HAMLET — With its penny-tile floors, once-rich wood paneling and brass teller’s cages, the grand old Bank of Hamlet is in the throes of a renaissance as owner David Thompson strips floors, and removes years of accumulated junk and grime.
A man of many trades, Thompson during a break from work said Tuesday that the building would become the base for an online site selling plumbing and mechanics’ tools, railroad memorabilia and building supplies he has collected. And he’s negotiating to bring some of Nancy Rivers’s thousands of square feet of antiques and collectibles over from the defunct Main Street Central next door.
“I’ve always wanted this place,” said Thompson, whose Thompson Enterprises has carried him through railroad work, and home renovation and construction. A bit of an archaeologist of architecture, Thompson also has a cache of doors, light fixtures and other items salvaged from old homes.
“There’s a lot of thrift stores around here, and I want to do it differently,” Thompson said. He will sell online, with the old bank’s being a “pickup spot” until he has eliminated enough inventory and completed enough restoration to open the double building to the public. That way, “I won’t have to depend on the town (alone).”
Thompson already sells on Craigslist and eBay, he said, and has a couple of rentals he owns and manages. He’s surprised to be starting another business at age 58, but he said he needed a fallback plan — something he always has depended on.
He pointed, too, to other work going on along Main Street: Jerry’s Diner has opened up. The Patrick Building has welcomed Clearwater Counseling, a speech therapist and a psychologist. And other business owners have completed recent renovations.
Having grown up in Hamlet, Thompson remembers when the old bank looked its best. He said that was during the filming of “Billy Bathgate” in 1990, when movietown paint and signs restored Hamlet to its railroad glory days.
He has looked at the lime rock and limestone bricks of the bank facade and wondered how to improve and unify the look. And he thinks he may not ever get the time or inclination to paint the towering inside ceiling.
As for restoring the bank to its former architectural glory: “There’s no way I’d ever be able to afford that,” he said.
For now, though, he’s happy to have stripped years of gunk, glue, paint and carpet from the floor of the building not occupied by teller cages.
He bought the double lot building last October and hopes to open in some capacity by Seaboard Festival weekend, in late October of this year.
“You’ve kind of got to piecemeal it,” he said of resurrecting the building. “It’s just a little too much … to open it, bam!
“But I’ll get it. I’ll get it eventually.”
Reach Christine Carroll at 910-817-2673 or [email protected]