Marine Trust Company Building
237 Main Street, Buffalo NY

Built:

1915

Architects:

Green & Wicks

Builders:

Lnquist and Illsey

Exterior stone:

Granite from Stinchfield Quarry, near Hallowell, Maine (source)

Style:

Italian Renaissance Revival Commercial Building

Status:

Joseph Ellicott Historic Preservation District

TEXT Beneath Illustrations


Click on illustrations for larger size -- and additional information

Erie County Medical Society historical plaque

Marine Bank opened its doors on August 27, 1850, at 79 Main Street

Marine Trust Company Building and its neighbors

Marine Trust Company Building and its neighbors

Façade (west elevation) on Main Street

First an second stories feature rustication

Center entrance arch, including voussoirs and keystone

Center entrance arch, including voussoirs and keystone

Keystone: the ship that served as Marine Midland Bank's corporate symbol


4th-13 floors have straight headed windows with brick designs in piers and spandrels

 

 

15th-16th floors:

Rustication

Pedimented window cap supported by ancones


Guilloche

 


 

Left: Marine Trust
Right:
HSBC

 

   


Historic photos:
  • #1
  • #2 - 1905 photo
  • #3 From a 1970 publication. Seymour Knox II had hired Gordon Bunshaft, of SOM, to re-do the banking floor on Main and Seneca, shortly before the fisheye photo was taken.  Photo courtesy of Peter Clement.

Buffalo: Lake City in Niagara Land
By Richard C. Brown and Bob Watson.
Windsor Publications, 1981, p. 297

In the summer of 1850, eight men gathered in Buffalo to form a new commercial bank. They had come from throughout the state -- General James S. Wadsworth of Geneseo, J. P. Beekman of Kinderhook, John Arnot of Elmira, John Magee and Constant Cook of Bath, William R. Gwinn of Medina, and George Palmer and James M. Ganson of Buffalo. [Both Palmer and Wadsworth of Buffalo had railroad connections. The two had finacial interests in aserved as diectors of the Attica and Hornell Railroad, while Palmer had links also with the Buffalo and State Line Railroad.] The geographic diversity of the men indicated that the plan was to extend eventually the bank's services across the state.

[By 1981,] Marine Midland Bank N.A. accomplished that goal and has gone even further. It was the nation's 13th largest commercial bank with about 300 banking offices in more than new York communities and about 25 offices in foreign countries.

Marine Bank was founded as a state-chartered bank on July 10, 1850, with capital of $170,000. Palmer was elected president and Ganson was named cashier.

The new institution was called Marine Bank because much of its early business depended on the economic vitality of the city's lakefronts and riverfronts. From the first day it opened its doors on August 27 at 79 Main Street, Marine was the prominent bank for the thriving grain and milling industry on the waterfront.

By the turn of the century, Marine Bank of Buffalo began to expand through merger. In 1897 it absorbed the American Exchange Bank and in 1902 it acquired the Buffalo Commercial Bank. That same year it became a national bank and changed its name to Marine National Bank of Buffalo.

The next acquisition came in 1913 when Marine absorbed Columbia National Bank. Six years later Bankers Trust was acquired. Marine chose to become a state bank again, this time under the name Marine Trust Company of Buffalo. By the mid-1930s, Marine had acquired eight other banks.

Marine had also taken the lead in the formation of Marine Midland Corporation, a holding company for affiliating 17 banks throughout New York. That first multibank holding company in the state was formed October 4, 1929.

As a result of 11 mergers throughout Western New York, Marine Trust Company became Marine Midland Trust Company of Western New York in the 1950s. The name was changed again in the 1960s to Marine Midland Trust Company of Western NewYork and again in 1970 to Marine Midland Bank-Western.

On January 1, 1976, all previously independent Marine Banks were merged into a single Marine Midland Bank with headquarters in Buffalo. The new bank was divided into regions, with Marine Midland Bank-Western Region based in Buffalo.

Marine Midland Bank became a national-chartered bank in early 1980. As it entered the 1980s, assets were close to $20 billion.

'Marine Midland' No More
By Tom Hartley
Excerpts from Business First, December 7, 1998

Four years ago, the ship that served as Marine Midland Bank's corporate symbol sailed into history.

Now the 148-year-old Buffalo-based bank is losing its time-honored name. Marine Midland is being replaced by HSBC, an acronym for Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corp., or HSBC Holdings plc, Marine's London-based parent.

All of the $34 billion-asset bank's operations in the Buffalo area and throughout New York state will bear the new name and red hexagon trademark beginning in early 1999 when regulatory approval is anticipated.

Marine, founded in Buffalo in 1850, is one of 18 business units in the HSBC Group, a $484 billion-asset global financial services giant, that are being brought under the HSBC brand name. Another is Hongkong Bank of Canada.

HSBC expects the name change to cost $50 million worldwide.

Malcolm Burnett, CEO of Marine Midland Bank, said that bringing Marine and the other operating subsidiary, product and service names under the HSBC umbrella will improve the company's visibility, recognition and impact in the global market where HSBC operates.

It's called global branding.

All Marine Midland signs, including the name of Buffalo's Marine Midland Arena, will be changed during 1999.


Some notable chairmen:

George Rand

Seymour Knox I: Chair 1913-1915.

Seymour H. Knox, II: Chair 1942-1970. Chairman when construction began on Marine's thirty-eight story building

Northrup R. Knox: Chair 1970?-1996


Photos and their arrangement © 2005 Chuck LaChiusa
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