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Grant will be used to renovate Pa. bank as visitors center

April 29, 1999

Valley National Bank BuildingBy DON AINES / Staff Writer, Chambersburg

photo: JOE CROCETTA / staff photographer




CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The plans aren't set in stone, but U.S. Rep. Bud Shuster, R-Pa., announced Thursday that $1 million in federal funds will be used to convert a marble bank building into a visitors center for the Chambersburg area.

The former Valley National Bank on Memorial Square will be part of a $2.25 million project that includes construction of a three-story office building adjacent to the bank on Lincoln Way East, according to David G. Sciamanna, Chambersburg Area Development Corporation executive director.

Sciamanna said the $1 million Shuster has proposed for the project will be used to restore the bank, built in 1914. The balance of the money would come from private sources.

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According to Sciamanna, the nonprofit development corporation would be able to receive the federal money directly, being reimbursed for money spent on the restoration.

The building is owned by the F&M Trust Co. next door. The bank acquired it about four years ago from Franklin County, which used it for office space.

The bank building, which has been vacant for several years, will be "completely restored to its 1914 grandeur," Sciamanna said. In addition to marble inside and out, the bank has a mahogany board room and huge vault.

Sciamanna said the development corporation will buy the old bank for $325,000 in the near future. He said the restored bank and new office building could be ready for occupancy by Christmas 2000.

"Without the grant, we weren't going to be doing anything" with the building, Sciamanna said. Once completed, the development corporation and Greater Chambersburg Chamber of Commerce will move to the new building from their offices at 75 S. Second St.

Sciamanna said office space will be available for lease.

Shuster's announcement said Pennsylvania Transportation Secretary Brad Mallory will present the project to the State Transportation Commission on Thursday, May 6. The project will be included in Pennsylvania's Twelve-Year Transportation Program.

Sciamanna said the bank restoration is one of three major projects the development corporation is backing to try to return business activity to the downtown area.

The others are the Village on the Falling Spring, an office and park complex that would cost an estimated $10 million in public and private funds, and a $4 million cultural arts center next to the Capitol Theatre on South Main Street.

Shuster, chairman of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said the bank will "serve as the eastern gateway" to the 140-mile Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridor.

"We're not trying to be a museum. ... We want to create a space that's used and appreciated by the community," Sciamanna said.

While plans for the visitors center are still being developed, he said it will likely include historical exhibits and thematic displays about the region, as well as visitor information and other attractions.

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