RIDGWAY — It’s one of the first things travelers on Route 219 see when they pass through downtown Ridgway, and its under new ownership. The “old bank building” on the corner of Main Street and Broad Street sold on Nov. 17 after sitting vacant for several years.
It’s owned now by Kim Ezel, a Ridgway native who lives in Perrin, Texas, and her husband Al. The couple purchased the parcel of land the building sits on through an agent representing its previous owner, Walter Krupski, of Ridgway.
“I remember what it looked like when I was a little girl,” Kim Ezel said during a phone interview Wednesday. “It was a glorious building. If you were a little country girl here, it made your eyes just pop open.”
The old bank building is so called because it once housed the National Bank of Elk County. According to Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council, the bank operated there from 1903 to 1964, when it moved to St. Marys under a new name. The building has served several functions since; its upper floors were once home to a radio station and its main floor was most recently an antique store.
The Ezells own a home in Ridgway, and Kim Ezell said she still has a lot of family that lives in the area. The couple put $50,000 forward in consideration for the property, according to its deed. Kim Ezell said that she may find a use for the building herself if she “falls in love” with it and that she will lease it if she doesn’t.
Currently staying at Ridgway home, the couple is now working to clear out the building.
“We are de-trashing at this point, and trying to sort. The building is packed,” she said. “I think we already removed two dumpsters of trash out of that front room.”
Repairs and updates are to come, she said, like the installation of a new furnace, some plumbing work, and the rewiring of the building. Many of the building’s plasters walls, she said, are in good shape, although some will need to be repaired. Those beyond repair, she said, will be knocked down and rebuilt using other material in the interest of time. The woodwork, she said, is “in remarkable shape,” and needs only to clean and shellacked.
What the couples plans to keep the same, she said, is its exterior.
The sale of the building has generated some buzz in the community, and was the subject of two posts to the Facebook group “Ridgway Coffee and Conversation.” Tina Clancy, who works for the Ridgway Borough of Commerce, spoke positively about it when asked for comment.
“It’s a prime location,” she said. “Thousands of cars go through there a day, and any who person who’s purchased that has a prime piece of property no matter what they do with it.”