The Bank of Kilmichael was recently awarded a Heritage Award of Merit for Restoration by the Mississippi Heritage Trust for its restoration of several storefronts along South Depot Street in downtown Kilmichael.
The Mississippi Heritage Trust announced the recipients of the 2020 Heritage Awards at Temple B’nai Israel in Natchez on July 9. Lolly Rash, executive director of the Mississippi Heritage Trust, delivered the award to the bank Monday afternoon. This year’s Heritage Award feature artwork by noted Mississippi artist Kate Lee Laird.
According to the National Trust, “The ultimate good neighbor, the Bank of Kilmichael is leading the charge to revitalize Kilmichael’s historic square by restoring its original bank building along with the adjacent building, a former theater. The two restored buildings now boast a spacious boardroom, lobby, breakroom, restrooms, training room and catering kitchen. Original details such as the bank vault, bead board ceiling and sloped theater floor were retained, while a pressed tin ceiling and mosaic tile floor were recreated using evidence uncovered during the restoration, which was overseen by Belinda Stewart Architects.”
In February 2019, the Bank of Kilmichael purchased six storefronts on the Kilmichael square with the purpose of expanding the footprint of the bank headquarters on the north end, as well as renovating a new space for Kilmichael Town Hall on the north end of the square.
Now the Bank of Kilmichael consists of three storefronts on South Depot Street – the main bank building on the north end, the former Kilmichael Town Hall building that once housed the bank, and the former Kilmichael picture show. A hallway was created to link all three storefronts, with a new board room and breakroom occupying the former city hall and a state-of-the art auditorium for employee training in the old picture show building. The bank vault used from 1934 to 1968 was also renovated as part of the project, with hand-laid tile noting its historical significance.
Back in 2019, Bank of Kilmichael President/CEO Buddy Mortimer said with the current number of staff of Bank of Kilmichael at 46 from all four branches, the bank’s headquarters in Kilmichael did not have a large enough meeting place for all of its employees. The old picture show building was perfect for an auditorium due to the sloped floor, Mortimer said.
Mortimer credited Belinda Stewart Architects of Eupora, who was also honored by the Mississippi Heritage Trust for Organization Achievement for its long-term work in restoration, and contractor Mark Jones Construction for their work on the project.
“I love those two buildings,” he said. “We are very proud of them.”
The Bank of Kilmichael was organized in 1904, and in 1934, it relocated into a storefront on Depot Street where it operated until 1968, when the current building was constructed. Kilmichael Town Hall moved into the former location and operated there until 2019 when it sold the old building back to the Bank of Kimichael and moved into its new location which it leases from the bank.
Kilmichael Mayor Bobby Howell said not only did the bank offer the town a nice purchase price for the current town hall building, it footed the bill for the renovations of the new town hall, and is leasing it back to the town.
The new town hall includes a customer service desk and reception area, offices for the mayor, police chief, and public works director, a file room, break room, board room, and handicapped-accessible bathrooms. Guy Stanford is handled the renovations at town hall.
Mortimer said there are two storefronts left to be restored. One is currently being used for storage for the bank and the other will become commercial space to lease.
A grand opening celebration for the new building has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.