We’ve previously featured the 1890 Bank of Greenwood and the 1913 Wilson Banking Company on Preservation in Mississippi. Finding details about those bank buildings resulted in somewhat of a scavenger hunt through the newspaper archives and virtual driving around Greenwood. In this final post on Greenwood’s early banks and their homes, I will highlight some details, though this is by no means a full and complete picture. For options to locate that information, scroll to the bottom of the post and information about your Greenwood history experts!
According to Donny Whitehead’s banking page, the Bank of Leflore was located in this building. The Bank of Leflore was established in 1902, and was identified as the “third oldest bank” in Greenwood in 1913 (Winona Times, Jan. 31, 1913, p. 1.). Bank of Greenwood was incorporated July 20, 1888 and Delta Bank of Greenwood incorporated July 11, 1889 (Biennial Reports of the Departments and Benevolent Institutions of the State of Mississippi for the Years 1888-’89). In 1904 when the Bank of Greenwood converted to First National Bank of Greenwood, T. R. and A. Henderson, stockholders in Bank of Greenwood, withdrew in order to “launch a 4th bank” for Greenwood, the Bank of Commerce. By 1905, five banks were operating in the city. The building visible on the corner to the right above (301 Howard) has a faintly visible sign painted on the brick that identifies it as the Security State Bank. MDAH describes the building as c. 1918.
In 1913, the Citizens Bank was organized to take over the assets of Bank of Leflore (Winona Times, Na. 31, 1913, p.1) and the “handsome two-story building” was sold in 1914.
The Bank of Commerce building was built 1904 at 208 Market Street–the building next to the white car in the photograph. It is now part of Staplecotn, and all but the facade has been remodeled according to the MDAH Historic Resource Inventory. The Romanesque/Second Renaissance Revival building was a two-story three-bay brick and ashlar structure (Ostby, 1980).
Howard Street was the central location for most of the banks established in Greenwood in the late 1800s-early 1900s.
The First National Bank constructed its new facility in 1919.
The building will be constructed of New Bedford stone, pearl gray in color and will be a two story structure with a three story effect. . . A lobby will be located in the center of the building with offices on each side. On one side two rooms will be provided, one for the transaction of business for lady customers and the other for men patrons. . . Between the first and second story a messanine [sic] floor will be located. (First National Bank to Build, The Daily Commonwealth, May 9, 1919, p. 1)
The new building opened June 4, 1920, six months after the proposed completion date, at a cost of approximately $90,000, with an exterior of “gray mat brick” and interior of “Italian rosetta marble” (The Commonwealth, June 2, 1920, p. 2).
In digging through the newspaper archives, I uncovered a mountain of data about the banks in early Greenwood. One thing about searching the archives database is that one can miss some items that are not picked up on the search. On occasion a follow-up search with different terms might reveal more, and there are always missing pieces. That is the disclaimer that the following is not a complete timeline of banks in Greenwood, but does present an overview.
- 1889: a new store was built on Market street, “just west of the Delta Bank,” a new building on Howard Street “next to Delta Bank,” and Baskett & Aron planned three stores fronting on Howard “opposite Delta Bank.”
- 1890: Bank of Greenwood move into its new quarters in the Baskett & Aron brick building corner of Market & Howard street.
- 1891: Planters Bank of Greenwood was organized, but no additional information located until 1905 when the charter was approved by the Governor and “these new concerns may begin business.”
- 1904: Bank of Greenwood converts to First National Bank of Greenwood.
- 1904: Bank of Commerce is built at 208 W. Market.
- 1912: H. G. Kitchell plans to open new bank on Carrollton Avenue; Greenwood State Bank organized and charter approved.
- 1913: Wilson Banking Company built; Citizens Bank organized to take over Bank of Leflore.
- 1914: J. J. Green, cashier of the Greenwood State Bank was jailed for embezzlement; Kitchell plans to liquidate the bank (Jackson Daily News, July 27, 1914, p. 5).
- 1915: Rumors were reported of purchase of the old Delta Bank building on Howard Street and the single story building next to it, owned by B. Dantone. The bank building sold for $9,500 and the single story building for $10,000 (Jackson Daily News, Nov. 10, 1915, p. 4). J. B. Stirling of Jackson Banks purchased the property of the Delta Bank and “plans to construct a concrete foundation under the wall of building immediately north, indicating intention of present owner to erect a much more pretentious structure than now occupies…” (Hattiesburg American, Dec. 23, 1915, p. 2)
- 1916: Greenwood Bank & Trust opens in old Delta Bank building and plans to construct a 4 or 5 story building on the location.
- 1917: Greenwood Savings Bank is identified in the newspapers.
- 1919: Planters Bank & Trust plans to “erect big bank and office building” and acquired building formerly occupied by Delta Bank and the building adjacent occupied by Kandy Kitchen; those buildings were to be “removed”.
- 1920: New First National Bank building (current Bank of Commerce building) completed.
Fast forward to the Great Depression, which was somewhat covered in the previous two Greenwood bank posts.
- 1933: Assets were transferred from the Greenwood Bank & Trust to the new Bank of Greenwood with Frank McGeoy, Jr. as president (Greenwood Commonwealth, Sept. 28, 1933).
- 1938: New building erected for Bank of Greenwood, where old Delta Bank and former Greenwood Bank & Trust was located; new building to have a “front of massive stone” and S. L. McGinnis was the contractor for the remodeling and additional structure.
For additional information on Greenwood banks, patronize your local Turnrow Bookstore in Greenwood for the Greenwood Postcard History Series (2009) by Donny Whitehead and Mary Carol Miller and Greenwood: Mississippi Memories Vol. I (2013) by Allan Hammons, Mary Carol Miller & Donny Whitehead. Additional volumes of Mississippi Memories are also available at Turnrow. If you are not in Greenwood, find your local bookstore and order it.
Categories: Banks, Greenwood, Historic Preservation
thanks for all of your work; this has been an interesting and informative series.
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I hope some of the Greenwood history folks will fill in some blanks.
Suzassippi, you’re a brave soul to tackle the tangled web of Greenwood bank history! Even Donny Whitehead has to backtrack occasionally to figure out exactly which building or which institution is being referenced. He provided some helpful background on the woman who is memorialized in the Episcopal Church of the Nativity’s large Howard Street stained glass window, Lula Penny McDonald. Donny found out that her husband was the president of (I believe, will have to double check) Delta Bank when he was murdered on the stairs of that building by a relative, sometime in the 1890s. Lula must have died in the next few years, as the window was dedicated in 1902. I just mentioned to Donny that I always wondered about Mrs. McDonald when I sat under that window in church, and he turned up a long-lost murder for me! Every town needs such a dedicated historian.
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Yes, they do! I did find the article on the president of Delta Bank being killed. Apparently, there was a great deal of sympathy for the killer on the part of the general public. That is when George A. Wilson became president of Delta Bank.
This is very interesting. I see two items that we should consider, 100+ years later:
1. Banks came and went quickly in those days, and the depositors were often the victim of scams, embezzlement, and other “issues.” Today, we are lucky to have depositors’ insurance and regulation. Consider the history of bank failures and reorganizations when someone suggests deregulating banks.
2. Some of these beautiful buildings were built quickly, in a matter of months. I doubt we could build a stone-faced building today in 6 months.
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