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Northern Bank of Kentucky (Covington, Kentucky)

The Northern Bank was founded in February of 1835 when the Kentucky General Assembly in Frankfort granted a charter to the Northern Bank of Kentucky. Branches of the Northern Bank were established in Richmond, Paris, Louisville, Covington, Barbourville and Glasgow. The Covington branch was built at Third and Scott Streets. Also known as the Bank of Kentucky and Mosler Building, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1998.

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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 the 50 years, William Ernst, philanthropist, businessman, and politician served as its president.  In 1896, the bank moved its operations to Sixth and Madison Streets 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, factory, and as a warehouse.   In later years, the building became known as the Mosler Lock and Safe Co. building.

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.

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).


Mosler Safe (Lock Div.) Company. 3rd and Scott Street–1937 flood.   Photograph donated by Bill Mai.

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