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Atlantic National Bank, Providence

As recorded in 1891:

“The Atlantic Bank was first located at 48 Broad street, and was incorporated in May, 1853. Its capital at first was $100,000, which soon began creeping upward, but standing at about $131,000 from about 1858 to 1883, when it rose to $225,000, its present figure. From Broad street it removed to 48 Weybosset about 1861, and to its present location, 62 Weybosset, in 1867. Its first directors were: Hiram Hill, Caleb G. Burrows, John N. Francis, Eli Aylsworth, Charles M. Stone. John B. Hartwell, Thaddeus Curtis, Robert Knight, 2d, and Benjamin M. Jackson. It was reorganized as a national bank April 6th, 1883. Hiram Hill, the first president, was succeeded by Caleb G. Burrows, the present incumbent, about 1877.

“The first cashier, Charles M. Stone, occupied the position until succeeded by Henry S. Mansfield in 1883. The latter was followed by the present cashier, William R. Greene, in 1885. The present directors are: Caleb G. Burrows, Henry F. Richards, Charles Dudley, Henry P. Richmond, Louis H. Comstock, Joseph Davol, William H. Ballon and Herbert W. Ladd.” — Richard M. Bayles, ed. History of Providence County, Rhode Island, Volume I. New York: W. W. Preston, 1891.

The Atlantic National failed in April of 1913. At the time, it had a capital of $300,000 and deposits of more than $2,076,268. Some of its difficulties were attributed to the problems of the United States Finishing Company, a cotton manufacturing business based in Norwich, Connecticut. (The Rhode Island connection may be that United States Finishing was formed by the combination of two Norwich companies with Pawtucket’s Dunnell Manufacturing Company in 1899.) It is believed that Atlantic National’s financial shortfall then spread to the First National Bank of Norwich and the Thames Savings and Loan Company, both of which shared a president who was the manufacturing company’s treasurer. The two institutions were forced to close.

Another cause of the bank’s failure was its 42-year old president, Edward P. Metcalf. Metcalf had previously been national bank examiner for Rhode Island and Connecticut and, from 1902 to 1906, president of the Old National Bank of Providence.

In 1910, Metcalf started passing checks worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to banks in Boston and Lowell without the knowledge of his board of directors. Perhaps sensing the trouble looming, he resigned from Atlantic National on April 2, 1913 and set sail for Europe.

Examiners going through the books of Atlantic National quickly discovered that something was amiss and in October of 1913, Edward Metcalf was arrested and charged with 24 counts of the misapplication of $200,000 in funds. In 1915, he was found guilty of 10 charges, each carrying a sentence of five years jail time. The judge, however, decided that Metcalf would serve the terms concurrently, thus reducing his prison sentence from 50 years to 5. He asked to be incarcerated  in the nearby state prison in Cranston, so that he could be close by to help the receivers resolve the institution’s tangled finances.

The note below was signed by Metcalf and Frank W. Peabody, cashier.

 

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Atlantic National Bank

The Atlantic National Bank’s offices on Weybosset Street, circa 1896. The bank began occupying this space in 1866. Courtesy of the City Archives, City of Providence. Reprinted with permission.

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75 Weybosset Street, next door to the Arcade building today. (Under the old street numbering system, this was no. 62, as mentioned in Bayles above.)

Circa 1906 photo of the bank's former edifice on Weybosset Street

Circa 1906 photo of the bank’s former edifice on Weybosset Street with a sign notifying customers that the institution had just moved to the Banigan Building across the street. (Source: Library of Congress.)

Atlanitc National Bank, Banigan Building, No.10 Weybosset Street - Cashier

The cashier window of bank’s offices in the Banigan Building, No.10 Weybosset Street. Courtesy of the City Archives, City of Providence. Reprinted with permission.

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