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Huntington federal is state's largest savings bank

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By JAMES E. CASTO

HUNTINGTON — Since it opened its doors in 1934, Huntington Federal Savings Bank has helped untold thousands of local residents purchase homes — while paying millions of dollars in interest to its depositors.

With assets of $536.9 million as of Nov. 30, 2012, Huntington Federal is the largest savings bank in West Virginia. It easily outpaces the state's second largest, Hancock County Savings Bank in Chester, with assets of $327.2 million.

"And since 1934 we've paid out a total of more than $500 million in interest to our depositors," said President and CEO J. Maurice Clark.

According to Clark, Huntington Federal currently has $220 million in loans on its books. 

"The overwhelming majority of those loans are for owner-occupied housing," he said. "Only a small fraction of the loans are for apartment buildings or other commercial real estate. Generally we don't actively engage in seeking out customers for commercial real estate loans."

Clark noted that in 1934 when the bank received its first federal charter as Huntington Federal Savings & Loan, "we were restricted to offering savings accounts and home mortgages. Nothing else. We couldn't do commercial lending. We couldn't even offer checking accounts. Today, we can do pretty much anything a bank can do. That is why we dropped ‘Savings & Loan' from our name, and officially became known as ‘Huntington Federal Savings Bank' in 1995."

In the 1950s, Huntington Federal was located at 422 10th Street. But by 1959, it needed more room to better serve its customers so it built a new building on the southwest corner of Fifth Avenue and 11th Street. The building, though much remodeled and enlarged, remains its main office today.

In addition, the bank operates four other locations — at the East Hills Professional Center on U.S. 60 East, at 500 Camden Road, at the Huntington Mall and at the Putnam Village Shopping Center in Teays Valley.

Built in 2008, the branch at the East Hills Professional Center is the bank's newest location. Strikingly modern in design, with a curving roof structure that ties together the branch's interior and its drive-through lanes, the building won Edward Tucker Architects a merit award from the West Virginia Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

"The story of Huntington Federal and its growth is very much the story of Kermit McGinnis," Clark said.

McGinnis, whose father B.C. McGinnis was the long-time president of Huntington's former 20th Street Bank, went to work at Huntington Federal in 1948 as assistant to the president. By 1953, he was president and CEO of the bank, a position he held until he retired in 1992. During that time, the bank's assets grew from $10 million to more than $300 million.

A long-time business and civic leader in the community, McGinnis was named to the Huntington Wall of Fame in 2007. Now well into his 80s, he remains Huntington Federal's chairman of the board.

Clark also has had a long career with Huntington Federal. Born in Putnam County, he was still a youngster when his family moved to Huntington. He graduated from the former Huntington East High School and earned a bachelor's degree in business administration from Marshall University in 1975. That was three years after he had started at Huntington Federal, working at the bank during the day and going to school at night.

Huntington Federal, Clark noted, is one of only three locally owned banks in the immediate Huntington area. The two others are First Sentry and the First State Bank of Barboursville.

"As a Huntington institution, we feel a special obligation to reach out to community organizations," he said.

"Kermit was instrumental in helping to organize the Huntington Area Development Council in the early 1990s," Clark said, "and we've remained very much involved with it over the years." Clark is currently HADCO's treasurer and a member of its executive committee.

Huntington Federal is the lead sponsor for the current 60th anniversary exhibit at the Huntington Museum of Art. 

"Museum Director Margaret Mary Layne came to us with a request. I was tickled to death about it and when I took it to our board they quickly agreed.

In 2011, Huntington Federal donated $50,000 to Cabell Huntington Hospital to assist its new Children's Hospital project.

"Of course, we've been a long-time supporter of Marshall," Clark said, "and in 2000 we agreed to establish the Kermit E. McGinnis Distinguished Professorship in the Marshall School of Business. We started out with an endowment of $250,000 and we've been adding to that over the years. It now stands at more than $300,000. That's something we're extremely pleased we could do."