From a photograph by Solomon D. Butcher of four daughters of rancher Joseph M. Chrisman, at their sod house in Custer County, Nebraska. From left to right, Harriet, Elizabeth, Lucie, and Ruth. Photographed in 1886.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Old Bank Renovation in Hopkinsville, KY

First City Bank and Trust building at 9th and Main


Old bank building, Hopkinsville, KY

The First City Bank and Trust building sits on the southwest corner of 9th and Main streets in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. The building has been vacant since 1975, but it's now being renovated.

Five apartments will occupy the second floor, and the first floor will be a professional office suite -- probably a law office. Nowadays, law and justice are two of the main enterprises in Hopkinsville's historic downtown.

Project infoThe City of Hopkinsville bought the building, about 5-1/2 years ago, for $65,000. Soon after the purchase, grants were obtained to replace the roof.

City leaders hoped for enough grants to renovate the building's interior, but adequate funds were not offered. In October, 2007, the Hopkinsville city council approved a $1.3 million loan from the Kentucky League of Cities to complete the renovation. A sign on the building states that a TEA-21 grant has also contributed.

Asbestos and lead paint removal, as well as structural repairs to the building, have made this an expensive and controversial project. When the building was purchased, local real estate appraiser, Mary Lee Norfleet, thought it was a foolish move:

"That $65,000 that shouldn't have been spent in the first place pales in comparison with what this will cost eventually," she claimed.

Source: "Old bank project has promise -- and pitfalls," by E. L. Gold, published in Kentucky New Era, July 20, 2002. (Subscription required.)


Staircase in old bank buildingMs. Norfleet claimed that she'd seen estimates of $1.3 million for the building's renovation. As it happens, the recent loan was for that exact amount. When the loan for the renovation was announced, the mayor's office stated that rental income will cover the repayment of the loan.

I had imagined that this building might be from the 1920s, but the Kentucky New Era says it was constructed in the late 1800s. ( See "Architects hired for old bank renovation," by Jennifer Brown, Kentucky New Era, July 18, 2003. Subscription required.) The building's exterior seems streamlined and modernistic in comparison to other Hopkinsville buildings of similar vintage.


UPDATE 6/20/08
: The Kentucky New Era (cited and linked in the previous paragraph) was mistaken about the date of the First City Bank's construction.
After the stock market crash of 1929, three local banks merged to form First City Bank. Their new place of business, this building I've written about here, was completed in 1930.

"Severe in form, the brick and stone structure is ornamented in the streamlined, futuristic style of the 1930s that is loosely called Art Deco." (Source:"
Hopkinsville and Christian County Historical Sites, written for the Kentucky Heritage Commission by Kenneth T. Gibbs and Carolyn Torma, copyright 1982 by Gateway Trust.)
I'm glad that the city council decided to complete the renovation with a loan, since grants weren't forthcoming. I hope that the public will get a chance to admire the results before renters take possession.

Night drop, old bank

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