Marine Bank of Buffalo (later Marine Trust Company of Buffalo)

About this collection

The Marine Bank of Buffalo was founded in 1850 in Buffalo, New York, USA. It became the Marine Trust Company of Buffalo in 1919. A new holding company, the Marine Midland Corporation, grew out of the business in 1929. The Marine Trust Company continued to serve as a local bank, as part of the Corporation’s large network of affiliated subsidiaries. In 1951, the Marine Trust Company merged with other regional banks to form the Marine Trust Company of Western New York, which was eventually merged into Marine Midland Bank in 1976. Marine became part of the HSBC Group in 1980 and was fully acquired in 1987. It was renamed HSBC Bank USA in 1999.

The Marine Bank of Buffalo opened for business at 79 Main Street in August 1850. It started out as a state-chartered bank, with capital of USD170,000. The initial focus was on trade finance for grain and other commodities, between the Midwest and New York state.

It transformed into the Marine National Bank in 1902, and recorded profits of around USD300,000 the following year. The bank had moved to 220 Main Street in 1881 and later purchased additional space on the corner of Seneca. These premises made way for a new purpose-built headquarters that opened in 1913.

In 1919, the bank converted into the Marine Trust Company of Buffalo. It had already grown considerably over the last couple of decades, through the acquisition of smaller local banks. In 1925, it took a major step with the takeover of the Buffalo Trust Company. This merger created one of the largest trust companies in the United States. The latter institution could trace its history back to 1881 and was led by George Rand Jr., son of former Marine president – also named George Rand.

Rand Jr. took the helm of the Marine Trust Company. Under his watch, Marine Midland Corporation was formed as a multi-bank holding company in 1929. It would be renamed Marine Midland Banks, Inc. in 1969. Headquartered in Buffalo, it listed on the New York Stock Exchange, and issued shares in exchange for stock in 17 banks in the region. Numerous other banks would join the affiliation over the next few years. Due to state law, they continued to operate as separate entities, each with their own capital, personnel and board of directors. However, they operated with a common sense of purpose through the central leadership of the Corporation.

The Marine Trust Company of Buffalo, therefore, continued to operate under its own name, and continued to acquire small local banks in the Buffalo region. The firm was operating 11 branches as it celebrated its centenary in 1950.

A year later, Marine Midland Corporation began consolidating its affiliated banks. The Marine Trust Company of Buffalo was merged with banks in Tonawanda, North Tonawanda, Lockport, Albion, Medina and Niagara Falls to create the Marine Trust Company of Western New York. The name was changed to Marine Midland Trust Company of Western New York in 1965. It then changed again in 1970, to become Marine Midland Bank – Western.

On 1 January 1976, following a change in state law, Marine Midland Bank – Western was merged with nine other regional Marine Midland banks to form Marine Midland Bank, with total assets of USD10.5 billion. It was the largest merger in U.S. bank history at the time. In 1980, HSBC acquired a 51% share of the holding company, Marine Midland Banks, Inc. Full ownership was completed in 1987 and Marine Midland Bank was renamed HSBC Bank USA in 1999.