Bank's roots in Maryland reach to early 19th century

Allfirst began in 1806 as Mechanics Bank, 1 of 30 in young nation

February 07, 2002|By June Arney | June Arney,SUN STAFF

Allfirst Bank's roots go back nearly 200 years in Maryland.

It started as Mechanics Bank of Baltimore, organized in 1806 - one of only 30 banks in the nation at the time.

After several name changes and mergers, it became First National Bank of Maryland, which was established in 1864 and distinguished itself by continuously paying dividends to shareholders, even during the Great Depression.

For years, First National's parent company, First Maryland Bancorp, aggressively acquired small banks in the state. Between 1977 and 1982, for instance, it went on a buying binge and acquired 10 banks.

First Maryland had $18.3 billion in assets and 300 branch offices in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C., and Northern Virginia. Its subsidiaries included Dauphin Deposit Bank in Harrisburg, Pa.; York Bank of York, Pa.; and Omni Bank of Millsboro, Del. Its largest bank was First National in Baltimore.

In 1983, Allied Irish Banks, PLC of Dublin, Ireland, acquired an interest in First Maryland Bancorp. Six years later, it completed its purchase of 100 percent of the company's shares.

The transaction marked the first acquisition of a major Maryland bank by a large foreign banking institution.

On June 28, 1999, after more than a year of planning and test marketing, the company's name changed again, this time to Allfirst Financial Inc.

The change, which cost between $8 million and $12 million, was intended to provide customers with common product offerings, processes and technology. The bank also began using the Allfirst logo, described as a portal letting in sunlight.

Allfirst Financial Inc. is a regional, diversified financial services company headquartered in Baltimore, offering a full range of financial services including banking, trust, investment and insurance to retail, business and commercial customers.

Its banking subsidiary, Allfirst Bank, operates more than 250 bank branches and more than 575 ATMs in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Washington, Northern Virginia and Delaware.

Allfirst employs about 6,000 people and is one of the 50 largest banks in America.

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