust services.