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Brick & mortar frontier town bank as NorCal downtown home

When Bert Crews was looking for a home in the tiny frontier-style town of Tomales, California, it just happened to be the moment when Bank of America was selling their 19th century brick and mortar building. Crews, a native of Texas, was used to converting wherehouse-type buildings into loft homes and so within 24 hours he had bought the old branch.

He needed a bit of help for drilling through the concrete to put in the plumbing, but he put in his own “galley-style” kitchen with a mini fridge, half-sized dishwasher and small stove/oven unit. He uses the vault as storage for his art supplies and athletic gear and he left the wooden teller windows in place, surrounding them minimal furniture (table and chairs, couch and grand piano).

The home hasn’t lost the feel of a historic bank and in 2000, Barry Levinson used his home as a set for the movie “Bandits” with Bruce Willis, Billy Bob Thornton and Cate Blanchett.

For Crews, the inconvenience of the additional noise of downtown living- he’s sandwiched between a bar and a hotel- are outweighed by the benefits, especially for an artist (i.e. he can play his instruments late at night).