by Ardie Arvidson
Carolina Bank held the grand opening and ribbon cutting on Thursday for its new headquarters in downtown Florence. It was nearly two years in the making. The bank is at 185. W. Evans St.
A soft opening was held in December 2018 for the 19,200-square-foot building, which cost an estimated $4.5 million. It hosts the bank’s 15th branch location in addition to its new headquarters.
“We are very pleased with the results,” said Vera Herbert, vice president and a fourth-generation member of the Beasley family, founders of the family-owned bank more than 80 years ago in Lamar. “It was a lot of work to get to this point.”
Renovations were started in June 2017.
Adding a third story to the two-story building is what took so long in the renovation process, Herbert said.
Herbert said that in the early 1900s the building was three stories. She said it is believed that the third floor burned and was never replaced.
When Carolina Bank purchased the building it was only two stories and housed the Art Trail gallery.
“In order to house our operations, we needed a third floor,” Herbert said.
The bank tried to go back as much as possible to the original look from the turn of the century.
The first floor houses the new branch operations and the wealth management services. The second floor includes operations such as loan and deposit operations, as well as information technology. Located on the third floor are the executive offices and the audit department.
“A lot of our coming here had to do with the growth in Florence,” Herbert said.
She said the bank wanted to be a part of that growth and to be more accessible to many of its customers.
The bank has helped finance projects downtown and looks forward to being a part of the growth in the downtown district.
Bank President Rick Beasley said at the ribbon cutting that his grandfather had a vision in 1936 and opened a small bank in Lamar. His son opened one in Darlington and from there it has grown. And now they have moved their headquarters to Florence.
“This is just the start of what is going to happen in Florence,” Mayor Pro Tem Frank J. “Buddy” Brand II told Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce ambassadors, business leaders, bank personnel and friends gathered in front of the bank for the ribbon cutting. “Florence is on the move.”
He welcomed Carolina Bank to Florence’s downtown as part of the city’s growth.
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