NEW ORLEANS – The crescent city is unique. It’s the music, the food, the architecture, the people, Mardi Gras, poboys, and so on and so forth. If you didn’t know it before, the abundance of travel shows, movies, novels, magazine articles, documentaries and television series about New Orleans have surely made you aware of it by now. It’s almost exhausting trying to keep up with all the reasons New Orleans is special.
So let us simplify things for you. We can break down almost everything that makes New Orleans unique in one off-the-beaten-path location. It’s called The Bank, and it’s nuts.
First thing’s first. The Bank does not boast a fancy French Quarter street address, because The Bank is not “fancy.” It’s not tucked away uptown, on Magazine street or in one of the many trendy neighborhoods of this fast growing city. The Bank, with its central city location, is not trying to be cool, because it simply is cool. This place is real. It’s authentic New Orleans and it’s not trying to be anything more or less than that.
Take one step into this architectural salvage heaven and your eyes will not be able to rest. It’s 48,000 square feet of knobs, hinges, door stops, windows, mantles, chairs, desks, tables, benches, locks, brackets, bars, beds, and finally doors. For us, The Bank is all about the doors.
It is here that we find reclaimed doors for our clients. Yes, we have other sources – but none quite like The Bank.
Take Kelly for example. She and her family have owned The Bank for more than 40 years. Kelly hates new cypress. And we don’t mean that Kelly simply prefers the old stuff. We mean Kelly HATES new cypress like a Saint’s fan hates the Atlanta Falcons. Her life’s work is dedicated to sourcing, stripping and bringing new life to old-growth cypress wood and the new stuff isn’t allowed to the party. Which is to say, she is right up our alley.
“I get a special feeling when I see old cypress,” Kelly says. “I can’t stand the new stuff though.”
So it’s here that we find aisle after aisle of every shape, size and style of old reclaimed door you can imagine. They actually attempted to do inventory about five years ago (This would be like taking inventory on the number of sticks, leaves and branches in your yard after a hurricane) and found out that they had at least 3,000 doors before they decided to stop counting.
And these aren’t just old doors piled on top of each other. These are carefully selected and masterfully reborn from a family and staff of craftsmen who are truly passionate about their work.
Their process of peeling away the layers of neglect and lead paint is a painstaking one, not to mention a trade secret. But we can tell you there’s a chemical bath involved that would peel the skin off your face in about one second, according to Kelly. We didn’t test the assertion, but can tell you the smell of those chemicals alone nearly did the job anyway.
From there, their team of woodworkers and craftsman go to work – bringing old doors back to life, creating new chairs, mantels and shutters from old wood, or simply finding a home for a giant old cypress joist.
Along the way, they find and repurpose any number of trinkets, novelties, hardware, scrap wood and other random pieces. All which find their way into the store, are organized neatly and tucked away into every nook and cranny of the shop. Every inch of its 48,000 square feet is put to use.
So when our clients need one, two, three or 20 reclaimed doors, we almost always take them here. It’s uniquely New Orleans and owned and operated by a group of people who are actually more passionate about old cypress doors than even we are. At the Bank, we get our pick of the litter, and our clients get a piece of history in their homes.
“Every piece of wood in this shop has a story,” says Kelly. “And if it doesn’t, I’ll make one up.”