Sovran Bank of Norfolk, Virginia, began in 1983 with the merger of First & Merchants Bank and Virginia National Bankshares, the largest banking merger in the history of Virginia up to that time. The largest bank in Virginia, it lasted until a 1990 merger with Citizens & Southern National Bank to form C&S/Sovran Corp., which in turn merged with NCNB to form NationsBank, now Bank of America.
First & Merchants Bank
In the 1860s, Robert E. Lee was among the customers of the Richmond, Virginia, bank that would eventually become Sovran. Richmond had no bank after the federal government had revoked charters of banks whose loyalty was questioned. So eight days after Lee's surrender at Appomattox, the city's financial leaders started a new federally chartered bank after meeting with Hamilton G. Fant. First National Bank used in the Customs House. Later it merged with National Exchange Bank and moved to 10th and Main streets. Despite the financial crises of the 1890s First National Bank had the most assets of any Richmond bank at the turn of the century (1900).
National Bank of Virginia merged with First National Sept. 1, 1912.
Alfred Charles Bossom of Clinton & Russell in New York City designed Richmond's first skyscraper at 9th and Main streets, completed in downtown Richmond in 1913. BB&T later occupied the building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Merchants National Bank merged with First National February 27, 1926, at which time the bank became First & Merchants Bank.
In 1981, The National Bank of Fairfax merged with First & Merchants Bank. The first bank in Fairfax, Virginia, it was organized in 1902. In 1931, the bank completed construction of a new building on the site of the former Willcoxon Tavern. The Moore and McCandlish law firm, which had offices on the second floor of the former bank building built in 1905, occupied the building until 1972. Community Bank of Northern Virginia, organized in 1992 in Sterling, moved into the building that same year.
Banks which merged with First & Merchants Bank:
- Savings Bank & Trust Co., January 30, 1959
- First National Bank, Ashland, Virginia, December 31, 1959
- Petersburg Savings & American Trust Co., December 30, 1961
- Augusta National Bank, Staunton, September 29, 1962
- First National Bank, Newport News, November 1, 1962
- Peoples National Bank & Trust Co., Lynchburg, January 31, 1963
- First National Bank, Waynesboro, July 31, 1964
- Loudoun National Bank, Leesburg, September 1, 1965
- Bank of Virginia Beach, January 1, 1966
- Bank of Chesapeake, January 31, 1966
- Suburban National Bank of Virginia, McLean, August 1, 1970
- First National Bank, Danville, June 30, 1979
- Services National Bank, Arlington, November 30, 1979
- The Bank of Chatham, October 1980
- The National Bank of Fairfax, June 30, 1981
Virginia National Bank
Norfolk National Bank was organized in 1885 and became "not only the leading bank of Norfolk, but probably the leading bank of Virginia, having recently increased its capital to one million dollars, with a surplus of half a million." Norfolk National Bank, Trust Company of Norfolk (1895) and National Bank of Commerce (1867) joined to become Norfolk National Bank of Commerce & Trusts, which joined with Virginia National Bank of Norfolk to become National Bank of Commerce of Norfolk October 9, 1933.
In 1920, Church Street Bank at Church and Freemason streets in Norfolk became American Exchange Bank, whose deposits were taken over in 1924 by Virginia National Bank.
Cliff Cutchins, who in 1980 became chairman and CEO of Virginia National Bankshares Inc. and held the same positions at Sovran until his 1989 retirement, started out as a teller in 1947 at Vaughan & Co. Bankers in Franklin, Virginia. In 1960, he became president of the bank, which his grandfather had founded in 1886. In 1962, a merger with two Southampton County banks formed Tidewater Bank and Trust Co., which in turn became part of Virginia National Bank.
Richmond's Virginia Trust Company could be chartered only after special legislation, since trust companies were new in the south and not all banks could have trust departments. The original board of directors included a number of tobacco company executives. James B. Pace, the first president, was a tobacco executive and the head of Planters National Bank (which became United Virginia Bank). The Virginia Trust Company building, also designed by Bossom, opened May 31, 1921, was an example of Neo-Classical Revival architecture, using granite, marble, bronze and mahogany, with a "gilded, coffered ceiling" and "a facade patterned directly after a Roman triumphal arch." Virginia Trust Company merged with Virginia National Bank in 1973.
Banks which merged with what became Virginia National Bankshares, Inc.:
- Merchants & Planters Bank, Norfolk, November 4, 1957
- People's National Bank of Central Virginia, Charlottesville, April 26, 1963
- National Bank of Suffolk, August 23, 1963
- Farmers Exchange Bank of Abingdon, September 13, 1963
- Farmers & Merchants Bank, Staunton and Tidewater Bank & Trust, Franklin, December 13, 1963
- First National Bank of Buena Vista and Southern Bank of Commerce, Danville, April 3, 1964
- Bank of Glade Spring, January 29, 1965
- People's National Bank of Farmville and First National Bank of Gate City, April 8, 1965
- Merchants National Bank and Bank of Phoebus, Hampton, November 5, 1965
- Peoples National Bank, Victoria and Wythe County National Bank, Wytheville, April 11, 1966
- Pulaski National Bank and Bank of Crewe, August 26, 1966
- Farmers & Merchants Bank, Lawrenceville, National Bank of Woodstock, June 29, 1968
- Northampton County Trust Bank, Cape Charles, November 15, 1968
- Commonwealth National Bank, Arlington, August 15, 1969
- First National Bank, Quantico, December 19, 1969
- First National Bank, Harrisonburg, March 15, 1970
- Merchants & Farmers Bank, Smithfield, June 1, 1970
- Carroll County Bank, Hillsville, November 23, 1970
- First National Bank, Troutville, 1981
- Farmers Exchange Bank, Coeburn, 1981
- Old Colony Bank & Trust, Williamsburg
- South Boston Bank & Trust Co., 1982
- First State Bank of Wise, 1982
- Northern Virginia Bank of Springfield, 1982
- First City Bank, Newport News, 1982
- Citizens National Bank, Fries, 1982
- Farmers Bank, Mathews, 1982
Growth of Sovran Bank
In 1985, Sovran announced a merger with Suburban Bancorp, the fourth-largest bank in Maryland at the time. Silver Spring National Bank, the first bank in Silver Spring, Maryland, in 1910, moved in 1925 when the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad underpass was built. The name changed to Suburban National Bank in 1938 when the bank took over Takoma Park Bank.
Sovran Bank was the largest bank in Virginia and in the District of Columbia, and it had offices in Tennessee and Maryland. In September 1989, Sovran and Citizens & Southern of Atlanta, Georgia, announced plans for a stock-swap merger. The combined bank had $47 billion in assets, $34 billion in deposits and 976 branches in eight states. It was originally to be named Advantor Financial Corporation. However, it was eventually called C&S/Sovran.
- "Bank of America Corporation - Company Profile, Information, Business Description, History, Background Information on Bank of America Corporation". referenceforbusiness.com. Retrieved 2009-04-23.
- "Federal, State and Local Historic Districts, National Park Service. Retrieved March 21, 2007.
- Moody's Bank & Finance Manual, 1983, Vol. 1, p. 1830.
- "First National Bank Building". nps.gov. Retrieved 2009-04-23.
- Johnson, William Page II (Winter 2004). "The Old National Bank of Fairfax Building". The Fare Facs Gazette. Retrieved 2009-04-23.
- Tyler, Lyon Gardiner, ed. (1907). Men of Mark in Virginia, Ideals of American Life; A Collection of Biographies of the Leading Men in the State. Men of Mark Publishing Company. Retrieved 2009-04-30.
- Moody's Bank & Finance Manual, 1971, p. 368.
- Jack, George S.; Jacobs, Edward Boyle (1912). History of Roanoke County. Stone. p. 189. Retrieved 2009-04-30.
- "Virginia National Bank of Norfolk". Norfolk Public Library. Retrieved 2009-04-23.
- Nutter, David (1995-04-06). "William H. Ruffner Medal". Virginia Tech Spectrum. Retrieved 2009-04-30.
- "Manor Terrace named After Cutchins". German Club Forum. November 1999. Retrieved 2009-04-30.
- Cossitt, F.D. (1968-01-28). "Business, Art Make a Pretty Picture in New VNB Building". The Virginian-Pilot. Retrieved 2009-04-30.
- "The Virginia National Bank Headquarters Bldg". cardcow.com. Retrieved 2009-04-30.
- "National Register of Historic Places Inventory -- Nomination Form". Virginia Department of Historic Resources. Retrieved 2009-04-30.
- Moody's Bank & Finance Manual, 1983, Vol. 1, p. 586.
- Jay McIntosh, "N.C. Banks' Merger Plan Starts More Takeover Talk," The Charlotte Observer, January 18, 1990.
- "Sovran in Accord With Suburban". The New York Times. Reuters. 1985-09-25. Retrieved 2009-04-23.
- McCoy, Jerry A. (2004). "SilverSpring: Then & Again". Takoma Voice. Retrieved 2009-04-23.
- "Sovran Reports Rise in Profits". The New York Times. The Associated Press. 1989-10-19. Retrieved 2009-04-23.
- "Fed Approves Sovran Merger". The New York Times. 1990-07-25. Retrieved 2009-04-23.
- Photo of First National Bank building in Richmond, Virginia
- Photo of First National Bank Building entrance in Richmond, Virginia
- Photo of Virginia National Bank headquarters in Norfolk
- Photo of Sovran Bank Building in Norfolk, Virginia (September, 1986)