Historical Black bank fading away

RICHMOND, Va. (NNPA)—Consolidated Bank & Trust Co., once enjoyed historical significance as the nation’s oldest Black-owned bank in continuous operation and for its founding by America’s first female bank president, Maggie L. Walker.


Four years ago, the bank lost its cherished Black-ownership status when it was sold to a White-owned, bank holding company in Washington, D.C.

Now the bank is about to be reduced to the status of a branch of a larger bank, dealing a blow to Black heritage. The expected name: Adams National Bank/Consolidated Branch.

The emerging change is the result of the $10.9 million sale of Consolidated’s current owner, Abigail Adams National Bancorp Inc., also owner of Washington-based Adams National.

Premier National Bancorp Inc. of Huntington, W.Va., is the buyer.

Premier announced last week that it plans to wipe out Consolidated’s state bank charter and merge it into Adams National after it completes its purchase by Sept. 30.

The result: Consolidated’s two branches—Jackson Ward and Hampton—would become branches of Adams National Bank, according to the announcement and documents that Premier has filed with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, a government banking regulator.

Premier announced the decision last week as Consolidated made preparations to celebrate its 106th birthday on Saturday, Aug. 15, with a community festival at its headquarters on 1st Street.

Joseph L. Williams Jr., current chairman, president and CEO, said he had urged Premier “to keep Consolidated separate” to maintain the longtime Richmond brand.

Given “the current economic climate,” keeping Consolidated separate apparently is not going to be possible, said Williams, 64, who also serves on the boards of Abigail Adams and Adams National Bank. Williams, a businessman and former mayor of Huntington, W.Va., whose father came from Richmond, said his job also would be wiped out when Consolidated disappears as a separate bank. The bank that Walker started would no longer need “its own president,” he said.

It’s likely to be at least January before the process of terminating Consolidated’s charter and transforming it into an Adams branch could be completed, said Robert W. Walker, president and CEO of Premier, which already operates six community banks in several states.

He said new Adams National signs eventually would be placed on Consolidated’s buildings in Richmond and Hampton.

Consolidated began as the St. Luke Penny Savings Bank that Mrs. Walker opened in 1903 to promote black economic development.

The bank was renamed Consolidated in 1930 when it took over two other failing banks during the Great Depression. In 2005, a struggling Consolidated lost its independence in selling to Adams, but the bank remained a separate operation.

However, Consolidated, with about $90 million in assets, “is just too small” to continue as a separate operation, said Walker, who is not related to Mrs. Walker.

He said it’s more cost-effective to merge Consolidated with Adams, which has about $344 million in assets.

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