Wisconsin’s Only Black-Owned Bank Columbia Savings and Loan Association Received $250,000 Deposit from Horicon Bank at 100-Year Celebration

Defying Odds

Ardie Clark Halyard and Wilbur Halyard moved to Milwaukee in 1923 where they saw the financial hardships the Black community faced. Just a year later, the two opened Columbia Savings and Loan Association located at 2020 W Fon du Lac Ave. in Milwaukee. It was the first Black-owned bank in Wisconsin and now it’s the only one in the state.

Ardie Clark Halyard and Wilbur Halyard.
Ardie Clark Halyard and Wilbur Halyard.

The bank was started to dismantle barriers to financial services and homeownership faced by the Black community to create financial stability and improved living conditions.

2024 marks 100 years of Columbia Savings serving the Milwaukee community. The bank celebrated on March 26, 2024, by hosting an intimate press conference with free food provided by women-owned restaurants to honor Women’s Month.

Columbia Savings Senior Vice President Welsey McKenzie says the bank has made it this far because of its dedicated staff and the community it serves.

“Regardless of what changed…the people of the bank understood the mission of the bank,” said McKenzie. “We are here for the people.”

$250,000 Deposit from Horicon

To continue helping the community, Columbia Savings is raising $10 million to assist 100 families. At the end of 2023, the Republic National Convention, which will be hosted in Milwaukee in July 2024, deposited $100,000 at the bank.

During the 100-year celebration, Columbia Savings received a $250,000 deposit from Horicon Bank. The check was presented by Horicon President Fred F. Schwertfeger.

Horicon Bank deposits $250,000 into Columbia Bank Savings and Loans.
(L-R) Horicon Board Member Dr. George Koonce Jr., Columbia Bank Columbia Savings and Loan Association SVP Wesley McKenzie, and Horicon President Fred Schwertfeger. (Picture by Nyesha Stone/Carvd N Stone)

“It’s great to be a partner with you all and just help in some small way,” said Schwertfeger.

Schwertfeger added that he looks forward to working with Columbia Savings on future projects.

Moving into the Future

McKenzie has been in the banking world since 2009 working for banks with billions of dollars in assets. He understands that in his new role, he is serving a different clientele which means the needs are different. To help the Black community thrive, he said the bank will focus on educating the community.

“Columbia has been here supporting this community for 100 years and we will continue to support this community for another 100 years,” said McKenzie.

As the bank continues to grow its impact, McKenzie encourages the Black community and other communities, to bank Black. He also added that Columbia Savings is here for the Black community and that they are a trusted resource for any questions you may have whether you bank with them or not.

“I want to continue the strong traditions that were started by the Halyards,” said McKenzie.

Nyesha Stone founded Carvd N Stone in 2017 to cover positive news while attending the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Stone has a B.A. in Journalism. She has raised over $30,000 to award grants and scholarships. She has also been featured in ESSENCE and worked with the American Black Film Festival.

1 thought on “Wisconsin’s Only Black-Owned Bank Columbia Savings and Loan Association Received $250,000 Deposit from Horicon Bank at 100-Year Celebration”

  1. Patrick Simpson

    Wow! It’s great to see such successful African American entrepreneurs. Continue to do what you’re doing. Congratulations and may God continue to bless you, your families and your businesses 🙏🏽

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