Man Buys Old Bank For $1, Transforms It Into A Stunning Library

Purchasing an old building for only one dollar seems like a deal too good to be true. Who wouldn't shell out 100 pennies for the chance to own what used to be a 1920s Chicago bank? Well, when you factor in property tax and maintenance costs, you'd better have a pretty good idea of what you want to do with a building like that before jumping on a bargain. Luckily, Chicago-based artist Theaster Gates knew exactly what he wanted to do with the space. Thanks to a lot of hard work from Gates, the old building has been restored and reopened as a community arts center. Check out the photos below to learn more about the artist and his journey with this unique project.

The building is 20,000 square feet, providing lots of space for various art projects and work areas.

The arts center will house some unique collections, including 60,000 glass lantern slides from the University of Chicago and the School of the Art Institute.

The building hadn't been used since the 1980s, meaning that its untapped potential sat unused for around 30 years. The new arts center stands as a monument to what can be accomplished when we set our minds to unbelievable dreams.


The Stony Island Arts Bank was officially completed this month, but Gates purposefully left portions of the original decaying architecture in place, allowing visitors to see the past and the present coexist.

Carlos Bunga is the Portuguese artist behind the bank's first exhibition. Entitled Under the Skin, Bunga's piece places columns made of cardboard in the middle of the first floor.

It will also act as the headquarters of the Rebuild Foundation, a nonprofit that, according to its website, Gates founded to "rebuild the cultural foundations of underinvested neighborhoods."

Gates described the bank in a recent press release as “an institution of and for the South Side.” He went on to say that it will be “a repository for African American culture and history, a laboratory for the next generation of black artists,” as well as “a space for neighborhood residents to preserve, access, reimagine and share their heritage, as well as a destination for artists, scholars, curators, and collectors to research and engage with South Side history.”


In an interview with Fast Company, Gates explained that “projects like this require belief more than they require funding. If there’s not a kind of belief, motivation, and critical aggregation of people who believe with you in a project like this, it cannot happen. The city is starting to realize that there might be other ways of imagining upside beside ‘return on investment’ and financial gain."

If you live in the Chicago area, you can visit the Stony Island Arts Bank from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday - Saturday.

Via: This Is Colossal | Rebuild Foundation

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