A building lauded as a historic landmark in downtown Hamilton is entering a new phase as an event center.
The Benison at 100 S. Third St. is in an imposing space that, for the vast majority of its nearly 100-year history, served as the Home Federal Savings and Loan Association headquarters building. It most recently served as a Chaco Credit Union location.
The new event center, which hosted a couple of events last month, received its full occupancy permit Monday, allowing it to use its balcony, according to owner Christy Nelson.
Nelson said she fell in love with the building’s grand architecture and its history when she first toured it in April 2018.
She spent months working to renovate the building into a one-of-a-kind spot for everything from weddings to business meetings.
“We see ourselves as a unique venue focusing on hospitality,” Nelson said. “We really want to know the people that come in. We don’t want them to be just a number coming in and out these doors.”
The venue’s name is derived from the Latin word “benedictio,” which means “ blessing,” she said
Nelson said she is emphasizing to staffers that every act they do is part of the center’s “blessing” message, including presenting a toothbrush and toothpaste to a bride and groom, a tissue to a misty-eyed relative, or a bottle of water to an exhausted celebrant.
“We believe the impact that we make while people are in our building goes beyond just their time here,” she said. “It goes into their future, into their lives. I want us as a team to realize the importance of what we do and the importance of serving people more than us.
The building’s renovation from bank to event center transformed its main banking area into a ballroom, while preserving detailed decorative elements and a Mosler-made bank vault.
An area that formerly was a glassed-in office was customized to become a pass-through bar complete with design elements on one side that help it resemble the giant safe. A countertop on the other side is made from the bank’s original teller windows and rests atop two doors from the building’s safes.
Office space, a teller’s station and a small lobby on the building’s south side have been transformed into a free-flowing area aimed at providing buffet space and drawing a guest toward the main ballroom area.
LED up wash lights on the building’s walls can be programmed to “any color of the rainbow,” and can be programmed to strobe, stay solid or fade in and out, Nelson said.
A bridal suite is located in former office space to the side of the bank’s vault. A grooms quarters, a formal “man-cave” room, is located inside a former basement safe.
The Benison features flexible seating of up to 200 guests across multiple rooms, including the balcony. Two other rooms offer space to conduct business seminars, professional development and training for up to 25 or 15 guests.
Parking is available in the building’s own lot and in the adjacent parking garage, which offers free parking on nights and weekends, Nelson said.
City officials previously told this news outlet that the building’s its transformation is a sign the city’s economic revitalization is beginning to spread beyond High Street.
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