Legendary History

Today's First Financial Bank is formly rooted in a legacy of community-minded banking that began 150 years ago. Take a look back with us as we highlight some important milestones in our history.

Early Beginnings

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1863Our bank was one of the first to organize under the new National Bank Act with Charter #56.

The necessary bonds were purchased and deposited with the Treasurer of the United States, and the bank opened on August 15, 1863, in a room at 239 High Street in Hamilton, Ohio.

1864The bank moved to the Hamilton House block at the northwest corner of Second and High streets in Hamilton.

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1887The Shuler and Benninghofen block was erected at Third and High streets in Hamilton, and First Financial moved into the corner room of that building.

1923A trust department was established when federal banking laws were amended to permit banks to act as executors, receivers for insolvent business houses, managers of real estate, and negotiators of securities.

1928The bank building was razed and operations were moved temporarily to an office building on North Third Street.

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August 30, 1930: Banking was again available at Third and High in a new eight-story building that is still in use. Records say the building was completed at “a cost not to exceed $550,000.”

In the 1930s, the economy was greatly stressed, but no bank in the city of Hamilton closed its doors.

National Bank Notes

Until 1935, The First National Bank of Hamilton issued its own currency in the form of national bank notes. Still considered legal tender, the remaining bills are prized by collectors and a few are on display at the bank.

1980The bank moved beyond the Hamilton area as it merged with First National Bank of Middletown.

1983A holding company known as First Financial Bancorp was formed. At that time, it was a $2.6 billion company with 15 affiliates operating 106 banking centers in Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan.

New Direction for First Financial

Claude Davis

2004With the arrival of Claude E. Davis as president and chief executive officer in 2004, First Financial began a new era. After studying the company’s culture and history, Claude initiated a new direction for the company.

2005A new strategic plan was introduced, outlining the bank’s mission, vision, and growth strategy.

2006All regions were unified under one name with a new logo, a new client-centered brand, and a new tagline of “another step on the path to success.”   First Financial adopted a consistent approach to products, facilities, and client service.  And, a new Dayton market was established. Total assets at the end of 2006 were $3.3 billion.


2007A prototype design was developed for new banking centers that fully incorporates the First brand and creates a differentiated client experience.  The company’s corporate headquarters was moved to office space just north of downtown Cincinnati.t the end of 2007 were $3.3 billion.

2008A new market was established in Indianapolis, the first prototype banking center opened in Crown Point, Indiana, and a new banking center and office complex opened in Kettering, Ohio.

2009Additional prototype banking centers were opened in Edgewood, Kentucky, St. Marys, Ohio, and Madeira, Ohio.  Growth by acquisition added 30 more banking centers in our core operating markets of Greater Cincinnati and Central Indiana.  Our corporate headquarters was relocated to temporary space in downtown Cincinnati.

2010The bank maintained high capital ratios that ranked among industry leaders.  We announced the plan for a new regional hub location Columbus, Indiana, and opened new prototype banking centers in Shelbyville and Indianapolis, Indiana.  We realigned our business model from a regional approach to strategic business lines -- commercial, retail/small business, and wealth management.

FFB corporate

2011Our new Corporate Administration Center at 225 Pictoria Drive in Springdale ( just off I-275 in northern Cincinnati) provides working space for 400 associates from various disciplines across our footprint.

Our corporate headquarters re-located to 255 E. Fifth Street where the building was renamed First Financial Center.  New prototype banking centers were opened in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, and at our new Corporate Administration Center.  Acquisitions expanded our banking center presence in the Greater Dayton area as well as in Indianapolis and other key areas of Indiana.

2012First Financial opened six new prototype banking centers, including: Anderson, Kenwood, Montgomery and downtown in Greater Cincinnati; Hessville in Northwest Indiana; and Columbus in Southern Indiana. We opened a new associate training and development center at our downtown Hamilton office.  As consumer needs and habits continue to change, First Financial launched an improved online banking and bill payment solution for consumers. The bank also introduced a new mobile banking app and new money management tools including Ping Pay and Panorama. Throughout our footprint, we upgraded 135 ATMs that offer envelope-free deposits, check images and extended deposit time for same-day processing. Recognized as one of the top performing banks in the country for the third year in a row by Bank Director Magazine. Total assets at the end of 2012 were $6.5 billion.