Nantucket bank founded with whaling money is swallowed by BankBoston
May. 28, 1997
BOSTON (AP) _ A small Nantucket bank founded with whaling money in 1804 is being swallowed up by BankBoston Corp., angering islanders who are proud of their traditional independence from the mainland.
The Pacific National Bank of Nantucket announced the $24.4 million stock swap Tuesday. Although Pacific will retain its name, some who supported the deal felt a tinge of sadness.
``This is the sort of thing Nantucketers have always prided themselves on not having: large corporations owning their institutions,'' said Maia Gaillard, executive director of the Nantucket Island Chamber of Commerce.
The Pacific Bank of Nantucket was so named because most of its money came from whaling on the Pacific Ocean at a time when the island was a bustling seaport.
Whaling was big business and Nantucket was a port where many vessels put out to sea. Harpooning whales from long boats and hanging on as the whale swam for its life was known as a ``Nantucket sleigh ride.''
``There were as many as 60-80 vessels in the harbor at one time. There were four banks and eight churches,'' said Libby Oldham, a researcher at the Nantucket Historical Society.
With about 7,000 year-round residents, Nantucket has two banks, each with two branches. Pacific National has $90 million in deposits and a $90 million in loans, compared with $64.8 billion in assets for BankBoston.
Bank president Stephen Decesare said the deal would allow Pacific to offer modern electronic services like computer banking.
``In the school system today everything is electronic. Those students of today are going to be the borrowers and depositors of tomorrow and they're not going to walk into a bank,'' he said. ``We don't want to wait until the last minute.''
With whaling long gone, the island relies on tourism for much of its livelihood. But residents like to think things don't change much on the island.
``It seems like we've lost so many things on Nantucket that were unique. It's just another chip in the historic fabric,'' Oldham said. ``Many of us feel saddened by that.''