Prominently situated opposite the U.S. Treasury, the Riggs National Bank's Classical Revival style had a great influence on the design of other city banks.
Established in 1840 as Corcoran & Riggs by William W. Corcoran (a former official of the Second Bank of the U.S.) and George Washington Riggs (the heir of a New York banking family), the bank purchased many assets of Second Bank of the U.S. after its failure. It handled numerous federal government transactions, including the financing of the Mexican-American War (1846‑48), early international sales of U.S. bonds, and the Alaska purchase (1868), in addition to financing notable private ventures such as the construction of the first U.S. telegraph line to Baltimore. It has served many Presidents and notables and also played a major role in addressing the 1933 banking crisis.
The original bank was located at the site of the former home of Second Bank of the U.S. Upon Corcoran’s retirement in 1854, the bank was renamed Riggs & Co., and it was federally chartered as Riggs National Bank in 1896. Built between 1899 and 1902, this monumental granite bank building is notable for its impressive facade of ionic columns and its lofty skylit banking hall. It was designed by architects York & Sawyer of New York, with an addition designed by Appleton P. Clark, Jr. in the early 1920s.