The first ever OCBC Bank branch opened in Penang was in April 1920 at 24, Beach Street. It was then known as Oversea-Chinese Bank Ltd. Oversea-Chinese Bank was incorporated in Singapore in 1919 and the first Penang branch was opened a year later.
The OCBC Bank (in full Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation) that exists today is the result of a merger of 3 banks in 1932 namely Chinese Commercial Bank, Ho Hong Bank and Oversea-Chinese Bank.
The newly merged entity was also headquartered in Singapore. In Jan 1933 it started trading and by 1934 the Penang branch was reopened from what was known as Oversea-Chinese Bank which was first opened in 1920 in Penang.
Originally in 1920 when the first Penang branch of Oversea-Chinese Bank, its predecessor, was opened it was located at 24 Beach Street. A year later it moved to the present site at 28-30 Beach Street. In 1938 the original 1880s façade was replaced with this elegant Art Deco styled façade. It was designed by Charles Geoffrey Boutcher. The dull grey finish to its façade is known as ‘Shanghai plaster’. Take note of the stepped parapet, prominent vertical columns, concrete flagpole, tall and slim windows, and interlocking discs running from the top of the second floor to the bottom of the first floor as well as the grooves flowing across the building at the bottom of the first floor. They are typical features of an Art Deco architectural style. Interestingly the original logo of OCBC Bank can still be seen in the central panel as shown in the photo below.
This building now houses Premier Banking section of OCBC Bank catering to the special affluent customers.
Langdon, M. (2010). George Town’s historic commercial and civic precincts. Retrieved June 27, 2015 from http://gtwhi.com.my/images/pdfs/HCCP.pdf