WAHOO – In just under a year since a fire destroyed the two-story building in downtown Wahoo, Wahoo State Bank unveiled the future of its downtown presence at a groundbreaking Tuesday.
Bank President Greg Hohl said there was a momentary thought about moving to a new location and building a new bank on a bare piece of land after the Nov. 18, 2016 fire.
“But we are excited to be building this spot; it’s our historic location,” he said.
Hohl, the fourth generation of his family to serve as the bank president, said rebuilding at the corner of Fifth and Linden streets was the best decision.
“At the end of the day, the history of the location, to me, tells, a good story,” he said. “I guess when you have something bad happen, you try to turn it into a good story.”
The bank employees and board members who had gathered behind the mound of dirt and ceremonial shovels in the bottom of a hole on the northwest corner of the busy downtown intersection then turned around to reveal the words printed on the back of their T-shirts.
“What defines us is how we rise after we have fallen,” Hohl read the message.
The Nov. 14 groundbreaking also included the first public glimpse at what the new bank will look like. The design revealed shows characteristics similar to the old bank.
Hohl said the new bank’s design incorporates a combination of items. It also takes into account a survey taken of more than 400 people.
“One of the most common comments was make it like the old bank,” he said. “So it does have a lot of the iconic shape of the old bank.”
The design also incorporates some modern elements, he added, with such features as more glass. He said that will give it more of an updated look.
While the inside of the bank will have a more modern feel as well, some of the historic items that were on display in the old bank were salvages and will find a home in the new bank.
Prior to Tuesday’s groundbreaking, Hohl said a few details were still being worked out on the new structure, but the design was mostly done.
“I feel like we’re a little behind where we hoped we would be, but there is some symbolism there with the groundbreaking being so close to the (fire) anniversary,” Hohl said.
Hohl said he is still optimistic the bank will be able to have a grand opening at the new building by the end of 2018.If the footings can get in soon, then some tenting can be used to help start the next steps.
Lacey Construction of Wahoo will be the general contractor and will be letting bids soon for subcontract work.
“It’s a big project, that’s for sure,” Hohl said.
Wahoo State Bank continues to operate its “main” bank at its temporary location in the old Sid Dillon Car Dealership building. The separate drive up location also continues to operate.
Wahoo State Bank opened for business on Jan. 2, 1932, with John G. Hohl serving as its first president.