ROGERSVILLE — In downtown Rogersville, 2020 will be remembered as the year the old US Bank building became the place you go if you want your vision to be 20/20.
Late last year, Rogersville optometry partners Dr. Eddie Abernathy and Dr. Amanda Dellinger finalized the purchase of the former US Bank building at 107 E. Main St. in the heart of downtown Rogersville.
Their plan is to begin moving their optometry office — currently located two blocks away at 311 E. Main St. — into the old US Bank building at the end of the month. The goal is to be ready to see patients in the new offices the first week in March.
Abernathy and Dellinger told the Times News on Monday the main reason for the move is they need more space.
“We're trying to speed it up”
They have enough staff and they have enough equipment to meet the needs of their patients. But with multiple pieces of equipment in each room, sometimes patients have to wait for a room to become available.
“Some of these rooms we have three or four different instruments in each room, and sometime patients have to wait,” Abernathy said. “Some of our equipment is right out in the open (hallway). We're trying to speed it up so each (piece of testing equipment) will have its own room.”
Their current offices are 3,500 square feet. The ground floor of the old bank building is about 11,500 square feet.
The new optometry offices will take up 10,000 square feet, and they will try to rent out the ground floor community conference room that is accessible from the alley beside the Masonic Lodge.
“Ultimately this will help our patients because as of right now we're back-logging based on inaccessibility to get to the rooms, so we have people waiting just to be able to get into a room,” Dellinger said. “Not that we don't have the ability to see them. We're just kind of bottle-necking.”
A third optometrist is expected to join Abernathy and Dellinger in their new location in May.
“Maintain the bank feel”
There are five vaults, and they plan on using two of them as examination rooms. The teller area will be used for check-in, and the bank lobby and office configurations won't change.
Dellinger said, “Our goal is to maintain the bank feel. We want it to look like the bank. We're not changing much.”
The building has always played a big role on downtown Rogersville events, such as hosting the Christmas Tree contest during the Christmas parade or hosting the Heritage Days art contest.
Abernathy said he hopes those traditions can continue, although with it being a medical practice instead of a bank, they’ll have to take that into consideration.
The top priority is to get the optometry offices open and functioning. Then they have plans to decorate the lobby and offices with rustic photos and artwork from the history of Rogersville.
Dellinger is a member of the Rogersville Main Street Association, and she wants the property to be a showcase for the community.
“There’s nothing that is off the table right now,” she said. “We’re not saying no to anything. I think it’s just a matter of getting in and seeing how it plays out.”
Meanwhile, they’ll be brainstorming ideas for what to do with the vacant offices upstairs, as well as the roof. They’re hoping to rent out vacant offices on the second and third floors.
The history of that location
The first bank building at 107 E. Main St. was built in 1830 and initially operated as a dry goods store and pharmacy.
According to former Hawkins County historian Henry Price, the Citizens Bank of Rogersville was chartered in 1887 and operated in the Masonic Lodge next door until 1890, when it moved into 107 E. Main St.
A new bank building and post office was constructed in 1898, replacing the 1830 building. In 1934, the bank merged with Hawkins County Bank to become the Citizens Union Bank.
The existing structure was built in 1954, although it underwent a major renovation in 1978-79, when the bank building assumed its current appearance.