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Dime Savings and Trust Company
2011 - Dime Savings Bank Building.jpg
Dime Savings and Trust Company, October 2011
Location 12 North 7th Street, Allentown, Pennsylvania
Area 0.5 acres (0.20 ha)
Built 1925
Architect Tilghman Moyer and Co.
Architectural style Art Deco
NRHP reference No. 85000036
Added to NRHP January 3, 1985

Dime Savings and Trust Company, also known as First Valley Bank, is a historic bank building located at Allentown, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania. It was built in 1925, and is a "T"-shaped, five-story red brick building. The base is sheathed in limestone, and the distinctive brick and limestone attic level is reflective of the Art Deco style.

It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.

History

The Dime Savings and Trust Company, though using a name first used in the 1840s, was founded in 1921 as the fifth largest bank in Allentown.

When constructed, the Dime Savings building was one of three principal buildings in the Allentown Central Business District, along with the Americus Hotel and the Pennsylvania Power and Light Building were all erected in the same two-year span reflecting the Art Deco design in Allentown.

The interior main banking room is one of the best preserved monumental banking rooms of its day in the Allentown region. The room occupies the full width of the front wing, and extends back beyond the elevator core. At the rear it is spanned by a balcony that marks the full two stories of the room. The balcony is accented by a blind niche framed by engaged piers and consoles. The room itself is surrounded by a deep, dentillated cornice, similar to that of the exterior, which with the arcaded walls completes the sense of a monumental masonry space common to major banks. One final touch of note are a pair of handsome Art Deco bronze chandeliers with fluted sides that are suspended from the ceiling at each end of the room.

By the 1930 Depression it had become one of the largest in the city, but it failed by 1932, just seven years after it opened, leaving only its building to recall the financial. institutions and businessmen who had formed the Dime Savings and Trust Company.

After the banks failure, the Dime Savings and Trust Company building has spent most of its existence vacant while a series of owners tried and failed to find ways to use it. Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985, the monumental 1st floor room was restored in 1991 by a private owner, who was given a citywide award. It housed an antique market for a few years and survived the catastrophic 23 February 1994 sinkhole-caused collapse of its adjacent neighbor Corporate Plaza (22 N. Seventh St)

Since then, ownership changed hands several times, but the building remained vacant. It was later owned for a time by developer Abe Atiyeh, who put it up for auction on eBay in 2001. A Philadelphia-based creator of upscale furniture purchased it in 2004 and planned a combination restaurant/furniture showroom, only to abandon that plan in 2007.

Redevelopment

The building was renovated as part of the PPL Center project that began construction in 2012. The structure was incorporated into the Arena complex. The Dime Bank Building is used as the lobby for the 170-room Marriott Renaissance Hotel that is attached to the arena. Its two-story foyer, once the main banking area, houses the front desk and upper floors include offices and meeting space for the arena operators.

During the construction of the arena, the foundation was underpinned, and the building received additional stabilization. The facade was repaired with appropriate control joints, masonry supports and drainage that replaced systems failing in the current structure. New roofing and windows were installed, adding energy efficiency but designed to match the existing look.

However, because of leaking bricks, the arena owners decided to strip the exterior above the first floor off the building, down to its steel structural skeleton. The building's existing columns and beams were reinforced with steel plates to support new uses as the Dime Bank was incorporated into the arena. Lost was the iconic attic story, in classic art deco style. Also lost was the beautiful ornate ceiling in the monumental banking chamber.

The remaining parts of the building were incorporated into the Renaissance hotel, which opened in the summer of 2015. The on-site restaurant is named "The Dime" in recognition of the bank.

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