The new Connecticut Bank & Trust Co. opened its main office at 58 State House Square in Hartford last week. Branches in Glastonbury and West Hartford are scheduled to open later this month.

A new bank with an old name is hoping to find success in Hartford County by filling an unoccupied niche in the area and, so far, people seem to be getting the message.

Executives at The Connecticut Bank & Trust Co., a commercial, de novo bank, said they were pleased with the $134,000 that was deposited into new accounts during the bank’s soft opening of its Hartford office on March 12.

“I think it was … approximately 25 or 26 accounts,” said CBT Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer Anson Hall. “They were all deposits, of course.”

The largest account opened on that first day was with $50,000 and the smallest was opened with $10, Hall said.

“We’re pumped,” said President and Chief Executive Officer David Lentini before the opening.

The new Connecticut Bank & Trust, which has its main office at 58 State House Square in Hartford, bears the same name as a popular Hartford-based bank that went under in the early 1990s.

Two branches also will open in the next few weeks. The Glastonbury branch is scheduled to open March 22 and the West Hartford branch is scheduled to open March 29, according to Hall.

“I don’t think anything’s going to get in the way of that,” he said.

Organizers of the new bank hope it will appeal to owners of small and medium-sized businesses that haven’t had access to a bank based in Hartford in years.

“We’re going to be the only commercial bank headquartered in Hartford,” Lentini said.

Years ago, Connecticut had 160-plus banks, but now that number is down to around 50. Hartford itself hasn’t had a hometown bank in several years.

“It’s been awhile. Probably five or 10 years,” said Connecticut Banking Association Vice President Lindsay Pinkham.

There are many other banks in Hartford, but none has headquarters there.

“There are no hometown banks based in Hartford,” Pinkham said.

‘Personal Service’

Other than the hometown appeal, the new CBT’s size also could work in its favor.

“[It provides] more local competition,” Pinkham said. “Some people don’t like big banks.”

Many of the commercial banks in Hartford are branches of much larger banks.

“There are really very few smaller banks in this area,” Lentini said.

Lentini also hopes that the new CBT’s promise of individualized service will bring its target audience through the door.

“We’re going to do it with a high degree of personal service,” Lentini said.

Lentini said his goals for the bank are that it will become profitable and expand, and that it will be known for its one-on-one style of customer service.

“The bank is looking to become the bank of choice for small- to medium-sized consumers in the Hartford area,” he noted.

The new CBT’s promise of personal service will be a big part of competing with the larger banks in the area.

“That will be the rub for the big banks,” Pinkham said.

Name recognition also will likely play a role in getting people through the new bank’s doors.

“[The name] is extremely well-recognized,” Lentini.

The bank’s opening is also timely. It comes near the time of Bank of America’s acquisition of FleetBoston Financial Corp., which could be beneficial for the new CBT.

Pinkham said that anytime there is a merger, even if it’s handled well, some customers become disenfranchised and look for another bank.

Lentini hopes customers also will be well served by the bank’s brand new software and well-trained staff. CBT employs about 30 people.

The old Connecticut Bank & Trust was a $7.1 billion bank that folded in January 1991 along with its holding company, the Old New England Bank Corp.

“The [former CBT] in Massachusetts got sick and dragged the others down,” explained John Carusone of the Bank Analysis Center.

Carusone was a senior executive at the old CBT’s holding company.

“The parent corporation and other subsidiary banks encountered large loan losses,” he said. “The regulators sought the capital of all the subsidiary banks … to prop up the others that were sick.”

The Federal Reserve Board took over the banks under the provisions of its Source of Strength Doctrine, he said.

Lentini and the new bank’s director, Peter Shapiro, both worked at the old CBT.

Shapiro bought the bank’s name several years ago when Fleet, which had purchased the bridge bank created when the old Connecticut Bank & Trust failed, decided not to protect the name.

“He thought CBT could come back someday,” Lentini said.

Lentini worked for the old CBT for 21 years and decided to join the new CBT after retiring from his former job at Webster Bank.

The old bank was an admired hometown institution, said Pinkham, who noted that “it’s like a fondness for a certain brand.” When the bank closed, it was a real blow for Hartford, he added.

“It’s like Boston losing Bank of Boston,” Pinkham said.

Aside from the name, the new CBT will have one other thing in common with the old bank.

The bank is using the old CBT’s “Barney” symbol, which was well known and has helped the new institution get a lot of press, Pinkham said.

Barney was the old CBT’s name for its ATMs. The new CBT has resurrected the little man and will use him widely.

“Barney is going to represent a new way of serving people,” Lentini said.

The name Barney was so recognized, many referred to ATMs as Barneys.

“Everybody in the Hartford market linked Barney to ATMs,” Pinkham said.

The bank opened at about 10 a.m. last Friday. Its Hartford location at 58 State House Square is located in the space once used by Northeast Savings Bank.

“It’s kind of an old-time bank,” Lentini said.

The bank space totals about 10,000 square feet and has a large floor and a mezzanine.

CBT’s other branches will be located at Sycamore and Hebron Avenue in Glastonbury and at 68 South Main St. in West Hartford.

The time between the bank’s soft opening and its grand opening will give staff time to get used to the routine and to get any bugs out of the equipment, according to Hall.

Lentini said the grand opening is scheduled for March 31 and Greater Hartford residents will soon start to hear radio advertisements for the bank.