Chevy Chase Trust Company and Its Heritage – Part 2: Antitrust Regulation and The Birth of American Security and Trust

Here at Chevy Chase Trust, we’re proud of our heritage, which began in 1837 during the early days of private banking in Washington, D.C. Over the course of the next several weeks, we’ll be blogging about our history. This is the second installment in a four part series about our history (to read Part 1: From Corcoran to Riggs, click here)

William Wilson Corcoran, the founder of Corcoran & Company (one of the earliest predecessors of Chevy Chase Trust), was Washington, D.C.’s leading philanthropist due to several major gifts he made. He donated Oak Hill Cemetary, with its handsome landscaped grounds, chapel, gatehouse, and iron fence, to his native Georgetown in 1849. Shortly after the Civil War, he gave his extensive collection of paintings and the Corcoran Gallery of Art building at 17th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. to the public. In 1871, he constructed a large building near Scott Circle named the Louise Home for the shelter of elderly women. Corcoran was the principal benefactor to the George Washington University, providing both funds and valuable downtown land for new buildings. Corcoran & Company became Corcoran and Riggs Bank after George Washington Riggs, Jr. joined the firm. Shortly after William Wilson Corcoran retired, Corcoran and Riggs Bank became Riggs National Bank.

In the 1880s, the major shareholders of Riggs National Bank became dissatisfied with new antitrust rules in federal banking legislation that made it more difficult for commercial banks, such as Riggs, to engage in the management of trust funds. Consequently, they raised the necessary funds to establish American Security and Trust Company in 1889. Riggs became the dominant commercial bank and American Security and Trust the dominant trust bank.

Charles C. Glover who became president of Riggs National Bank in 1896, helped establish American Security and Trust. When Glover built a new Riggs National Bank building at 15th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue in 1904, he reserved the east wing for the use of American Security and Trust. The rapid growth of American Security and Trust resulted in the 1931 construction of an additional 10-story building to the north, facing 15th Street.

Glover was not only a major civic leader in Washington, but also one of its most important philanthropists. He donated valuable paintings to the Corcoran Gallery, where he served as president, and in 1901 spearheaded the construction of the new Beaux Arts-style gallery building opposite the Ellipse. Glover was also a leader in planning the Washington National Cathedral in 1907 and a significant figure in the creation of Rock Creek Park in 1889, to which he donated considerable property.

Stay tuned next week for Part 3: The Growth of American Security and Trust