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History of Peoples Bank of Kankakee County

Peoples Bank was founded as People’s Bank Marycrest with its first location opening in the Marycrest neighborhood on East Court Street in May, 1962. The bank was founded by Ford auto dealer, real estate developer, and philanthropist Romy Hammes. Romy established the bank after recognizing a need for greater local decision making, particularly when it came to loan decisions.

The bank was to operate in the spirit of our nation’s uniquely American system of community banking; a system in which local deposits are aggregated and used to lend to local businesses and families, helping to improve the local economy and the lives of its citizens. Today, little has changed from its original mission, and Peoples Bank remains deeply rooted in Kankakee County.

While in its 60+ years, the bank has stood strong during the many ups and downs of our economy, including 7 recessions. The most difficult day for the bank, its employees, and customers came Thanksgiving Friday 1972 when a devastating fire occurred at its only location on East Court Street. The headline in the Kankakee Sunday Journal read “Worst Kankakee Blaze in Decades” and it took 135 firemen and nearly one million gallons of water to finally extinguish the blaze. However, after heroic efforts of both first responders and bank employees, the bank was open for business the following Monday morning. 

Truly a family business, Romy’s son, Jerry Hammes has served as the bank’s Chairman since 1980. Jerry’s son, Jeff, has served as the bank’s president/CEO since 2000. 

Today Peoples Bank of Kankakee County operates in Bourbonnais, Kankakee and Manteno.  It remains committed to the area, providing a safe place for hard earned money and investments in local homes and businesses in the place we all call home, Kankakee County.


Did you know?

  • The bank was identified as “Merchants and Manufacturers State Bank” on the original documents for the charter filing. Romy Hammes changed the name in the final stages of its formation to “Peoples Bank” to be more relatable and down-to-earth. “It’s why we’re in business, for PEOPLE”, he said.

  • There is no apostrophe in Peoples Bank. Why? When the bank updated its corporate logo in 1991, the apostrophe was excluded in deference to a more streamlined logo and to make room for its change to include “of Kankakee County”. 

  • Prior to “the fire” on November 24th 1972, the bank proudly advertised that it didn’t need computers because, in the words of the bank’s chairman Romy Hammes, “customers want to deal with people, not computers”. However, a decision was made the very next day (with the enthusiastic support of its Chairman) to embrace technology and bring its customer ledgers online. Since then, Peoples Bank has always embraced technology... including becoming the first bank in the community to offer internet banking. 

  • Romy’s philanthropy is a trait that has been handed down through the generations. Today the bank donates over 5% of its profits back into the county in support of sponsorships, scholarships, and charitable giving. 

  • The bank celebrated its fiftieth anniversary in 2012 by planting 50 trees throughout the community. The growing trees can be found on school campuses, parks, churches, and hospitals throughout Kankakee County. Peoples Bank celebrated 60 years in the community by sponsoring the city of Kankakee’s entire 4th of July fireworks show.  It was a significant milestone the bank wanted to share with the community.   

  • While Romy only attended school through the 4th grade, he championed the importance of achieving a college education as a means for personal growth and advancement. In 1955, he donated a building to the University of Notre Dame to house its bookstore. He famously said, “Most buildings cost universities, I wanted to give to the University a building that would make money for the school.” Today, while moved from its original location, the bookstore still carries the appellation “Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore” and an off-campus satellite bookstore on the edge of campus carries the same name. While Notre Dame was the first to carry the name “Hammes,” many others were to follow when Jerry Hammes followed his father’s example. This is why you will see Hammes Bookstores located on the campuses of Olivet Nazarene University (Bourbonnais, IL), Kankakee Community College (Kankakee, IL), Bishop Gorman High School (Las Vegas, NV), Bishop McNamara High School (Kankakee, IL), Holy Cross Junior College (Notre Dame, IN), and Marmion Military Academy (Aurora, IL).