Re-Banked: The 5 Best Bank Replays

Posted Nov 29th 2010 10:50 PMUpdated Feb 4th 2011 12:11 AM

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Olaf, flickr

If you've actually walked into your local bank branch, you probably weren't wowed by the architecture. Blandness? That's all I've seen lately when looking beyond the ATM.

That wasn't always the case, though. Banks used to be a big deal, using exquisite architecture to relay feelings of safety to customers depositing their hard earned money.

Many of those grand buildings have been repurposed into something else. Here's five spots that have done the bank replay right:
B.A.N.K., Minneapolis, MN.

Minneapolis has long been a hub of Midwestern banking. Have you ever walked through downtown on a bank holiday? The place is deserted.

But, next time a bank holiday rolls around you can eat in a former banking center. In 2007, the restaurant B.A.N.K took over the Farmer's Mechanics Building – a stunning example of art deco architecture built in the 1940s. Set under a gorgeous 34-foot vaulted ceiling, this is 200-seat restaurant with 75-seat bar and lounge occupies what used to be the banking floor. Murals depicting farming scenes still ring the walls, and former banking offices are now private dining rooms.

MUST DO: Sit at the Chef's Teller Counter. The 40-foot long dining counter that used to be the work station of bank tellers, now overlooks B.A.N.K.'s open kitchen.

Ritz-Carlton, Philadelphia, PA.

The lobby of the Ritz Carlton wasn't built with that purpose in mind. Built between 1905 and 1908 and made of 9,000 tons of Georgia marble, it was once home to the Girard Trust.

There isn't any banking going on under the building's massive 101 foot dome ceiling anymore, but it's worth a visit even if you're not staying at the hotel. One of the best people watching spots in the city; it's just steps from Philadelphia's City Hall.

MUST DO: Have a drink or dinner at 10 Arts Lounge, the hotel's restaurant–especially if you're a Top Chef fan. Chef de Cuisine Jennifer Carroll was a season six fan favorite and will appear on the upcoming All Star season.

Ritz Carlton Philadelphia

Olaf, flickr

Lancaster Quilt & Textile Museum, Lancaster, PA.

Stop rolling your eyes. This stuff is interesting. The Lancaster Quilt & Textile Museum showcases exquisite examples of hand made art, most done by the Amish who live in the Lancaster area.

Plus, you can gawk at the building itself, too: Built in 1913, this Beaux Arts building with a 64 foot barrel vaulted ceiling is the former home of the Lancaster Trust Company. The bank didn't have a long life, however. It failed during the Great Depression and stood empty until it was restored in 1982.

MUST DO: Check out the "Family & Friends: Quilts and their Connections" exhibit. This exhibit closes on New Year's Eve.

Hotel Le St-James, Montreal, Canada

This luxury boutique hotel (it has only 60 rooms and suites) lies in the heart of Montreal's financial district. That's because it was once the Merchant's Bank building, originally constructed in 1870 – right around the time Montreal began expanding into a major port city. In 1899, four more stories were added to the top of the building. Fortunately for us, the hoteliers don't hide the building's financial history in the renovation, and the hotel rooms and suites are banker opulent.

MUST DO: Hit Le Spa for a hot stone massage, and make sure to look around you. Le Spa is located in the bank's former vault.

Hotel Saint James

Mickael Casol, flickr

Keeling-Schaeffer Vineyards Tasting Room, Willcox, AZ.

The actual Keeling-Schaeffer vineyard is in the foothills of Arizona's Chiricahua Mountains, which is where the tasting room was, too. Now wine lovers can get their fix downtown Willcox, where this local winery opened up a tasting room.

The location they chose used to be the Willcox Bank and Trust Building, built in 1917. The wine library and tasting rooms are in what used to be the bank's vault, no doubt a nice place to keep cool on a hot Arizona day.

MUST DO: Taste Keeling-Schaeffer's Rhone-style wines, of course. The tasting room is open Thursday through Sunday from 11AM to 4PM. Tastings are $5 and include a glass you can keep.
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Ddelrio219

How about Johnny Utah's in NYC? It's in a former bank. For my birthday they sat my party down inside the vault which had a dining table and old picture frames.

December 02 2010 at 3:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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