A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Our Rich History: Downtown home of Republic Bank has stately history, began as Farmers and Traders

By Paul A. Tenkotte
Special to NKyTribune

A stately bank building—now the home of Republic Bank—stands on the northwest corner of Sixth Street and Madison Avenue in downtown Covington, Kentucky. It is one of three banks that still anchor this historic intersection.


The old Farmers and Traders National Bank Building, 6th and Madison in Covington, became headquarters of First National Bank and Trust and now is home to Republic Bank. This view dates from a postcard, circa 1906. Courtesy of Paul A. Tenkotte.

Businessman and philanthropist Amos Shinkle (1818-92) was a premier Covington booster, especially known for his leadership in the building of the John A. Roebling Bridge between Covington and Cincinnati, which opened officially in 1867. Two years earlier, in January 1865, Shinkle served as one of the founders, and the first president of, the First National Bank of Covington.

First National Bank opened in the Odd Fellow Hall (also still standing) on the northeast corner of Fifth Street and Madison Avenue. By 1878, the bank moved to an Italianate building at 515 Madison Avenue.

The First National Bank merged with/acquired a number of other Covington financial institutions, including the Covington City National Bank in the 1890s, the Merchants National Bank of Covington in 1908, and the Farmers and Traders National Bank in 1910.

The merger between First National Bank of Covington and the Farmers and Traders National Bank was engineered by E.S. (Edmund Shackleford) Lee (1862-1932), the president of First National from 1905 until his death in 1932. The merged financial institution made its headquarters in the exquisite office building of the old Farmers and Traders National Bank at Sixth and Madison.

Designed in the Beaux Arts style by Cincinnati architect Harry Hake, in association with Covington architects Lyman Walker (1880-1933) and George W. Schofield, the 6th and Madison headquarters building was completed in 1904. Six stories in height, it would have been one of Covington’s tallest buildings at the time.


Farmers and Traders Bank Building. Courtesy of the Kenton County Public Library

During the Great Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared a “bank holiday” in March 1933, so that the federal government could examine the assets of banks nationwide. First National Bank was found to be insufficient, but was later reopened in September 1933 after securing additional funding. It survived the rest of the depression, doubling its assets in the ten-year period, 1933-43.

In 1983, David Barry Briggs of Kentucky Bancorporation acquired First National Bank and Trust Company of Covington, renaming it Kentucky National Bank in 1985. In 1990, the bank moved its headquarters from Sixth and Madison, and in 1993, Cincinnati-based Star Banc Corp acquired Kentucky National Bank.

We want to learn more about the history of your business, church, school, or organization in our region (Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky). If you would like to share your rich history with others, please contact the editor of “Our Rich History,” Paul A. Tenkotte, at tenkottep@nku.edu. Paul A. Tenkotte is Professor of History and Director of the Center for Public History at NKU.

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