The FIRST BANK NATIONAL ASSN., a financial institution organized to support local black entrepreneurs, was established in June 1974 by Cleveland lawyer John H. Bustamante and 4 partners. Originally known as the First Bank & Trust, it opened for business at 232 Superior Ave. with $2.5 million in capital, and the following year its assets grew to $15.2 million with a net income of $90,336. In 1976 the name was changed to First Bank Natl. Assn. and it acquired Community Natl. Bank, which doubled its assets. The bank continued to grow, and in May 1982 it was the 4th largest black-owned bank in the U.S., with 110 employees and assets of $68.7 million. First Bank was reorganized as a subsidiary of the First Intercity Banc Corp. in 1983, which was a holding company formed to insulate the bank from takeovers, to increase its capacity to raise capital, and to enable it to expand services. During the 1980s, First Natl.'s headquarters moved to the Terminal Tower and it operated branches at 10605 Chester Ave., 4567 Warrensville Rd., and 26777 Lorain Rd.

The bank was a victim of mismanagement and had too many problem loans, which helped account for losses of $3.2 million in 1987. The difficulties continued in 1988 and 1989. When First Bank was unable to raise additional capital, federal regulators closed it 9 Mar. 1990 and paid off approx. 7,000 insured depositors.


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