It was time for a change. The partners at Condley and Company all agreed. The Abilene-based accounting firm needed more room for their growing company and their existing offices lacked space, updates and windows.
But what kind of space would that be and where should it be? After much consideration (and, no doubt, the creation of a spreadsheet or two), the partners made a decision that may have raised some eyebrows.
In time, their decision resulted in a beautifully restored building in the heart of downtown. And along the way they supported the Abilene economy by hiring local architects, contractors, subcontractors, and artists.
Location, Location, Location
Founded in 1939 by Horace Condley, Condley and Company was first located in the Mims Building in downtown Abilene. The company moved to 333 Orange Street in 1959 followed by a move to 993 North 3rd Street in 1977. Condley and Company now employees approximately 75 people. The organization works with a broad spectrum of industries specializing in consulting, audit and assurance services, bank services, tax compliance, tax planning, estate and trust services, business valuation, payroll and accounting, outsourced accounting, and controller services. The organization also performs peer reviews.
When plans for a new office space began, the partners made the decision to remain in the downtown area.
“We took a thorough look at different parts of Abilene and analyzed where we wanted to be long-term,” said Ryan Gibson, partner at Condley and Company and audit partner in charge. “For most of our history, we have been located in the downtown area and have built many relationships throughout that time. The Grant Building offered a great location, ability to customize the layout to fit our needs, and was a historical building that needed some TLC.”
Purchasing the Grant Building at the corner of North Third Street and Pine Street may seem like an unlikely fit for an accounting firm. Certainly a newly built office would have been a simpler, more cost effective undertaking. Renovating the 90 year old historic building would prove to be a major undertaking with a good deal of additional expense. But the partners at Condley and Company knew they needed to consider more than dollars and cents; a big decision for a group of dedicated accountants.
“We felt that downtown Abilene has made considerable progress in the last several years and we wanted to be apart of the synergy,” said Gibson. ”We feel that downtown has even more potential in the coming years and are excited about the development we see.”
Bringing a Building Back to Life
Built by J.M. Radford in 1932 for $85,000, the building was originally home to the W.T. Grant department store and has been called the Grant Building ever since. After the department store moved locations in 1963, a variety of businesses including stock and bond offices, law firms, a restaurant and coffee shop were located there.
Over the years, much of the historic character had been removed from the interior of the building while the exterior remained largely unchanged. Working with the National Park Service and the Texas Historical Commission, Condley and Company not only began building a new office space, but a historic rehabilitation project.
Hiring Abilene architecture firm Jacob and Martin and Abilene contractor Crowe Group Inc., Condley and Company’s vision to make the Grant Building their new headquarters began. Throughout construction many local subcontractors were utilized to restore this once forgotten building.
The building, historic stair railings were restored, original limestone stairs were uncovered, cleaned and refinished and the lobby ceilings were left open to mimic the entry of the W.T. Grant department store.
Even though the exterior of the building was mostly untouched, it was in great need of repair. Stonework details on the top of the building were restored as part of the process. This involved an extensive amount of work repairing cracks, patching missing pieces and repairing tile work. A protective coating was applied to the exterior to ensure the stonework would be protected from harsh west Texas elements in the years to come.
Support Your Local Artist
When it came time to put the finishing touches on their new office space, Condley and Company made the decision to add an Abilene touch by commissioning local artists to provide artwork throughout the building. Even a local muralist was enlisted to paint the side of the First Financial Bank parking garage wall. Now employees working from the third floor look out their windows to see a striking mural rather than a cinder block wall.
“The partners wanted to support our local economy and local artists throughout the project,” said Gibson. “We felt that local artists are able to incorporate elements of Abilene and the surrounding areas into their art. We have some really amazing artists in the area and we are excited to be able to showcase some of their work.”
Wishing to make their offices more than a simple work space, Condley and Company has created a capsule art collection. These pieces of artwork not only add interest to the building, but they tell the story of downtown, Abilene and the region.
The purchase and restoration of the Grant Building underscores the dedication to community demonstrated by those who work at Condley and Company. The result is not only an improved workplace but an investment in Abilene itself.
“Condley and Company has always valued our relationships in Abilene and the surrounding areas and we wanted to make sure our investment reflected that commitment,” said Gibson. “We have always encouraged our employees to get plugged into the Abilene community wherever they feel is a good fit for them. This has allowed us to build long-lasting relationships and give back to the place where we live.”
By Callie Harris
Photos By Shayli Anne Photography