Photo: Peter Blasl

Suffolk County National Bank had its last day of operations on Friday.

People’s United Bank took over the Riverhead bank on Saturday, April 1 pursuant to an acquisition agreement signed last year. The banks got the last of the required regulatory approvals on March 16, when the Federal Reserve Board gave the deal a green light. People’s announced the completion of the acquisition today.

The acquisition marks the end of an era in Riverhead history. The town was once the headquarters of four publicly chartered banks. Suffolk County National Bank was the last of the four still in operation. All had been chartered in Riverhead in the late 19th century and early 20th century and were headquartered here.

Suffolk County National Bank was founded in 1890, the second of two Riverhead-based banks to be granted charters. Riverhead Savings Bank, the first, was chartered by New York State in 1872 and was one of Suffolk County’s oldest banks.

Suffolk County National Bank was organized by a retired Cutchogue physician, Dr. Henry P. Terry. He raised $50,000 from 10 prominent local men, who together founded SCNB and applied for a charter from the U.S. Comptroller of the Currency on Jan. 6, 1890. It was granted on Feb. 18. Eight of its 15 directors were also trustees of Riverhead Savings Bank, with which it would shortly thereafter share a headquarters on West Main Street.

As of Friday, Suffolk County National Bank operated 28 branches on Long Island, including two in Riverhead. People’s has not disclosed which SCNB branches may be closed. Sixty-four percent of Suffolk’s branches — including two in Riverhead — are within two miles of a People’s United branch, People’s United CEO Jack Barnes said in a June conference call announcing the proposed merger to shareholders. People’s has a branch inside the Route 58 Stop and Shop store. The Bridgeport, Connecticut-based bank has hundreds of in-supermarket branches, though the majority of its branches are traditional brick-and-mortar stand-alone bank branches.

Founded in 1842, People’s United Bank is a regional bank in the Northeast offering commercial and retail banking and wealth management services through a network of nearly 400 retail locations in Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.

The mergers and acquisitions that consumed the three other Riverhead-based banks began after World War II, when the Suffolk County Trust Company, chartered in 1910, merged with a Bay Shore Bank that was subsequently acquired by Franklin National Bank. After Franklin National Bank failed, it was taken over by European American Bank, which was later acquired by Citibank. Citibank closed its Riverhead branch on West Main Street in December 2014. Today the former bank building is occupied by offices.

“The Suffolk County National Bank and the Suffolk County Trust Company became two of the most successful commercial banks on Long Island,” wrote Thomas Stark in his local history titled, “Riverhead: The Halcyon Years.”

The Long Island State Bank and Trust Company, chartered in 1926, merged into Security Bank of Long Island in 1957. Security was later taken over by Chemical Bank. Chemical merged with JP Morgan Chase in 1996. The former Chemical Bank branch on East Main Street eventually closed after Chase bought Bank of New York, which already had a downtown Riverhead branch, in 2006. The Chemical Bank branch, located on the corner of McDermott Avenue, was renovated and opened as a restaurant in 2011. The building today is vacant after the original restaurant and a successor both failed.

Riverhead Savings Bank, which in 1925 built the marble building on the corner of West Main Street and Peconic Avenue, was acquired by the White Plains-based American Savings Bank in the early 1980s and operated as a subsidiary of American Savings until American was declared insolvent by state regulators in 1992. Its 39 branches were sold to other banks. The Riverhead branch was taken over by the Bank of New York. JP Morgan Chase acquired the Bank of New York’s consumer banking branches in 2006 and continues to operate the branch on the corner of Peconic and West Main.

People’s United and Suffolk announced last June an agreement for the purchase of Suffolk in a 100-percent stock transaction valued at approximately $402 million.

In November, SCNB filed a notice with the N.Y. Department of Labor stating it intended to lay off 76 employees beginning in January. Last week the bank revised that notice, reducing the anticipated number of layoffs to 67, beginning on April 1 and ending Dec. 31. The reason for the reduction was not stated. It is not clear if the reduction is a result of employees leaving the bank in anticipation of being affected by layoffs.

Howard Bluver, former president and chief executive officer of Suffolk Bancorp, has been named New York market president for People’s United.

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