National Exchange Bank of Wheeling
- from "A History of Banking in the United States," Knox, John Jay, 1900.
One hundred years ago , as now, Wheeling was the largest town within the territory of the State of Virginia between the Alleghanies and the Ohio, and here the first bank, strictly speaking, west of the mountains, was established by virtue of an act passed by the General Assembly of Virginia in February, 1817, although the town of Wellsburg has a prior claim entitled to consideration. This same act contained provisions for the incorporation of banks in the towns of Clarksburg, Morgantown, Wellsburg, Parkersburg, Beverly and Middlebourne —all, with the exception of Wheeling, mere country hamlets, yet each representing the business center for a wide extent of rich but sparsely settled country. The act named commissioners authorized to receive subscriptions to the capital stock, and those named for the Wheeling bank, the Bank of Northwestern Virginia, were Archibald Woods, John White, George Knox, Noah Zane and Samuel Sprigg. It was further provided that the subscription books should be opened in November, 1817, and the bank was ready for business in the following spring, its first President being Noah Zane and the first Cashier Thomas Woods. This pioneer institution was so well managed that during the panic of 1837 it was one of the few financial institutions of the country which did not close its doors, but during the war of the rebellion it went out of business and was succeeded by the Exchange Bank, which still exists as the National Exchange Bank.
The Exchange Bank in Wheeling officially became the National Exchange Bank in December 1898. The Daily Intelligencer reported on December 31, 1898, "Hereafter the Exchange Bank, of this city, will be known as the National Exchange Bank, and will do business as a national bank, after a long and honorable career as a state institution. The Exchange has always been among the most substantial of Wheeling banks and possesses the confidence of the public. Its history is identified with the financial and commercial history of the city, and in its new departure as a national institution will retain that confidence and good will which it has so justly earned."
The National Exchange Bank was acquired by the Wheeling Dollar Savings & Trust Co., 1315-19 Market Street, on February 28, 1949. The Wheeling Dollar Savings & Trust Co., later Wheeling Dollar Bank, became WesBanco in 1991.
The original Exchange Bank was located on the corner of Main and Market. A one-story structure originally occupied the space. It was replaced with a five-story structure in 1898. An exterior remodel and additional two floors were added to the National Exchange Bank Building in 1911. The publication "The Tradesman" reported on October 12, 1911, "Perkins & Jackson have been awarded the contract to erect two additional stories on the National Exchange Bank building. Giesey & Faris, architects (pg. 52)." The July 1911 edition of the "Stone," (Vol. XXXII, No. 7., pg 381), further reported, "The National Exchange Bank of Wheeling, W. Va. is to erect a new granite front and entrances. The new plans have been drawn by Mr. F. F. Faris and call for a classic Dorice facade with graceful columns and massive pilasters rising to a height of nearly 40 feet. It will be of white granite and the contract has been awarded to Edward C. Kreutzer, of Wheeling."
The seven-story building still stands on the corner of 12th and Main Streets. It was acquired by the Peoples Federal Savings & Loan Association when the National Exchange Bank was acquired by the Wheeling Dollar Savings & Trust Co. in 1949. The Peoples Federal Savings & Loan Association was acquired by Federal One Bank in 1983 and merged into United Bank in 1998. United Bank still occupies the building.
▶ Corner of Main and 12th Street (Now United Bank)
▶ Vertical File: Wheeling Bank & Banking Historical, Wheeling Room, non-circulating, ask for access at the reference desk.