The history of Central Bank goes back all the way to 1955, and its roots sit firmly here in Houston. (In fact, we are proud to maintain the role as Houston’s longest-serving community bank!) Of course, a lot has changed through the years — for both our company and the great city of Houston.
Interested in learning how we got our start (and how we became the Central Bank you know today)? You’ve come to the right place. Here’s a quick glimpse back at the Central Bank story.
It was 1955 when rumblings first began surrounding the idea of forming a new bank in Houston, Texas. The ball truly got rolling on June 6 of that year, when L.E. Cowling, with Southern States Life Insurance, pulled together an official organization committee. Montrose National Bank of Houston was chartered on May 31, 1956, at the corner of Montrose and Hawthorne. (That original building has a fascinating history all its own.)
As the city continued to grow and change, the company followed suit. In 1961, we became Central National Bank of Houston, moving our physical headquarters to 2100 Travis. Business gravitated toward the Travis Street locale, then known as Central National Bank Square, with big-name oil and insurance companies calling the space home — not to mention well-known dinner clubs. Our bank operated from that location, and under that moniker, for more than a decade following.
The next big shift when it comes to the history of Central Bank? The decision to change from a national bank, to one that was state-chartered. And with that change came another: In 1979, our name transitioned from Central National Bank of Houston, to Central Bank of Houston.
As tends to happen, our company grew and changed with time. 1987 brought about our purchase of Liberty Bank, which sat at the corner of Montrose and Richmond. Later came the purchases — and subsequent sales — of rural banks Lexington Bank and Caldwell National Bank.
Another big change came right around then. In 1989, we dropped “of Houston” from our name, simply opting to be known as Central Bank. With the desire for a newer, more efficient building — and more exposure along popular thoroughfares — our headquarters moved to 55 Waugh Drive shortly after.
It seems things really took off right around then (and we’re not sure the ever truly stopped). The mid-90s brought the opening of three new branches in a four-year period, as well as the purchase of factoring company Advantage Business Capital. The construction of our current headquarters, at 11201 Clay Road, came about in early 2001.
As time progressed, we adapted to meet changing technologies and customer needs. Online banking entered the mix, for instance, while a mobile app and similar offerings came along shortly after, all aimed at making life easier for today’s high-tech customers. Inevitable branch openings and closures came about, as well. The latest? The introduction of Central Bank — Lower Heights in January 2021, which replaced our Midtown location.
The history of Central Bank is a story of growth, adjustment and changing with the times — much along the same lines as the story of Houston itself. And, although we might be a bigger company than we were at the start, we are still proud to hold strong to our small-town way of doing business. It’s what we like to think of as banking centered around you.