Fix Up A North Dakota Bank… Vault Included!

by Amanda Davis

I was so excited to come across this listing in the small city of Thompson, North Dakota. It’s a little bank house! I can’t say enough how much I love adaptively-reused homes like this. Finding an old building and turning it into a residence provides so much opportunity for creativity. You want a walk-in closet? This baby has a walk-in vault! Right alongside the 5 stained glass windows! No one’s running off with your favorite dress without your permission (and the secret security code).
This charming turn-of-the-century building – selling for $64,000 and located about 20 minutes from Grand Forks – is listed as a one bedroom, one bath house with just over 2,500 square feet. Lots of room with no need to walk up and down stairs. Sold! Where do I send the deposit? Hmmm… here?


The brickwork on this building is exquisite. I could photograph it all day long! I’ll never get over the level of craftsmanship in these age-old buildings. This is a small city (population 998 spread over 300 acres) and was no doubt even smaller back when this was built c. 1900. That didn’t stop ‘em from building a bank with some serious class though.
Based on interior photos, it looks like beautiful stained glass transoms still exist on these arched window and door openings. Jackpot! I would definitely remove the outside coverings (hard to tell the material in these photos) so the light could shine through once again. I’d also replace the existing door with one more deserving of that graceful entrance surround.

Check out this amazing interior with original oak bank teller cabinets and etched glass. A lot more charm than some of the more sterile bank lobbies you see today, that’s for sure. And who needs e-banking when you can just walk to your very own teller window in your pajamas?
But seriously, how would you use this space if it were your home? I feel like unconventional homes like this one lead to some pretty creative ideas, which is what make them so special in my eyes.
Here’s a close-up of those stained glass transoms I mentioned earlier. What a travesty to have them all covered up – let’s see those beauties shine like the day they were made!
Beautiful tilework just begging for a good wash down. Although I can’t tell exactly where this is located (the teller room has wonderful wood floors), I’m going to say this might be the entrance vestibule. Any guesses?

See? I wasn’t lying about that walk-in closet – I mean, bank vault! It’s surrounded by fluted wood pilasters too. How about that? Elegance and security all in one. I would seriously buy this house just so I could tell someone, “Could you grab my coat? It’s in my walk-in bank vault.” Hey, a gal can dream!
Ready to roll up your sleeves? Check out the full listing.

Amanda is an historic preservationist living in New York City with a particular fondness for fixer-uppers. She can be spotted checking out quirky historic details here, there, and everywhere in her handmade dresses. Every time Amanda sees a cozy room with large windows and beautiful built-ins she can’t help but imagine her very own sewing nook with oldies music playing in the background.


  • Maggie Oldfather

    Dude. It’s hard to tell exactly how this place is laid out but I bet you could figure out a way to turn the counter into an awesome kitchen. With the way the vault door is placed it might also be an excellent pantry… root cellar… WINE CELLAR??!!

    • CIRCAhouses

      Maggie, I love the way you think! The etched glass on the counter would look so great in a kitchen.

    • Amanda Davis

      Lots of great ideas! I thought of putting my sewing supplies in those teller cabinets. :)


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