GALLIPOLIS — Ohio Valley Bank held its groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday for “OVB on the Square,” the local bank’s project to rehabilitate its old building at the corner of State Street and Second Avenue in Gallipolis.
According to OVB Vice-President of Communications Bryna Butler, the bank first organized on September 24, 1872 in a second floor room on Second Avenue. The bank quickly outgrew the room and set out to build a new building. It was then the tallest building in Gallia County. In 1896, the building opened at the corner of Second Avenue and State Street. In 1961, the bank sold the location and it traded hands a number of times before falling into disrepair. The bank was then able to “save” the old location in 2015. Adjacent properties were acquired in recent years as well.
The overall renovation and construction anticipated to take place on an empty lot next to the bank location as well as adjacent buildings and the old Ohio Valley Bank location itself is estimated to cost around $5 million, said Butler.
Pastor Christian Scott of Paint Creek Baptist Church held an opening prayer. After, Ohio Valley Bank and Loan Central employees who had military experience led the Pledge of Allegiance. They were Mario Liberatore, Derek Hartman, John Jones, Leah Cochran, Stephen Ball, Richard Speirs and Johnnie Wamsley.
Jeff Smith, chairman of the Ohio Valley Bank’s Board, thanked community members and employees for their support of the project. Structure First Principal Ned Compton said he and Co-Principal Neil Kool looked forward to the project’s beginning construction. Hoon, Inc., will serve as the general contractor on the project.
“I was kind of like a kid at Christmas this morning as I was getting ready. I was so excited to get to do something in my hometown that’s of this magnitude particularly,” said State Representative and Speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives Ryan Smith (R-Bidwell). “As I thought about where we’re headed with this project, I couldn’t help but think where we come from. I’ve been a resident of Gallia County for 45 years…Think about some of the stores you knew years and decades ago. It brings back great memories for me. It’s the memories of the operators and owners and their commitment to the community…While I think about how we’ve evolved and how much has changed, I think the one thing that everybody should recognize is the one thing that hasn’t changed. For 145 years, Ohio Valley Bank’s commitment to this community, to all the communities in which they serve, this project is a testament to that.”
“I can’t tell you how good it makes us feel to look out and see so many of our fellow members of this great community. It’s been quite a journey and we’re just getting started,” said President and CEO of Ohio Valley Bank Tom Wiseman. “Back in the early 1890s, our first President of Ohio Valley Bank Albert Henking…hired arguably the most prominent architect of his day Frank Packard. Together, they built a masterpiece on the corner of Second and State overlooking the French Square. A hundred and 18 years later in 2014, a fellow came to see me by the name of Arthur Miller…Mr. Miller has his own connection to Ohio Valley Bank. His father Harry Miller was the director of the bank in 1958, when the board last considered whether or not to renovate 366 Second Avenue…As we all know they chose not to renovate but instead built a new state-of-the-art building on Third Avenue we still call home. Unfortunately, 366 Second Avenue began a long, slow, steady decline into its current dilapidated state. Well, Arthur Miller presented me with a plan.”
“A plan, and I’m going to read it because it was his plan,” continued Wiseman,” a plan to acquire, save, restore and preserve the old Ohio Valley Bank building, to engage the community and its leaders in a project which would encourage hope in the future of downtown Gallipolis, to recognize the very significant value of a neglected community asset and landmark and to educate all on the history and pedigree of the building.”
Previous information released by OVB said it hoped to create a rooftop community patio and community room with the project.
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.