After the erection of the Hotel Walt Whitman and the opening of the Admiral Wilson Boulevard, many of the same individuals involved in the hotel project became interested in establishing an athletic club on the new thoroughfare. This group was originally known as the City Athletic Club, and among its members were J. David Stern, publisher of the Evening Courier and Morning Post newspapers, James J. Scott, lawyer Ralph W. Wescott, and realtor Samuel B. Dobbs.
The Merchants Trust was organized in November of 1911. It was a small bank that catered to Camden’s business community, and was one of many small and medium sized banks active in the 1910s and 1920s. From its founding through his death in 1924 the president of the Merchants Trust was Charles Reynolds. He was succeeded in that position by George Frey. E.G. Robinson served as vice-president all through this time. The new bank acquired the house of Casper T. Sharpless at 18 Broadway, and remodeled it for use as a bank. The Merchants Trust opened its doors for business on March 4, 1912.