Washington Federal will turn 95 years old next week. In honor of this birthday, we’d like to share our story with you in five parts leading up to this special moment. Be sure to check back on our blog for more of the story.
Here’s a bit more about the Kean Brothers and their founding of Ballard Savings & Loan… later renamed Washington Federal. In the fall of 1916, W.C. Kean became associated with George Carr, who was with a savings and loan association in Everett and Kean became a lending agent for that institution. Soon after, Kean was made treasurer of the company and it changed its name to Universal Savings and Loan Association. He stayed there until January 1917, when he and his brother decided that since they had been some principal contributors to securing shareholders, they would organize their own savings and loan association, which they did in April 1917, keeping the office in the same location as the real estate office at 2023 Market Street in Ballard.
About then, all the banks were located on Vernon Street, so the Ballard thrift’s board of directors bought a refurbished corner frame building at 5301 Ballard Avenue. The terra cotta building, with its bas-relief of cornucopia spilling out grains and fruits, still stands. You can see the cornucopia peeking out from under the awning.
In 1929, W.C. bought out his brother’s interest in the association and hired on A.H. Rhodes, who acted as secretary and treasurer and did the bookkeeping. About that time, all the businesses in Ballard were moving to Market Street, so the Board leased a building on the southwest corner of 22nd and Market Street.