FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 16, 2012
"The leaders, business owners, and people of Long Beach have made incredible strides in restoring Long Beach's downtown area. Their hard work is creating one of the Coast's most attractive main streets and demonstrates the resilience that unites our region," said Carl J. Chaney, Hancock's president and CEO. "Hancock Bank opened in Long Beach 85 years ago. We are very much honored to be part of Long Beach's future with this tribute to the city's progress."
Long Beach Mayor William "Billy" Skellie, Jr., said the Hancock Bank branch remodeling marks one more milestone in the regrowth of a downtown Long Beach business district bordering a brand new town green.
"The new Hancock Bank building at the end of Jeff Davis Avenue is a crowning jewel for our downtown redevelopment and all of the work that has gone into that effort. Hancock Bank's investment in this initiative and the extent to which the bank remodeled the branch fit perfectly with what we are trying to accomplish as we continue building our strong, vibrant community."
The $850,000-plus branch renovation included gutting the building to its original mid-1950s structure, completely redoing the interior, and adding approximately 511 square feet to the facility's existing 3,784-square-foot area. Hancock refurbished the entire drive-through structure, incorporating new transaction systems as well as new lighting and a drive-up night depository to enhance customer safety. Essentially rebuilt, the branch reflects a more contemporary look. However, Hancock made concerted efforts to preserve elements of the old branch and ensure eco-friendly landscaping.
"We modernized appearance and maximized space. But, we also integrated marble from the old teller line into the new teller and check-writing counters. We preserved the old vault door as a symbol of Hancock's strength and stability. We replaced paving for 'curb appeal' and more green space around a live oak that's a focal point on the property so the tree can thrive," said Rhonda Schultz, branch manager.
Eley Guild Hardy Architects was the architect for the project; J.W. Puckett & Company, Inc., the general contractor.
Founded in 1899, Hancock Bank (known then as "Hancock County Bank") opened its fifth branch in the bustling coastal agricultural community of Long Beach in 1927. Long Beach had earned turn-of-the-twentieth-century recognition as the "Radish Capital of the World" for its bean and radish exports to northern locales. At that time, tavern-goers in the Northeast enjoyed Long Beach "Long Red" radishes with their spirits much like today's bar patrons snack on pretzels and peanuts. The town's booming radish trade waned as farmers sold their fields amid "Roaring Twenties" real estate fever and, ultimately, ended as America plummeted into an economic abyss after the Crash of 1929.
The original Long Beach Hancock Bank occupied a historic building on Jeff Davis Avenue that today houses an upscale coffee bistro and salon. Hancock Bank served Long Beach from that site through the early days of the Great Depression. As the economy worsened, all of the banks in neighboring Gulfport failed, leaving that city without a bank. Gulfport leaders implored Hancock Bank to open a branch in Gulfport so that its citizens—many of whom were already customers of the Long Beach branch—would have a reliable bank within the city limits. In 1933 the Long Beach branch consolidated with a newly opened downtown Gulfport Hancock Bank office. However, in 1955, the Long Beach branch reopened at its current home on the north end of Jeff Davis Avenue and became the first bank to offer drive-up teller service to Mississippi Coast customers.
Hancock Bank opened a second Long Beach branch on Pineville Road in 1983. That branch moved to a new building at Pineville and Beatline roads in 2003.
Today, Hancock Holding Company (Nasdaq: HBHC) is the parent company of Hancock Bank and Whitney Bank and has assets of nearly $20 billion. The company operates 258 branches and more than 350 ATMs across a Gulf South corridor spanning metropolitan Houston, Texas, southern Louisiana, South Mississippi, southern Alabama, and the Panhandle, northern, and central regions of Florida. More information and e-Banking are available at www.hancockbank.com.
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R. Paul Maxwell, VP & Corporate Communications Director
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