Washington Federal Bank, which stood at the corner of 110 N. Pearl St. in Centralia since 1961, will be completely demolished by the end of the week, according to Express Construction Superintendent Terry Youngheim.

Express Construction, out of Bellevue, along with Kugel Construction, based in Chehalis, began the demolition process on Monday. 

The bank is being demolished due to a worn-out roof, outdated wiring and other structural issues, branch manager Shelia DeGuise said. 

A new branch will be rebuilt in the same location within one year, DeGuise said. 

Adam Kugel, of Kugel Construction, used an excavator on Monday to remove a section of the bank building. 

“It’s like a pitbull,” Yungheim said of the excavator. “It latches on and doesn’t let go.” 

The demolition project is broken down into about five sections that will come down one-by-one throughout the week. 

Leading up to the demolition, Youngheim said, his crew found wood, glass and electrical materials that will be recycled rather than thrown away. 

DeGuise said she found old pictures, newspaper clippings and other items in the bank’s vault from when it opened in 1961. 

The old pictures and items are now in the bank’s temporary location a block away, at the corner of Tower Avenue and Main Street, where the Dr. Matz building stood before the Feb. 14 fire that gutted the 123-year-old structure. 

Washington Federal is leasing the Dr. Matz location from property owner Linda Hamilton for nine months with an option for three more months.

The temporary building fits all five Washington Federal employees, DeGuise said, and has the same hours of Monday through Thursday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and closed Saturday and Sunday.

The new branch on Pearl Street will be about 2,900 square feet, which is smaller than the demolished 4,000-square-foot building. 

However, DeGuise said the new branch will add a courtyard with a drive-through window and ATM.

DeGuise, a Centralia native, is excited to upgrade the branch, but is sad to see the original downtown bank be reduced to rubble. 

“I’ve been here my whole life,” DeGuise said. “I remember watching the bank be built. It’s a landmark and a part of the community.” 

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