One of Snoqualmie’s oldest buildings stands on the corner of S.E. River Street and Falls Avenue S.E., it has served many purposes over the years including home to a bank, Snoqualmie City Hall, office space, and the Snoqualmie Valley Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center, but it has always remained a consistent fixture of the city.
Thanks to the extensive research and efforts of Dave Battey, local historian with the Snoqualmie Valley Historical Museum, much of the historic building’s past has been uncovered. In 1992, Battey wrote a series of articles detailing the history of the building.
“It’s one of the most important buildings in the city,” Battey said. “Probably the most important one from a historical perspective.”
In the early 1900s, the Snoqualmie Falls Lumber Company began operating in the Valley, which strengthened the local economy. To address the local economic improvement, the State Bank of Snoqualmie was opened on April 10, 1919.
The bank was located at Otto Reinig’s store which is now Carmichael’s True Value also on the corner of River Street and Falls Avenue.
The bank, initially established by W.L. Peters and Associates, had been “coupled together” with other Eastside banks and a central headquarters location was needed. In 1923, the State Bank of Snoqualmie was built across the street from the bank’s original location and has stood in the city for 93 years.
The bank’s most important installation was the 8-by-12-foot vault, built with reinforced concrete and a 6,000-pound vault door that was shipped from San Francisco.
W. L. Peters and Associates continued to run the bank until 1929, when Valley resident and banker C. Beadon Hall purchased Snoqualmie’s Bank. Hall was also the owner of the Tolt State Bank, Duvall State Bank and the State Bank of North Bend.
Hall ran the Valley banks for 14 years before moving to Snoqualmie in 1943. He reorganized his banks as the Washington State Bank chain and made the Snoqualmie building the headquarters of the business.
In 1956, Hall sold the chain of banks to the Seattle First National Bank (which changed its name to Seafirst in 1974). Twenty years later, Seafirst wanted to move to a new location in Snoqualmie and through discussion with Mayor Charles Peterson and other citizens, decided to donate the building to the city.
Battey said to legally complete the transaction, some money had to be exchanged. During the opening ceremony of the new Seafirst bank building, Mayor Peterson handed a dollar bill to the bank officials.
“Charles is the one who accepted the bank building donation from Seafirst National Bank, because there has to be some money exchanged, he was the one who pulled the dollar,” Battey said. “It was a courtesy from Seafirst and good PR for the bank.”
The city of Snoqualmie planned to turn the former bank building into a new city hall. Through a fundraising group led by George and Jean Swenson and Mona and Joe Lyon, $2,500 was raised for the renovation. Battey was involved in raising money by working at an ice cream social fundraiser.
Battey said volunteer firemen, police and citizens worked on the renovation and by the end of 1976 city hall was completed.
In November 1990, Snoqualmie, and its new city hall, was hit hard by flooding, Battey said. This forced the city office to relocate temporarily to North Bend. Volunteers helped the city with renovations to the building again and some of the city staff moved their offices into a building that had previously housed Sno-Falls Credit Union. Snoqualmie’s Mayor Jeanne Hansen was able to move back into her office at city hall in 1992, two years after the flood.
From the 1990’s until the construction of the new city hall in 2010, the old bank building was in municipal use. Once the city staff moved out, the Snoqualmie Valley Chamber of Commerce leased the building to use as office space and, in partnership with the city, as a visitor information center.
The Snoqualmie Valley Chamber of Commerce has remained in that building, but is now planning to relocate as the city of Snoqualmie has sold the building back into the private sector, said Andy Glandon, president of the Chamber Board.
While the use of the building has changed multiple times in the past and continues to change now, it remains an icon of Snoqualmie’s history.