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About Northwoods Bank

Our History

Northwoods Bank of Minnesota has an interesting history. Chartered over a century ago in the small town of Dorset MN,  the bank successfully navigated through the depths of the depression, the expansion years of the 1980’s and 1990’s, a charter re-location and name change, and most recently, the “great recession”.  Throughout the years, the bank has grown and prospered under the ownership and management of five generations of the Hewitt family. Please take a few minutes to read about our history.

  • 1919-1929 - In the beginning

    By 1919, the tiny community of Dorset had been thriving in the heart of Minnesota's lake country since the Great Northern Railroad built a depot there 26 years earlier. Located nearby for the convenience of local farmers were a grain elevator, potato warehouse, and stockyard. In the days before the automobile, tourists came to Dorset by train. Sometimes as many as 50 tourists per day were met at the station by fishing camp operators with horse-drawn buggies. The Dorset skyline of the era included a hotel and restaurant, a general store and post office, a blacksmith shop and livery stable, a church, a school, a town hall, and of course, a saloon.

    The last business to be established in the early days of Dorset was the bank. Some of the local farmers and merchants decided they needed a financial institution nearby. They persuaded W.L and L.F. Cary, who owned a bank in nearby Menahga, to open an establishment in Dorset.  The Farmers State Bank of Dorset was organized on September 25, 1919.   For a short time, the bank operated out of Peter Avenson's general store, then from a log building nearby.

    Less than a year after they established the bank, the Cary brothers sold their controlling interest to J.C. Hewitt and his son, Colby (C.R.) Hewitt, in June 1920. J. C. Hewitt operated a bank in Nassau, MN.  The Hewitts then erected a bank building a block east of Main Street, facing the railroad tracks (now the Heartland Trail). Train passengers would see immediately that Dorset was a flourishing town with its own financial institution. The 1920s were prosperous years for the bank. C.R. Hewitt managed the bank, earning a salary of $100 a month as cashier, while board directors were paid annual fees of $10.

    A store, with living quarters above, occupied half of the bank building.

  • 1929-1939 -The Great Depression strikes
  • 1940-1980 - Hewitts have strong ties to the bank
  • 1980-2000 – Growth and expansion, name change and charter re-location.
  • 2001-present

Our Core Values / Purpose

Our Core Values are the non-negotiable principles that define the way we do business.  They serve as guideposts and our conscience when fulfilling our Mission and achieving our Vision. They inspire us to deliver excellence at every touchpoint for our customers.

  • Integrity.  We will demonstrate honesty and integrity in all our dealings with fellow employees, customers, and business partners.
  • Customer Focus.  We will treat all people fairly and with respect.  We strive to understand our customers' needs and exceed their expectations.
  • Community Commitment.  We care deeply about the communities we serve.  We will dedicate our time and resources, and encourage employee involvement to enhance the quality of life around us.
  • Innovative.  We will contribute to our customers' success and satisfaction by providing innovative products & services, streamlined processes and educated employees who work to make a difference in their lives.
  • Accountability.  We will encourage growth and leadership, and empower our employees to make wise and prudent decisions, while holding them accountable for their actions.
  • Family Values.  As a family-owned Bank, we will uphold the strong values that have been passed down through the generations before us, and prepare the Bank to meet the needs of future generations. 

Our Mission

Guided by our family values, we will strive to:

  • Build strong, personal relationships with customers to help them fulfill their dreams and goals
  • Create an atmosphere of warmth and service excellence with our dedicated employees
  • Be innovative in developing new products and delivery methods
  • Make a lasting difference in the communities we serve

Our careful focus will ensure the continuation of our Bank's legacy and enhance long term, shareholder value.

Our Vision

We are here to make a difference.  As a family-owned Community Bank, our efforts will always reflect our character and values.  We will work tirelessly to be THE financial resource for our customers, building lasting relationships and treating everyone with respect and fairness.

Servicing Park Rapids, MN And The Surrounding Areas

Family owned and operated since 1919

Our team members greet you with a smile and the expertise you are looking for!

  • 218.732.7221
  • 1200 East First Street
    Park Rapids, MN 56470
    NMLS #416535

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