Make the community proud: Central State Bank buys two Main Street buildings with sentimental value – Shelby County Reporter

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Chief Editor

CALERA – When he walked into local business Linda’s Florist on his 25th job anniversary, Central State Bank CEO Mitt Schroeder had no idea the dream that was about to unfold before him.

Looking for more space, he and a few colleagues went to the old Central State Bank building on the corner of Main Street and US 31 in hopes of expanding.

A Schroeder dream for a time, they were buying the building, but when they visited, they realized more space was needed for their growing staff.

This led to a next visit to Linda’s florist.

“That day, we literally went there with the intention of figuring out if we wanted to buy the bank building,” Schroeder said. “On that same visit, we realized we needed more space.”

Knowing this, he knew there was a part of the building that Linda’s Florist owner, Linda Barrett, was not using.

“I walked into Linda’s building and asked if I could buy the 31 side part of the building,” Schroeder said. “She said, ‘Yeah honey, you can, but would you have an interest in the whole building?’ I said, ‘Absolutely!’ That’s how it happened.

That day ironically marked his 25th anniversary of working at Central State Bank, a local bank that had been in his family since the 1940s.

And it just so happened that everything fell into place that day. Barrett was looking to retire and was able to sell his building to another local business, while the bank was also able to purchase the building that housed the Calera Dance Academy, which was looking to expand into a larger facility.

Now not only will the bank be able to house more of its employees in the town of Calera, but it will allow sentimental ownership of the old bank building and an opportunity for the company to give back to the town by assisting in the revitalization of Main Street.

Schroeder’s grandfather started at the bank in 1945 and eventually took control in 1947. At that time there were $3 million in assets.

Now, according to Schroeder, there’s over $500 million.

“We’ve hovered between $300 million and $350 million for a number of years, but the growth over the last two years has been quite significant,” he said.

Needing space, he was not only looking to buy the old bank building on the corner of Main Street because of the growth that had taken place there over almost 40 years, but also because of the sentimental value for the family.

Her mother, the late Deegee Schroeder, lived in the upper part of the building for the first years of her life, eventually working there in the family business.

It was then that his life of service began.

“My mom, when she was at the height of her professional life and at the height of her contribution, the community was always so important to her,” Mitt said. “She wanted us to always think about what to do to make the community stronger and the people around us stronger. This building, we want it to be an anchor, if you will, of the new downtown revitalization for the community. A way of trying to give back to the people who meant so much to our family.

The name of the new building will be the Deegee Schroeder Building in honor of his dedication to the bank and the town of Calera.

“I always wanted this bank building because of this family history,” Mitt said. “We wanted to create our office space, while also creating a sort of social space upstairs. It meant more to know that our mother spent the first seven years of her life there. When you lose someone who meant so much to you and to so many people, you don’t want that spirit to die. You want to find a way to keep it alive, and this will help that.

When Deegee passed away on November 5, 2021, the community rallied around the family in support, almost as if their loved one had passed away.

“For the last five years of my mom’s life, she didn’t have that much energy to do that,” Mitt said. “But when she passed it was amazing to see the impact she had on so many lives. They came to us and shared tears with their sadness. We really saw the impact on people that we didn’t know, she even knew it very well. They were there for us as if they had lost someone.

Mitt said it was impossible for him and those at the bank to give back enough to the community for all they’ve done for the family over the past 70-plus years, but it was a way for them to at least show that appreciation.

Soon after, Calera Main Street began drawing up plans for an entertainment district in downtown Calera.

With a proposal to revitalize Calera Court to include a green space, stage, playground, pavilion, wading pool and more, the bank wanted to be part of this transition.

“We were so encouraged to see our civic leaders investing in downtown revitalization that we felt the least we could do was on our part,” Mitt said.

Plans are to retain the charm of the older Main Street buildings during their renovations, while completely renovating the interior with new plumbing, electrical and equipment for a modern workspace with a homey feel. old school.

They also plan to completely renovate the upper part of the old bank building, where his mother lived as a child, and turn it into a social gathering area that will overlook the proposed new entertainment district in the courtyard.

“We want the community to be very proud of it,” he said. “When they built this building in 1920, everyone in Calera was proud of it. We want to bring that pride back. We appreciate what this community has done for us so much that we want people to share it to feel like that she is also part of them.

The aim is to start the project in August or September of this year and to complete it in 12 to 18 months.

“We’re really going to try and do our best to save and make all the old ones look really good, while incorporating the ability to make them work and use them in today’s environment,” Mitt said.

He added that with the growth of the city, it’s a chance to add to Calera’s hometown feel.

“Even though we have all these new people, it’s like they’re expanding that core,” he said. “It’s a good thing, and we never want to let that die. We never want to be a community that just doesn’t have the pride that we all have right now and have had for my entire life.

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