Merchants Bank, Providence
This institution was established in February of 1818 with a capital of $300,000. William Richmond II, was appointed first president and Joseph Wheelock, cashier. Its first board of directors were: G. Taft, William Richmond II, Andrew Taylor, Peleg Rhodes, Truman Beckwith, Samuel N. Richmond, Randolph Chandler, Stephen H. Smith, Josiah B. Woods, Charles Potter, George S. Rathbone, Charles L. Bowler and Nathan Tingley.
It acted as the Rhode Island affiliate of the Suffolk Bank of Mutual Redemption, which held and redeemed the bank notes of the day, thereby maintaining New England’s commercial stability.
According to one record, “The location of the bank was at 12, Union Building, afterward at 139 South Main street in 1855, at 12 Westminster street in 1857.”
In 1855, the bank constructed a building at 14 Westminster Street. The structure cost over $90,000. It was remodeled extensively in 1880. One reference notes:
“Remarkable as it may seem today, this now-rare brownstone building was the city’s tallest for more than two decades after its construction. In creating it, architects Clifton Hall and Alpheus Morse vertically stretched the limits of the Italian Renaissance palace form about as far as visually and technically possible in the mid-nineteenth century. Not surprisingly, this was Providence’s first building retrofitted with an elevator, in the early 1870s.” — William McKenzie Woodward, PPS/AIAri Guide to Providence Architecture. Providence: Providence Preservation Society, 2003.
It was renamed the Merchants National Bank on August 24, 1865. As a national institution, Merchants issued $18,650,100 in bank notes. 128 of these are known today, as recorded by the National Bank Note Census.
Merchants was acquired by the Providence National Bank on May 15, 1926.