BOSTON, JAN. 7 -- The federal seizure of the Bank of New England seemed to calm jittery depositors today but heightened the sense of gloom in a region that has suffered from a rash of failures, layoffs and falling real estate prices.

Robert L. Clarke, comptroller of the currency, said in Washington that "the condition of panic appears to have subsided" today, following a $1.5 billion run on the Bank of New England late last week and the government's takeover Sunday night.

But a Federal Reserve official, who spoke on background, said he and other officials remained concerned about the region's financial institutions following a hectic week in which a number of Rhode Island banks and credit unions were temporarily forced to close their doors and the region's third-largest banking company came under federal control.

The aftershock of the Bank of New England failure was still being felt in the financial district today, where bankers, venture capitalists, brokers and mutual fund managers work in the midst of the shiny new skyscrapers that had come to symbolize the region's economic revival of the 1980s.

"It only tends to confirm the extremely difficult business climate we've got here in New England," said John Gilmartin, chairman of Millipore Corp., a Boston-area high-technology company, and chairman of the Massachusetts High Technology Council.

"It doesn't necessarily make it worse. But the perceptions and the reality are coming into line -- unfortunately in a way that supports the idea of hard times," Gilmartin said. "Bank of New England's failure might be a trailing indicator of the region's economy, reflecting the fact that the region's condition has been soft for a while. A lot of those problems end up at the back door of a bank."

At the troubled bank's front door, this morning brought a few more customers than usual, but the promise of federal insurance for all deposits apparently had the intended effect: There was no sign of the waves of withdrawals that took place Friday and Saturday following news that the bank would post losses of $450 million in the last three months of 1990, essentially sealing its fate.

In the lobby of the 40-story Bank of New England headquarters on State Street, across from Faneuil Hall, the atmosphere had settled down by late morning, but lingering doubts about the safety of deposits remained.

One gentleman said he had come "to ask a few questions" of bank managers because he was "very concerned" about the news of the bank's failure, particularly on top of last week's emergency closing of credit unions in nearby Rhode Island.

"I will ask about the security of my deposits. Will there be a freeze of my assets?" he said. "I hope it's not going to be a domino thing."

Another customer, who said he runs an employment agency, said he had withdrawn most of his money from the bank months ago but keeps a checking account for convenience. On Saturday, he went to his local branch in suburban Lynnfield and saw his neighbors pulling out.

"Right now, I'm scared. How many banks can the federal government take over?" he asked. "Everything ... {depends} on the war. It's all about oil. ... If we could pull out now and get what we want, everything will start to take care of itself."

Paul Corkery, an author who lives in the blue-collar city of Everett, said he didn't know where to put his money: "It's sad. They're very nice people. They're like people in a receiving line at a wedding where you don't know anyone. They're all smiling at everybody."

A spokesman for the bank, James Dorsey, said that many customers today were either depositing funds they had withdrawn earlier or conducting routine business.

As customers worried about their money, the Bank of New England Corp., the parent holding company of the banks taken over today, filed for liquidation under Chapter 7 of the U.S. bankruptcy code. The company's failure means a near-certain loss for its shareholders. Its stock is worthless, as are all but the banking company's senior bonds, according to Wilbur Ross, the senior managing director at Rothschild Inc. of New York, which is advising the bondholders.

Of the $706 million worth of bonds issued by the bank, some $181 million are "senior," and $525 million are "subordinate." Ross said the bondholders believe that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. left the holding company with less than $40 million in assets, meaning the senior bondholders will likely have to share the remaining assets, settling for 45 cents on the dollar at best. About half of the bondholders are "normal investing institutions who bought these as blue-chip bonds," Ross said, adding that "as recently as 15 months ago, this was an A-rated bond." Among the larger bondholders are Paine Webber Inc., the brokerage house, and New York Life Assurance.

Although the bank holding company will soon cease to exist, the three banks it owned -- the the Boston-based Bank of New England, Connecticut Bank and Trust Corp. of Hartford and Maine National Bank of Portland, Maine -- began operating today as federally controlled "bridge" banks, and there was new activity on their possible sale.

BankAmerica Corp., the giant San Francisco-based institution, acknowledged that it is discussing the possible purchase of deposits and some assets with the FDIC. It said in a press release that any purchase would require considerable FDIC assistance.

Staff writer John M. Berry contributed to this report.