The State National Bank of Connecticut
Built originally between the years of 1929 and 1930, the structure located at 1 Atlantic Street, known most notably as the home of the State National Bank of Connecticut, is one of the cornerstone structures of the Stamford Historic District, a small, well-preserved segment of downtown Stamford that was spared from the rapid expanse of Stamford throughout the 1900s into the 2000s. The bank building stands out from the surrounding city both in terms of its age and its unique architectural design.
Backstory and Context
In July 14th of 1977, the State National Bank of Connecticut was recognized by bank historians (findings reported in the Stamford Weekly Mail and Shopper) as the oldest nationally chartered bank in the United States of America. At the time, the bank operated 43 individual offices throughout Connecticut.
The bank, with its first office located at 1 Atlantic Street, began national business in June of 1863 following the passage of the National Bank Act of February of 1863. The National Bank Act was part of the Union’s campaign to fund the ongoing Civil War effort by further strengthening the dollar as the national currency.
According to records of the National Bank Act, the State National Bank of Connecticut received the fourth charter. Charters 1, 2, and 3 belonged to banks that are now or were defunct for long periods of time, leaving the Bank of Connecticut as the oldest remaining of these original four charters (all issued on the same day in June of 1863.)
The State National Bank of Connecticut was an offshoot of a previously existing bank, once known as the Stamford Bank, which had been founded by state charter in 1834. The Stamford Bank leadership was divided on national charter conversion, resulting in a deadlock for the growing institution. Eventually, three major members of the Bank of Stamford resigned and set out to form the First National Bank of Stamford. For just over fifty years, the First National Bank of Stamford served the community under the National Bank Act charter, until it became a member of the Federal Reserve System in 1914.
Then, in July of 1919, The First National Bank of Stamford merged with the Stamford National Bank (the bank which had resulted from the other half of the Stamford Bank later nationalizing.) At this point, both banks combined and took over the offices at 313 Main Street.
In October of 1923, the First Stamford National Bank expanded further, becoming the First Stamford National Bank and Trust company following the Federal Reserve Act. Shortly afterward, they moved offices to One Atlantic Street, absorbing the People’s National Bank and Trust Company alongside a number of other local bank and trust companies. It was at this point that the Bank came into its most well-recognized form.
The most recent name of the bank, however, did not appear until the early 1960s, at which point the bank renamed itself to The State National Bank of Connecticut, hoping to better portray its expansion into a statewide institution.
From 1923 until 1972, the State National Bank of Connecticut operated in the building located at 1 Atlantic Street. Finally, the bank outgrew the location and moved to the State National Tower in Bridgeport. Since that time, the Bank has expanded to serve customers internationally.
The headquarters building on Atlantic was designed by architect Benjamin Wistar Morris in a unique style containing elements of the Georgian Revival and the Art Deco architectural movements. Unique hallmarks of each style can be found in the plentiful marble surfaces, red brick walls, and massive, multi-paned windows. Marble columns, broad, painted maps, and marble flooring decorate the main lobby and banking room.
As of the creation of this article, the 1 Atlantic Street building serves as the home for a number of smaller businesses, including smaller banks.
The Stamford Historic District. National Park Service Database for the NRHP. 10/6/1983. 04/07/2019. https://npgallery.nps.gov/GetAsset/cdde998a-250f-43fc-8146-0dc39e84ba66/. Official Record for the NRHP Nomination of the Stamford Historic District, which contains the Bank