National Bank of Birmingham

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Early view of Linn's Folly

The National Bank of Birmingham was organized on October 17, 1872, the first bank in the state to be chartered under the National Bank Act.

Months before the bank was actually organized, James Powell, president of the Elyton Land Company, circulated drawings of a banking building with Charles Linn noted as its president. Linn, a successful Montgomery businessman, had been courted by Powell to open a bank in the new city, but it wasn't until after receiving messages of congratulations on the venture that he actually agreed to do it.

The bank's first office, a $4,000 wooden structure built on a $400 lot on the northeast corner of 1st Avenue North and 20th Street opened to the public on January 2, 1873. Linn held $450 of the initial distribution of $500 in stock. Other shareholders in the bank included Powell, Bryant Tully, Mortimer H. Jordan, Willis J. Milner, James O'Connor and B. P. Worthington.

Later that year, a $36,000 3-story brick building, known as the Linn Bank Building or "Linn's Folly" was constructed on the same plot. The spectacle of such a major structure being built in the midst of a national economic depression, when the prospects for the new city of Birmingham were anything but sure, earned it its nickname. A magnificent "Calico Ball" held in the building that New Year's Eve, marked a turning point in the fortunes of the city.

In 1884 the National Bank of Birmingham merged with City National Bank to form the First National Bank of Birmingham, with its headquarters in the same building.

References

  • Kilpatrick, Andrew (1996). "A Legacy of Leadership: The History of AmSouth Bank." Birmingham: AmSouth Bank.