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Centerbank (Center Financial Corporation) Records

Identifier: 2016-0042

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of administrative records of Centerbank (Center Financial Corporation), dated mostly from the period of when it merged with Waterbury Savings Bank in 1989 to its demise in 1996. Includes documents that chronicle the merger of Centerbank with First Union Bank of Connecticut in 1996. All of the records were those gathered and saved by Mr. Robert J. Narkis, a lawyer of Waterbury, Connecticut, and member of the Board of Directors of Centerbank (Center Financial Corporation) who served as the CEO of the bank from 1990 to 1996. Many of the records include Mr. Narkis's notes.


  • 1985-1996

Biographical / Historical

Centerbank (CFCX - Center Financial Corporation) was formed as the Waterbury Savings Bank in 1850 as a mutual savings bank (a bank that are owned by the depositors), formed by people of the town of Waterbury, Connecticut. In the 1970s the Waterbury Savings Bank changed its name to the Banking Center and by the 1980s it was decided to move from a mutual savings bank to a stock bank (a bank that is public with a profit motive) with no stipulations on who could bank or borrow with them. The name was changed to Centerbank when the bank went public (owned by shareholders and existed in the stock exchange).

In the 1980s Centerbank merged with two other banks, including Waterbury Savings Bank. Beginning in the mid-1980s Mr. Robert J. Narkis, a lawyer in Waterbury, Connecticut, served on the executive committee of the Waterbury Savings Bank. In December 1989, as Connecticut faced a slowdown in the economy, decreased housing prices and a glut in the real estate market, the Board of Directors of Centerbank, a $1,000,000,000+ bank with 11% in nonperforming assets and under FDIC scrutiny, hired Mr. Narkis to solve its problems of bad loan decisions, mismanagened assets, and earnings and stock price short falls. Shortly thereafter he was appointed CEO and developed and executed a plan for the bank's survival, which included using the diminishing capital to purchase from the FDIC troubled Connecticut banks, including the New Haven Savings Bank, on favorable terms which involved little competitive bidding from others. This led to Centerbank's ability to dispose of nonperforming assets at a large discount. Center Financial Corporation, Centerbank's holding company, was formed in 1990.

By 1995 Centerbank was a sound $3.5 billion bank with about 45 branches in Waterbury, New Haven, Meriden and other towns in the region, at that time the third largest Connecticut bank showing good returns on assets and equity. Over this period the stock moved from $2.00 per share to $35.00 per share. By 1996 Centerbank was the fifth largest bank in Connecticut and the third largest state-based bank with reported assets of $3.7 billion and deposits of $2.5 billion.

In 1996 First Union Bank and First Union Corporation, at that time the nation's sixth largest bank holding company, made a rich purchase offer, and it became clear that the Centerbank shareholders would do significantly better if the offer were accepted. That summer Centerbank was sold to First Union Bank. In 2001 First Union Bank was purchased by Wachovia.

A note about terms found among the papers:

"Merriman 1" was an offer on CityTrust in 1991 which was not accepted by the FDIC (CityTrust was purchased by Chase Manhattan Bank).

"Project Charlie" of 1994 involved "chasing" twelve different banks, including Webster Bank, for possible mergers. This project did not achieve its objectives succeed.


13.3 Linear Feet (10 boxes)

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Centerbank Records were donated by Mr. Robert Narkis of Waterbury, Connecticut, in March 2016.

Existence and Location of Copies

Digital reproductions of materials in this collection may also be found in the Archives & Special Collections digital repository

Centerbank (Center Financial Corporation) Records
Archives & Special Collections staff
2016 April
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Archives and Special Collections, University of Connecticut Library Repository

University of Connecticut Library
405 Babbidge Road Unit 1205
Storrs Connecticut 06269-1205 USA US