Written by Adam Jenkins
“I gotta have this” was Stephen Ulrich’s first thought when he heard that Marietta Restoration Associates was seeking a new occupant for the former Farmer’s First Bank in Marietta.
Ulrich and his wife, Abby, have an appreciation for historic architecture and the bank building at 100 West Market Street abounds with it. Built in 1875, the bank features a grand high-ceiling lobby and a gorgeous pre-World War Two vault among many other architectural features. Those architectural features inspired Ulrich’s vision for the future of the building. “As soon as I walked in, I thought ‘escape game’” said Ulrich.
In an escape game, groups of participants are first “locked” in a room. Clues are given to the participants who then have to solve the clues to “escape” the room.
The escape game at First National Escape, the name chosen by Ulrich that plays off of the “First National Bank” sign that adorns the building, will feature three rooms including the bank’s classic York Safe & Lock Company vault. Clues will be placed in actual safety deposit boxes that were used at the bank and other vintage bank artifacts will be a part of the game. “Escapers” will be able to play as bank customers, with the lights on, or as bank robbers, with the lights off.
Ulrich has a long familiarity with the bank building, having grown up just down the block. He even recalls a time when the building was still used for banking: “I made my first deposit here as a kid.” Marietta Restoration Associates (MRA) had been using the building in the post-banking years, but the plan was always to find a new business for the space: “This building has far too much charm and history to go under-used, and Stephen has the creativity and appreciation for the history of the building to make this a good fit. I expect big things from ‘First National Escape’” said David White, President of MRA.
Ulrich plans to open First National Escape in late November. Initially, the escape room will be open on Friday nights, and Saturday and Sunday afternoons, but Ulrich hopes to expand those hours to meet demand, eventually. For more information about First National Escape, you can visit their website at firstnationalescape.com or their Facebook page at facebook.com/firstnationalescape.