The Rush County Historical Society, Inc.

Building the Nekoma Bank Museum

Bank Lobby - January 2007 Bank Lobby - January 2007
The bank lobby as it appeared in early January 2007.
In the 1960s, the lobby was modernized with new paint, tile, and a suspended ceiling.

In order to move the building, the original brick vault had to be dismantled. The original vault walls were constructed of four courses of brick with an airspace between the second and third courses. The vault ceiling was approximately six inches of concrete reinforced with barbed net wire. On top of the ceiling was about 12 inches of sand. The reconstructed vault will be made of light weight materials to simulate the appearance of the original.

February 3, 2007: Restoration of the vault is underway.
Vault Interior - January 2007 Vault Door Bullet Safe
Workers have begun to resheet the interior walls of the vault. An opening, cut into the north wall to facilitate removal of the original brickwork on site, has been left to allow the bullet safe to be moved back into the vault. Inspection reports dating back to pre-1920 attest to the age of the vault door. The new floor had to be reinforced to support the massive bullet safe that weighed in at 2,220 pounds.

February 10, 2007: The modern ceiling and wood paneling comes down!
Paint Samples Uncovered Suspended Ceiling Removal Bank Lobby During Demolition
When the wood paneling was removed, a variety of paint schemes were uncovered. The Society plans to repaint the lobby in a color scheme common to the 1920s era. A volunteer removes the recessed lights. The modern fixtures are being replaced with antique decorative fixtures. Demolition of the ceiling is completed. The ceiling will be reconstructed to replicate the original lathe and plaster.

February 24, 2007: The new ceiling goes up and the wood floor is exposed.
Preparing the Ceiling Stripping the floor New Sheetrock
Nailing strips were placed on the ceiling and sheetrock work was finished on the west wall. Volunteers quickly discovered that stripping the hardwood floor would be a slow process. It was also hard on the knees. New sheetrock covers the ceiling and west wall. The lobby is ready for the finishers to tape and mud.

March 3, 2007: The sheetrock finish work is underway. Workers move outside in the warmer weather.
Sheetrock has been taped. Stripping the floor Repairing Windows
The finishers have completed the taping and mudding the ceiling and rear wall. The next step is to apply a texture to match the original. The modern backroom is being painted and designed to compliment the historical lobby. Fred prepares to temporarily cover one of the rear windows. Side windows are being reglazed and primed.

March 28, 2007: The walls in the lobby and vault are finished! There is a light at the end of the tunnel.
The lobby is painted Stripping the floor Repairing Windows
The board decided to go with a color scheme typical of the era rather than the very dark green original. Concrete has been applied to the vault floor. Brick from the original vault is visible in the corner. Some items from the bank were stored in the office. They will be cataloged and properly stored.

April 21, 2007: The floor has been stripped and refinished. It's time to paint, clean and move in the furniture.

The lobby is painted Stripping the floor Repairing Windows
Gary sands the windows in preparation for primer. Lawrence dresses stone for the front steps. The stone was quarried in southwestern Rush County one week ago. The lobby is ready for finishing touches. Soon the door of the Nekoma Bank Museum will officially reopen to the public for the first time since 1987.

It has taken just under four months to transform the modernized bank back into its 1916 style.
Finishing touches to the lobby include seven vintage 100-year-old light fixtures. Although the fixtures were not original to the building, the museum curator chose a style that would have been used when the building was constructed.

February 2009: We are now embarking on Phase 2 of the restoration project, renovation of the back storage area into gallery space.

Tearing out restroom Wall Opened Up New Lights Installed
Amidst clouds of dust, Jim sweeps debris from the restroom floor as Fred prepares to remove an abandoned window. The once narrow hallway is opened up providing a glimpse of the new space. With a coat of paint and new track lighting, the room takes on a new look.

The new gallery space will provide space for additional exhibits illustrating the evolution of the banking industry in rural Kansas and how it relates to to the world-wide financial industry.

The new space also includes a gallery of photographs depicting Rush County banks, and a re-created turn-of-the-century office.

Timeline: The Last 30 Years (Click on the images for a larger picture.)
Lobby 1977 Lobby 2001 Lobby Jan. 2007 Lobby May 2007
1977 2003 January 2007 May 2007

The Rush County Historical Society would like to thank
all of the persons who made the dedication ceremony such a huge success!

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