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At the request of Andrew Jackson Downing, the renowned Capital landscape architect, John Saul, a distinguished horticulturist from County Cork, Ireland, left for Washington in May of 1851 to take over the planning and development of the Mall and other public areas in the emerging capital city. In 1854, John Saul became the first Chairman of Washington’s Parks commission, the forerunner of the Park and Planning Commission for the city.
For many years, John Saul maintained two botanical nurseries in Washington, D.C. By 1892, a young growing Washington, D.C., a small Southern community of less than 30,000 people, had reached the borders of these nurseries, and John Saul’s son, B. Francis Saul founded a real estate business to facilitate their sale. Disposition of the land on a retail lot basis would bring higher prices than could otherwise be realized. To expedite the sales of lots, B. F. Saul took back notes from the buyers. His success in reselling these notes to the public was the beginning and indeed, the foundation for the growth of his firm as a mortgage bank and insurance brokerage. This practice continued, with the buying of land for the company and its clients and the subsequent sale to builders for development. B. F. Saul Company financed each stage of the transaction, in the process that was to be repeated many times over.
B. Francis Saul also formed an insurance brokerage in 1892 to provide fire insurance to property owners in Washington, D.C. A copy of one of our early polices is to the right. Today B. F. Saul Insurance represents clients throughout the United States and abroad.
After the B. F. Saul Company became well established in the community, B. Francis Saul, at the age of 27, founded the Home Savings Bank, which rapidly became the leading retail bank in the City. In 1919, he merged it with the American Security and Trust Company. In 1969 B. F. Saul II founded Chevy Chase Bank. Today Chevy Chase Bank, with over $14 billion in assets, is the largest financial institution founded, owned and headquartered in the Baltimore/Washington area.
In the early 1990’s the Saul Company started Saul Centers, a real estate investment trust or REIT, listed on the New York Stock Exchange, which invests primarily in shopping centers and commercial buildings. It is considered one of the most successful REIT’s of its kind in the country.
In 2004, B. F. Saul Insurance completed the acquisition of Capital Professional Insurance Managers, Inc (CPIM). CPIM specializes in Errors & Omissions (E&O) liability insurance, serving as manager/underwriter for a number of professional liability programs including real estate agents and brokers, lawyers, title agents and abstracters, and more.
In addition to the insurance, banking and REIT operations, the B. F. Saul Company maintains an extensive real estate portfolio consisting of hotels, apartment and office buildings as well as office parks.
The B. F. Saul Company continues today, using the same fundamental values of its founder, concentrating on conservative business practices, the highest ethical standards and forward looking management.