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The First Nation Bank of Shelby, North Carolina has a long and storied history of helping make Shelby what it is today. Although it is called a “National Bank” it was actually your quintessential local bank. All its branches were located in the home county of Cleveland County. This project included renovations and additions to the main branch which was first built in the 1930’s and still sits across the road from the City and County Court Square. The original building has undergone many changes and additions. Some of which were not kind to it.

When our work began the last renovations had converted the bank into a 1970’s style building. The beautiful fifteen-foot-tall arched wooden windows had been covered up and could no longer be seen. Not to mention the green wallpaper covering the tall walls and lay-in acoustical tile ceiling of the bank lobby. The direction from Mrs. Adelaide Craver, the bank’s president and CEO, was to restore this building to its original historic style as much as possible and modernize its functions. The bank building at the time was 18,800 square feet. She also wanted us to incorporate the adjacent 13,380 square foot men’s clothing store into the building and make it look like it belonged with the original building.

This building is a contributing structure in the National Historic Downtown District of Shelby, North Carolina and would be on the registry by its own merits if it were not in the Historic District. This made it eligible for national tax credits of 20% of the cost of construction and additional state tax credits of 20% in North Carolina. There is a long process which includes designing the renovation to certain standards and following a long paper trail to qualify for the tax credits. Through our design we were able to qualify the bank for hundreds of thousands of dollars of tax credits which they recouped over the next five years.

As great as huge tax credits are the project must still meet the needs of the client. This project shows how redesigning a beautiful historic property can still provide an efficient bank lobby with modern teller lines, up to date security, comfortable conditioning and more. We uncovered the large window openings and replaced the existing dilapidated windows with new energy efficient windows that looked just like the original windows. The old acoustical tile ceilings were removed, and the original troffer ceilings were exposed and trimmed in cherry wood. We also converted the existing clothing store into 26 offices, a board room, a service center, a small banquet hall and tied it all together to look like one building.


Upland Architects has the expertise and experience to restore historical buildings to the standards of the United States National Park Service standards and change old buildings into beautiful, efficient, modern work environments.

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