Thank you to Shelly T. for sharing these photos of her 1875 bank building in the small town of Walnut, Iowa.
House Crazy Sarah loves a good commercial building conversion!
The owners have turned this former community bank into a small vintage and home decor shop (aptly named The Vault Mercantile), and they also offer tours and brunches here.
Shelly and her husband bought this building in 2004 and worked on it for several years. Before that, the building had been vacant for 30 years and was in horrible shape, as you might imagine.
House Crazy Sarah dug up a couple of old photos of the Walnut Exchange Bank building back in the day…
Can’t quite make out the date (above) but it is probably from the 1880’s. Shelly says this particular building is the oldest surviving building in the town of Walnut and,
“the first fireproof building built in the Midwest, which was good…because a fire in 1883 burned down the entire side of the street it sits on…except for that one building.”
The photo below appears to be from 1910 and you can see a new brick building was erected to its immediate left:
Back to present day… this is the upstairs kitchen on the second floor:
Shelly says her dad built the entire farmhouse style kitchen and her mom helped out as well.
Why farmhouse style in an old bank?
“I love farmhouse decor, so it was interesting to give this 1875 bank building a farmhouse look” says Shelly. Plus, it’s Iowa – where farmhouse style rules!
Opposite side of the upstairs kitchen:
One of the upstairs bedrooms that used to be a boarding room:
This is the long hallway on the top floor which was lined with the original boarding rooms:
Shelly says she knows other designers would have ripped these walls out in favor of the “open concept look”, but she wanted to keep the historic flavor and footprint of the building.
House Crazy Sarah concurs!
“My mom died a few years ago, and this sweet pile of bricks and mortar now gives me such fond memories of all she did to help my dream farmhouse ‘bank’ become a reality.”
If you ever find yourself in Walnut Iowa, go visit Shelly at the Vault Mercantile, – a.k.a the old Walnut Exchange Bank!