Since six months had elapsed since Brian Smith announced his construction company had purchased the Trust Building and will renovate it, I sat down with him recently to discuss how things were coming along.

He said everything’s on track for him to open his offices on the fourth floor of the building by next December. Tenants will be sought for the remaining three floors.

Although there had been talk in the past of luxury apartments, Smith rejected that idea, saying they “were not in keeping with the historical significance of the building.”

For the ground-floor tenant, Smith said, “We’d love to have some kind of specialty coffee shop in there.”

He said the design plan is to duplicate the appearance of the ground floor as it appeared in a 1938 photo, complete with the marble floor that’s still there.

I asked Smith what he’d learned about the challenges of restoring a historic building.

“The building is an odd shape, long and narrow,” he said. “It’s been a challenge to fit offices into that shape.”

Work on the Trust Building is being done in three phases. The first involved demolishing interior parts of the building that didn’t fit the renovation plan. That phase has been completed.

Phase II will focus mainly on exterior work, including relocation of the fire escape to the north wall and construction of a new elevator shaft. Phase III will be devoted to the construction of office space on the second and third floors.

Each phase must be approved by the State Office of Historic Preservation before work can begin. Plans for Phase II were submitted to the state last month.

Smith said the vault in the Trust Building will be turned into a historical point of interest, with videos on the history of the building as well as personal stories.

If the state approves it, Smith would like to have colored accent lighting on the exterior of the building, which would come into play at Christmastime and other occasions.

The Trust Building is a survivor. It survived the Great Depression, years of standing empty while the elements took a dreadful toll, and an arsonist’s attempt to burn it to the ground. The shadow of the wrecking ball was always there. It’s now in good hands, for Brian Smith is dedicated to giving the Trust Building a new lease on life that no one, just a few years ago, would have thought possible.

If all goes well, the grand reopening of the Trust Building is scheduled for the spring of 2021. I asked Smith if a celebration was in the works.

“Absolutely! First, we’re proud of what we’re doing and we want to show it off. Secondly, it’s become apparent that, although we own the building, the people of Sedalia have a piece of it in their hearts.”

 

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