NESQUEHONING -- There was a celebration Wednesday in Carbon County, marking the renovation of an old bank, bringing new life to the historic building.
A Nesquehoning native saw the vacant place as an opportunity to bring his business to his hometown.
It was a ribbon cutting to formally dedicate the new home to ETA Benefits in Nesquehoning.
This building was built in 1914, the longtime home to a bank on the main street through town. In 2011 the bank closed, the building was empty, and ETA owner Joe Pilla saw an opportunity in his hometown.
"When I first told my employees I actually broke down, just the thought of moving a business built from scratch to a hometown and save an old bank building has just been incredible," Pilla said.
Pilla wanted to celebrate bringing his insurance and employee benefits business to where he grew up. He started in Tamaqua 15 years ago and is keeping a branch there.
He also opened a branch of his famous Skipper Dippers ice cream where the bank's ATM used to be.
"We have four boys and they all sort of left the nest but didn't go too far away," said Joe's father Tom Pilla.
Pilla's proud parents love how the building has been preserved. They banked there for decades.
"We got paid every two weeks, come right out of work and come right here and cash the check."
"It was kind of a shock, kind of, because we didn't expect him to be looking at the bank building. But it worked out good for him," said Joe's mother Felicia Pilla.
While a lot has been redone in this building, there are still reminders of the history of this place, that this was a bank for most of its life. The bank vault isn't going anywhere.
"We couldn't move the six-ton vault doors, but we were able to move all the counters, carpet, paint, spiff it up a little bit. It's been great, i just can't believe we're here," Joe Pilla said.
His neighbor next door is glad he is. The owners of longtime restaurant Lengyels are glad to see the building put to good use.
"It's about as close to it will be as it was before. He did a good job on it," said George Lengyel.
Joe Pilla would love to see other businesses follow his lead and expand in the smaller communities of our area.