After five years of dormancy, the former Smith Barney building at 55 Broad Street in Red Bank has seen some recent activity. So what’s going on here? Read on. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

A sneak peek through the glass front door shows the interior has been scoured down to the brickwork. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

First, a bit of history…

According to local historian Randall Gabrielan’s book ‘Images of America,’ the Neoclassical building, on the northeast corner of Broad and Wallace streets, was designed by New York architect Warrington G. Lawrence for the First National Bank. But it was occupied by Red Bank Trust Company, which absorbed First National in May 1914, just as the building was completed. The name on the building changed a number of times over the decades as banks merged.

Featuring 35-foot ceilings, the building was fully remodeled by the development firm Terranomics in the late 1990s, when three interior floors totaling 24,000 square feet were created for the the Smith Barney brokerage firm, which leased the space in 1998. But the structure has been vacant since 2012, when Morgan Stanley Smith Barney consolidated its local employees in buildings at Broad and Linden Place.

In the five years since then, untended roof leaks “with ten exclamation points” caused extensive interior damage, said a local real estate professional who asked not to be named. “It reeked in there,” he said.

The Neoclassical structure changed hands in December, when it was acquired by SAF 55 Broad LLC for $4 million, according to Monmouth County records. That’s $325,000 less than the seller, a New York-based investor, paid in 2010.

Now, Saxum Real Estate of Parsippany claims ownership on its website, which says it is rebranding the building as “The Vault” and “renovating the tenant suites and commons areas to create modern office space that today’s users desire. The creative workspace will attract a diversified tenant mix including, but not limited to, financial, legal, tech and creative.”

Borough records indicate that permits were issued for interior demolition, and the space has now been gutted down to the steel and brick. But no plans for modifications have yet been filed, town officials said.

A Saxum official did not respond to a request or comment.