Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The History of Citizens Bank & Trust, Covington

Citizens Bank & Trust Co. celebrated its 70th anniversary on Tuesday, November 15, 2016, with food, refreshments and visits by bank dignitaries. The North New Hampshire branch of the bank in Covington welcomed customers with a variety of special treats, including jambalaya, brownies and iced tea.



The picture above shows some of the bank dignitaries and staff on hand for the special occasion. 



This picture shows two of the appreciative visitors who dropped in on the anniversary celebration event. 

The History of Citizens Bank & Trust As told by Louis Ross Jr.

At the end of World War II, as all the soldiers were returning home, there arose a need to help them return to civilian life. They were going back to their hometowns looking for a place to live, a place to buy their needed appliances and furniture, and a place to bank. Citizens Bank & Trust was formed to help meet their needs, chartered on December 31, 1945.

Prior to that, there had been only one bank in Covington, and all across America, new banks were being chartered to handle the growth in the economy that was expected now that the soldiers were coming back home and setting up new households. The hardships caused by the war made certain things hard to buy, like cars, but the banks saw an opportunity to help people borrow the money needed to buy cars now that they were being made available again after the war. 



Louis Ross Sr. was president of the St. Tammany Homestead Association at the time, and he and several others on the Homestead board of directors decided the time was right to open another bank in Covington. That group included Alfred Alexius, Archie Smith, Thomas Champagne, Theodore Dendinger, Weldon Poole, RIchard Privette, and Hebert Frederick.

The paperwork and applications were filled out with the state banking commission, and a "feasibility study" was done that documented the need for a new bank. It opened in 1946 with $105,000 in capital at a location in the 300 block of New Hampshire Street, next to the St. Tammany Farmer office, across from the Star Theater. The bank opened its doors with 8 employees.

  Renovating that first building owned by Weldon Poole took some time, as did outfitting it with all the modern bank machines, including adding machines and typewriters.  Its name was chosen as "Citizens" to make it sound more people friendly than some of the other bank names that were popular at the time. 



A photograph taken in 1946 at the new bank.


Those were the days in banking when everyone knew the local banker and the local banker knew everyone's signature. "People found that the bankers at Citizens Bank were nice people to deal with, and the bank grew and grew," said Louis Ross Jr. who joined the bank in 1954 after returning from duty with the Air Force.  



After 10 years, the bank started looking for a larger location, and it was decided to re-locate to the current New Hampshire St. site one-half block south of Boston St. The property was purchased from the Werhli family and plans were made for a brand new building. Soon the new building was ready, complete with a drive through in the southeast rear corner of the bank. Citizens Bank & Trust was the first bank in St. Tammany to have a drive-up window and a night time depository, Ross stated. 

That new location was opened just after Nov. 11, 1954, with a dedication after Thanksgiving of that year. The bank continued to grow and in the early 1970's, it purchased the lot next to current location, the one between itself and the Boston Street business known as Heberts Drugs (now Del Porto Restaurant). The old Werhli home was located on the lot, and the bank tried to give it away to help preserve the structure, but there were no takers, so it was removed from the site. 

The existing location was added onto and a parking lot was installed, along with the new two lane drive through window. 

Outside of Covington, the first branch to be built was on Girod Street in Mandeville, which is now the building that is home to the Samaritan Center. A more modern branch was later built at 3100 East Causeway Approach in Mandeville. Branches were also opened in Slidell on Gause Blvd. , in Abita Springs at the corner of Level and Maple Streets, in Barker's Corner on Lee Road, Claiborne Hill and in Folsom on Hwy. 25.  The bank's computer operation center is another facillity located in Covington. The bank's newest branch is on Hwy. 25 just north of Covington, on the west side of the road.



In 1972, Citizens Bank locations included, from left, Covington, Claiborne Hill and Mandeville.

Today the board of directors consists of Laura L. Brandt,  Wanda S. Braswell, Daniel S. Berlin, Edward J. Fielding, III, Louis D. Ross, Jr., Gary T. Schoen, Rodney J. Strain, Jr., and Mark J. Bitterwolf. The bank currently has 41 employees, according to its website, www.cbtbanking.com.


Over the years, a number of banks have come and gone in St. Tammany Parish, but the Citizens Bank & Trust after 70 years still serves the public in the same downtown Covington location. 

In 1974, the St. Tammany Homestead Association celebrated its 50th Anniversary. 


The article below appeared in 1988.




The article below appeared in 1985.