GALLIPOLIS — Ohio Valley Bank’s mission of “Community First” is on literal display with the new OVB on the Square facility.
An event which included the public unveiling of the $7.1 million investment into downtown Gallipolis was recently hosted by OVB officials and included presentations in City Park and tours of the remodeled building, which was once OVB’s original home before moving operations to Third Avenue — that location remains a working bank.
The new OVB on the Square, however, houses administrative offices only, including executive offices, marketing, communications, credit analysis and loan processing. Reportedly, 50 people work in the building which is contained in approximately 19,900-square feet of space.
Located at 360 Second Ave., one of the unique features of the building, besides the integrating of its past aesthetics into its present functionality, is the offering of a public conference room and rooftop patio overlooking City Park. These venues will be open and available for public use, likely starting next month, according to Bryna Butler, vice president of corporate communications for OVB.
Butler explained all the touches inside the building – from the fleur-de-lis designs in frosted glass, to murals of the Gallipolis trolley which once passed by outside the building and the four seasons of the Bandstand, to the names of conference rooms, reflect a connection to Gallipolis and Gallia County.
A safe from the basement of the building, as well as newspaper clippings and antique photos line the original brick walls of the lobby which has been recreated to reflect how it looked years before but with a modern twist.
Butler, who was the master of ceremonies at the recent public ceremony, provided the following history of the building and project:
OVB was established in 1872 and quickly outgrew its original space, which was on the second floor of a building with multiple businesses. In an effort to expand, the building (today known as OVB on the Square) was built in 1896. The architect was the renowned Frank Packard, who was also responsible for the Ohio Governor’s Mansion and the Capitol Annex in Charleston, W.Va. The building was remodeled twice (1949 and 1955) as the company continued to grow and sold when the Main Office was built a block away in 1961. The building changed hands several times over the next decades and fell into disrepair. OVB bought the building back in 2015 and began the project to bring it back to its original splendor and help revitalize downtown Gallipolis. The building project taken on under the bank’s “Community First” mission was completed in March 2020 and employees moved into the building in March of that year; however, due to the pandemic, the official public unveiling was postponed until…May 23.
“Now we see the light at the very, very long end of the pandemic tunnel and are at last able to share this with you, our community,” Butler told those gathered at City Park. “Thank you for supporting OVB then, now and always. Together we can help our community not only survive, but thrive.”
Butler then introduced Jeff Smith, director emeritus of OVB and retired chairman of the board, who offered an opening prayer followed by remarks from Larry Miller, president and chief operating officer of OVB.
Miller spoke about taking on a project as if it were building a house but imagine that house had to hold 40 people and two dozen visitors from time to time.
“Imagine it has the security needs of Fort Knox and the technology needs of Apple, all the while keeping a mindful eye in improving the aesthetics of our downtown, while resurrecting the bygone beauty of the building itself,” Miller said. “To say this project was a monumental project would be quite the understatement.”
Miller said it is believed at least 29 local businesses contributed to the project’s construction in some way. According to information from OVB, architects on the project were Design Collaborative in collaboration with Randy Breech of Gallipolis. The lead contractor was Hoon, Inc. of Athens.
Tom Wiseman, chairman of the board and CEO of OVB, then spoke to those gathered.
“All I can say is, finally, what a long year-and-a-half its been. Who would’ve ever dreamed the impact COVID would have on every aspect of our lives, even on trying to have a grand opening…finally, here we are,” Wiseman said, noting they were also on the eve of the bank’s 150th anniversary and celebrating the reopening of their first home.
When touching upon OVB’s past, Wiseman credited Arthur Miller, son of Harry Miller who was the director of the bank in 1958, with his “vision” and “commitment” regarding presenting the idea of what the building could become again.
Wiseman then spoke about an American Flag, which had been flown at each of the OVB locations, including OVB on the Square. That flag was presented to Smith, who had retired during the pandemic.
“There’s nothing that I can say that can share with you the honor that you have displayed to my wife and myself,” Smith said when accepting the flag which had been passed through the hands of the Gallia County Veterans Honor Guard who raised the flag, and representatives of every OVB branch.
Also participating in the event were Bryan Martin, retired senior vice president and project leader for OVB on the Square who led the Pledge of Allegiance; Adria Watson, executive secretary at OVB who sang the National Anthem; Dave Thomas, lead director of OVB who presented the flag to Smith.
© 2021 Ohio Valley Publishing, all rights reserved.
Beth Sergent is editor of Ohio Valley Publishing.