Preparing to build their forever home, Baton Rouge-based OBGYN Dr. Pamela Lewis Williams and her husband, Anthony Williams, were weighing options on which bank to use for a construction loan. The financial institution they’d worked with previously had merged with another bank, and that gave the Williamses pause.
“I didn’t feel good about the terms I was hearing,” she said. “So, I started asking around about other banks.”
Then, a bit of serendipity entered the picture.
First, Dr. Lewis’s mother reminded her that she could always “come back home,” by turning to Bank of St. Francisville. Lewis had grown up in West Feliciana parish and graduated from West Feliciana High School (where she happened to be valedictorian) before heading to the University of Louisiana Monroe followed by medical school at the LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans.
Second, a friend, who was also building a house at the time, spoke highly of the bank she was using. That institution was Bank of St. Francisville.
“She asked me if I wanted the contact information,” Lewis said. “And I said, ‘I don’t need it.’”
That’s because one of the bank’s longest employees was family friend and recently retired Vice President of Consumer Lending, Janis Crutchfield, whose career at the bank spanned nearly 40 years.
“Miss Janis’s daughter and I graduated two years apart,” Lewis said. “We cheered and played basketball together.”
The Williamses began working with Bank of St. Francisville Senior Vice President of Finance and Risk, Aimee Cook, who, in another small-world swirl, happened to be a patient of Dr. Lewis.
Cook suggested the “One-Time Close” loan product that Bank of St. Francisville had developed. The One-Time Close loan gives borrowers access to an 18-month fixed rate construction loan, which then converts into a conventional mortgage for an additional five-and-a-half years at the same interest rate. This option would give the Williamses time to complete the project, an expansive five-bedroom house with a large kitchen, plenty of living and patio space and a three-car garage. Best of all, the One-Time Close loan option delivered the peace of mind of a fixed interest rate.
“It’s a good product in a rising rate environment like we’ve seen lately,” Cook said.
Lewis says it was clear from the very beginning that the Williamses were going to receive seamless, personal service from Bank of St. Francisville.
“Aimee said, ‘okay, tell me what you need and what you’re trying to do with this project. And she really listened,” Lewis said. “I had one contact person the whole time.”
Along the way, the family was filled with anticipation about their new home. However, the project wasn’t without frustration due to unforeseen construction delays and unexpected contractor challenges.
“The one thing I never questioned was my bank,” Lewis said. “I knew they had my back.”
Today, the couple and their children, ages six and eight, are enjoying their new home’s design, which was created by noted designer Arianne Bellizaire. It features a welcoming, large kitchen with twin islands - one for dining and one for homework and cooking, thirteen-foot ceilings with exposed beams, a large patio to enjoy with family and friends, and a sizeable laundry room to meet the needs of a busy family.
Lewis says working with Bank of St. Francisville to make their forever home happen was a game changer.
“They genuinely wanted to see me in this house,” she said.“Every other bank we spoke to led with ‘how are you going to pay the loan,’ but Bank of St. Francisville was all about ‘how can we help you with the process?’”