The GN Bank story begins in the early 1930s when it was all but impossible for people of color to obtain mortgage loans. There has always been an undeniable connection between “where” one lives and “how” one lives. As a rule, access to quality housing and a good neighborhood also translates to improved educational and employment opportunities. In the ’30s, the future looked quite bleak due to a lack of access to better housing for Black citizens. However, “No” was not an option the founders of Illinois Service Federal were willing to accept.
Thirteen African-American men, and their many supporters, had a dream to establish a savings and loan association sensitive to the needs of Black residents of Chicago.
From the beginning, they worked closely with the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago, drawing heavily on the experience and advice of that Federal agency. The founders also enlisted the counsel of savings and loan executives with “general market” experience who were sympathetic to the cause. It was common knowledge that this endeavor was to be complex and even tedious; one that would take careful planning and a single-minded focus on the dream. Their persistence paid off when in 1934, Illinois Service Federal was founded.
The doors opened to a one-room office on 70 East 47th Street with deposits of $7,000.00. The first few depositors had balances ranging from $4.00 to $50.00. Our first employees were women black-owned and managed S&L and began to make deposits in earnest. As assets grew, so did our ability to help the local communities grow and prosper.
GN Bank has continued to grow and prosper. In the Fall of 2000, we opened a new, state-of-the-art facility at 8700 S. King Drive. In combination with the main branch at 4619 S. King Drive the association today serves over 14,000 customers and has assets of more than $133 million dollars.