Anne-Marije Rook
Washington Federal Savings bank held a private party on Wednesday to say goodbye to the old Market Street building which has housed the flagship store for 67 years. Branch manager Tracey Cruise, left, performed for her fellow bankers. CLICK ON IMAGE TO SEE MORE PHOTOS.

Washington Federal employees say goodbye to the old building

Washington Federal Savings bank held a private party on Wednesday, April 25th, which was an opportunity for the employees - former and current - to celebrate the company's 95th birthday as well as say goodbye to the old Market Street building which has housed the flagship store for 67 years.

In 2009, the bank, located at 2020 N.W. Market St, announced it would be tearing down the old building and build a new, updated, and larger one.

Built in 1945, the old building had experienced many floods over the years and black mold had developed inside the walls, said a branch employee.

The new two-story building will have 9,000 square feet of space, a larger teller line, drive-up windows. and a traditional brick façade.

As the last day in the old building was coming near, old banking equipment, photos, and artifacts gathered over the years were on display, as were the designs for the new building.

Employees including the Market Street branch manager, Tracey Cruise, performed some jazzy tunes while other visited and enjoyed the hors d'oeuvres.

"Musicians make really, really good bankers," joked Cruise, who said she's "a musician first, banker second".

Cruise has only been in her position for the past 18 months, but said the new building has been in the works for many years.

"It's pretty meaningful, an honor actually, to be running the flagship store of Washington Federal," Cruise said. "When I came here, I came home to be the fourth generation of my family to be part of the Ballard community."

Long-time Ballardite and Washington Federal employee, Walt Schroeder, first started working for Washington Federal in 1964, he later left but in retirement returned to work at the bank.

"It's a great company to work for," said Schroeder. "People are friendly and you're not a number. You're an actual member."

"The thing that makes us different from any other full service bank is that since 1917, our business model has never changed," added Cruise. "We give back to the community we serve, and create a lifelong relationship with them."

While the old building gets demolished and the new building constructed, Washington Federal will be in a temporary location, just a few doors down on 1718 N.W. Market Street.

Division Manager, Lisa King said Baker Construction will be handling the construction of the new building, and Washington Federal should be able to move into their new building as soon as January, 2013.

"It's a historical week. And we're excited about the move," said King.

If there are any parts of the old building you would like to see conserved, contact Cruise as soon as possible at 206-789- 8388.

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