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This article is from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Building and Loan Associations

by Clarence E. Horton Jr., 2006

See also: Savings and Loan Associations

Building and Loan Associations are the direct descendants of English building societies, which began in Birmingham, England, in 1781. In America, organizations such as the Oxford Provident Building Association in Pennsylvania (1831) were created to allow subscribers, most of whom were textile workers, to build or purchase houses on a monthly payment plan. A homestead and building associations bill was ratified by the North Carolina General Assembly in 1870. A decade passed, however, before the first building and loan association was organized in the state. The work of A. G. Brenizer led to the formation of the Mutual Building and Loan Association in Charlotte in April 1881. Mechanics Perpetual Building and Loan Association of Charlotte followed in February 1883. With the exception of the Wilmington area, most of the state's early building and loan activity was in the Piedmont, as the associations gave the hope of home ownership to wage-earners lured from rural areas by manufacturing and service jobs in the state's growing cities. Associations were also formed in Monroe (1885); Salisbury (1886); Statesville (1887); and Concord, Rutherfordton, and Lenoir (1888). A strong Wilmington market produced three building and loan associations there, organized in 1885, 1887, and 1889, respectively.

Building and loan associations were welcomed by local communities because they significantly increased the number of home-owning citizens. The editor of the local newspaper in Concord opined on 1 June 1888 that "nothing that has been started in our town for years will accomplish half as much towards giving homes to the people and improving the town as this B. & L. Association. A poor man can buy his home and pay for it with very little advance on his present monthly payments for rent."

By 1911, only 30 years after the founding of the first building and loan association in North Carolina, there were 113 such organizations, with 25,174 members and assets of nearly $8.5 million. Building and loan associations survived both the Great Depression and the Second World War. During the late 1940s and 1950s they provided capital so that the young couples who produced the "baby boom" could purchase their own homes. The years that followed saw a dramatic change in the industry, however, as the associations moved from their traditional roles into offering diverse banking services. Many converted to stock-owned institutions. Deregulation produced a fiercely competitive climate and forced changes in the marketing of services. North Carolina's well-managed building and loan institutions survived the widespread national savings and loan failures in 1988, which were followed by adverse publicity and intensive regulation.

Calendar from the Albemarle Building and Loan Association, 1923, showing a house that could be built with plans from the association. Image from the North Carolina Museum of History.


Henry Morton Bodfish, ed., History of Building and Loan in the United States (1931).

Josephine Hedges Ewalt, A Business Reborn: The Savings and Loan Story, 1930-1960 (1962).

Additional Resources: (accessed November 27, 2012).

"N.C. Building and Loan Association League." North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program. (accessed November 27, 2012).

Reports of Building and Loan Associations Doing Business In North Carolina Filed With The Insurance Commissioner For The Year 1914. Raleigh [N.C.]: E. M. Uzzell & Co. 1915.

Snowden, Kenneth A. and James, Joshua. "The Federalization of Building & Loans, 1927-1940: The North Carolina Experience." Department of Economics, UNC at Greensboro. 2001.

Image Credits:

"Calendar, Accession #: H.1989.7.19." 1923. North Carolina Museum of History.

Origin - location: 



the provident saving and building association Philadelphia pa 1608 south broad street have a bank book


Good Afternoon-
This is a fascinating read. I am learning more about the Building and Loan part of banking. I am curious to know if North Carolina experienced some of the embezzlement that occurred in Colorado Springs Colorado in the late 1920's and 1930's. There is a new book out in 2017- "Shortfall by Alice Echols which detalis her grandfather's embezzlement of a B & L.
Steve Erhart


Dear Steve,

Thank you for visiting NCpedia and for sharing this book and question.

That’s a great question!  NCpedia does not have anything specifically about this and I am not able to find anything readily that delves into whether or not there was significant embezzlement in North Carolina during that time period.  If you are still trying to answer this question, please contact our reference librarians at the NC Government & Heritage Library.  You may contact reference services by phone, email or our online chat during business hours.  Here is a link to the contact page:

I have also replied to you at the email address you included with your post.

Best wishes,
Kelly Agan

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