Carver State Bank, the oldest locally owned bank in Savannah, was chartered on February 23, 1927. Throughout its history there have been only three bank presidents: Louis B. Toomer II, for 34 years, from 1927 until 1961; Lawrence D. Perry for 10 years, from 1961 to 1971 and currently Robert E. James who was named president in 1971.
Louis B. Toomer II
Born in 1893, Louis B. Toomer II was the son of Louis B. Toomer, a superintendent of mails at the Savannah Post Office, one of the founders of the Savannah Tribune and one of the organizers of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Georgia and the Republican Party of Georgia.
From these beginnings on West Bryan Street in Yamacraw, Louis B. Toomer II would make his way into the business of banking.
Toomer established the Georgia Savings and Realty Corporation. It served as a private bank, real estate investment and management company for its founder and many of his business contemporaries of the day. In 1947, the name was changed to The Carver Savings Bank and by 1962, Carver became a full-service commercial bank offering checking accounts and the bank’s name was changed to The Carver State Bank.
The Georgia Savings and Realty Corporation was first located, in Savannah’s black business district, at 505 West Broad Street (today Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard), and then it was moved to the 400 block of West Broad Street in the Braswell Building. In the 1950s, the office of the Carver Savings Bank was moved from West Broad to 810 Montgomery Street.
Then in February, 1961 it was moved a short distance to 916 Montgomery Street.
Toomer was also a prominent civic and political leader. He was appointed Registrar of the Treasury by President Dwight D. Eisenhower and served from 1953 to 1956. In addition to establishing the bank, Toomer established Toomer Realty Company, a real estate investment and management firm. He also owned an insurance agency. Toomer
remained president of the bank until his death in 1961.
Real Estate Business
Toomer’s widow, the late Janie R. Toomer, served as a director of Carver State Bank and its Board secretary. Like her husband, she was a trailblazer becoming the first black woman licensed real estate broker in the city and later being the owner of Janie R. Toomer Real Estate, a company she formed in 1978.
Perry was elected the bank’s second president after Toomer’s death. He had served as cashier from the date the bank began operation.
It was under his leadership the bank became a full-service commercial bank and the name was changed to The Carver State Bank on February 5, 1962. Perry retired from active management in December 1971 and was named President Emeritus. Robert E. James The Board of directors selected Robert E. James to succeed Perry as president and Chief Executive Officer. James earned a BA at Morris Brown College and an MBA at Harvard University Graduate School of Business Administration.
With James at the helm, a 7,500 square foot, ultra modern main office building was built, in 1975, at 701 West Broad Street (today Martin Luther King Boulevard.) Then in 2007, a 3,500 square foot, full service branch was opened at 7110 Skidaway Road.
After almost 35 years at 701 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, the building was taken down in 2010 for the development known as Carver Commons. When the project was completed the bank moved into its new offices in 2011.
Carver is a member of the National Bankers Association and the Georgia Bankers Association. It is the only bank headquartered in Savannah that is certified by the U.S. Treasury Department as a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI).