A bank-turned-nightclub in downtown Olympia is being considered for the National Register of Historic Places.
The owner of the former Capital Savings & Loan building at 425 Franklin St. SE submitted it for consideration. The building — most recently home to the defunct Level nightclub — is currently vacant and its owner hopes to soon restore it to its neo-expressionist glory.
“It’s not the Guggenheim, but it is unique architecture,” said Stephen Cooper, co-owner of KBJ Investments in Olympia, which bought the building in 1999.
The state’s Advisory Council on Historic Preservation will decide at a meeting next week in Seattle whether to recommend the building for the list, which is run by the National Park Service. To be considered, a building must be at least 50 years old and be significant for its history, architecture, archaeology or connection to a historic figure.
Built in 1963, the Capital Savings & Loan building features a sloping, fan-shaped roof, metal louvered panels and concrete walls partly covered in Columbia basalt.
An eight-page advertisement in The Olympian on June 23, 1963, announcing the opening invited the public to “take a look at the future,” complete with the city’s first escalator.
The modern design “was a radical departure from anything that had been constructed in the downtown area to that date,” according to KBJ’s application. But not everyone was a fan; according to the application, some have described it as a “missile launcher” and “ornate mausoleum.”
The building was used as a bank for decades before a string of nightclubs made it home. The last one closed in September after a brawl that started in the club spilled onto the street and ended in five arrests.
Since then, crews have been removing debris and preparing to renovate. At 10,000 square feet, Cooper said the building could be used as a bank, restaurant, office or retail space.
“Our goal is the make it look as close as possible on the exterior to what it looked like in 1963 when it had its grand opening,” he said. “It should be something the city can be proud of.”
KBJ also owns the former Olympia National Bank building on Capitol Way and Fifth Avenue. That is one of more than 30 properties in Olympia already on the national register, including the Capitol Campus, South Capitol neighborhood and a 15-block section of downtown.