POSTED: Tuesday, December 18, 2012 - 6:21pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, December 18, 2012 - 6:27pm
TYLER — It started out as the People's Bank Building built in 1931 and '32 and added onto years later.
"The great depression had started and this was one of the few areas of the country that was kind of booming during the great depression. And the building was built and it was the largest construction project going on at the time west of the Mississippi river," said Andy Bergfeld, one of the new owners.
8 decades later, the legendary 15 story giant still stands strong in downtown Tyler -- now called the People's Petroleum Building.
It just needs a facelift. Andy Bergfeld says he and the Brookshire family are doing it the right way, inside and out.
"The entire electrical system has to be updated, the HVAC system is working but it's not efficient," said Bergfeld.
Bergfeld says the beautiful People's Bank lobby has been sitting vacant since the late '70s!
He thinks it would make a good restaurant and he's hoping to make that happen.
"Many East Texans remember the big neon tower that was once at the top of the building. Unfortunately that was sold for scrap metal so that can't be replaced, but Bergfeld says they're trying their hardest to return everything else to its original "art-deco" glory.
"We're gonna keep with a lot of the original hardwoods and marble that you see and a lot of it will be uncovered," Bergfeld said.
He hopes the extensive restorations will make East Texans proud of the building for another 80 years.
"Everybody you talk to that grew up in the '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s remembers this building as being the centerpiece for downtown and for East Texas for that matter," Bergfeld said.
And they're still looking for tenants whether you're an oil and gas company, attorney, real estate agent or another downtown type business.
He says they're taking 2 floors at a time and the project may take the next 5 years or so to complete.
In the meantime, you can monitor their progress on their People's Petroleum Building Facebook page.