The family-owned Bank Shot Billiards Bar, Cafe, and Pro Shop, long known as one of the best places to shoot a game of pool in Louisville, will soon be closing its doors. The business at the corner of Market Street and Preston Street has placed its half-acre property on the market for $1.5 million and hopes for a suitable buyer to turn the historic German Security Bank into a landmark for the Louisville community.
The Greek-revival limestone building dates to 1911 when the German Security Bank opened a branch to serve the growing German population in Louisville. The Ionic columns on the facade stand in front of a once all-glass wall looking into the marble-lined 30-foot tall interior. Great chandeliers hung from an ornate ceiling and one of the largest vaults for the time west of New York City sits in the back of the building. A suspended acoustical tile ceiling hides the former glory of the old bank, but original details abound throughout the building.
The structure encompasses a total of 7,600 square feet on two levels. The first floor measures about 4,100 square feet and the basement covers another 3,500. The for sale sign on the side of the building has generated a flurry of phone calls from a diverse group of interests from speculative buyers to interests ranging from a hotel to professional offices. The owners feel building is perfectly suited towards a grand restaurant. Still no buyer has yet been found.
The property includes vacant land on both sides of the old bank which can hold up to 37 vehicles during baseball games at the nearby Slugger Field. The building is located in the downtown form district, however, so parking requirements are waived, making a more dense, urban proposal more feasible. The building also qualifies for many historic tax credits that can offset the cost of redevelopment. With the construction of so many urban buildings in the area, it would be great to see the urban edge continued east with new structures built on the vacant land.
Interestingly, in 1918, the bank removed the word “German” from its name reflecting national sentiments during World War I, and was subsequently known simply as “Security Bank.” Anti-German sentiments ran strong in Louisville during this time. In addition to many businesses changing their names, German books were removed from the Louisville Free Public Library and many German street names were changed.
While it is certainly regrettable to lose a downtown landmark like Bank Shot Billiards, the family realized current levels of downtown development meant their property was more valuable than it has been in a long time. The business will likely be open for some time, possibly until the property is purchased, but the owners seem optimistic about the prospects of the Security Bank in future of Louisville.