American Security and Trust Company Building

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American Security and Trust Company
Bank of America Washington DC.jpg
American Security and Trust Company Building is located in Central Washington, D.C.
American Security and Trust Company Building
Location1501 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C.
Coordinates38°53′56″N 77°02′02″W / 38.89898°N 77.03395°W / 38.89898; -77.03395Coordinates: 38°53′56″N 77°02′02″W / 38.89898°N 77.03395°W / 38.89898; -77.03395
Area6,989 square feet (649 m2)
ArchitectYork and Sawyer
Architectural styleNeoclassical
NRHP reference #73002070
Added to NRHPJuly 16, 1973[1]

The American Security and Trust Company Building is a Neoclassical bank office in Washington, D.C., designed by the architectural firm of York and Sawyer. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.[1]


The neoclassical exterior closely matches that of the Riggs National Bank building next door, also designed by York and Sawyer and completed in 1902, so that they are sometimes taken to be a single building.[2] The west facade of the building presents a multiple bay arrangement with two plain bays flanking a hexastyle portico of six Ionic columns and entablature, while the narrower and plainer south face has a single bay with two plain Doric pilasters flanking the entrance in a shallow recess.[1] The parapet conceals three skylights. Although the exterior has two rows of windows, the interior is in fact a single floor, also decorated in the neoclassical style; it was remodeled in 1931–1932 but retained essentially the same form excepting the removal of a pair of balconies and new openings into the adjoining annex which was constructed at the same time to the north.[1] A basement floor formerly contained vaults, but with the construction of the annex these were moved to the adjoining building. The building exterior is constructed of granite ashlars with deep horizontal joints at the corners creating a striped effect; the interior is largely faced in a variety of marbles.[1]


The American Security Bank building appeared on the back of the $10 bill, just beyond and to the right of the Treasury Building.

American Security Bank was founded in 1889 in Alexandria, Virginia, as a banking and trust concern, operating a branch in the District of Columbia at 1419 G Street, NW; the following year it reincorporated in the District and moved to 1405 G Street.[1] Its president was Charles James Bell (Dublin, April 12, 1858 – October 1, 1929), nephew of Alexander Graham Bell.[3] It was the second trust company established in the District and the first to offer a woman's department.[1] By 1903 business had grown to the extent that a new location was once again sought.[1] The present location (a block from Lafayette Square and part of the Lafayette Square Historic District) was selected, and construction began in 1904. The design was praised in the banking press, and it was featured in The American Architect and Building News in 1905.[1]

The building now houses a branch of Bank of America as a result of the latter's merger with NationsBank, which purchased MNC Financial in 1993.[4] MNC had purchased American Security Bank in 1987 but continued to operate it under the original name.[5]

Due to its location immediately north of the Treasury Building the building appeared on the back of the ten dollar bill for many years,[6] a fact exploited in advertising with the slogan "right on the money."[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Brown, T. Robins (March 1973). "American Security and Trust Company". National Register of Historic Places—Nomination Form. National Park Service. Retrieved January 19, 2010.
  2. ^ Brown, T. Robins (March 2, 1973). "Riggs National Bank". National Register of Historic Places—Nomination Form. National Park Service. Retrieved January 22, 2010.
  3. ^ Death List of a Day: David Charles Bell, The New York Times, October 29, 1902.
  4. ^ Conn, David (August 3, 1993). "Fed approves MNC sale to NationsBank". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved January 22, 2010.
  5. ^ Hetrick, Ross (November 28, 1990). "MNC wants to consolidate operations of two banks". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved January 22, 2010.
  6. ^ Fodor's Washington DC. Random House. 1991. p. 76. American Security Bank likes to boast in its commercials that it's "Right on the money"—"the money" in this case being a $10 dollar bill. If you look on the back of one you'll see the Treasury Building and to its right the tiny American Security bank building.
  7. ^ "Trademark search details for "Right on the money"". Boliven. Archived from the original on 2011-07-08. Retrieved January 22, 2010.