Geneva Bank & Trust opens inside Pure Oil building

GENEVA – A bank has opened for business inside a historic former gas station building in the city's downtown.

This week, Geneva Bank & Trust began processing transactions at its new facility in the 500 block of West State Street in Geneva, in a design that incorporates the former Pure Oil building as the bank's new drive-up structure.

The Pure Oil building dates from 1935, when it was built as a service station. Most recently, the building had been leased to former retail tenant, Pure Gardener.

However, last fall, St. Charles Bank & Trust, which manages operations at the Geneva Bank & Trust, took ownership of the Pure Oil building, along with a neighboring structure. Since October, the bank has renovated both buildings to make them the new home for Geneva Bank & Trust.

Geneva Bank & Trust had previously operated from a branch location on Kaneville Road.

The redevelopment plan for that corner had been controversial, with some in the community questioning whether the renovations would compromise the historical integrity of the site.

St. Charles Bank & Trust President Tom Hansen said the original plan drafted by the bank had called for the demolition of the Pure Oil building. But he said conversations with Geneva city officials and members of the community produced a different plan that prompted the preservation and renovations on the site, instead.

During construction, Hansen said architects persuaded the bank to add a couple of details to accent the historical nature of the structure, as well.

The architects tracked down an authentic Pure Oil sign and post in Virginia and had them shipped back to Illinois.

"They were lying in the weeds next to a barn," said Hansen.

The sign was restored and mounted inside the Geneva building. The post then was erected outside the bank, and the bank had a Geneva Bank & Trust sign specially made in the style of the Pure Oil sign, and mounted it atop the post.

The bank also acquired an antique bank vault door from a former bank location in Glen Ellyn and installed it as the vault door in its Geneva office.

"It really is a unique bank," Hansen said.

He said the project should help boost business for the bank, as it will allow the bank to use its "unique" site and location along one of the Tri-Cities' busiest corridors to attract more customers.

The Geneva bank location now employs seven people, and Hansen expected that number to grow as business increases.