Saving Dollars Makes Sense


John Gutcher

Bank of America Building
126 E. Olympia Ave. (Nesbit St. Walls)

Six Panels 10′ x 10′ each

Mural Creation Sponsors
The Don Witter Jr. Family

This six panel mural shows the history of banking in downtown Punta Gorda. The first panel shows the Punta Gorda Bank which opened in 1894 at the corner of W. Marion and Taylor Street. Ziba King was president and John Farrington was the cashier. Farrington and his family lived above the bank. The bank moved to a new location in 1897 at W. Marion and Cross Street (Panel 2). In 1912 a rival bank, The Merchants Bank of Punta Gorda (Panel 3), opened on W. Marion between King and Taylor streets. In 1914, the bank was granted a Federal charter and renamed “The First National Bank of Punta Gorda”. It collapsed in 1929 during the Great Depression.

The old Punta Gorda State Bank was reorganized in 1917 (Panel 4). In 1927, the bank moved into new quarters at the corner of W. Marion and Cross Street after Barron G. Collier bought a controlling interest in the bank in 1925. Legend has it that during the bank run of 1929 the bank was saved when Collier arrived with a suitcase full of cash and restored depositors’ confidence. It survived for a while but later closed. It eventually was the only bank to reopen.

In 1925, the Charlotte Bay Hotel was built at W. Marion Avenue and Taylor Street. That prime corner was occupied by the “Fidelity Trust Company” (Panel 5). Fidelity Trust was a subsidiary of the “First National Bank of Punta Gorda.” Fidelity Trust also collapsed in the 1929 depression.

Punta Gorda Federal Savings & Loan (Panel 6) was organized in 1934 and occupied the westerly part of the Punta Gorda State Bank at W. Marion Ave. and King St. In 1934 the S&L moved to 314 King Street (Tamiami Trail). Sponsor Don Witter was president for 41 years.

The mural was dedicated on October 8, 1997.