First Federal Savings Bank of Frankfort, Kentucky, has had a long and distinguished record of service to the Frankfort and Franklin County area. The following is a short history of our Bank:
On September 28, 1934, a group of Frankfort businessmen formed the Greater Frankfort Building and Loan Association. They adopted a charter and by-laws and elected nine men to serve as directors. Their actions were later validated by the state banking commissioner and they received a state charter. Among these nine directors were some of Frankfort's leading businessmen, including several business owners, a judge, and a former mayor. Lambert U. Suppinger, co-founder of Frankfort Lumber Company, was elected from this group to serve as President of the association. H. K. Rogers of the Sanitary Laundry Company was elected Vice President and Carl A. Kagin of Kagin Insurance was elected as Secretary-Treasurer.
At a very early board meeting on December 6, 1934, they reported cash holdings of $3,356.60 and approved their first home loan to I.A. and Elizabeth Kennady on property located on the east side of Arlington Avenue in Frankfort. At that time, the board set a cap on home loans not to exceed $2,000 and approved a salary of $25 per month for Mr. Kagin.
Although his title did not reflect it, Mr. Kagin served as the managing officer from 1934 to 1980, he was given the title of President in 1973 after the retirement of Mr. Suppinger. In 1980, he was named Chairman of the Board, a title which he held until his death in 1984. Assisted by his wife Elizabeth, who worked in the association until 1960, Kagin guided the association through tremendous change and growth.
The first big change for the association was in name and charter. The board recognized that the association would be better protected and regulated if it were federally chartered rather than state chartered. More importantly, the association wanted to protect its depositors with coverage by the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corporation (FSLIC). On April 12, 1938, the association became known as First Federal Savings and Loan Association of Frankfort, coming under the regulatory control of the Federal Home Loan Bank Board and the protection of the FSLIC.
The association also underwent several physical changes. The first office was located at 205 St. Clair Street on a site where the First Baptist Church now stands. The operation soon outgrew this small office so the association purchased a building at 105-107 St. Clair Street, formerly the site of Kagin Brothers Dry Goods. First Federal rented the ground floor of 107 St. Clair to the Sanitary Laundry and the upstairs to Cusick's Photography Studio while the association operated out of 105 St. Clair. In 1956 First Federal bought the building at 101-103 St. Clair, formerly the home of Whitehead and Hancock Plumbing. This too, was incorporated into the office complex to create a single building. In 1968, First Federal expanded into the part of the building formerly occupied by the laundry at 107 St. Clair.
In the late 1960s, First Federal recognized the need for a quicker, more convenient way to serve its customers. Downtown Frankfort was often congested and parking was too scarce for convenient access to the downtown office. First Federal built its first branch at 190 Versailles Road on the east side of town. The East Frankfort Branch opened on October 21, 1971. First Federal was anxious to offer similar services to the west side of town, and it opened a West Frankfort Branch on U. S. 127 South, August 26, 1975. By the mid-1980s, both locations featured Automatic Teller Machines.
First Federal’s main office had been located on the Kentucky River's east bank for 44 years, but a lack of parking and occasional flooding had at times hampered First Federal's ability to serve its customers. In 1988, First Federal purchased the building at 216 West Main Street for use as its main office. This building had housed the Farmers Bank from 1855 to 1971, and was then occupied by the Kentucky Teachers Retirement System from 1971 to 1988. The building is constructed of Kentucky River limestone with gray limestone trimming and raised joints. The contractor was John Haly who had previously built Frankfort's Capitol Hotel of the same material. This building is featured in the well-known painting by Frankfort’s Paul Sawyier, "Rainy Day in Frankfort." The structure appears very much as it did in 1855. Additions have been made from time to time, but each retained the original style. To accommodate First Federal, a major renovation was undertaken, but the style and much of the woodwork, marble, and brass are original.
During the 1980s, government deregulation altered the roles of financial institutions, and First Federal began to seek out its role among the potpourri of banks, thrifts, and all other financial institutions by blending its traditional purposes with newly authorized services. In 1989, the Association underwent a name and charter change to become First Federal Savings Bank of Frankfort. The Board felt that this name better expressed the wider spectrum of services offered. Despite the name change, First Federal has remained committed to the same primary purpose set forth in 1934--to provide a safe place for customers to save and earn a competitive return and to help Frankfort area families purchase their homes.
In the 1980s, First Federal also saw a change of leadership. In 1980, William C, Jennings became the third President and only the second managing officer of the Bank. Mr. Jennings started at First Federal in 1963 in the bookkeeping department. In 1973 he became Secretary-Treasurer and was elected to the Board of Directors. In 1998, Mr. Jennings retired from the daily operations of the Bank but continues as Chairman of the Bank’s Board of Directors and as President of Frankfort First Bancorp, Inc., the holding company for the Bank. Just as Carl Kagin was aided by his wife in the operation of the association, Bill's wife also played an important role. Joyce Hammond Jennings began working at First Federal in 1955. She became Assistant Secretary-Treasurer in 1975, Treasurer in 1979, and Vice President/Treasurer in 1983. She also retired from daily activity in 1998.
In 1995, First Federal underwent perhaps its most drastic change by converting from a mutual form of ownership to a thrift owned by a publicly held company, Frankfort First Bancorp, Inc. Due to the nature of stock conversion regulations, first preference for purchasing stock in the Bancorp’s initial public offering ("IPO") was reserved for First Federal account holders, most of whom were area residents. This unique opportunity allowed a wide range of investors--from those buying just a few shares to those buying several thousand--to take part in an IPO and to be a part of the Bank and Bancorp’s future successes.
As mentioned, William C. and Joyce Jennings retired from daily operations in 1998. At the time of their retirement, Danny Garland, who had joined the Bank in 1975 and was made a Vice President in 1980, was selected to serve as President of the Bank. Mr. Garland retired in 2007.
In 2005, another momentous change occurred with as Frankfort First Bancorp, Inc. joined forces with First Federal Savings and Loan of Hazard, Kentucky, to become Kentucky First Federal Bancorp (Nasdaq-KFFB). First Federal of Hazard, also a small, traditional thrift dedicated to serving their community, underwent a mutual to stock conversion similar to that undertaken by First Federal of Frankfort in 1995. However, instead of a full conversion, they opted for a conversion to a Mutual Holding Company charter where a mutual entity controls a majority of the stock. Concurrent with their conversion, Frankfort First Bancorp, Inc. was merged into a new holding company to become Kentucky First Federal Bancorp which would be the holding company for both First Federal of Frankfort and First Federal of Hazard. While the board of First Federal of Frankfort remained intact, a new board made up of directors from both thrifts serves Kentucky First Federal Bancorp. Currently, Don Jennings (son of William C. and Joyce Jennings) serves as President and Chief Operating Officer and Vice President and Chief Financial Officer and Clay Hulette serves as Vice President and Chief FInancial Officer. Both are life-long Frankfort natives.
On December 31, 2012, Kentucky First Federal merged with Central Kentucky Federal and their offices were merged into First Federal. The bank now has six offices serving Franklin, Boyle, and Garrard counties.
Current officers working in the Frankfort offices include President and Chief Executive Officer Don Jennings, Frankfort Area President R. Clay Hulette, Executive Vice President Teresa Hulette, and Vice Presidents Stan Betsworth, Stacey Greenawalt and Kim Moore.
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