National Bank of Alaska

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An NBA branch is seen in the left foreground of this June 1997 photo of downtown Sitka. St. Michael's Cathedral and the Cathedral Apartments are in the background.

National Bank of Alaska (originally known as Bank of Alaska) was Alaska's largest financial institution for the latter part of the 20th century. In 2000, it was purchased by Wells Fargo,[1] giving the larger bank a presence in 23 states.

Founding and early history[edit]

Bank of Alaska was founded in 1916 by Andrew Stevenson in Skagway, Alaska.[1] The bank's first headquarters were in the building previously occupied by the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce at Fifth and Broadway, but it soon built a new headquarters one block away at Sixth and Broadway, a building which has remained in the possession of the company and its successors to this day.[2] Bank of Alaska soon opened additional branches in Wrangell and Anchorage, which had just been named.

Edward Anton Rasmuson, who was hired in the first year as the bank's attorney, and his family and descendants long played central roles in the bank's governance. He assumed control in the financial turmoil following World War I, and by 1919, he was serving as the bank's president. His wife, Jenny Olson Rasmuson, sat on the board of directors. In 1945, the bank's headquarters were moved to Anchorage. Rasmuson died in 1949, and left the bank to his son, Elmer E. Rasmuson.[2]


In 1950, the bank adopted a national charter, becoming the National Bank of Alaska. A 1960 merger made National Bank of Alaska the largest bank in the state with 19 branches in six locations. Elmer Rasmuson also passed the business to his son, retiring in 1975. Edward Bernard Rasmuson became president and CEO.[1]

By 1978, National Bank of Alaska was operating 34 branches in 19 communities. In 1982, it was reorganized as a wholly owned subsidiary of bank holding company National Bancorp of Alaska. By 1983, its assets topped $1 billion, and by 1990, it owned about half of all bank assets in the state.

Wells Fargo purchase[edit]

In December 1999, National Bancorp of Alaska agreed to a $907 million buyout by Wells Fargo & Co.[3] It had more than $3 billion in assets, and 53 National Bank of Alaska branches in 29 Alaskan communities, with an additional branch in Seattle, Washington. The acquisition transaction closed in 2000, and branches converted to the Wells Fargo brand in June 2001. Wells Fargo officials said the acquisition gave them the country's "most extensive banking franchise", with branches in 23 states.[4]


  • Rasmuson, Elmer E. and Cole, Terrence Banking on Alaska: The Story of the National Bank of Alaska (2 volumes)


  1. ^ a b c Shogren, Maree (2016-03-09). "Museum exhibit to celebrate century of Alaska banking". Alaska Journal. Retrieved 2018-04-06. 
  2. ^ a b Jeff Brady (December 8, 2000). "Skagway remembers Elmer Rasmuson". Skagway News. Archived from the original on 5 February 2012. Retrieved 5 May 2012. 
  3. ^ "National Bancorp of Alaska and Wells Fargo & Company sign letter of intent for Wells Fargo and NBA to merge". Wells Fargo. December 21, 1999. Archived from the original on 19 March 2006. Retrieved 5 May 2012. 
  4. ^ "Wells Fargo Becomes America's Most Extensive Banking Franchise". Wells Fargo. July 17, 2000. Archived from the original on 17 December 2012. Retrieved 5 May 2012.