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Narragansett Bank, Wickford

Despite the name, this early Rhode Island bank was located in Wickford and not the agricultural village of Narragansett. (It’s future as a beach resort was many decades off). Its early banknotes were quite basic, but grew more refined over time.

The bank’s first president was Benjamin Fowler (1738-1818), who had previously sold “West India goods” at the corner of Fowler and Main Streets. Fowler remodeled a house built in 1768 at the southeast corner of Main and Fountain Streets (99 Main Street today) to contain both the bank and his private living quarters. It had previously been a bakery. After his death, the presidency of the bank eventually transferred to his son-in-law, Peleg Weeden. Weeden was a silversmith who had used Fowler’s former shop as his jewelry store.

An 1889 account provides these details:

“The Narragansett Bank was chartered in 1805, with a capital stock of $50,000, with liberty to increase to $300,000. November 11th, 1805, the bank elected its officers. The directors were: Benjamin Fowler, Philip Tillinghast, William Hammond, Jr., Robert Eldred, Samuel Carter, Benjamin Reynolds, Elisha R. Potter, John Hagadorn, William Carpenter, George ——, George Perry, Rowse Babcock and Samuel D. Allen. Benjamin Fowler was elected president, Samuel E. Gardiner cashier. The president and cashier were annually re-elected to their respective offices until 1818, when Mr. Fowler died, and Willet Carpenter was elected to fill out the unexpired term. In 1819 Peleg Weeden was elected president, and re-elected until 1833, when he resigned, and Euclid Chadsey was elected. He served until 1836, when he resigned and Ezra D. Davis was elected. He held the office until 1860.

“In April, 1829, Thomas P. Wells was elected cashier in place of Samuel E. Gardiner, and served about one year, when his health failed him, and Samuel Briggs was elected in 1830. In 1837 Nicholas N. Spink was elected cashier in place of Samuel Briggs, and served until the bank was closed, the charter surrendered and the capital united with the North Kingston Bank. In 1860 Ezra D. Davis resigned as president, and Joseph Spink was elected, and served until the close of the bank, in 1865.” — J. R. Cole, History of Washington and Kent Counties, Volume 1. New York: W. W. Preston & Co, 1889.

The Narragansett Bank was later combined with the North Kingston Bank to form the Wickford National Bank (charter #1592). That organization was absorbed by Industrial Trust Company in 1902.

 

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Narragansett Bank

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The Narragansett Bank's original home at the corner of Fowler and Main Streets.

The Narragansett Bank’s original home at the corner of Fowler and Main Streets.

Close-up of a contemporary sign on the old structure.

Close-up of a contemporary sign on the old structure.

Located at 13 West Main Street, this lot was once home to the Narragansett Bank and when that financial institution became the Wickford National Bank, it continued to occupy this space. The building above dates from 1870. The previous structure was destroyed by an explosion and fire during an attempted robbery. Later, this building housed the local newspaper The Standard Times (now closed).

Located at 13 West Main Street, this lot was once home to the Narragansett Bank and when that financial institution became the Wickford National Bank, it continued to occupy this space. The building above dates from 1870. The previous structure was destroyed by an explosion and fire during an attempted robbery. Later, this building housed the local newspaper The Standard Times (now closed).

A map from 1888 depicts the same building as shown above as the Wickford National Bank on the Avis Brick Block. (Source: Library of Congress.)

A map from 1888 depicts the Wickford National Bank on the Avis Brick Block. (Source: Library of Congress.)

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