First National Bank of Durango is embarking on a major renovation that will change the look and feel of the bank’s downtown headquarters.
Sparking the most discussion among locals, much of former owner Mahlon “Butch” White’s taxidermy is being removed or moved to other parts of the building.
“It may not be as visible or as much, but it’s certainly going to be around,” said Mark Daigle, the bank’s president and chief executive.
Changes to the taxidermy on display are a seemingly minor part of the renovations, which will cost an estimated $1.5 million.
“Certainly, it was time to do some refreshing of the facilities,” Daigle said. “It has been a while since we did that. We wanted the surroundings to reflect the caliber of the community and the institution.”
Still, Daigle admitted the taxidermy is all customers wanted to talk about. White sold the bank to its current ownership in 2000, but his hunting conquests have remained on display, looming over every customer who enters the lobby.
Some customers are unhappy with the plans for reduced display of the taxidermy, while others say the changes are overdue, Daigle said.
“We have just as many people who never liked it to begin with,” he said.
Some of the taxidermy will become part of cultural displays, he said.
White, who now lives in Pueblo, said he removed some of the taxidermy that he wanted to keep. As for the rest? “That’s their prerogative,” he said. “It’s theirs now.”
The taxidermy includes deer and elk but also more exotic species, such as sheep he hunted in Iran decades ago.
White’s family purchased the bank in 1955. He said he supports the renovations.
“I think it’s a wonderful idea,” he said. “It’s probably well due, time-wise. I wish them the best of luck.”
First National hopes to start work on the renovations July 1, and it plans to have them completed in 90 to 120 days, Daigle said. The bank plans to use local contractors and subcontractors. “We’re expecting bids shortly,” he said.
The lobby will be reconfigured to “make it a little more open, a little more welcoming, a little more modern,” Daigle said.
Expect more opportunities for electronic banking, but the bank will have employees ready to help. “We still want people working with us face-to-face,” Daigle said.
A new community room on the ground floor will replace the room in the basement that is used by the Chamber of Commerce’s Lunch & Learn meetings and the Durango Business Improvement District. The new room will be comparably sized, but with external access to make it more convenient to the groups that rent it.
“It will certainly be a more modern, up-to-date facility, but it will be open for community organizations to use outside of banking hours,” Daigle said.
The ATM in the parking lot will be moved to a wall near the bank’s main entrance. That will allow for more parking spaces and a better flow in the parking lot, Daigle said.
First National Bank of Durango, 259 W. Ninth St., was founded in 1882 and is Durango’s second-largest bank by market share, behind only Wells Fargo. First National had $415 million in deposits as of June 30, according to a federal filing.