Former Smithfield bank to become private car club showroom

Published 2:39 pm Friday, February 24, 2023

When people ask Gary Terwilliger if he has a favorite car, he’ll answer, “The one I’m driving.”

The Smithfield resident has several to choose from, including some vintage Mercedes. For the past 20 years, he’s met a group of fellow vehicle enthusiasts for breakfast at the downtown Smithfield Bakery.

Last year, he purchased the former Bank of America building on Main Street in hopes of turning it into a private showroom for his and the group’s collections, as well as for use by other car clubs.

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Isle of Wight County land transfer records from October show the sale of the bank to Terwilliger’s holding company, 1111 Cavalier Blvd. LLC, for $805,000. In January, he received approval from the town’s Board of Historic and Architectural Review to replace two of the building’s rear windows with a 12-foot-wide, 9-foot-tall metal garage door.

The facility won’t be open to the public and will only be open to car clubs by appointment. It will be leased and operated by a company called 303 Main LLC, named for the building’s address, Terwilliger said.

Terwilliger’s plans call for preserving much of the building’s historical character, to include the fireplace inside. 

“I love Smithfield,” he said.

He’s still waiting on drawings for a detached building he plans to add to the rear of the site for additional storage.

Bank of America shuttered its Smithfield branch during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic and announced in 2021 that the branch would stay closed permanently.

According to county tax records, the building had been a bank in one form or another since the 1970s.