The Peoples Bank was chartered in 1887 by a group of businessmen and investors from St. Louis, Mo.
The Peoples Bank was chartered in 1887 by a group of businessmen and investors from St. Louis, Mo. A 3-story building at the northeast corner of Third and Main was completed in July 1888, at a cost of approximately $30,000, according to Howard Loomis, chairman of the board of directors. The lobby was originally five feet above street level, with exterior steps at the southwest corner.
In the original plan, the bank utilized the south part of the first floor and leased the north part to businesses. The second floor contained offices for rent and the county courtroom. The Masonic Lodge was on the top floor.
The exterior was soft red brick, made a few miles south of Pratt.
A strong windstorm damaged the third floor so severely that it had to be removed five or six years after construction. A turret was left above the entry.
The lobby was lowered to street level in 1917. Much of the debris fell into the basement, forcing a tailor and barber to vacate the shops they leased.
During the 1930s, the turret was removed and the deteriorating red brick was covered with the current buff brick.
Exterior stairways to the second floor were removed in the 1950s and ’60s. All the windows were changed in the 1960s for a uniform appearance.
The entry was remodeled in 2002, converting the one remaining step to an incline and adding automatic doors.
Main floor space leased by three Shrack brothers for the Owl Drug Store, a jewelry store and a clothing store were incorporated into the lobby in the 1950s and those businesses moved to other Main Street locations. Space leased for offices became the consumer loan department.
During the 1970s, the bank expanded into the building to the north, previously the Bales Insurance Agency, and before that, the Pratt Post Office. The trust department was moved to the building east of the bank about 1994.
The second floor is now used primarily for storage. There is little demand for second floor space in Pratt, Loomis said, and exterior access was removed during remodeling projects.
Names & faces
The bank’s third president, Thad Carver, is shown in profile on a bronze plaque on the front of the bank. He was responsible for securing additional investors during a financial panic in 1893, Loomis said, and transferring control of the bank to Pratt County.
Loren Moore, the fifth president, worked most of his life at the Peoples Bank. He grew up in the Fairview community, and as a young man took a job as teller. While he was in the service during World War I, his wife filled the position, so he would have a job to come home to. He became president in 1961.
Howard Loomis was president from 1966 until 2001. He is now chairman of the board and his son Porter is president.
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