Bank of Waynesboro News
A landmark downtown Lawrenceburg bank building that had served the community for over 60 years has been revived by the Bank of Waynesboro.
Marking the bank’s second branch office in Lawrenceburg since construction of the Community Bank of Lawrence County in 2003, the building across N. Military Ave from the Post Office comes alive again.
It was in 1957 when Commerce Union Bank built a new facility to move from its former location on the Lawrenceburg Square. “Built like a fort” according to some, the new bank had a basement that became popular as a civic meeting place and was even advertised as a fallout shelter with a prominent sign on the front door.
But the legacy of the bank building and its subsequent occupants goes back decades beyond. From its founding in 1889 to 1923, the bank was the Lawrence Bank & Trust, originally located on the south side of the Square between the Lawrenceburg Hotel and Vaughan Music Publishing Company.
Ten businessmen had created the bank with investments of $250 each. The original board of directors was a diverse group. Their most common characteristic was former service in the Confederate Army.
In 1905, a new Lawrence Bank & Trust was built at the corner of Pulaski St. and the Square. While many banks failed during the financial panics of 1893 and 1907, the Bank & Trust survived and prospered.
Ed Potter of Nashville purchased the bank along with three others in Middle Tennessee and changed its name to Commerce Union Bank in 1923. The bank’s business continued to center upon the planting and harvesting of cotton.
In 1957, the current building on N. Military was constructed with a unique feature as yet unseen in the local banking community- a drive-up window. Its first occupant was Frances Boyd who served the bank as a teller for 41 years before her retirement in 1992.
“Many will remember that the first drive-up window was at the front of the bank, right off North Military,” recalls Frances. “We were right next to North (now Neal) Funeral Home and things could get really congested when a funeral procession lined up next door.”
As time went by and traffic lines for the drive-up stretched into the busy street, new drive-up windows were opened in the rear. In the early 1980’s, Commerce Union added 3,000 sq. ft. of new office space in the front.
In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, rapid changes came to Commerce Union. But while changes took place the bank was serving the community by selling the old Crockett Theater to the City (1986) to begin the process of its wonderful restoration. The bank followed up by inviting the Nashville Symphony to perform there and also sponsored the community’s first Health Fair.
In 1987, Sovran Corp., a $20 billion holding company, purchased all Commerce Union Banks. In addition to remodeling the bank, under Sovran the Lawrenceburg branch became the largest in assets in Lawrence County in 1988.
In 1990, Sovran merged with C&S Bank of South Carolina to create a banking chain with over $50 billion in assets. Less than two years later, C&S/Sovran merged with North Carolina National Bank to become NationsBank.
Soon thereafter, an even larger giant came along and the Bank of America acquired NationsBank. The local office operated under that name until First Tennessee Bank in 2014 purchased some of Bank of America’s locations including Lawrenceburg. First Tennessee soon consolidated into its location at N. Locust Ave. and Weakley Creek Rd. and the old Commerce Union Bank was suddenly empty after decades of activity.
Local realtor Ann Morrow was listing agent for First Tennessee’s recent sale of the building to the Bank of Waynesboro. One fond memory she has the early morning meetings over coffee that her late father Floyd Brewer and other car dealers would have back in the 60’s and 70’s in the bank‘s basement. Ann asked for and was granted the honor of opening the first account at the new branch.
Many remember Commerce Union’s long-time janitor, Cecil Waer, who helped employees move furniture to the new location in 1957. The cash was moved in a heavily guarded truck owned by former Lawrence County Trustee Rolla Whitten.
Cecil Waer would arrive at work early before any of the employees and for years would cook breakfast in the basement kitchen for former president Mack Riddle.
Other presidents of the former banks include Lawrence Cotter, Tom Hudson and Tim Pettus. Way back in the 1920’s, Commerce Union’s president was N.C. Jeter, grandfather of famous Lawrenceburg actor Michael Jeter.
Bank of Waynesboro president Bill Bryant leads the way now and is justifiably proud of his bank’s acquisition of this notable location in downtown Lawrenceburg. The main lobby of the bank has undergone an upgrade with a new elevator and a classy glass-walled meeting room.
“We are delighted to add this branch office in historic downtown Lawrenceburg,” says Bryant. “This building is not only great from a nostalgic point of view but it fits perfectly into our philosophy of offering our customers friendly, personal service in a convenient location. We invite everyone to come in and enjoy our new look.”
The Bank of Waynesboro was chartered in 1904 and now provides full, community oriented banking services in five locations: Waynesboro, Collinwood, Barlow, and now, two locations in Lawrenceburg.
Consistently ranking among the top 25 best performing banks in the state, The Bank of Waynesboro last year earned $2.3 million, representing an 11.75% return on stockholder equity.
Bank of Waynesboro’s New Branch Has Rich History
Photo of North Military branch in 1957 showing 1st drive-thru window.
Community Bank of Lawrence County is pleased to announce the opening of a second, full-service branch in Lawrenceburg. With the continued success and growth of our North Locust branch, the Bank has been in need of additional space to provide the kind of personal service and convenience our customers have come to expect and deserve.
When the old Commerce Union Bank building on North Military Avenue became available in early 2017, the decision to expand became easy. The close proximity to downtown and the building’s historical connection to banking made it a perfect fit. The building has operated as a local banking center since the late fifties. The basement has served, not only as a bomb shelter during the cold war, but a meeting and gathering place throughout the years for the community in general and numerous civic and local organizations. “I’d be terribly surprised if most Lawrence County folks over 50 do not have a personal connection to this building and location,” stated Bill Bryant, President/CEO. “They were either bank customers or an attendee to some of the many, many community events and meetings held here. I know it is that way for me. I banked here years ago and when I walk in now it seems like I’m being greeted by an old friend,” Bryant continued.
The purchase of the location was finalized in July 2017. Evers Construction Company was selected to perform the renovations which started in September 2017 and were recently completed.
Bryant also said, “I am proud to announce that Lisa Moore will be Branch Manager at the new location. For Lisa, it is a homecoming. She started her banking career at this very location 32 years ago! We are thrilled to have her and the other new staff members joining her here.” Assisting Mrs. Moore in operating the branch is Rhonda Brown, Assistant Branch Manager, Kayla Self, New Accounts/Loan Processor, and Meleah Green, Head Teller. Shalee Mattox, Savannah Patterson and Lisa Shelton are the tellers for the new branch.
The new branch is located at 225 North Military Avenue, Lawrenceburg and officially opens Tuesday, January 16, 2018. Branch hours of operation for both the lobby and drive-thru will be Monday-Thursday 8:00am-4:00pm, and Friday 8:00am-5:00pm. There is also an ATM located in the fourth Drive-Thru lane.
Community Bank of Lawrence County is a branch of The Bank of Waynesboro, which was founded in 1904, continually serving the great citizens in Wayne and Lawrence County, Tennessee since then. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender
Staff of the North Military branch of Community Bank of Lawrence County.
Left to right: Lisa Shelton, Teller; Rhonda Brown, Assistant Branch Manager; Shalee Mattox, Teller; Lisa Moore, Branch Manager; Savannah Patterson, Teller; Meleah Green, Head Teller; Kayla Self, New Accounts/ Loan Processor.
5-Star The Bank of Waynesboro: Once Again a Top Performer
April 2017: The Bank of Waynesboro, Waynesboro, Tennessee proudly announces it is once again a top performer, earning a coveted 5-Star rating from BauerFinancial, the Nation’s Premier Bank Rating Firm. (A five-star rating indicates that this bank excels in areas of capital adequacy, profitability, asset quality and much more.) The Bank of Waynesboro has earned this top honor for five consecutive quarters.
“The Bank of Waynesboro is a prime example of a community bank excelling at what a community bank was meant to do,” explains Karen L. Dorway, president of BauerFinancial. “It employs locally, thereby having the same personal investment in the community as its customers; it makes decisions locally, often for neighbors and friends; and it focuses on quality as opposed to quantity. That focus has paid off for both The Bank of Waynesboro and for its community.”
The Bank of Waynesboro was established in 1904 and has been providing quality banking services to its neighbors and friends ever since. Today, after 113 years, it operates through four conveniently located offices in Collinwood, Lawrenceburg and Waynesboro and can also be found on the web at thebankofwaynesboro.com.
The Bank of Waynesboro: “Your 5-Star Community Bank”
Member of the FDIC and an Equal Housing Lender.
BauerFinancial, Inc., Coral Gables, Florida, the nation’s leading independent bank and bank rating and research firm, has been reporting on and analyzing the performance of U.S. banks and banks since 1983. No institution can pay for or opt out of a BauerFinancial rating. Star-ratings are all available for free at bauerfinancial.com.
BauerFinancial, Inc. P.O. Box 143520, Coral Gables, FL 33114.