American Bankers Building
Older office buildings can be a challenge to reuse, particularly in smaller communities where the demand for office space has waned. From the 1920s through the 1990s, this two-story, limestone-clad structure was occupied by a bank and, later, an insurance company. The insurance company relocated in 2000, and the 40,000-square-foot building sat vacant for two years. In 2002, it was purchased from bankruptcy court by an owner with ties to the community who converted the upper floor into a three-room banquet facility (known as Hamilton’s 110 North East) and secured a variety of commercial tenants for the stores at street level. As part of the interior renovations, two former bank vaults were adapted for use as a liquor storage room and a smoking lounge. This venue has quickly become the community’s most popular facility of its kind. The conversion of this potential white elephant into a thriving business has become a major impetus to the continued redevelopment of downtown Jacksonville. Plans are underway to reopen the nearby town square, which was marred in the 1970s by a misguided urban renewal effort.