Carolina Bank move bittersweet for longtime employees
by Samantha Lyles
Carolina Bank’s new Darlington branch began serving customers on Monday, and while the sleek new building makes a handsome addition to the Public Square, longtime employees admitted that the move is a bittersweet affair.
“It’s so hard! We started here!” said Gaby Dove. “I’ve been here for 39 years. We’re happy and looking forward to the new way of banking, but there’s so much nostalgia in this place.”
Paula Coker, with Carolina Bank for 37 years, said leaving their venerable old workplace makes her reflect on colleagues past and present.
“You think a lot about co-workers, some of whom have come and gone, some are still with you,” Coker said. “There’s just lots of memories coming up.”
Bank staff gathered on Saturday to make the leap to their new work home, transferring office equipment, furnishings, and personal items to new offices. Contractors had the tough task of emptying the old vault and moving heavy safe deposit boxes loaded with various valuables to their new secure quarters. The Darlington Police Department had officers on site to safeguard the transition.
Jamie Morphis, senior vice president of business development for Carolina Bank, said the move from the old bank to the new building will take about two months to finalize. Customers can use the North Main Street entrance to enter the bank building, but the new drive-through lanes will not be open for another three weeks. Temporarily, those services will be offered only at the old drive-through lanes facing Park Street.
“We’re moving into our new building after being here for about 70 years,” Morphis said. “We started about 85 years ago in Lamar, and this building was our second branch. We had our administrative offices here early on, but as we grew we moved those offices across the street into the Belk building. Then after the administration offices moved to Florence, we decided to make a new addition to Darlington and we thought a new bank on the Square would be great.”
Morphis said that with modern technology – such as online banking, Internet bill paying, and mobile banking apps – the new bank’s footprint is slightly downsized. The bright interior has a clean, open layout with lots of windows and white surfaces. Morphis said the simple floor plan fulfills all the bank’s needs while offering customers a pleasant space to conduct business.
Once both of the old buildings are dropped and cleared away, the new bank will be accessible via North Main, Orange and Park streets.
The old Carolina Bank main building was slated for demolition during the week of March 2, and employees already had plans to fetch souvenirs from the rubble.
“I want a brick,” said Coker. “Just a brick from the building itself, to keep and remember the place.”