Blending luxury with whimsy, the Banker’s Suite will get rebranded in June as a museum with curios dating back to the 1850s.
Trish Bright, who owns the stylish property on 12th and Duane streets with her husband, Walter, said the space will have beadwork, wooden masks, vintage clothing, classic souvenirs and an old-fashioned candy counter.
“A lot of odd things,” Bright said. “There’s going to be some things that a lot of people have seen before, but a lot of things that no one has ever seen before.”
The Museum of Whimsy is the latest incarnation of an American Renaissance building with roots in the 1920s. The former Bank of Astoria has been a day spa, a luxury apartment and a grand ballroom, but has mostly stood as an architectural relic.
Bright said she plans to charge admission to the museum and offer the property for rent for parties. The couple had previously advertised the apartment and ballroom for overnight stays, private parties, wedding receptions, rehearsal dinners and corporate events.
“The building itself is part of the tour, because it is such a beautiful building,” Bright said. “So many people have been in it when it was bank in the ’70s. We want to have the whole renovation project described.”
The Banker’s Suite, which won the city’s Dr. Edward Harvey Award for historic preservation in 2007, had been up for sale for $2 million. The building was designed by architect John E. Wicks after the great fire devastated the Astoria National Bank in 1922. Niemi and Co. completed construction in 1924.
“When it’s not for sale, I want to sell it. And when it’s for sale, I want to keep it, because then you start realizing how nice of a building it really is,” said Bright, who lives in Kirkland, Washington, and has owned the building since 2005.
The Astoria Planning Commission voted Tuesday night for a conditional use permit for the museum, which is classified as indoor family entertainment in a central commercial zone.
“I can’t wait to see what a Museum of Whimsy is,” Commissioner McLaren Innes said.