The Treasury Annex building in Washington is slated to be renamed in honor of a bank that served emancipated slaves after the end of the Civil War.
The 1919 building, located at the corner of Madison Place and Pennsylvania Avenue, on Jan. 7 will be renamed the Freedman's Bank Building. The Freedman's Savings & Trust, as the financial institution was known, stood on the same grounds as the Treasury Annex and served about 100,000 newly emancipated slaves after the war's conclusion.
"Naming the Freedman's Bank Building recognizes an institution that symbolized a new future for African-Americans," Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said in a news release.
"The legacy of Freedman's Bank also serves as a reminder that we must continue striving for greater financial inclusion for all Americans—particularly those in underserved and minority communities—so that they can share in the benefits of our growing economy," Lew said.
Incorporated in March 1865, Freedman's Savings & Trust eventually opened branches in 37 cities in both northern and southern states.
But the bank quickly failed as a result of mismanagement, fraud and a turbulent economy. Construction of the bank's luxurious headquarters building, with a "magnificent brown stone front" that was admired by statesman Frederick Douglass, also didn't help the bank stay afloat.
Douglass, who was the last president of Freedman's Savings & Trust, invested $10,000 of his own money in the bank. But in June 1874, he asked Congress to shut it down. Its 61,131 depositors, who together held about $2.9 million, were repaid, although much later and sometimes through their heirs. The depositors received only about half of their losses in repayment.
The Treasury Annex, which was designed by architect Cass Gilbert, houses the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control and the Treasury Department Federal Credit Union.