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Seafirst Bank

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Seafirst Corporation
Seafirst Bank
Company type
  • Public (1974–1983)
  • Subsidiary (1983–1999)
FoundedNovember 11, 1929; 94 years ago (1929-11-11) in Seattle, Washington (as First Seattle Dexter Horton National Bank)
July 1, 1977; 46 years ago (1977-07-01) (as Seafirst Corporation)
DefunctSeptember 27, 1999; 24 years ago (1999-09-27)
FateMerged into Bank of America
SuccessorBank of America
HeadquartersSeattle, Washington
Area served
ParentBankAmerica (1983–1999)
SubsidiariesSeattle-First National Bank
The Bank of Dexter Horton & Co., First South and Washington in Seattle's Pioneer Square neighborhood, 1900. As of 2009 the building is still in use as the Maynard Building.

Seafirst Corporation was an American bank holding company based in Seattle, Washington. Its banking subsidiary, Seafirst Bank, was the largest bank in Washington, with 235 branches and 497 ATMs across the state.[1][2]

Formed in 1929 via the merger of Seattle's three largest banks, Seafirst was acquired in 1983 by BankAmerica after posting huge losses from loans it purchased from the failed Penn Square Bank; the Seafirst brand was retired in 1999 after NationsBank acquired BankAmerica the previous year and subsequently implemented the Bank of America brand nationwide.


Seafirst Corporation was formed on November 11, 1929, from the merger of Seattle's three largest banks, the First National Bank Group (founded 1882), the Dexter Horton National Bank (founded 1870 by Dexter Horton), and Seattle National Bank (founded 1889), the bank was originally named First Seattle Dexter Horton National Bank. In 1931, the bank changed its name to First National Bank of Seattle, and again in 1935 to Seattle-First National Bank.[3]

In 1944, the bank won a case before the US Supreme Court, United States v. Seattle-First Nat. Bank, by arguing that it did not have to pay a transfer tax when it converted from a state to a federally chartered bank. In 1970 it was using the name Firstbank.[4] Seafirst Corporation was formed as a bank holding company for the Seattle-First National Bank on July 1, 1974.[5][6]

1983 merger[edit]

In April 1983,[7][8] San Francisco-based BankAmerica Corporation announced the pending acquisition of the ailing Seafirst Corporation for $400 million in cash and stock,[9][10] when Seafirst was at risk of seizure by the federal government after becoming insolvent following the demise of Oklahoma City-based Penn Square Bank. Seafirst had acquired a significant share of Penn Square's energy loan debt by participating in loans originated by that bank. Penn Square Bank collapsed in 1982, and the FDIC's decision to pay off only insured deposits rendered the participation assets valueless.[11]

The acquisition was completed in July 1983.[12] In September 1983, the bank began to use the Seafirst Bank brand for advertising purposes while still keeping Seattle-First National Bank as the legal name for the bank.[13] For the next quarter-century, Seafirst Bank maintained a high degree of autonomy and reigned as the largest bank in Washington.

On February 10, 1997, $4.4 million was stolen from the Seafirst branch of Lakewood by the Trenchcoat Robbers.[14]

Following the 1998 merger of BankAmerica Corp. and NationsBank Corp. into the modern Bank of America Corporation, Seafirst finally assumed the Bank of America brand on September 27, 1999.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Goldfield, Robert (September 26, 1999). "Seafirst brand dies as B of A finally emerges". Portland Business Journal. Retrieved February 12, 2022.
  2. ^ Buck, Richard (November 9, 1996). "Seafirst Adds Noncustomer ATM Fee -- Bank Is First In State To Implement Extra Charge For Cash-Machine Use". The Seattle Times. Retrieved February 12, 2022.
  3. ^ "Seattle-First National Bank Family Tree Through December 31, 1969", insert in Shelby Scates, Firstbank: The Story of the Seattle First National Bank (Seattle: North Pacific Bank Note Co., 1970).
  4. ^ Shelby Scates, Firstbank: The Story of the Seattle First National Bank (Seattle: North Pacific Bank Note Co., 1970), passim.
  5. ^ 1974 Annual Report (Report). Seafirst Corporation. 1974. p. 2. This is our first annual report as SEAFIRST CORPORATION, a one-bank holding company approved by the shareholders a year ago. The new corporation came into existence July 1, 1974 at which time the shareholders received two shares of SEAFIRST CORPORATION stock for each share of Bank stock—a total of nine million shares. At this time, the Corporation and the Bank are the same and other subsidiaries mentioned in this report continue to be subsidiaries of the Bank.
  6. ^ Virgin, Bill (September 24, 1999). "Come Monday, Seafirst name is history". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved 2009-10-06.[dead link]
  7. ^ "Seafirst control may change in capital deal". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. April 22, 1983. p. 16.
  8. ^ Camden, Jim (April 27, 1983). "Seafirst counts on state OK of merger". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington). p. A6.
  9. ^ Hayes, Thomas C. (April 24, 1983). "2 Big Coast Banks Announce Merger". New York Times.
  10. ^ "Seafirst merger probe asked". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. April 28, 1983. p. 11.
  11. ^ "Chapter 3: Penn Square Bank, N.A.". Managing the Crisis: The FDIC and RTC Experience 1980–1994 (PDF). Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. 1998. pp. 527–542. ISBN 0-9661808-2-8.
  12. ^ "Balloons of many colors, trays of cookies and urns..." United Press International. July 1, 1983.
  13. ^ "Seattle-First National Bank, apparently conceding its name is too..." United Press International. September 26, 1983.
  14. ^ Kotlowitz, Alex (2002-06-30). "The Rise and Fall of the Trenchcoat Robbers". The New Yorker. ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved 2024-01-30.
  15. ^ Nabbefeld, Joe (September 26, 1999). "BofA puts its name on 76-story trophy". Puget Sound Business Journal. North Carolina-based NationsBank Corp. bought BankAmerica Corp. last year to become a 21-state banking giant and said it would operate everywhere under the BofA name, including Seafirst... This summer it scheduled the name change for Sept. 27.

Further reading[edit]

  • The Bankoscope: Staff Publication of the Seattle-First National Bank. Special Anniversary Issue, June 1960, Volume XVIII. Seattle: Seattle-First National Bank, 1960.

External links[edit]