Gardens to Gables

Farmer’s Bank Building, Smiths Grove, Warren County, Kentucky

I like to “collect” buildings by type, and the historic, small town bank is one I am always excited to find. Most are no longer in service, and many are crumbling. But a few sparkle with renewed life, and the Farmer’s Bank Building, now a cafe, is a bright spot for the community of Smiths Grove.

The Farmer’s Bank Building in Smiths Grove, Kentucky.

 The railroad arrived in Smiths Grove in 1859, some 15 years after the first post office opened in the rural community. The town is located about 14 miles northeast of Bowling Green, the county seat of Warren County, and like many railroad towns in Kentucky, it boomed as soon as the tracks were laid.

Circa 1978 photo of the bank and its companions on First Street. Photo from the National Register of Historic Places files.

 Dave and James R. Kirby hired an itinerant stone mason  to construct the Farmer’s Bank building in 1894. The limestone building is simple in form – a one-story, front gable structure – but the facade details are delightful. Two stone turrets bookend the stepped parapet on the facade, with a central entablature bearing the name “Farmer’s Bank” above the double entry doors and paired windows.

Photocopy of envelope with a return address which reads: If not called for in 5 days, return to THE FARMERS BANK, J. R. KIRBY & CO. SMITH’S GROVE, KY. Image from the Library Special Collections at Western Kentucky University.

The Great Depression put an end to business in the wonderful little building, and the bank closed – like so many others – in 1931. It was apparently used as a post office for a while, but then sat empty, while the stone turned dark from grime. In 2015, though, the bank reopened its doors – not as a financial institution, but as a vegan restaurant and cafe.

These three buildings face the railroad in Smiths Grove.

The best kind of preservation success story, I think – a tasty one!

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15 Thoughts on “Farmer’s Bank Building, Smiths Grove, Warren County, Kentucky

  1. Joberta Wells on July 12, 2017 at 10:04 am said:

    I LOVE IT!

  2. Ginna Schneider on July 12, 2017 at 10:14 am said:

    Just love this.

  3. Scott Jones on July 12, 2017 at 5:08 pm said:

    My parents owned the building from 90’s to the late 2007! They enjoyed the building so much and was perfect location for Antique Shop. We still love the building and miss it very much (especially mother). When they decided to retire and fulfill their wish to live in Florida, the building was sold to construction company for offices.

    It has a rich history of being a bank, Smiths Grove Post office, Attorney offices, and antique store. People traveling in from interstate would always come in and be in awe of the building! The vault door had to be removed due to customers not sure of going in Lol. It took a security company to remove Door and was incredibly heavy. The door was brought back when building sold to keep it as close to original as possible.

    So great to see it!!

    • Janie-Rice Brother on July 13, 2017 at 9:44 am said:

      Thank you for reading and sharing your memories of the building! It truly is a captivating piece of architecture.

  4. Daniel Prater on July 12, 2017 at 8:00 pm said:

    Terrific reuse of a stunning structure…Thank you!!

  5. Cafe has closed and is currently vacant

  6. Eileen Starr on July 12, 2017 at 10:33 pm said:

    This is a remarkable piece of Smiths Grove and Warren County’s architectural history! I want to own the bank so I can adore it up close and personal. Thank you for writing about this wonderful bank building!

  7. Denise Houchins on July 13, 2017 at 10:36 am said:

    Hi there! Thanks for doing a piece on the Farmer’s Bank building. I live on Main St in Smiths Grove and when I moved here in 2003, I fell in love with the town and its people. The cafe at the bank is actually still open, it just on weekends.

    • Janie-Rice Brother on July 13, 2017 at 9:05 pm said:

      Thank you for reading! Yes, I contacted the cafe earlier today to confirm that they are still open – and was relieved to hear that they are indeed still operating.

  8. Steve Flora on July 15, 2017 at 7:38 am said:

    The bank building was the Smiths Grove Post Office from at least the 1950s up to the new Post Office being built in the 1980s (unsure on exact dates).

  9. One of my favorite places to go. The food wonderfully tasty and the ambiance is unbelievable!!

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