First National Bank collection (MS 80)

Abstract: This collection contains the remaining financial and administrative records of the First National Bank of Biddeford (FNB), collected under it’s various names. It is comprised of mostly ledgers as well as papers, legal papers, correspondence, minutes, account books, photographs and artifacts that include plaques, awards and deposit stamps. Additionally, there are administrative and financial records of three specific units under the umbrella of FNB or those who ran it. Those include working papers of Arthur Maxwell (former bank president and board president), records of the Masonic Building Association (which built, operated and managed the Masonic Building), and records of the Bradford Commandery No. 4 Knights Templar (the group responsible for the organizing the Masonic Building).

Administrative History: Biddeford Bank, later called City Bank, was incorporated in 1847, according to the Saco and Biddeford City Directory of 1849; in that year the president was William P. Haines, and the cashier was Seth S. Fairfield. By May 1856 Daniel E. Somes was bank president, and the bank was run from rooms at Somes Block, Main Street. By June 1864, the bank directors had established a committee to look into becoming a National Bank, under rules newly established by the federal government in the National Banking Acts of 1863 and 1864. The directors approved measures to become a National Bank in March 1865, and on April 29, 1865 they had been approved by the U.S. Comptroller of the Currency to become “First National Bank of Biddeford”. The change was approved by shareholders at their meeting October 31, 1865 and the First National Bank of Biddeford (FNB) was officially established, and operated as such for 116 years. FNB operated out of the City Building until 1921, when they built a modern brick building at the corner of Lincoln and Main Streets, on the site of the Quimby and Sweetser Block.

In 1981, FNB merged with Maine National Bank (MNB). MNB was devastated by the many banking failures of the early 1990’s, and as a result was liquidated, its business absorbed by Fleet Bank (later Fleet National Bank). The bank did business under that name until around 2004, when Fleet merged with Bank of America. In 2014, after 93 years of continuous occupation by a single business (though under various names),  the final iteration of First National Bank (Bank of America) decided to close the Biddeford branch and sell the building to consolidate local operations to a newer building on Route 1 in Saco. Amazingly, throughout all the years of upheaval, the original bank records remained safe and sound in the basement storage of the FNB building. When Bank of America decided to vacate the building, they donated the historic early records to McArthur Public Library as a gift to the community, to preserve the legacy of one of Biddeford’s oldest banks.


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