Not So Long Ago: Wisconsin and Dumbarton

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This week on Not So Long Ago, GM stops by Wisconsin and Dumbarton. GM’s not going to pretend this is an interesting flashback; the only thing that changed was the name of the bank and the awning color. But the history of American Security Bank is kind of interesting!:

American Security Bank was founded in 1889 in Alexandria, Virginia, as a banking and trust concern, operating a branch in the District of Columbia at 1419 G Street, NW; the following year it reincorporated in the District and moved to 1405 G Street. It was the second trust company established in the District and the first to offer a woman’s department. By 1903 business had grown to the extent that a new location was once again sought. The present location (a block from Lafayette Square and part of the Lafayette Square Historic District) was selected, and construction began in 1904. The design was praised in the banking press, and it was featured in The American Architect and Building News in 1905. The building now houses a branch of Bank of America as a result of the latter’s merger with NationsBank, which purchased MNC Financial in 1993. MNC had purchased American Security Bank in 1987 but continued to operate it under the original name. Due to its location immediately north of the Treasury Building the building appeared on the back of the ten dollar bill for many years,[5] a fact exploited in advertising with the slogan “right on the money.”

It’s too bad this building continues to be occupied by a bank (as several of the more prominent corners of Georgetown are). Banks provide little in the way of street life and with online banking becoming more dominant, bank buildings are becoming even more unnecessary. Hopefully someday Bank of America will clear out and something more interesting will move in.



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3 responses to “Not So Long Ago: Wisconsin and Dumbarton

  1. All of the original banks of Georgetown are gone……….Riggs Farmers and Mechanics is now PNC; American Security is now Bank of America; Perpetual Savings is now a card shop (Wisc. and N); and on and on. Banking institutions have always been the heart and soul of this village and is sad in a way to see how they change on a whim these days.

    On a side note: Upstairs at the Bank of America site is the home of Alcoholics Anonymous which holds meetings weekly.


    I remember when the National Bank of Washington was at the north-west corner of Wisconsin and M — now a clothing store.

  3. Jad

    Talk about prominent corners being occupied by banks: at one point the corner of Wisconsin and M had three banks.

    This led to a riddle in the Post: “what is the one corner in Washington that has four banks?” (The restaurant on the fourth corner was the “Rive Gauche”).

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