Bremerton’s Chase building will have its rocks checked

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No rock will be left untouched. 

You may have noticed scaffolding now surrounds the Chase Bank building on Pacific Avenue (pictured). There’s good reason for that, as the building’s property managers are embarking on a two-week project that will secure every rock in its rather unique facade and will add a sealant and epoxy over them to ensure they don’t go anywhere in the future.

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“We’re going to make sure the exterior is maintained,” said Melissa Marsh, a senior property manager with Beverly Hills, California-based Cardinal Equities. Cardinal manages the building for its owner, Bremerton Capital Group, also based in Southern California.

Marsh said that other options to remake the facade proved too costly. So, for those fans of the Mo-Sai architecture, you’re in luck: it’s here to stay. I was amazed at the range of the 80+ Facebook responses Wednesday when I asked a simple question: what do you think of the building’s facade?

“I love it, and so do my kids,” Sara Lyn commented. “I like the earthy, Natural feel to it, versus brick and mortar everything, and my kids love to examine the cool rocks!”

“Hate it,” Will Maupin wrote. “Looks like a cheap 1960s apartment building.”

And every opinion in between.

One thing’s for sure: it’s recognizable. As Craig Johnson noted on my Facebook post, which contained an oddly angled picture (above) of the facade, “Notice how everyone knows what it is, even from a somewhat abstract photo?”

Photo contributed by Colleen Monroe.
Photo contributed by Colleen Monroe.

The building was built in the site of a former Methodist church (pictured) which was demolished in the mid-1960s. In its place first rose the First Federal Savings & Loan. Its architects built it in the Mo-Sai style (see pictured ad), a series of quartz rocks that filled the sides of the seven story building like some kind of a vertical beach. (The city’s Carillon bells also happen to ring from the top of the building).

At some point, a rock or two was bound to become loose from the facade.

In November, staff at the Department of Labor and Industries — which has an office in the building — expressed concern after a customer brought in three rocks he said had fallen off the building.

Photo contributed by Colleen Monroe.
Photo contributed by Colleen Monroe.

“As you can imagine, we are concerned that a rock could potentially fall on a pedestrian,” Lori Oberlander, an office manager with L&I, told the city’s Department of Community Development in an email.

City staff attempted to investigate, but had no way of contacting the man without his name or contact information. 

The property management company decided to nip any potential problems in the bud. They’ve hired Applied Restoration to perform the masonry work over the next two weeks. Each rock on the building will be individually checked, to be on the safe side, Marsh said. I’ll keep an eye on the project as it proceeds.

Lastly, I must add the pun-filled Facebook comments of Jeff Coughlin, who happens to be a NASA scientist living in Bremerton: “I think it rocks, but we probably take it for granite. A change could be gneiss. Perhaps clean the slate and lime it with some sort of trendy new schist.” Oh, dear.

Photo by Meegan M. Reid.
Photo by Meegan M. Reid.

2 thoughts on “Bremerton’s Chase building will have its rocks checked

  1. My mom worked for First Federal Savings and Loan from the 1950s-80s, first in Seattle, then in Bremerton (the name changed to Great Northwest Savings and Loan around 1970.) I have fond memories of this bank and believe I recall visiting her at work in the mid 1960s, when I was a young girl. I also played in piano recitals in the Community Room in the basement, as early as June 1969, so I think the bank building must have been built earlier than this article states – I’m guessing the mid-60s? I was always intriqued with the sparkly sidewalk outside – so very space-age as the 60s were!

  2. Thanks for including the photo of the church. I went there as a kid and loved all of the “secret” rooms and stairways. OK, mostly I liked the Wednesday night potluck dinners, but I was just a kid.

    The building may have been torn down in 1970, but the congregation moved to the new building on Marine Drive in the early ’60s. There must have been some significant structural issues.

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