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Lormet Community Federa Credit Union, Oberlin Branch, Mark Lesner Architects, & Associates, Inc. and the Oberlin Heritage Center

The Peoples Banking Company, constructed in 1958, boasted Oberlin’s first drive-in banking for customers, a large meeting room in the basement for community organizations, snow melting sidewalks and a special front display area for exhibits. It remains one of only a few commercial buildings in downtown Oberlin dating from the Modern period, featuring overhanging eaves and 1950s style brick and stone work throughout the exterior. The building was remodeled in the 1980s with the addition of a shed roof and wood siding that covered several original features.

In 2009, the Lormet Community Federal Credit Union purchased that building and was prepared to go forward with an all-new renovation to create its Oberlin branch office. But after Patricia Murphy, executive director of the Oberlin Heritage Center, provided an original photo and other documents about the building as it looked upon completion in 1958, Daniel Cwalina, President and CEO of Lormet, and Mark Lesner, with Mark Lesner Architect & Associates, got very excited about it and rethought their design entirely with the idea of bringing the building back to its 1958 appearance.

The 1980s exterior additions were removed and the stone veneer corner tower exposed and cleaned. A planter was reconstructed to match the original design, and the display case on Main Street was redesigned to increase the display area. Oberlin’s first walk-up ATM unit was integrated into the design, along with new windows, high efficiency-lighting and stainless steel siding. The original drive-through window was restored and the original turquoise-brick clad vault was uncovered during the renovations. The furniture and fabrics were all chosen to reflect those used in interior design during the 1950s. Overall, the rehabilitation project recalls the 1950s look of the original building while adapting it to current needs.

This project represents an investment in the historic integrity of downtown Oberlin and rehabilitates one of Oberlin's few mid-century modern commercial buildings within the city's downtown historic district. The project received a number of awards from area organizations and has helped to spur growing interest in mid-century modernism. It also represents a fruitful partnership between a local business, their architect, and the community’s preservation organization. A nice spin-off from the project has been that the architect, Mark Lesner, has subsequently volunteered his time to talk to children in the Oberlin Heritage Center's Architecture summer camp about his career and work as an architect.

2011 Awards 
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