Asst. to Editor
The wooden partition on West Commerce Street merely hints at the big changes coming for Altus NBC. They’re beginning an ambitious three-phase process of refurbishing their facility. Originally completed in 1928 the cornerstone on the north side of the Downtown Square became NBC in 1931. Upgrading the eighty-four year old landmark will give them more event space, put the safe deposit boxes on the ground floor and give the loan officers and administrators more contact with the customers. Part of the process may also take some people down Memory Lane.
Phase one, according to Altus NBC President Jeff Greenlee, will help restore part of the north side of the downtown Altus square similar to the late 1920s. The building space on the east side of NBC will be transformed into an Event Center where an old movie theater once stood. The front of the building will recreate the old Wigwam Theater with a box office and glass coming attractions marquees.
The Wigwam, according to history buffs, was also named the State and Cinema theaters at different times. The theater was one of five theaters on the square.The Delta was on the south side, next to Cumberly Drug Store. The Ritz was next to the current U.S. Cellular store, down from The Leader before it became The Altus Times Democrat. The Plaza, still located on the square, was next to Sharons and Wilson’s Dry Goods. Originally on the north side there were two theaters, the State in the middle of the block and the Wigwam next to NBC. The State closed and moved down to the Wigwam site.When Terry Cary worked at the State in the 60s, he said children’s tickets were 15 cents and a quarter for adults.
In 1993, then known as the Cinema, the building burned down and caused some damage to the third and fourth floors of NBC. Ken Fergeson, chairman of NBC, purchased the land after the fire and has planned this construction for six years. Designed by architect Jim Atkinson, of GBA Architecture, the event center is being built by Terry Heller Construction. It will be an exciting addition to the downtown square.
The event center will be a 2,000 square-foot one-story facility, with a two-story facade. The upper structure will cleverly hide the air conditioners for NBC to the west, and match the facade on the building occupied by Southwest Printing, to the east. Currently, the replacing of utilities, water, sewer and electric is being done before a steel structure will be laid in the existing building site.
Phase two, which is slated to begin in December, will include major remodeling of the main lobby area of the bank itself. Greenlee said this main lobby hasn’t been remodeled for 50 years. Planned improvements he said will include: moving the safe deposit boxes down to ground level, combining loan and deposit operations functions, adding a wheel chair accessible teller window, and adding a customer service island for greater convenience.
The third phase will be a remodeling of the existing north side of the first floor to provide better public restroom facilities. This will also provide more lease-out space. Other refurbishing will improve energy efficiency and provide additional fire protection and increase security.
In addition to their historic Commerce Street location, NBC has their North Main and Sequoyah branch, Building 24 on Altus Air Force Base, and their drive-in location at Commerce and Lee.