In 1896, Biloxi was rapidly becoming a modern city as a result of a highly successful and world-renowned seafood industry. The timber and tourism industries were also booming, and business was so successful in the city, that The Peoples Bank was created to address the need for increased banking facilities. In that year, Mississippi Governor A.J. McLaurin officially declared Biloxi a city, its population having soared to 5,000.
The first Peoples Bank building was erected on the northwest corner of Howard and Lameuse Streets. The bank opened for business on April 15,1896, and remained there until moving to its present quarters diagonally opposite the original location, in 1925.
The current site is the former Harrison County Bank, which The Peoples Bank took over in a 1914 merger. The present bank lobby retains the 1914 marble fixtures and grillwork, along with several matched additions (completed in 1924,1952,1957, and 1975).
The Swetman family of Biloxi has been associated with the bank since its inception in 1896. J.W. Swetman was one of the founders. His brother, Orcenith George Swetman joined the bank as assistant cashier in 1903; he became the president and chief executive officer in 1951, and served in that capacity until his death in 1963. Glenn L. Swetman, son of O.G. Swetman, was elected president that year and served as president and chairman of the board until succeeded by his son, Chevis C. Swetman, in December 1983.
The Peoples Bank is proud of its growth. For over 110 years, the institution has taken a genuine interest in the community. Guided by the Swetman family, the bank has been the driving force behind the preservation and restoration of several local structures of historical significance, including the Old Magnolia Hotel, built in 1845; the renovation and restoration of one of the five oldest libraries in Mississippi; the restoration of the Saenger Theater of the Performing Arts; and the listing of The Peoples Bank's present building on the National Register of Historic Places.
To ensure continued preservation efforts, the bank established the The Peoples Heritage Foundation, Inc. in 1981. Some of the projects to its credit are the establishment of a Mardi Gras Museum, the formation of a Seafood Industry Museum, and the preservation of several additional historical sites.
On May 26, 1999, in conjunction with Biloxi's Tricentennial Celebration, The Peoples Bank restored the historic entrance to the original bank building and dedicated a street clock outside the original bank in memory of Glenn L. Swetman.
The arched corner entryway of the original bank building was a prominent Biloxi landmark from 1897. It was restored using the original components, which had been stored in a shrubbery in the parking lot of the new bank building.
By all accounts, The Peoples Bank, Biloxi, Mississippi and the Mississippi Gulf Coast are true partners in progress.