Buying and selling branches is routine for a lot of banks, but it's big news at First National Bank of Dwight in Illinois.

Since it was established in 1905, the now $117 million-asset bank has had one branch, and a historic one at that — it was designed by the famous American architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

That century-old business plan began to change Friday when word broke of the bank's deal to double the size of its branch network.

First National has agreed to buy the Seneca, Ill., branch of the $15.5 billion-asset MB Financial, according to news release issued by MB.

The transaction requires regulatory approval. Neither company said when it expects to complete the sale nor disclosed the price.

MB, which has 80 branches in the Chicagoland area, does not expect the sale to significantly affect its earnings, it said in the release. The Seneca branch had $11.2 million in total deposits as of Dec. 31.

First National's chief executive, Robert Maierhofer, downplayed any talk of history and gave the reason most bankers give for buying branches.

"It really comes down to us expanding our footprint," he said. "And although there's 25 miles between us [and Seneca], it adjoins us."

It will be hard for First National to top the historical value of its original building, though.

Wright's design rejected the grand, classical motif normally associated with bank branches at the time and instead features a cut-stone facade, a fireplace and simple overall structure that was supposed to reflect the founder's aim to offer basic, convenient banking services, according to a Wikipedia entry about the bank.

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