northern banka

Northern Bank of Kentucky

In 1834, the Kentucky General Assembly, after years of financial instability, created a banking system. Under this system, two banks, the Louisville Bank of Kentucky and the Northern Bank of Kentucky, were granted the right to organize and establish a number of branches throughout the commonwealth. The establishment of the Covington Branch of the Northern Bank of Kentucky was organized on February 23, 1836. It was the third branch to open and first to be located in Covington. The bank would play an important role in the growth and development of the community in the years leading up to the American Civil War.

Said to be the one of the oldest commercial buildings in the city, the former Northern Kentucky Bank Building, at Third and Scott Streets, was the first bank depository in Covington. The structure is of Greek Revival design. The front facade contains a recessed entrance with a shelf lintel supported by free standing columns. In 1890, the third story was added to the building.

When the branch opened in 1837, it was located in the heart of Covington’s business district. For more than 50 years, William Ernst, philanthropist, businessman, and politician served as its president. In 1896, the bank moved its operations to Sixth and Madison Avenue due to the relocation of Covington’s business center near Pike Street. The decision created financial difficulty for the bank. Competition from several new banks in the city also contributed to its closure in 1897.

Over time, the building at Third and Scott Streets served as a distillery, a factory and as a warehouse. In later years, the building became known as the Mosler Lock and Safe Co. building.

In 1998, the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

In 1999, the building faced demolition, but after protests from preservationists the building was saved. The modern Bank of Kentucky (no relation to the 19th century bank) paid the Kenton County Fiscal Court $550,000 for the building, and spent an additional $3 million to remodel it.

Today, it is still in operation as a bank, now owned by BB&T.

source: The Encyclopedia of Northern Kentucky (Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 2009), a six-year project co-edited by Paul A. Tenkotte, Ph.D. (Chair of NKU’s Department of History and Geography) and James C. Claypool, Ph.D. (Professor Emeritus of History, NKU).

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