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First National Bank of Smithfield

As noted in 1878:

“First National Bank of Smithfield, at Slatersville, was chartered in 1815, and commenced business in 1818, under the name of the ‘Burrillville Agricultural and Manufacturer’s Bank’. It here issued its first bills. In 1824, its name was changed to the ‘Village Bank’; and in May, 1865, it was nationalized. John Slater was President; and Henry S. Mansfield, Cashier. He remained until 1839, when he was succeeded by H. S. Mansfield, Jr., who continued in office until April, 1846, when he was succeeded by William H. Seagrave, the present incumbent. William S. Slater is the present President, who succeeded his father, John Slater, in 1843. Capital, $100,000, with a surplus of $30,000.” — History of the State of Rhode Island with Illustrations. Philadelphia: Hoag, Wade & Co, 1878.

Slatersville owes its name to Samuel and John Slater who, after their success with Slater Mill in Pawtucket in the 1790s, opened up a larger and more modern textile mill here in 1807.

From 1865 to 1935, the First National Bank of Smithfield issued $2,181,010 in banknotes, ranging in denominations from $1 to $20. Today, 43 of these notes are in collectors’ hands, according to figures from the National Bank Note Census.

On its early national currency, this institution was identified as The First National Bank of Smithfield. However, on its 1929 $10 and $20 bills, the village name of Slatersville was added. Today, Slatersville is located within the boundaries of the town of North Smithfield.

As noted on the map below, for much of its existence the bank was located at 7 Main Street, a short distance from Slatersville Mill. An application to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976 described the building this way:

“These two business blocks, which are situated on the north side of Main Street near the center of the village and architecturally are virtually identical, were erected in 1850 and 1870 by the Slater Company. Both stand 3 1/2-stories high; rest on native stone foundations; have walls of stone rubble construction faced with brick on their front south facades above the ground floor; utilize large granite piers and spandrels as the skeletal framework for the ground floor elevation on the front facade; generally have six-over-six wood sash type windows set in rectangular surrounds; feature brick corbeling along their rooflines; and are capped with asphalt-shingle-covered gable roofs. The only major difference between the two buildings is that the 1850 one 7-9 Main Street features a centrally located gabled dormer with pediment on both sides of its roof. In recent years the brick of this older structure has been painted white. Both edifices are still in very good condition and are still utilized for business purposes. The 1850 structure has housed a bank almost continuously since 1851, and both today house a variety of commercial endeavors.”

First National was acquired by the Industrial National Bank in 1958 and the building at 7 Main Street became the local branch of that organization. While no bank currently occupies the space, the building stands to this day.

For more on the fascinating history of this town, see Christian de Rezendes’s film Slatersville: America’s First Mill Village.

 

Slatersville Bank

Slatersville Bank

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slatersville bank main street

This late nineteenth century photograph shows Main Street, where the commercial block included H.W. Parkis & Co. and the First National Bank of Smithfield.
Photo courtesy of the Slatersville Congregational Church, via FirstMillVillage.com.

slatersville bank main street

Detail showing the bank sign and various men (including the bankers?) standing in front. Photo courtesy of the Slatersville Congregational Church.

The location of the First National Bank of Smithfield is shown on the bottom left of this detail map of Slatersville.From D.G. Beers' Atlas of Rhode Island

The location of the First National Bank of Smithfield is shown on the center left of this detail map of Slatersville. Slatersville Mill is across the street.
From D.G. Beers’ Atlas of Rhode Island , 1870.

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