A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Fence signals demolition of former bank

Written February 22nd, 2023 by Hasso Hering

A fence surrounds the former bank building at 300 W. First Ave. The building is about to be demolished.

The first result of the pending demolition of the former Wells Fargo branch in downtown Albany is that parking has become more scarce, for now anyway.

A temporary construction fence surrounded the city-owned building this morning. The fence also blocked most of the former bank parking lot on the building’s west side.

The fencing was required by the city’s demolition contract, which also made the parking lot available for the demolition contractor’s use.

Willamette Construction Services, doing business as Laneco Demolition of Portland, has the $238,687 contract to take down the structure and clean up the site. The job must be completed by June 30.

This is the second time demolition crews have worked on the site. The first time was in 1973, when the First National Bank of Oregon, which owned the building then, removed the top four floors of what had been a five-story building.

The top stories were removed as part of the bank’s remodeling, which also added some new construction.

Previously, the bank had acquired buildings to the west, demolishing all but one, leaving only the two-story French’s Jewelers building. The second floor of that was removed, and eventually the entire jeweler’s building was razed.

The bank then had the whole half block facing First Avenue between Broadalbin and Ferry streets and used much of it for parking.

Over the decades there were changes in the bank’s ownership until the branch became part of Wells Fargo in 1996.

Wells Fargo closed the branch in 2018. The city of Albany bought the property for $1.5 million in 2019 as part of an urban renewal project. The project fizzled, and the city council decided last fall to have the building razed.

After demolition, what happens next may depend on whether the city can find someone to buy the empty lot and build something new. If not, it may end up a parking lot. (hh)

This photo, showing demolition of the third floor, appeared on Page 2 of the Albany Democrat-Herald on Oct. 12, 1973. (A shoe store was across the street, on the southeast corner of First and Broadalbin.)


20 responses to “Fence signals demolition of former bank”

  1. Bill Maddy says:

    Hopefully, the 111 year-old time capsule and cornerstone will be uncovered and the contents of Albany history will be revealed. What a treasure it will be for any Albany history buff.

  2. Cap B. says:

    There were a lot of demonstrations in the streets when they took down the old French’s Jewelry building, but the bank did it anyway! Well, when was any bank anything but ruthless, money-making *&%$!! And, CARA has been such a farce. They are a complete failure. I was downtown Tuesday looking for a clock repair shop that the Internet says is on 1st Street. (So much for the blasted Internet!) There is no clock repair shop. Probably went out of business when CARA made downtown so elitist. All of First Street was like a ghost town on Tuesday afternoon. That stupid CARA could have sold the bank building to Linn County and the County Clerk’s office would be there now and also some rented-out offices and apartments.

    Makes me sick.

    • Marsha Holly says:

      I found a good clock repair shop in N.Albany I too was frustrated for the misinformation. Downtown Albany sure has changed through the years. But the memories remain.

  3. CHEZZ says:

    The clock repair shop closed many many years ago. There are 2 in Eugene.

  4. Danita Crook says:

    I agree with your statements about CARA. I have yet to understand why we never use local area businesses rather than Portland based. Now, we add $238,687 on top of the $1.5 million.

  5. Richard Vannice says:

    Cap B If you are looking for a repair shop to work on an old windup clock check the internet for “The Baroque Clock”. They operate out of their home and by appointment only.

    • Oscar Hult says:

      Note: They are the same company that had their shop in the Penny’s Building on 1st many years ago.

  6. Hartman says:

    If, as Hasso predicts, the torn down bank building may simply be turned into a parking lot, then perhaps the City could work with a vendor willing to put in EV Charging stations to insure that the EV commuters have a reliable charging source.

    Nothing would say, “In Albany, we’re ready, willing and able to participate in the future,” better that multiple charging stations. Thanks to former Governor Brown and current Democrat Governor Kotek, Albany has been put on notice to create an atmosphere more conducive to the survival of our species.

    Unfortunately, our local representatives at the State House level as well as at the US House of Representatives don’t share the same concerns about our future. They seem content to peruse the contents of Hunter Biden’s laptop. Perhaps something as simple as a building’s demolition might trigger some thought on their part.

    • Al Nyman says:

      Conducive to survival of our species! Your hyperbole is over the top. What would happen to Oregon if the average temperature went up 2 degrees? And the answer is virtually nothing.

    • MarK says:

      If it wasn’t for government mandating, EV’s would just be a passing fad (like they SHOULD be). It’s all about control.

      • Bob Woods says:

        It’s more about saving lives and property from people who are completely clueless about science.

        • MarK says:

          So, “Science Guy”, do you only have EV’s? Or are you just part of the “do as I say, not as I do” group?

          • Bob Woods says:

            No, I “don’t only have EV’s”. But I was one of the first in Oregon to get one, a Nissan Leaf back in 2014. But that’s not the point.

            The point is you don’t know what you’re talking about. You’re just one of the many right-wing whiners who were brought up to hate government and slept through High School science classes.

            NO ONE is required to buy an EV. In 2035, they are going to prohibit selling NEW gasoline-only powered cars in Oregon. But by then, 12 years from now, very few people would want one. The 2 big reasons are because EV’s are cheaper to operate, and other fuels like plug-in hybrids, h;ydrogen and bio-gas will probably be available. I assume that used cars will be available but by then gasoline could cost $15 a gallon. The next war will probably insure that.

            Global Climate Change is real and the predicted effects now appear to be happening faster than was expected. Pew Research published these findings in May of 2021 after conducting a survey of 13,749 adults:

            1) Younger generations in the U.S. are especially likely to express an interest in addressing climate change – and to say they have personally taken some kind of action to do so.

            2) Younger generations are more likely than older Americans to favor proposals to shift U.S. energy reliance away from fossil fuels or even eliminate fossil fuels entirely.

            3) Generational differences over climate change appear in both parties, but especially among Republicans – and particularly over the role of fossil fuels.

            There’s more… go look it up yourself. That means you have to actually read it instead of just spewing about how you “feel”.

        • Bill Kapaun says:

          It’s about govt. CONTROL! Everybody has an EV? Govt. steps in to control the power grid and decides who is “WORTHY ENOUGH” to receive power through their digital, govt. controlled, meter and HOW MUCH!

          • Bob Woods says:

            Pure garbage, Bill. And remember, you, me and I’d guess most of the people reading this blog are going to be passing on in the not too distant future.

            Quit screwing over the younger generations just because you hate “change”.

            BTW, I mis-typed about the Leaf – I got in in 2011.


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