Tryon House to buy former Tryon Federal Bank buildings

Published 12:54 pm Friday, October 22, 2010

Tryon House has announced that it has concluded an agreement to purchase the former Tryon Federal Bank buildings on the corner of South Trade and Oak streets in downtown Tryon. &bsp;

The purchase includes three of the most historic structures in Tryon: the Missildine Drug Store building, the original Tryon Federal Bank building and the Jackson building. The buildings have been unoccupied since Tryon Federal moved to its N. Trade St. headquarters in 2006.

The purchase transaction is scheduled to close November 5, 2010.

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Tryon House plans to move its retail store from its present location at 86 N. Trade St. to the new location in early spring 2011.

Mary Wells Prioleau, managing member at Tryon House, said Thanks to the enthusiastic support of the community, Tryon House has more than tripled its business in the past two years. We are enormously pleased that we need more space to continue our efforts to bring the look of the foothills to our customers.

Tryon House will occupy approximately three thousand square feet in the former Tryon Federal Bank and Jackson buildings that will house expanded selling space for mens and womens apparel, jewelry, accessories and gifts and much needed back office and merchandise receiving areas. The new store will include a shoe department and a childrens boutique.

The former Missildine building will house an upscale, white tablecloth restaurant for lunch and dinner, an ice cream shop, a wine bar and private dining rooms for meetings and other community activities. The top floor of the buildings will be converted to residential condominiums.

Prioleau said Before big box retailing developed, small towns all over North Carolina had a family owned, department store and tea room that spoke uniquely to the needs of its community. Tryon House represents a successful return to those roots of local entrepreneurship. Our retail store will continue to reflect the elegant simplicity that defines life in Tryon. Our restaurants will celebrate local, seasonal products and hand crafted specialty foods and wines.

Tryon House plans to cooperate closely with the Town of Tryon and the Tryon Downtown Development Association in achieving a sensitive restoration of the faade and interiors of the historic properties.

Prioleau said that the business was grateful for enthusiastic support throughout the purchase negotiations from mayor Alan Peoples, mayor pro-tempore Austin Chapman, town manager Justin Hembree, president of the Foothills Chamber of Commerce Andy Millard and Tryon Business and Tourism Development Coordinator Crys Armbrust.

Armbrust, who is also the president of the Tryon Downtown Development Association (TDDA), said, “On behalf of the office of tourism and business development and the Tryon Downtown Development Association, we are most pleased to congratulate Tryon House for its acquisition of the historic Missildine and Jackson properties. We look forward to working very closely with the new owners to accomplish their renovation and commercial goals. I really think this is the most important economic development transaction to have occurred in Tryon in years.”

“It’s a prayer answered for my town,” said Peoples. “I know some of the people involved and it’s fantastic. They’ve worked very hard to put this together. I think it’s going to be a win/win for everybody.”

The managing member of Tryon House LLC, Mary Wells Prioleau, is a native of Columbia and Pawleys Island, S.C., and attended Mt. Vernon College. Prioleau moved to Tryon in 2006 and bought Tryon House from Larry and Vicki Siler in February, 2007. Joe Yochem of Merit Properties in Charlotte, N.C., was the broker in the transaction.A little history

According to the Downtown Tryon Architectural Survey Report (, the Missildine building was built in 1913 after the first Missildine drug store burned. For many years Missildines Drug Store was a popular community gathering place, and Ernest Ellwood Missildine (d. 1942), the pharmacist, served several terms as mayor of Tryon. Missildine and Dr. Earle Grady opened the pharmacy in 1896, but two years later he became the sole owner. Maj. William Strong, who worked on several prominent Tryon buildings, oversaw the rebuilding of the drug store following the 1913 fire. In addition to the drug store on the first story, the second story contained offices and a large hall, which accommodated the Masonic Lodge, chamber of commerce, USO, and other civic groups. Dr. Grady, an early Tryon physician, had a second story office in the building. In 1967 the building was purchased by Mrs. F. P. Bacon to house the Blue Ridge Weavers, which remained in the building through the late 20th century before relocating to Pacolet Street. At that time, the building became part of Tryon Federal Bank and&bsp; was remodeled to function with the adjacent buildings.

The Tryon Federal and the Jackson buildings were built in 1915 and the street level faade was renovated in the late 1990s as part of the Tryon Federal Banks expansion.