Virginia Montgomery opens the vault | Space | Chicago Reader

Virginia Montgomery opens the vault 

The massage therapist runs her operation out of a repurposed bank in Avondale.

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The only time I ever go into a bank these days is to argue about reversing an overdraft fee, so it was surreal to enter a former bank and be overcome by serenity—and that was prior to receiving a blissful massage within the vault's walls.

Upon entering Virginia Montgomery's Avondale home, I was welcomed by a healthy cat, thriving plants, and art-covered walls that act as a testament to the bank dweller's creativity. Even on an overcast day, the warm light filtering through the skylights was matched by Montgomery's calm and graceful demeanor.

Built in 1919 and currently dubbed the Palmer/Fey Trust—which is a combination of the current owners' last names—the bank has been rented out over the last several years. Montgomery, a natural therapeutic specialist (or massage therapist) who's been there six, has turned the wide-open space into a cozy home and work environment.

"I want it to feel really intimate and professional," she says. "[Clients] can feel more at home than at a place of business, though I do my best to keep a degree of separation for my own sense of privacy as well."

The space is partitioned to create a kitchen—adorned with handmade clay pots—an office covered in drawings, a tiny rehearsal space that accommodates Montgomery's drum kit, a massage studio in the vault, and a living room area, complete with a good-lookin' record collection, where clients can relax or take a nap on the couch after a massage.

Aside from the vault, the most enviable aspect of this space is the bedroom: a custom-made, A-frame house structure designed to fit the exact dimensions of her bed, a dresser, and a chair. Montgomery came across the idea while looking through design magazines and showed the structure to friend (and local music darling) Bobby Conn.

"I can build that," he said. And it was so.

The best thing about the place? You can experience it, too. Just book an appointment at

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