On June 6, 1955, Mr. L.E. Cowling, the owner of a Houston insurance company, formed an organization committee for the formation of Montrose National Bank of Houston. In a building located at 3400 Montrose at Hawthorne, the bank was officially chartered on May 31, 1956.
In 1961, the bank changed its name to Central National Bank of Houston and relocated its headquarters to 2100 Travis. For many years the building known as Central National Bank Square was the center of Houston commerce. In addition to the bank, prominent oil and insurance companies were tenants and the building hosted one of Houston's most prominent dinner clubs.
A major change for the bank occurred in 1974 when a prominent Houston businessman, Mr. Jack Josey, became the bank's majority shareholder. Mr. Josey was a successful independent businessman whose ventures included Josey Oil Company along with several real estate investments. Mr. Josey's son-in-law, Mr. John Young, immediately took an active role on the board of directors and has served as Chairman since 1991. Mr. Young is a law school graduate but has spent most of his career operating his own oil and gas business.
The bank changed from a national bank to a state chartered bank in 1979 and amended its name to Central Bank of Houston. In 1987, Central Bank of Houston purchased the larger Houston-based Liberty Bank, which was located at the corner of Montrose and Richmond. Central Bank became the bank's new shortened name in 1989 when "of Houston" was officially dropped. This name change allowed the bank more flexibility as they purchased two rural banks (Lexington Bank in 1989 and Caldwell National Bank in 1999 - both were later sold).
With the desire for a more efficient building and to have exposure along Memorial Drive, the bank moved its headquarters to 55 Waugh Drive in 1988. The bank's growth began to accelerate in 1996, when over the next four years, three new branches were opened—Shepherd (which was later closed), Midtown, and Timbergrove---and the bank purchased an established commercial accounts receivable factoring company, Advantage Business Capital.
Since inception in 1956, Central Bank always had its headquarters near the geographic center of Houston. With Houston's population center moving further west, the bank's owners and management wanted to reposition the bank for years of continued growth. Thus, the bank's most significant event occurred in 2001 when it built its new corporate headquarters and bank branch at 11201 Clay Road at Beltway 8. In December 2008, the Central Bank Post Oak Place branch opened. Currently, the bank corporate headquarters manages four branch locations and its wholly owned subsidiary, Advantage Business Capital.
Since the beginning, the bank has always focused its efforts on being a strong, independent bank that serves individuals and small businesses. With such a rich history, it is no wonder why Central Bank has been Houston's Bank since 1956!