A downtown Henderson “cornerstone” will once again be part of the city’s economy and landscape.
“We’re just glad it’s happening, and we can save really the largest building downtown,” Barrow said. “It’s been a large, arduous worry because everybody really had resigned to the fact the building would be coming down at some point.”
Henderson Community Development Director Paul Duncan added, “We’re fortunate to have someone who wants to renovate the building and keep the downtown historical area alive by renovating the bank. … It’s a part of downtown, and it would be a great tribute to remodel this thing and bring it back to life.”
The First National Bank building dates to 1902. At the time, it was a 35-foot wide, two-story building, Worthington said. Then in 1931, when many areas were experiencing effects of the Great Depression, he said Rusk County enjoyed an oil boom, and the building’s width was expanded to 50 feet. Two floors and a penthouse also were added.
Over the years, top floors of the building served as office space for various professionals, including attorneys and doctors, said Art Rou-sseau, member of the Henderson Historic Preservation Committee.
“There was just a need for office space and other things in Henderson, and two floors were added because of that,” he said.
Now Worthington, who grew up in Henderson, said he has purchased the approximately 18,000-square-foot, four-story building with the goal to save it, remodel it and lease it out.
His plans for the second floor include about 4,000 square feet of Class A office space. He said he also plans to have four to six upscale residences in the building.
On the first floor, maybe someone will put in a restaurant, he said.
He said he also plans to have a lobby on the first floor “to bring grandeur back to the building.”
But he was clear that the project won’t happen quickly in a “rapid fire situation” but rather one step at a time.
“Luckily, I’m able to take it slow,” Worthington said.
But once the project is completed, Rousseau said he believes it will continue to spur downtown.
“All it takes is one or two (projects) and you get the movement. … I think once the bank gets started, it will spur a lot of other activity to get other buildings redone. It also proves you can take an old building and make something totally usable and financially feasible out of it,” he said. “I like the idea of having an older building that’s stable. They’re going to do a good job with it.”