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Charleston National Bank


Charleston National Bank was founded in 1884 as a national bank. Reflecting the growth of southern West Virginia’s coalfields, the bank grew steadily, increasing assets to $500,000 by 1903. It originally occupied a structure on Kanawha Street, now Kanawha Boulevard, then moved to Capitol Street in 1906. The 1906 facility was impressive, standing seven stories tall. Other businesses occupied parts of the new building, which stood at Capitol and Quarrier, for many years a prime commercial intersection.

The bank continued to grow through the 1920s in spite of poor business conditions. By 1929, Charleston National had consolidated or merged with five other banks, making it the largest national bank in the state. By 1935 two banks, Charleston National and First Huntington National, together controlled a full 25 percent of the financial resources of all national banks in West Virginia. Charleston National was the biggest bank in the state, and remained so for many years.

In the early 1960s, Charleston National officials decided to build a new facility. Originally, Quarrier Street had stopped at the intersection with Capitol. As traffic was opened through the block, the 1906 bank building projected into the street, creating a ‘‘dog leg’’ in busy downtown traffic. The city was pleased to see the obstruction removed, and after the old bank building came down, east-west Quarrier Street expanded to full width. In 1969, the bank moved to its new facility, Charleston National Plaza, occupying an entire city block at Capitol and Virginia streets. The new location served as both a headquarters for the bank and a location for many other businesses that leased office space there. Construction of the Charleston National Plaza ushered in a new era of modern high-rise banks in Charleston.

After West Virginia liberalized its banking laws, Charleston National formed a bank holding company, Centurion Bancorp in 1981. Centurion in turn merged with Key Bancshares, the holding company of the First Huntington National Bank, in 1985, to form Key Centurion Bancshares. The ‘‘mega-merger’’ created the state’s first billion-dollar bank holding company. In 1992, Key Centurion Bancshares was purchased by Bank One, a Chicago firm and one of the nation’s largest bank holding companies. By 2002, Bank One was West Virginia’s fourth-largest banking institution, doing business in 29 locations throughout the state. In 2004, Bank One was purchased by JPMorgan Chase. In March 2006, the names of the bank’s 30 branches were changed from Bank One to Chase. The 1969 building is now known as Chase Tower.

Written by Carrie Stollings


  1. Rice, Otis & Stephen Brown. A Centennial of Strength: West Virginia Banks. Charleston: West Virginia Bankers Association, 1991.