Movement is afoot on Glover Street with some recent changeovers of ownerships. For the past year, the modernist building known as the River Bank Building sat empty when the Bureau of Reclamation closed its offices in Twisp. With their vacation went a host of agencies that worked in the building. The bureau held the lease on the building, and in turn sublet spaces to the Methow Salmon Recovery Foundation, Wild Fish Conservancy Northwest, and the Methow Beaver Project in a synergistic relationship that composed the River Bank. After the exodus of the fishy folk, the building went on the market and was recently purchased by The Cove for a larger, expanded food bank.
This will be the sixth reincarnation of the bank from one bank (so to speak) to another. The building was built in 1958 by Lewis Cooley, father of Fred Cooley. Fred shared with me a little history regarding the bank. Lewis Cooley moved to Twisp in 1951 after his service in the military. A California native, while posted at Fort Lewis he learned to ski at Snoqualmie Pass where he met Ann, a bright-eyed skier, Northwesterner, and daughter of a Lutheran Minister. The couple married and purchased the Commercial Bank of Twisp, where the Melbourn Insurance building sits today.
In 1958, Lewis Cooley grew the bank, later bought a branch in Pateros, and built the modern bank building with the help of Del Pruett. The bank later was purchased by Old National Bank and a series of buyouts trailed: Commercial Bank of Washington, US Bank, North Cascades to its most recent incarnation as the River Bank. Now, it will be the food bank!
The building boasts a huge basement that’s full of old memories. Fred Cooley recalls attending Sunday school in the basement, and though not all of the memories could be described as “fond,” he said he was flooded with memories when he toured it a couple of weeks ago with Glen Schmekel from The Cove. Fred recalls that in the 1970s there used to be an electronic temperature/time sign above the entrance to the parking lot. He remembers cruising the strip on a hot summer evening and reading a temperature of 110 or 112℉.
The Cove plans on occupying at least one-third of the building and contemplating the option of offering space to other nonprofits. The large basement will be an asset for donated stores of goods. The Cove owns the Cove II located directly behind the bank and will vacate its current location on Glover Street.
Negotiations on the building commenced prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and any financial support received in response to the pandemic did not go to the purchase of the building. Rather, The Cove relinquished ownership of a duplex rental property to finance the purchase. Any donations received for COVID-19 relief have been used to offer expanded Friday Food program which almost doubled at the onset of the pandemic; regular food assistance; and emergency aid and assistance.
The Cove will spend the next couple of months figuring out space programming and completing any upgrades and remodels that need to occur prior to occupying the space. When the time comes to move in, they will be looking for able-bodied volunteers to help with the heavy lifting.