University National Bank: 2022 Community Investment Award

Congratulations to University National Bank!

The University State Bank was incorporated in 1906 before eventually becoming the University National Bank of Seattle in 1922. The bank occupied two locations prior to constructing this Neoclassical building on the northeast corner of NE 45th Street and University Way NE. The Beezer Brothers, the building’s architects, relocated to Seattle from Pittsburgh, PA, in 1907 and designed a new and larger headquarters, built of steel and concrete, completed in 1912.

The gleaming white bank, sheathed in a skin of terra cotta tiles, replaced a fraternity house that had once stood on the property. Wells Fargo (under various entities throughout the years) operated the building as a bank branch until its closure in 2018, ending 106 years of continuous bank operations.

With the consolidation of its banking operations in the University District, Wells Fargo decided to put the building on the market for the first time. Recognizing both the historical significance of the building (its use, location, and legacy to The Ave) and the rare opportunity to acquire one of Seattle’s most handsome buildings, Hunters Capital closed on the property in the fall of 2020, making it the company’s first expansion beyond its home territory in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood.

Hunters Capital worked with architect Stephen Day to lead the restoration project. The University National Bank building was listed in the National Register of Historic Places and designated a Seattle landmark in 2021. Given the two-story building’s grand size of 25,000 square feet, the entire project took 26 months to complete. The project scope included adding new mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineering systems, as well as the addition of fire sprinklers and fire alarm systems throughout the building. The team rebuilt the marble foyer and grand stairs to the second floor and made minor restorations in the grand vault, thus exposing the hidden heavy timber truss systems on the second floor. The scope also included a rebuild of the original mezzanine space that was used for sorority dances in the ’20s and ’30s, restoration of hardwoods to the upper floor, refurbishing original windows, and adding ADA lifts and restrooms to the building.

We congratulate Hunters Capital and the entire team on their beautiful restoration of University National Bank, their continued efforts to preserve this historic and cultural University District icon, and deserved win of this year’s Community Investment Award!

Project Team:
Owner/Design: Hunters Capital
Architect: Stephen Day
Contractor: JHC Construction

Feature image courtesy of MOHAI; images two and three courtesy of Hunters Capital.