Central Bank of St. Louis
Central Bank began its legacy on January 9, 1902, when Lon Stephens helped create Central Missouri Trust Company. He had served as Missouri State Treasurer and then as Governor until January 1901.
Sam Baker Cook arrived in Jefferson City in 1900 and assumed the presidency of the Central Missouri Trust Company in 1905 after serving as Missouri’s Secretary of State. He began a legacy of service that continues to this day.
Cook was committed to serving Jefferson City. After the Capitol building burned in 1911, he fought with other city leaders to ensure that Jefferson City would remain the state capitol.
In 1916, Cook moved the Central Missouri Trust Company into a seven-story Carthage stone building on the corner of Madison and High Street where it remains today. Jefferson City residents christened this building “the first skyscraper.”
In the first 15 years, the resources available to the bank more than tripled, and the company increased its commitment to help Jefferson City grow.
Sam Baker Cook continued to promote the company and his adopted hometown until his death in 1931. He was succeeded by his son, Howard, who had begun working at the bank as a high school student in 1905.
Howard took over the bank in the heart of the Great Depression, a period when the economic crisis threatened local and state government. When the state of Missouri could not make its payroll or offer relief, so Howard Cook agreed to make a $1 Million loan available to the state. Meanwhile, the bank continued to operate without any changes, and was one of two banks in Jefferson City that survived the Depression.
Like his father before him, Howard Cook passed along the leadership of the bank to his son, Sam B. Cook in 1961. A veteran of World War II, and a graduate of Yale University, Cook presided over unprecedented expansion of the bank and its operations.
The company was renamed Central Trust Bank in 1969, and then shortened to Central Bank in 1987.
Over the years, Central Bank continued to grow into a corporation, Central Bancompany, in 1970. Central Bancompany currently operates 13 banks throughout Missouri, Illinois, Kansas and Oklahoma with over $11.5 billion in assets.
Cook, who served as Chairman of both Central Trust Bank and Central Bancompany starting in 1981, continued the bank's family legacy when he named his son, S. Bryan Cook, Chief Executive officer in 2008. After a lifetime of business success and amazing generosity in the form of philanthropy, Sam Cook passed away in July of 2016.
As the twenty-first century progresses, Central Bank has the same vision for the future that guided their predecessors over a century ago. Central Bank will continue to be committed to taking an integral role in the community and serving its neighbors as it has for over 100 years.
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