By RAY QUIROGA
The local citizenry curious and even concerned about the fate of the iconic San Benito Bank and Trust building located in downtown San Benito can breathe a little easier these days as a county-led effort to rehabilitate and ultimately repurpose the structure as county offices commenced this week.
According to documents provided by the San Benito Historical Society to the NEWS which were used to apply for the historical marker adorning the wall outside the bank’s front entrance — chartered in 1908 — a year after the origination of San Benito itself, brothers W. Scott and Alba Heywood founded the San Benito Bank and Trust Company.
Three years later, in 1911, when construction on the building was completed, the Heywood brothers relocated the bank to the now iconic Spanish Colonial Revival structure on 198 South Sam Houston Blvd. For the past 111 years, it has been one of the downtown cornerstones.
However, since the retreat of Capital One in 2017 — the building’s prior occupant and owner– the grand structure has sat vacant, and dormant.
More recently, however, during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which redefined daily life for many in the county, government administrators found themselves brainstorming ways of making day-to-day county business safer for both county staff and the public.
At the same time, officials sought methods of mitigating a brewing overcrowding issue at the county annex building on Frontage and Williams Rd. (popularity known as the old Levi’s building).
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