By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – It stopped making Coca-Cola some three decades ago, but the building at 216 S. Broadway St., still serves a purpose.
Recently renovated by Renasant Bank to serve as administrative offices and a drive-through, the building had its grand opening Monday, and bank and city leaders celebrated.
Built in 1924, the building was Tupelo’s Coca-Cola bottling plant until the late 1970s. The soda company opened a bottling plant on South Gloster Street where Harveys restaurant now stands.
Before Renasant acquired the building earlier this year, Trustmark Bank used it as its downtown branch. Trustmark moved its office to Fairpark, and Renasant eyed the historic building.
After a “significant investment,” according to bank officials, the building was renovated and restored to some of its past glory. The original brick facade was revealed, with a “Coca Cola Bottling Works” sign atop the two-story structure.
“The signage on the front was before standardization of the Coke logo, which is why we see the lettering in blue instead of red, and why there’s no hyphen in the name,” said Mitch Waycaster, Renasant’s chief administrative officer and senior executive vice president.
A story in the June 1929 “The Coca-Cola Bottler” described the “handsome brick building. … one of the most modern and up-to-date establishments of its kind to be found in the northern section of Mississippi or the entire state for that matter.”
Inside the bank lobby is a small Coca-Cola display, including a non-operating vintage Cavalier Coca-Cola vending machine that sold Cokes for 10 cents. It’s on loan from Coca-Cola of Corinth.