Vital Institutions

NC Mutual Life Insurance Company
Since its beginning in 1898, North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company has grown to become one of the Nation's most widely-known and successful business institutions. It is the only insurance company located in North Carolina with a charter dated before 1900. With over $7.7 billion dollars of insurance in force, North Carolina Mutual is the oldest and largest African American life insurance company in the United States.

In the early days, the company’s 7 founders were men who were active in business, educational, medical and civic life of the Durham community. An early financial crisis tested their resolve, and the company was reorganized in 1900 with only John Merrick and Dr. Aaron M. Moore remaining. Charles C. Spaulding was named general manager, under whose direction the company grew and achieved national prominence.
Mechanics & Farmers Bank
M&F Bank was founded a century ago by 9 prominent businessmen headed by R.B. Fitzgerald.

These founders and original customers represented various trades, crafts and professions in which the African-American community had achieved success and prominence. So "Mechanics" likely was derived from the legal term "mechanics lien" that grouped such occupations together. Additionally, most of North Carolina's wealth at the turn of the 20th century was based on the ownership of real property, especially farmland, hence the term "Farmers." Today, the name "Mechanics and Farmers" reflects that the bank is an institution dedicated to serving all facets of the community.

The bank’s headquarters was located at 112 West Parrish Street. Between 1922-1999, the main office of the bank was located in the 6-story building located at 116 West Parrish Street. Today, M&F Bank has assets of approximately $259 million and its headquarters is on Chapel Hill Boulevard, however, the bank continues to maintain its downtown branch on Parrish Street.