The History of Carver State Bank

Louis B. Toomer
Founder and First President

Lawrence D. Perry
President, 1961-1971

Robert E. James
President 1971-Present

Carver State Bank was established on February 23, 1927, and was then known as the Georgia Savings and Realty Corporation. The original corporation served as a private bank as well as a real estate investment and management company for its founder, Louis B. Toomer, his friends and many of his contemporaries in Savannah. Carver was first located at 505 West Broad Street and during the early years, the business was moved to the 400 block of West Broad Street in the Braswell Building near what was then Hardee's Drug Store.

Early in 1947, efforts began to convert the Georgia Savings and Realty Corporation to a state bank under the supervision of the Georgia Department of Banking. On April 29, 1947, this was accomplished and the corporate charter was amended, with the name being changed to The Carver Savings Bank.

The Georgia Savings and Realty Corporation and The Carver Savings Bank resulted directly from the industrious efforts of Louis Burke Toomer. In addition to establishing the bank, he established Toomer Realty Company, a real estate investment and management firm that operated until 1995. At one time, Toomer also owned an insurance agency.

Although most of his energy was used to develop and manage his commercial enterprises, Louis B. Toomer also held numerous positions within local and national organizations. Because of his prestige, influence and business acumen, he was appointed Register on the U. S. Treasury under The Eisenhower Administration in 1953.

In the 1950s, the office of The Carver Savings Bank was moved from West Broad to 810 Montgomery Street. In February 1961, the bank was again relocated a short distance from 810 Montgomery Street to 916 Montgomery Street.

Toomer remained President of the bank until his death in May 1961. After his death, Lawrence D. Perry was elected the second President. Perry had served as cashier from the date the bank began operation.

Under Perry’s leadership, Carver became a full-service commercial bank by offering checking accounts, and the bank’s name was changed to The Carver State Bank on February 5, 1962.

Perry retired from active management on December 1, 1971, and was named President Emeritus.

The Board of Directors selected Robert E. James to succeed Perry as president and chief executive officer. James earned a BA degree at Morris Brown College and the MBA at Harvard University Graduate School of Business Administration. He completed numerous professional banking courses, including the Columbia University Commercial Bank Management Program.

After James assumed the presidency, a 7,500 sq. ft., ultra-modern main office building at 701 Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard was completed and occupied in February 1975, and a 3,500 full service branch was opened at 7110 Skidaway Road on December 11, 2007. After almost 35 years of providing banking services from its main office at 701 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. this building was cleared during July 2010 to make way for an exciting new development known as Carver Commons. Because of the participation of the adjoining property owner, St. Philip AME Church, the site was redeveloped to provide space for a full service grocery store on the Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. and Montgomery St. corridor in the Historic District of Savannah. Local civic leaders frequently labeled this neighborhood a “food desert.”

At the time of its completion, the Carver Commons development was the most significant community economic development project in this area of Savannah since Carver State Bank moved to the neighborhood in 1975. The project was completed when the bank moved to its main office in the Carver Commons development during November 2011. It has been the stimulus for several other commercial projects in this previously ignored inner-city community.

Carver has a tremendous heritage within the Savannah-Chatham County area as an innovative financial service leader for 85 years. Carver has been successful because of its loyal customers and the astute judgment, leadership and hard work of its directors, management and other employees.

Carver is a member of the National Bankers Association and Georgia Bankers Association. Carver is the only bank headquartered in Savannah that is certified by the United States Treasury Department as a Community Development Financial Institution. Carver State Bank is currently one of only 28 African- American-owned commercial banks in the United States.

Carver State Bank has remained a financial services leader for all sectors of the Savannah community throughout its 85 years and is the only bank in the area with an OUTSTANDING Community Reinvestment Act Rating.

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