Diane Tanner, Gold Coast Bank branch manager in East Setauket,...

Diane Tanner, Gold Coast Bank branch manager in East Setauket, says the old fireplace in the conference room was hidden behind a wall. (April 12, 2011) Credit: Newsday/Karen Wiles Stabile

Seems you never know what you'll find when you open a new bank branch.

When Gold Coast Bank tore apart the walls of a building in Setauket, where it was opening a new site, workers and employees were stunned to find a fireplace that dates back to the early 19th century.

"It was actually not in too bad a shape," said Diane Tanner, manager of the new branch, on Route 25A in Setauket, which opened April 4. "It was a nice little surprise, an added bonus."

Gold Coast chairman John Tunis decided to spruce up the fireplace and include it as part of the branch's conference room. The room can be used by bank customers or community groups for meetings.

"The fireplace was behind a Sheetrock wall," Tunis said. "When workmen tore down the wall, we saw it. We did only limited work on it."

Brookhaven Town historian Barbara Russell dated the building, which was an old farmhouse, and the fireplace, to the early 1800s.

She said the building has been used for commercial purposes since the 1960s. But until now, the walls have not been taken down.

"I think it's wonderful they [the bank] kept the fireplace and incorporated it into the bank," Russell said.