Chartered in 1899, the Bank of Adairsville once occupied a building on the city square downtown that later became part of city hall. According to a release from the DDA, sometime around 1987 three buildings were put behind one facade and joined together to serve as city hall. When the ceiling fell in on city hall more than a year ago, a renovation project began that later exposed the marble front of the old bank building.
Once the marble facade was uncovered, the city council paused its work to assess whether the marble could be saved, said City Manager Pam Madison following a called May 28 city council meeting. She said a new architect and contractor were brought on board to handle revisions on how the city would handle the historic structure.
As stated during the May 28 meeting, the city had two options: tear down the facade, build a brick facade and install a replica inside city hall with the salvageable marble or restore the marble facade.
The cost for the brick facade and marble replica was estimated at approximately $23,000. Restoring the marble was estimated at $109,000, or roughly 10 percent of the city’s construction budget, said Madison at the time.
While the DDA and others are working to raise funds for a full restoration, DDA Vice-Chair Candy Antonio said there is now a third option.
“We did have a DDA meeting this past Tuesday and the city manager, Pam Madison, had spoken with the architect in the interim time and he has come up with a Plan C, which mostly consists of taking the marble down and reconfiguring the whole thing so there’s kind of a central oval entrance in the middle that’s surrounded by pieces of the marble and the entry vestibule,” Antonio said. “The ceiling would all be made out of the marble and then other pieces of the marble would be kind of highlighting the brick facade of the whole building. So it’s using the marble, but you definitely lose the whole bank facade.”
Estimates have ranged from $70,000 to $100,000 for the amount needed to preserve the bank facade, and those supporting preservation are unsure where the funds will come from.
“Practically speaking, my heart wants to save it. My head says how in the world are we going to raise $100,000, and in round numbers that’s what it’s going to take, and the city doesn’t have it in the budget,” United Community Bank President Gary Floyd said.
Residents who spoke during the May 28 meeting cited the bank facade’s historic value and aesthetic appeal as reasons to save it.
“We want to stay special. We want to stay unique. I think if we destroy these things that are treasures, then shame on us. I think we should, if we have to go to Plan A and settle for having the bank [replica], that’s a good alternative, but it’s not the best. I think if we have to settle, so be it, but at least give us the change to try to save it. That’s all we’re asking,” said Antonio at the time.
Floyd, who was one of those present at a DDA meeting focusing on the bank facade, said he hoped enough interested people in the community would be able to save the marble.
“But we’re working on a very, very short timeline because the city needs to get back in its building,” he added.
Among the ideas Floyd said he heard of was the city taking out a loan to cover the additional amount.
“I believe any banker would love to talk to the city about loaning the money, but I don’t know that the city has it in its budget to do that. I’d love to talk — I’m talking for me — I’d love to talk to groups of people about borrowing the money. But at the end of the day the decision to loan money is based upon how it’s going to be paid back,” he said.
During the May 28 called meeting, the council postponed a decision on which option to go with until its next regular meeting. Antonio said the deadline has been unofficially stretched to June 25.
“DDA voted on Tuesday ... we will endorse the adoption of this Plan C as a compromise, but the city is willing to put ... a stipulation on that, that if they adopt it, they will adopt it with a stipulation that until June 25 to come back to them and say that we have raised the money or we can prove to them we have the money coming to handle the extra expense. Then they will go back to adopting the one that would save the bank facade,” she said.
As for where the funds may come from, Antonio said grants were not an option as the majority of the bank’s original structure is gone. The demolition work did not leave anything other than the facade, she said, and it could not be considered. Time restrictions and the city’s lack of grant certification eliminated other grant options as well, she added.
Raising funds may come down to donations from private individuals or businesses.
“I’m getting a lot of passion from people, but I don’t know. Gary Floyd and some of the other businessmen were going to put some feelers out — see if there were any businesses that were interested in getting us started with some decent seed money,” Antonio said. “That’s a lot of money in this difficult time to try to raise to save the building. ... So we’re kind of between a rock and a hard place.”
For more information on donations or work to preserve the marble facade, visit the DDA’s website, www.adairsvilleonthesquare.com, or call 770-773-3451. The DDA also has a Facebook page under Adairsville Downtown Development Authority. The city council’s next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, June 10, for a work session and later Thursday, June 12, for a regular meeting. Both meetings will be held at 7 p.m. at the rail depot.