INB Purposefully Takes a Step Back in Time
By: Marilyn Titone Schaefer
VP, Communications Director
As employees and customers mark the 20th anniversary of the new INB, there’s one physical piece of Springfield history the staff has worked hard to keep in the past. That’s the building at 431 S. 4th Street.
The INB building at the corner of 4th and Jackson streets, catty-corner from the Governor’s Mansion, began in the 1930s as a showcase for the Jennings Ford dealership. The building is accented by large windows, exquisite chandeliers, terra cotta floors and ornate molding. The salesmen worked on the main floor. Other employees worked behind the scenes – repairing cars, readying cars for sale — in the cavernous, concrete body of the 40,000 square foot space.
Today, the space is a modern, efficient work space for about 60 INB employees who handle the bank’s “back-end processes.” Executive Vice President Pat Phalen says that in 1999, he couldn’t imagine needing this much space. “We already had a three-story office space that we weren’t fully using. We thought it would last us forever.”
But here he was, looking for space in the early 2000’s. “The building at the corner of 4th and Jackson became available, and it just seemed to fit,” says Pat. After serving its time in the auto business, the building had spent the 1980s and 90s as storage for the state of Illinois. And it was in rough shape.
“But it had great bones and great structure,” continues Pat. “It just needed a major manicure.”
History in the Making
Tom Gihl, executive vice president and COO of INB, says INB could have simply remodeled the building, but decided to put the building on the historic registry. That brought with it oversight from various state and local groups.
“It was really important that we matched the neighborhood,” Tom explains. As one of the largest buildings downtown, he realized the final outcome could have a major impact on the neighborhood. As a result, a lot of thought went into the restoration. While they wanted to maintain the historical integrity of the building, it had to work for a 21st century workforce.
Today, when you walk into the INB Conference Center – the centerpiece of the property -- you’re walking into the room much as it was when it was a car showroom. The chandeliers, the flooring, and the windows are all original. Pat explains that each of the windows was manufactured to match the original. Each is made up of individual window panes; some have as many as 64 small panes per opening. You’ll even find that the large elevator – large enough to move a car from one floor of the building to another – intact and working. Even with history throughout, the main work areas have an industrial, loft feel. You’ll find large, updated restrooms, a big break area and glass-enclosed offices.
Greg Floyd, vice president, deposit operations, says he and his staff handle the electronic banking functions as well as assure all the dollars in personal and business checking and savings accounts, CDs, IRAs and wire transfers balance at the end of every day.
Because his team needs to work together on many things, Greg says the “Chicago-loft” style of the work environment is perfect. While there are a few closed offices on the perimeter of the space, everything else is open, flooding the area with light. More important than the space is the location, nearly next door to the bank’s main building. “It’s great to be able to dash over to main and talk to someone. It’s sometime easier and better to talk face-to-face with someone.”
Greg had a front-row seat to the transformation of “Jennings Ford” to INB’s Operations and Conference Center. Today, he’s proud to tell people, “I work where Abe walked. It’s special to be a part of history. I often wonder how someone had the presence of mind to take pictures back in the 1920’s and 30’s, way before selfies!”
Watch a video about the building’s transformation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PiBEdQs0kCI&t=3s