The Left Bank, above, is an 1864 High Victorian brick building that served as a bank for almost 150 years. In spring 2013, Merchants Bank decided to consolidate offices in southwestern Vermont, and very generously donated its historic building at 5 Bank Street in North Bennington to two non-profit organizations: The Fund for North Bennington, Inc. and Preservation Trust of Vermont, Inc.
The Fund for North Bennington, Inc. became the sole owner in 2016.
The building has been redeveloped as part of The Fund's programmatic mission to assure preservation of the building's historic character, to provide community event space and as an incubator for local enterprise. The Fund's primary goal in redeveloping the property was to encourage lively activity that would contribute to North Bennington's strong sense of community, and would bring increased vitality to the village's Main Street. Calling the property "The Left Bank," the building was converted to office and community uses. The former banking space -- "The Lobby" -- is used for community events, conferences, movies, yoga, music and movement classes, art exhibits and poetry readings.
Since taking ownership of The Left Bank through a new entity – The Left Bank, LLC – The Fund for North Bennington, Inc. has completed energy-efficiency upgrades, installed a solar generating array on the roof (with generous assistance from Green Mountain Power), laid a new wooden floor in The Lobby, renovated several office spaces and upgraded temperature control systems. One of the former bank vaults has been re-purposed for archival storage. The Left Bank, LLC plans to take further measures to conserve the historic facade of the building. Merchants Bank continues to offer drive-through ATM services under a lease.
For more information about The Left Bank project, including contact information for arranging events, visit the property's web site here (outside link). The web site also contains historic photos of the property.