Geneva Bank & Trust Open for Business With Pure Oil Attached

The financial institution formerly known as St. Charles Bank & Trust opens its doors for the first time with the former Pure Oil Building attached as a drive-through.

It happened Monday, March 4, with no big fanfare, but the former St. Charles Bank & Trust is now the Geneva Bank & Trust, and it is open for business in the former Pure Oil Building.

After more than a year of controversy, the historic Pure Oil Building is still standing, and its adaptive re-use is part of the structure of the new bank.

Not only does it bear a Pure Oil-style sign on the outside, but it has a Pure Oil building inside, as well.

Mike Bruno, one of the members of the Historic Preservation Commission that denied a demolition permit, praised the outcome Monday night at the Geneva City Council meeting.

"Kudos to Geneva Bank," Bruno said. "They to have done a truly stellar job."

Mayor Kevin Burns said there is "a vintage Pure Oil sign in the lobby." He said a farmer Virginia had that in her barn, and the owners of the bank found it and brought it back to Geneva.

The controversial building once slated for the wrecking ball has been recommended to the National Register of Historic Places.

Attached here are some photos of the construction phase, courtesy of Geneva resident Colin Campbell. 


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Colin C. March 05, 2013 at 02:49 PM
I think that, as people see what the Bank has accomplished with this restoration and repurposing of an historic building, we will have a deeper appreciation of what can be done to save our heritage and protect our future. I would personally and publicly like to thank all of the people who worked so hard to make this restoration possible. To all of you who came to the HPC and City Council meetings and supported the denial of a demolition permit, who wrote letters and spoke with your representatives, who offered alternatives, and who supported saving this treasure--"Ya Done Good"!!! Thank You! And to our HPC and City Council, you stood up to a lot of pressure and made the right decision. Thank You! And to the St. Charles Bank and Trust and Wintrust executives who saw and understood the importance and the value in preserving the Pure Oil Station, you have done a wonderful job or restoring an important part of our heritage. I am deeply grateful and believe that you are to be commended. Thank You! Colin C. Campbell
Carolyn Zinke March 05, 2013 at 03:29 PM
Makes me proud of Geneva and its commitment to historic preservation with adaptive reuse to see how splendid the Pure Oil Building looks. Thank you to the "new" Geneva Bank and Trust. I only wish we had that far reaching vision for the Coultrap Building.
Julie March 05, 2013 at 05:26 PM
Yes, very nice to preserve the building but another bank on 38? To me, that is very disappointing. How many does this make? 4 or 5 w/in .05 mile or so?
Mike Bruno March 05, 2013 at 05:48 PM
I share your disappointment with another bank (and particularly a drive-through) in our pedestrian retail district. There were two things at play here. The first was defeating the multiple attempts at demolition to save the Pure Oil building. That was successful and my comments merely commend the new owners (the bank) for doing, what appears to be, an exemplary job of restoring and improving that building. By all appearances, they seemed to go above and beyond the basic requirements set down by the Historic Preservation Commission. Should that bank ever vacate the property, the Pure Oil building is still there and in good shape for future use as an eating or retail establishment. The second issue was the municipal planning aspect and whether a drive-through negatively impacts our pedestrian retail district. I argue that it does and that the city vis-a-vis the Plan Commission failed by permitting a drive-through in that area when they had the capacity and authority to deny that particular use. The city seems to have recognized that error and is changing zoning to preclude first floor bank and office use in the retail district. We have to learn our lessons and focus on the positive. The Pure Oil building hasn't look this good in generations. I think the dark cloud that the bank came in under motivated them to really step up to ingratiate the community. I expect that they will receive more than one award and to be featured in preservation publications in due time.
Terry Flanagan March 05, 2013 at 11:53 PM
While the bank did a good job with the drive-through, I agree with Mike that the presence of a drive-through banking facility in the commercial district defeats the purpose of our municipal planning. Our master plans, particularly the current plan, have stressed the importance of pedestrian friendly retail businesses in the downtown commercial district. The first standard for special use, which the bank was, requires compliance with the city's comprehensive plan. If we truly want to embrace the comprehensive plan, we need to change or adopt new ordinances that will allow us to implement the plan and prevent development that does not follow the plan. Dave Patzelt of Shodeen pointed out the importance of addressing this issue in a dispute they had with city staff in trying to build high density housing in the downtown area, something our plan calls for, but which seems to be problematic when it comes to implementing. For whatever reason, we lost an opportunity to build a multi-family unit as a result of that impasse. Unless we have the political will to adhere to the plan, it will remain just a wish list. The comprehensive plan has to be more than just a planning tool. It needs to be the conscience that guides development within the city.


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