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Bank Boasts Old School Ways

Many companies can brag about their longevity, but few have places of business that date back almost a century and a half. Actually, the Fairfield County Bank has been in the Broad River section of Norwalk only since 1987, but the bank itself was established in 1874. So it's appropriate that its Broad River office is located in one of the area's most historic buildings, which started as a one-room schoolhouse in 1861.

The building's history of serving the community has continued with its transformation to a bank. "I would say 90 percent of our customers are local businesses or residents," says assistant branch manager Gail Legere. "We're absolutely a community bank. We have the same people come in -- we know them by name."

As they bank, customers can take in a series of posters on the wall behind the tellers' windows. These blowups of sepia photographs depict the school during the early 1900s. "Some customers will say their great-grandfather is in the picture," says Legere. It's amusing to look at the outfits worn by the students assembled in front of the building for their class picture and wonder how people 100 years hence will view the fashions sported by today's youngsters.

Other customers recall attending weddings, baby showers or other social events in the building, which became the Broad River Community Center after the bigger, more modern Broad River School opened across the street in the 1930s. "There is definitely a lot of history here," says Legere, pointing to the chalkboards, probably from the original school, on which the bank now writes notices. "It may be the smallest branch we have, but it's the most unique."

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