Monday, September 14, 2015

Wallet Card visits my wife's store - A former bank with some safes and other cool shiz!

So my wallet card goes with me everywhere, but I've been a bad blogger and haven't taken a lot of pictures of it.  That changes today, as I took it to work while watching my wife's store for the day!

It's a crossstitch/embroidery store, and it used to be in a smaller, more ordinary space last year.  But she wanted more space for classes and events and the like, and we wanted to move the place closer to home, so we rented out this old bank space in our neighborhood that was like 3 times the size of the old store.  It's pretty cool to have a non-bank in a bank space, especially given the giant safe that now acts as a centerpoint at the back of the store:
Over the past few years, when the building was between owners,  different potential tenants talked about taking the safe out because they didn't want it in their bar/store/whatever.  Fortunately for us (who would never imagine getting rid of such a cool piece), it weighs a LOT, so the owner refused to even try to take if off for fear it might fall through the floor or something.  We have plans for doing something with the safe inside in the future, but for now it's just a cool talking point, and a nice place to take Wallet Card pictures:
That's the front with the glass covering open, here it is with the covering closed:

Speaking of Wallet Card, I should show him off.  The corners are getting a little wonky, and the bend on the side is getting more pronounced:
Here's the back, which also shows off the damage well:

By this point, you've probably noticed the nice floor in the background.  Here's a close up view of it:
It's actually the original hardwood floor from 1930 (the year the building was built and opened as a Fifth Third Bank - it became a credit union from 1961 until roughly 2012, and now it's our store!).

The floors were NOT easy.  Over the years, the two different banks reworked the flooring a lot, adding layer after layer after layer of garish tile.  You can see how high the tile was in this picture below - check out the spacing under the door and the glue line:

You can also see some of the tile layers in the back area of the store.  We only redid the floor up until one back wall - everything beyond that (like the bathroom, basement access, general storage) still looks like the same flooring that was in there before we touched it.
I count at least five different layers of tile/wood in there - man I'm glad that job is in the past as it was not easy (even though we had a ton of help from our landlords and "his guys."

Moving back to the safe, there's a unit inside that kept track of voltage and was on a timer and stuff.  I don't have any idea how to work it, but it looks cool:
That lower box opens up and has all sorts of old wires and systems in it.  And an inspection card whose most recent date is from 1970.  So it may have been a while since this system was last used:

Another cool thing we found in the safe were these old plates from the bank.  There's like 5 or 6, but I picked my two favorites:

We're gonna do something with these someday...not really sure what though!

The building actually has 3 safes, though the upstairs one is by far the most impressive.  The downstairs one is a safe door on a regular room, though it's pretty gutted so it doesn't do much.  The third safe is in the basement, and is the night deposit safe that originally had access from the outside.  It looks like this:
Sadly, anyone with knowledge of how to open these safes (and of them) is long gone, so they're all locked forever.  As such, the landlord put in some floor stops for the big safe to ensure it doesn't close on us/shoppers - you can see it in the bottom right of the first picture.  I'd love to open this safe at some point though - I wonder if these's still anything inside!

In the front of the store, you can see a little shelf that covers up the night deposit chute:

And then here's the spot that originally acted as the night deposit opening on the outside.  It's got the Fifth Third insignia, which is pretty cool.  We painted over it for my wife's store and now it has the "e" in her store name on it:

Speaking of the outside, one of the other really cool aspects of the place is this old tile.  It's all green and white, and it extends from the sidewalk in to our inner doors:
When we first moved in, most of the tile was under other tile and this weird adhesive.  Our landlord recommended trying to get that stuff up with paint thinner, so I went to town one day and I think it looks pretty good!

What's crazy about the tile though, is that it used to be all outside.  Originally the doors were back quite a few feet, but at some point in the bank's life they added doors closer to the street that were more secure.  You can see the old doorway here:
If we ever become rich, I'd love to put the doors back where they used to be and have all the tile be external again.

Above those doors, there's some slapped up wood which covers up some other hidden goodies.  It's the green and white wood that meet in the middle here:
 If you get on a ladder and peek into that little space in between, you see this mess inside:
What's really cool is the window in the back.  You can't see it from the street - it was all boarded over a long time ago.  I'd love to see what this place looked like before the boarding though, with the window above the door.  I've looked for pictures online but haven't found anything yet.

Here's a picture of the top half of the window.  You can also see some of the original tin ceilings in here too - the place is tin ceiling front to back, but it's all covered up now by some garish ceiling tiles in a drop ceiling.
Here's a darker, but overall better, view of the tin ceiling:
That's another thing that, if we ever became filthy rich, would be revealed for all to see.  But for now, we have nowhere near the funds to fix all of the busted sections of tin (there aren't a lot, but there are enough) and to put in an electric system up there (right now all the electric is in fluorescent lights in the drop ceiling).

So that's the bulk of the coolness of that space, but there's one last part I wanted to show off that scares the pants off of me.  The basement is huge, with the front part being big and open and the back part being sectioned off into a bathroom, a safe room, and a weird little sink area.  In between, however, is this space we just call "the cages."  Because it has three cardboard rooms that you could lock from the outside.  What's their purpose?  I have no real idea.  They're not protected enough like a vault to really keep valuable things safe, and it's not that well lit so I'm not sure what it could've been other than storage.  All I know is I think they'd be the perfect set for a horror movie:
Isn't that vaguely terrifying?  And that's in a fairly well lit area, and the most well lit cage.  Here's a picture I took a bit father in:
And that's as far as I go taking pictures of the cages.  Otherwise me and Dominique may not have lived to share this post!

And so ends Wallet Cards tour of my wife's store.  Hopefully his journey raises a gazillion dollars so we can bring the place back to its original condition and I can open a card shop down the street someday!  A man can dream right?


  1. That is pretty cool! We have an old bank in my town that was turned into a restaurant. The big safe area is used as private table area.

    1. Ooo I like that usage. It's always cool when old things become new things. We have a former pottery place near us that now has the old kilns as private dining...very neat.

  2. I am EXTREMELY familiar with those vault timers.

  3. Was looking forward to this and I have to say it is really cool. It's great to have a creative couple doing interesting things with a great space like this.

    1. Sweet, glad you convinced me to post it! I can't wait til we do more and more with it and bring it back to its former glory while also putting our own touches on it!

  4. Man. Dominique got the grand tour. Gotta admit... I'm a little freaked out by bank vaults. Never actually been in one... but one of my fears is getting trapped inside of one. I must have seen that on TV or something when I was younger.

  5. Great post.. thanks for sharing! Yeah, like Fuji I'd probably be uneasy hanging out in a vault, even with a floor stopper thing installed.

    Best of luck to you guys with the store. That'd be cool if you're someday able to go nuts restoring it.