Bank to mark 100th birthday Milestone: Glen Burnie Mutual Savings Bank has prospered over a century as an independent institution.

March 13, 1996|By Consella A. Lee | Consella A. Lee,SUN STAFF

When depositors in other banks lost their life savings during the Great Depression of the 1930s and the savings and loan scandals of the 1980s, those who kept their money at Glen Burnie Mutual Savings Bank never lost a nickel.

When other Maryland banks were swallowed by corporate giants, the little bank in a red brick building at 1 S.E. Crain Highway remained unscathed. Now, bank officials are preparing to celebrate that century of operation.

They have had bronze 100th anniversary coins struck to give to account holders as keepsakes. They are planning a ceremony for April 13, either at the Kuethe Library or the Glen Burnie Improvement Association Hall.

And Mark N. Schatz, editor of Anne Arundel County History Notes, is compiling a history of the bank to be published in the magazine next month.

The history, he said, is not very sensational. The bank just plodded along.

"But that in itself is pretty unique," said Mr. Schatz.

The bank opened in April 1896 as a savings and loan in the town's general store and post office that William F. Kuethe ran at Central Avenue and Crain Highway.

Mr. Kuethe was a sales agent for Curtis Creek Mining, Furnace and Manufacturing Co., which owned much of what now is Glen Burnie. He started the bank to provide loans for people to buy land from the company and build homes.

Through the years, the bank has remained in the hands of the Kuethe family. William Kuethe was great-great uncle to Marrian K. McCormick, who is now the bank's secretary-treasurer and chief executive officer. Her brother, Edward M. Kuethe, is assistant secretary-treasurer and chief operating officer.

The bank still handles only savings accounts and mortgages, as it did when William Kuethe opened it.

"We still try to foster that thought," said Mrs. McCormick. "Most of the mortgages we have are within a five- to 10-mile radius of the bank."

While larger Maryland banks have been gobbled up in huge mergers, Glen Burnie Mutual Savings and Loan has remained independent, largely because much of the control is spread among its account holders, who are also shareholders, Mrs. McCormick explained.

"I think it would be difficult for someone to come in and take us over, and we wouldn't want that," she said.

The bank, one of only two mutual savings banks in Maryland, wants to stay small and limits account holders to depositing $1,000 per month in their savings accounts to limit growth, said Mrs. McCormick.

The bank has total assets of $39,516,367, according to December 1995 figures. By comparison, NationsBank, the country's third-largest bank, has $187 billion in assets.

Locals say the Glen Burnie bank has the homespun warmth of Bailey Savings and Loan, the fictional bank in the Christmas classic "It's a Wonderful Life."

Betty W. Dawson's mother opened an account for her and her sister, Mary, when they were babies. Mrs. Dawson, 76, still has a savings account at the bank.

She is related to the bank's founder by marriage, but that isn't why she has remained a customer, she said.

"It's more of a personal service," she said. "It's just a friendly type bank because it's smaller."

Pub Date: 3/13/96

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