Grant allows for sprucing of historic building

The Enumclaw National Bank building, now nearly 100 years old, is bring restored, thanks to money from 4Culture. Photo by Kevin Hanson

A prominent building at Enumclaw’s busiest downtown intersection is slowly being restored to its original look.

The one-time Enumclaw National Bank, sitting on the northwest corner of Griffin Avenue and Cole Street, occupies an important place in Enumclaw history. One of just two buildings with a King County-approved “landmark” designation, the two-story structure has housed a variety of businesses during nearly a century of existence.

Current owners Toby and Peggy Wenham now fill the ground floor with their business ventures, Almost Necessities facing Cole Street and Sweet Necessities around the corner on Griffin.

With the help of the city of Enumclaw, they landed a grant through 4Culture to pay for exterior work. That was going on during the past week, leading to closed-off sidewalks, awning removal and men hoisted high into the air, as workers prepped and painted.

The building, just five years shy of its 100th birthday, opened as a bank but shuttered its doors a decade later, a victim of the Great Depression. A tenant at the rear, where Sweet Necessities now operates, was Steve’s Shoes, one of Enumclaw’s enduring businesses. Selling new shoes and repairing others, the owners eventually occupied the bulk of the store and had a Cole Street entrance.

The outside appearance changed significantly during this time, according to Toby Wenham. Some ornate work on the building front, including an etched-in “Established in 1922,” was removed; the owner of a shoe shop didn’t want his building looking like a bank, Wenham said.

The building received a minor face-lift when Enumclaw briefly flirted with the idea of promoting a Bavarian theme (think Leavenworth). During this time, balconies were added to the upstairs units and across the Cole-facing front of the building. Those were eventually removed but some serious holes remained, a problem being rectified during the current prep-and-paint process.

The second floor was originally used for office space but, along the way, was converted to apartment life. That occurred in the 1960s and tenants remained for decades. Now, the upstairs space is for storage.

Included in the building’s ownership roster was notable businessman John Henry Morris, who purchased the building in 1945. Keeping things in the family, he sold in the mid-1960s to Jack and Pauline Kombol.

Eventually, the building became the property of Enumlaw’s John Sannes, who made the purchase for investment reasons in the 1990s. The Wenhams had a downtown business, Country Heart, then opened Almost Necessities in 2003, originally renting from Sannes. They soon bought the building and leased the space at the rear; some will remember Café Panini, which outgrew the tight quarters, moved once and eventually closed.

With the space available and with his wife operating Almost Necessities, Toby Wenham retired from grocery management and opened Sweet Necessities in 2005.