110 North East Street

Another example is the American Bankers Building at 110 North East St. in Jacksonville, IL. It was known locally as a "white elephant" after the large insurance company that occupied 32,000 sq. ft. on the first and second floors moved out.

In 2002, local caterer George Hamilton embarked on a dramatic rehabilitation to transform the building's second story into a signature banquet facility. Within eight months, 110 North East was fully operational, with all new systems, updated restrooms and a refurbished elevator to provide accessibility.

Historic features, such as the fireplace and chandeliers, were retained to preserve the elegant style of the historic building. A four-level vault was adapted for liquor storage, while a storage room was transformed into a comfortable smoking lounge complete with murals depicting historic downtown streetscapes. Now the area's premiere reception and meeting site, 110 North East serves more than 70,000 guests annually in three banquet rooms with capacities of 90, 150 and 430 people.

The ground floor is a mixture of office, service and retail businesses. From the outside, this early-20th-century architectural treasure has barely changed; however, transforming the second floor into an elegant banquet hall has attracted tremendous positive attention on revitalizing downtown Jacksonville, while retaining and enhancing the district's historic character.