HUNTINGTON  The building at 517 9th St. in Huntington seems to reinvent itself continually.

Over the years it has been called the Robson Prichard Building, the Chafin Building, the Guaranty Bank Building and the First Sentry Bank Building. For a while, it housed the downtown branch of Fifth Third Bank.

It will soon be known as the United Bank Building following the announcement of a 10-year lease that includes the renaming of the building.

"We are relocating our Westmoreland branch to the first-floor lobby area of this beautiful historic building in downtown Huntington," said Andrew Dawson, the Huntington market president for United Bank. "We will have around 25 employees working at this new location."

Dawson said the new downtown Huntington branch will open Sept. 3.

"United Bank has always wanted to have a downtown presence," Dawson explained. "So when the opportunity was presented to us by one of our board members, Gary White, the decision was made to do it."

Allison Scott, marketing specialist for United Bank, said the bank is a subsidiary of United Bankshares Inc., the largest publicly traded company headquartered in West Virginia with 139 full-service banking locations and 17 loan origination offices throughout West Virginia, Virginia, Washington, D.C., Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

The bank originated from a small bank in Parkersburg, West Virginia, in 1839, according to Scott.

"We have grown from that single bank office in Parkersburg to a $19 billion company," she said.

Dawson said United Bank is the right-sized bank for any banking customer.

"We are big enough to handle large transactions of massive companies to small transactions for the everyday banking customer," he said. "When you call any of our bank branches, you will be able to speak to someone local."

Scott added that the bank and its employees are committed to community service and outreach programs that help those in need.

"We have worked with lots of local nonprofit organizations, made many donations and our employees also do volunteer community service as well," she said. "This is also a part of who and what United Bank is all about. We are really excited to now be part of the continued revitalization of downtown Huntington and the surrounding communities."

The hours of operation of the new branch will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and closed on Saturday and Sunday for the lobby. The drive-through will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, from 7:30 a.m. to noon on Saturday and closed on Sunday.

For more information about the new branch, visit www.bankwithunited.com or call 304-781-2379.

Building's history

Just as the building's name has continued to change over the past century, so have its occupants.

The stately structure is one of the tallest buildings in downtown Huntington at 151 feet.

Now owned by Huntington businessman John Hankins, the building was constructed in 1909 as the Robson Prichard Building. It has 10 stories of office space and has a penthouse suite on the roof, Hankins said.

It was famous in the 1920s because it was the headquarters of Island Creek Coal Co., Hankins said. It also at one point housed Lumberman's Insurance Co. Some early photographs of the building show letters spelling out the business's name in the windows - one letter per window, Hankins said.

After Island Creek scaled down, it rented space to Ensign Electric Co., which actually had a manufacturing operation up there, Hankins said.

In the 1950s, the building was sold to the C&O Railway, Hankins said.

"They took over the building and moved their entire engineering department from Richmond, Virginia, to Huntington," he added.

From 1957 to 1977, the Chafin Building, as it was called then, was owned by the C&O Railway. In the lobby was Stonewall Jackson Life Insurance Co., another famous company founded in Huntington that went bankrupt, Hankins said.

In 1977, C&O sold the Chafin Building to Stanley Prizer, a famous trial lawyer in West Virginia, and a partner of his.

"They had it from 1977 to 1997, and I bought it in 1997," Hankins said.

After Hankins bought the building, he was approached by Sterling Hall, the grandson of Sterling Diddle, who wanted to form a new bank and had obtained the right to use the name Guaranty Bank and Trust Co. even though this new bank was completely unrelated to the first Guaranty Bank. So Hankins renamed the building after Guaranty Bank.

Then another name change was in the works after Guaranty Bank merged with First Sentry in September 2009 and became First Sentry Bank, which closed its office in the building in 2016.

Now the building will be named the United Bank Building.

Hankins continues to renovate the historic landmark and said there is additional office space available.

"Anyone with interest can call me at 304-544-4800," he said.

Follow reporter Fred Pace at Facebook.com/FredPaceHD and via Twitter @FredPaceHD.

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