Merchants Trust Company

Broadway Looking North - Camden NJ Showing Court House and Stanley Theatre - Postcard 374

Broadway and Carman Street, Camden, NJ

The Merchants Trust was organized in November of 1911. It was a small bank that catered to Camden’s business community, and was one of many small and medium sized banks active in the 1910s and 1920s. From its founding through his death in 1924 the president of the Merchants Trust was Charles Reynolds. He was succeeded in that position by George Frey. E.G. Robinson served as vice-president all through this time. The new bank acquired the house of Casper T. Sharpless at 18 Broadway, and remodeled it for use as a bank. The Merchants Trust opened its doors for business on March 4, 1912.

The Merchants Trust enjoyed great success in the years leading up to World War I, and in October of 1917 construction began on a new building, next door at 20 Broadway. Due to war-time conditions construction was delayed, and it was not until March 24, 1919 that the new Merchants Trust bank building was occupied.

The directors were all prominent Camden businessmen and included lumber merchant H.B. Coles, former mayor Joseph E. Nowrey, Joseph H. Forsyth, Francis B. Wallen, E. G. C. Bleakly, Elmer E. Long, Frank Hineline, Charles A. Reynolds, William G. Moore, and Highland Mills president Charles S. Boyer, who is best remembered today for his writings and work as an early president of the Camden County Historical Society. James J. Scott, a partner in the metal-working firm of Strandwitz and Scott and a prime mover in the community based effort that resulted in the construction of the Walt Whitman Hotel was also involved.

During the 1920s, a series of mergers occurred among the smaller banks of Camden. The relatively small Broadway Trust attempted to keep pace with its larger competitors by absorbing the even smaller Merchants Trust, which for 1927 had only reported $645,000 in assets. After the stock market crash of 1929, as the country slipped into the Depression, many small banks failed across the country. The Broadway Merchants Trust survived 1930, as evidenced by the stock certificate shown below, but closed shortly afterwards.


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