BRIDGEPORT — A local branch of a credit union closed this month, leaving behind decades worth of neighborhood history.
“It was an awful decision we had to make. We knew what it meant to the neighborhood,” said Tony Aquino, a spokesman for Access Credit Union.
The Bridgeport branch at 600 W. 26th St. originally formed in the late 1940s after a push from the congregation and church leaders at All Saints parish, an Irish church built in 1880 at 25th Street and Wallace Avenue.
Called All Saints Credit Union, the banking business was exclusive to parishioners. It would later get a new name, All Saints Bridgeport Credit Union, and open its doors to parishioners from nearby Santa Lucia and St. David’s.
The business changed names again in 1992, this time called the Zenith Federal Credit Union, which brought it new members who were employees of the former Lincolnshire-based electronics giant.
About the same time Zenith was taken over by South Korea’s LG Electronics in the late 1990s, the credit union again changed names to Access Credit Union.
It had three branches — its Broadview headquarters, River Forest and Bridgeport — and served about 7,287 members, according to the National Credit Union Administration.
Aquino chalked up the Bridgeport branch’s April 15 closing to a lack of local business and a surge in federal regulations that have hurt business.
After taking a long look at financial health of the company, company officials mulled over the company's future — Aquino said they thought "long and hard and many ways" — then made the decision to close the Bridgeport branch.
The three employees who staffed the branch were laid off.
Lupe Pearson, of Bridgeport, began her career at the neighborhood branch but now works as a loan officer in Broadview. She said the company knew "the community thought of it like the family bank."
"It was a horrible decision but we need to ensure the survival of the rest of the credit union," she said.
Bridgeport credit union members can still visit the suburban branches for in-person service and have access to two fee-free ATM networks across the city.