The Port Arthur EDC (Economic Development Corporation) wanted to help launch a revitalization of downtown Port Arthur, TX, so when it was time to move into a new home, they picked the 1920s-era First National Bank building in the city’s downtown.
The building had once been part of a bustling commercial corridor, in the heart of the city’s business district, but had been abandoned in more recent decades. Hurricanes and neglect had deteriorated part of the building. And dozens of older renovations had ruined the building’s detailed plaster work and intricately painted ceiling, and had closed off the once-open interior.
Renovating the building for the Port Arthur EDC and keeping it true to its historic roots meant first deciding which elements to preserve. Some of the tablature and crenellations had been knocked down in the course of previous renovations, but some of the original painting was still visible.
Haddon+Cowan took out the drop ceilings that had been added and opened the building’s interior up to its original layout. While the plaster detailing couldn’t be saved, the ceiling was fully restored to its former glory. Glass panels on the building’s second floor corridors keep the openness and allow light to flow into the building while also partitioning off space for offices. On the ground floor, offices now sit where bank tellers once helped customers. There, too, large glass panels help keep the building’s open feel.
In the back of the building the bank’s original vault remains – complete with the two-foot thick steel vault door – and has been retrofitted into a conference room.
The building’s exterior had suffered, too, and the renovation included restoring window bays and re-milling some of the window castings. A plaster covering on one of the building’s exterior walls will allow for movies to be projected onto the building during public events.