The dramatic rise of the Polish cooperative movement seen in Wielkopolska in the late 19th century created an impulse to establish a central banking institution to support it. At the initiative of two outstanding social activists, Rev. Augustyn Szamarzewski and Rev. Piotr Wawrzyniak, a new lending and savings institution was set up in 1885 under the name of the Bank of the Association of For-Profit Companies. Within a short time, funds invested by Polish cooperatives elevated it to the status of Poland’s largest bank in the Prussian Partition and Poland’s first institution of its type. Amidst cut-throat competition with German enterprises, the Bank provided financial support for many Polish ventures. The townhouse which housed the Bank headquarters was destroyed during World War II and rebuilt according to a different design.