Girard Bank

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Girard Bank
IndustryRetail bank
FateAcquired by Mellon Bank in 1983
PredecessorThe Girard National Bank
Stephen Girard’s Bank
SuccessorMellon Bank (East), Citizens Bank
FounderStephen Girard
HeadquartersPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
ProductsFinancial services

Girard Bank was a Philadelphia based bank founded by Stephen Girard in 1811. The bank was acquired by Mellon Bank in 1983 and then, two decades later, by Citizens Bank.

In its early years, the bank was variously known as “Girard’s Bank,”[1] or as “Girard Bank.” [2] or also as “Stephen Girard’s Bank” or even the “Bank of Stephen Girard.” [1] By the end of the 19th century the bank was known as The Girard National Bank.[3] Girard's bank became the Girard Trust Company, and later Girard Bank.

Founding and early history[edit]

After the charter for the First Bank of the United States expired in 1811, Stephen Girard purchased most of its stock as well as the building and its furnishings on South Third Street in Philadelphia and opened his own bank. Girard was the sole proprietor of his bank, and thus avoided the Pennsylvania state law which prohibited an unincorporated association of persons from establishing a bank, and required a charter from the legislature for a banking corporation.[4]

Girard hired George Simpson, the cashier of the First Bank, as cashier of the new bank, and with seven other employees, opened for business on May 18, 1812.[5] He allowed the Trustees of the First Bank of the United States to use some offices and space in the vaults to continue the process of winding down the affairs of the closed bank at a very nominal rent.[6]

Girard's Bank was a principal source of government credit during the War of 1812. Towards the end of the war, when the financial credit of the U.S. government was at its lowest, Girard placed nearly all of his resources at the disposal of the government and underwrote up to 95 percent of the war loan issue, which enabled the United States to carry on the war.

After the war, Girard became a large stockholder in and one of the directors of the Second Bank of the United States. In September 1833, Secretary of the Treasury Roger B. Taney transferred the government's Pennsylvania deposits in the Second Bank of the United States to the Bank of Girard.

Girard Trust Building, constructed 1907-08 on Broad Street in Philadelphia, today The Ritz-Carlton Philadelphia Hotel

In February 1903, Girard acquired the business of the Mechanics National Bank. Five years later it constructed a new headquarters on Broad Street, known as the Girard Trust Building, designed by Frank Furness. In 1930, the bank began construction of a new tower adjoining the domed 1908 building, designed by McKim, Mead & White and completed in 1931. The tower was located on the site formerly occupied by the West End Trust Building (1898-1928). The 1908 domed building today serves as The Ritz-Carlton Philadelphia hotel.

Acquisition of Corn Exchange Bank[edit]

In 1952, Girard Trust Company acquired The Corn Exchange Bank's Philadelphia branch, and renamed itself Girard Trust Corn Exchange Bank. From 1964 to 1969, the bank was known as Girard Trust Company; in 1969, it was renamed Girard Trust Bank, later Girard Bank.

Acquisition by Mellon Bank[edit]

Girard merged with Mellon Bank in 1983, in a deal valued at $220 million, following a change in Pennsylvania law that allowed local banks to operate statewide (technically, allowing bank holding companies to own multiple banks).[7][8] Following the acquisition, the bank was immediately renamed Mellon Bank (East). The century-old Girard lost its corporate identity, creating integration issues between Mellon and Girard's employees and customers.[9] The bank was largely sold to Citizens Bank two decades later. Its monumental headquarters building, today a Ritz hotel, still stands at Broad and Chestnut Streets in Philadelphia.

In the 1970s, Girard became one of the pioneers of automated banking, launching a proprietary network of automated teller machines in 1978 known as "George". In response, Philadelphia National Bank (PNB) launched its own network of ATMs, the precursor of the MAC system in 1979 with the support of 13 other financial institutions. After Girard's acquisition in 1983, Mellon Bank joined the MAC network.[10][11]

See also[edit]

  • Stephen Simpson, former employee at Girard's bank and author of the book Biography of Stephen Girard, with His Will Affixed (1832), a very critical account of Girard and his bank.


  1. ^ a b "Girard's Bank". LOC Authorities. Library of Congress. Retrieved 2009-05-02.
  2. ^ Konkle, Burton Alva (1937). Thomas Willing and the First American Financial System. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press. pp. 199–200.
  3. ^ United States investor, Volume 21, Part 1. Frank P. Bennett & Co., 1910
  4. ^ Wilson, George (1995). Stephen Girard. Conshohocken: Combined Books. pp. 249–250. ISBN 0-938289-56-X.
  5. ^ Stephen Girard's Bank. The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, 1942
  6. ^ Wilson, George (1995). Stephen Girard. Conshohocken: Combined Books. p. 249. ISBN 0-938289-56-X.
  7. ^ Mellon and Girard Banks Plan to Merge. New York Times, August 3, 1982
  8. ^ Mellon's Chairman Led Merger Drive. New York Times, August 5, 1982
  9. ^ Mellon and Girard Bank.
  10. ^ Costly ATMs a Must for Bank Industry. Network World Sep 12, 1988
  11. ^ Insert Card Here. CIO, July 1988