Progressive Era to New Era Peoples Bank

Peoples Bank

Just south of Stafford Courthouse and standing on the opposite side of U. S. Route 1 from Aquia Realty (formerly Hotel Virginia) was a brick building still known to locals as the Peoples Bank. Although it has been many a year since the Peoples Bank conducted business on this site, at the time of its formation, it was the only bank in Stafford. Old habits die hard. From the 1920s until the 1980s or so, many Stafford residents had accounts at Peoples Bank. From here they borrowed money to pay for homes, cars, and other expenses. Peoples Bank was an integral part of a great many Stafford households and isn’t easily forgotten.

The original Peoples Bank building was razed in the 1960s and a new building constructed on the site. The original bank was designed and built by Philip N. Stern who was also responsible for the present Stafford Courthouse, the Princess Anne Inn in Fredericksburg, the old Farmers and Merchants Bank (also in Fredericksburg) and numerous other local buildings.

Peoples eventually succumbed to the frenzy of bank mergers, though for some years, banks by other names continued operating in the building; these included Jefferson and Wachovia. Once it ceased serving as a bank by any name, it was used for other purposes including a business that sold tombstones and as a political headquarters. A number of newspaper notices provide some of the early history of this important bank:

Free Lance, Oct. 29, 1921— “Practically the entire maximum amount of stock in the Stafford Co. bank has been sold and the organizer, Mr. H. B. Sanford, of Irvington, has consulted with a local architect under whose direction work on the building will begin as soon as plans can be completed. The bank will be located at Stafford Court House. The organization is at present in charge of temporary officers, but with the completion of the stock subscription the stockholders will be called in meeting and a permanent organization effected. A large amount of the stock was sold to persons outside the county, though the majority of stock is held by residents of Stafford.”

Free Lance, Dec. 8, 1921— “Mr. Philip N. Stern, architect for the new People’s Bank of Stafford, to be erected at Stafford C. H., has been authorized to award the contract for building same to contractor Walter Snellings, of this city. Work is to be started at once, and it is hoped to have the building completed by the middle of next March. The building committee consisted of Messrs. F. P. Moncure, W. G. Sneed, and R. A. Moncure, of Stafford Court House.”

Richmond Times-Dispatch, Feb. 5, 1922—Peoples Bank of Stafford “will be completed within the next two weeks and will be open by March 1 for business. It will be a modern brick building. This will be the only bank in that county.”

Richmond Times-Dispatch, Apr. 5, 1922—Peoples Bank of Stafford opens for business. “The bank building is constructed of brick and is a modern and handsome banking structure. The officers are: Nelson N. Berry, president; H. W. B. Williams, first vice-president; D. B. Warren, cashier. Directors: N. N. Berry, R. E. Mountjoy, Frank P. Moncure, John R. Henderson, George Mason, James Ashby, H. W. B. Williams, Ashton C. Carter, and Robert A. Moncure.

The top image shows the first (1922) People Bank as designed by PNS – The bottom image shows the Peoples Bank branch in Fredericksburg. This is how the Stafford bank appeared from the 1960s until it was taken down in 2021. There’s another one of the same 1960s design still standing at Chatham Heights (across from the entrance to Chatham).


a check from the Stafford branch of Peoples Bank