Stephenville's First National Bank building has been awarded the 2015 Texas Downtown Association President's Award for Best Renovation Rehabilitation.
This award is given by the TDA for buildings regarded by a select panel of judges as the finest historic renovation/rehabilitation in a town with fewer than 50,000 people. This is the first Stephenville building to be awarded this honor by TDA.
The FNB building − which is owned by local attorney Michelle Dunkerley, who also owns Redfences, LLC − was constructed in 1889 and remains one of the oldest buildings on Stephenville's historic square. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in July 2015, the first building to be so listed in 30 years in Erath County.
"The First National Bank building is obviously a significant structure in the history of Stephenville, what I think is the authentic Stephenville," Dunkerley said. "The Stephenville Economic Development Authority [SEDA] is the new tenant upstairs and we're looking for the kind of retail business that will attract foot traffic downtown. We want something very special in this space."
The ground-floor area is 2,000 square feet, and plans are in the works for a new sidewalk with outdoor seating, and is available for leasing now, she adds.
Dunkerley said the building was designed by the architect who also designed the Erath County Courthouse, J. Riely Gordon. He also designed the Opera House that the Stephenville Chamber of Commerce now occupies.
In 2008 Dunkerley purchased and began rehabilitation of the FNB building, working with Quimby McCoy Architecure Preservation, LLP. Redfences later purchased the former Dawson Saloon, also located on the courthouse square that now is home to Greer's Ranch Cafe.
Lee Evans did the work on the FNB building and the restoration was completed in July 2015. Among the major work undertaken was protecting and repairing historic finishes, upgrading or providing current systems, providing an accessible restroom and adding new finishes in selected areas.
The Texas Downtown Association represents over 450 members from communities of all sizes, economic development corporations, Chamber of Commerces, merchants associations, nonprofit organizations and small businesses.