GuernseyTingle desired to create a new energy for the building, without adding a pretentious neighbor to the understated historic Duke of Gloucester Street.
While adaptive use of former bank buildings is certainly not unique, it is not often that the bank building was designed in 1929 by Perry, Shaw, & Hepburn Architects in one of America’s first shopping centers – Merchant’s Square. Under the detailed eyes of Colonial Williamsburg’s architectural historians and the City’s Architectural Review Board, this renovation/adaptive use creates a new energy for the building, without adding a pretentious neighbor to the understated historic Duke of Gloucester Street. Originally built in 1935, with several additions and renovations over a period of 35 years, the 11,000 SF historic bank building was uninhabited for several years due to inadequate building systems and non-accessible spaces.
For the exterior renovation, original materials were carefully preserved and matched whenever possible. Existing brick veneer and bluestone were “peeled off” and saved for reinstallation, and existing handrails were removed and reconfigured where necessary.
Inside, previously existing components were resurrected throughout the project. Interior “window walls” from the former bank offices were salvaged and reinstalled to create dining nooks and to tuck server stations away. The hallmark iron gate was also retained and re-installed as a space divider and accent. A raised dining area was designed in order to bring the high vaulted ceilings down to a more human scale and bring the tabletops closer to the window sills, allowing views in and out to Duke of Gloucester Street. The wood paneled wall that encloses the space utilizes the same character, location, and iron grillework as the previous teller counter line.
A new wrought iron chandelier was designed to reference the character of the arched iron grilles that were re-installed. The historic marble floor, covered for years by carpet, was uncovered and restored, with only minimal repair and replacement. The large high top “communal” table just inside the front door, custom built by the tenant, was installed along the floor of the main dining space, which is appropriate for the scale of the large, vaulted room. Historic drawings revealed that the cupola once had a “skylight,” which had been covered long ago during previous bank renovations. The skylight was recreated from original drawings and in turn reinstalled.
The Suntrust Building was sensitively rehabilitated to its former glory – on the inside, it has all the modern amenities and upgrades that were needed, but both inside and out, its character is successfully woven into Colonial Williamsburg’s historic fabric. The staunch and austere Suntrust Bank building retained its character features, but with a charming and sociable flair suited to The DoG Street Pub.