In 1873, Horizon Bank was founded in Michigan City, Indiana — a small settlement on a sand hill at the southeastern tip of Lake Michigan. The city's early leaders were able to turn sand into prosperity by selling it to glass manufacturers, starting Michigan City on the road to economic growth and development. Throughout the last six generations, Horizon Bank has grown and evolved along with the city, providing comprehensive financial services and community activism.
The Bank received its original charter in April of 1873 as "First National Bank." By the turn of the century, the Bank had brought the "gold standard" to customer service in banking by opening the first-ever "drive-up window" to protect the payroll of gold coins that local railroad industrialist John H. Barker used to pay his employees.
The Bank's assets were well secured behind a soundproof, 12-ton vault door long before the notorious bank robber John Dillinger became a threat to financial institutions across Northwest Indiana. When Dillinger became the nation's Public Enemy No. 1, the Bank also mounted a World War I rifle to a rail in the Director's office above the bank lobby, and added teller lines for additional protection.
During the Great Depression of the 1930s, 10,000 of the nation's 25,000 banks failed, including two of Michigan City's five financial institutions — but the Bank remained solvent and continued to prosper.
In 1962, the Bank merged with another local financial institution, Merchants National Bank (founded in 1909), to become First-Merchants National Bank. In 1986, the Bank merged with Citizen's Bank (founded in 1888) to become First Citizens Bank. The Bank was renamed Horizon Bank in 1997.
A banking innovator and community leader, Horizon has instituted many "firsts" in the industry during its 140+ year history, including:
Indiana's first automobile drive-up and customer walk-up service windows in 1955
The first Automated Teller Machine in Indiana in 1974