ESSA Bank & Trust's history began in 1916 when John Gish established the East Stroudsburg Building and Loan Bank. This small banking operation steadily grew over the years to reach $1 million in assets in 1949. The bank moved to new headquarters in 1966 and merged with Commonwealth Building & Loan Association of Stroudsburg and Keystone Building & Loan Association of East Stroudsburg in 1971. After the merger, the organization changed its name to East Stroudsburg Savings Association.
In 1978, the organization opened its first branch outside of headquarters, with several more local branches opening in the following two decades. In 1998, ESSA added an asset management and trust division as well as the ESSA Foundation, which funds nonprofit organizations in the Monroe County area. The bank uses 10 percent of its net income each year to fund the foundation's charitable projects.
In 2006, ESSA became a publicly traded company on the NASDAQ Global Market. In 2009, the bank achieved $1 billion in assets and continued to open new branches. The bank opened an office staffed with experts in commercial lending, brokerage securities and mortgage services in 2011. It has also incorporated advisory services for employee insurance and benefits.
In 2012, ESSA acquired First Star Bank, bringing the banks assets to $1.5 billion. As of 2015, ESSA is the leading financial institution in the Pocono and Lehigh Valley regions and offers a full spectrum of banking and trust services.