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Banking Houses in the United States: The First Generation, 1781-1811

Kenneth Hafertepe
Winterthur Portfolio
Vol. 35, No. 1 (Spring, 2000), pp. 1-52
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1215273
Page Count: 52
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Banking Houses in the United States: The First Generation, 1781-1811
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Abstract

In the years between the founding of the Bank of North America in 1781 and the demise of the Bank of the United States in 1811, banks were established in most American cities. Lacking American precedents, professional architects such as Charles Bulfinch and Benjamin Henry Latrobe and amateurs such as Samuel Blodget Jr. looked to the Bank of England as a model. Banking houses required public space for financial transactions; private space for directors to deliberate about loans; and secure space for cash, bank notes, and securities. The Bank of the United States, one of the key American examples of this building type, was less a model to be imitated than the grandest example of a banking house, befitting its quasi-official status as a central bank. Its size and neoclassical details identified it as an institution of national importance; other banks mediated between images of institutional grandeur and local accessibility.

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