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Hard hats off to the new AMB

American Marine Bank completes two-year, 4,000-square-foot overhaul.

The chain-link fence and construction detritus are finally gone, and the doors of American Marine Bank are wide open.

“It’s wonderful,” said Rex Townsend, bank president and CEO. “It’s been a long project for our employees and the community, and we appreciate everyone’s patience.

“We wanted to make a statement that downtown Winslow is vibrant and alive – truly the focus of activity on Bainbridge.”

American Marine Bank celebrated the grand opening of its headquarters on Winslow Way Thursday morning after two years of major construction that expanded and refaced the building.

After a morning ribbon-cutting, visitors were treated to all-day cookies, cake, coffee and prize drawings.

When reconstruction started in spring 2002, AMB had largely outgrown its old space, a mix of the original 1948 building and add-ons in 1955 and 1973. Storage space was rented; some departments were in a separate building.

The expansion added about 4,000 square feet, and the new fourth floor brought the bank’s trust and wealth management in-house with the rest of the staff.

“We’ve been a close-knit group,” said Donna Davidson, senior vice president and branch administrator. “We like to see each other on a daily basis. It keeps us cohesive.”

From the lower level, a wide atrium now stretches up through three stories with winding honey-colored, wood banisters. A row of small square windows rings the walls just below the ceiling to let in bright sunlight.

“I love it. It’s open and airy,” said Sandy Crider, switchboard operator. “It’s really inviting for customers, especially the fireplace area, where you can just sit and have a cup of tea.”

On the lower level, the mortgage department replaces the teller counters, which are now at street level to the left of the Winslow entrance – one goal of the remodel. The 1973 add-on put the tellers downstairs, facing a planned square that never materialized.

“The bank started on Winslow Way, and we wanted to be back there,” Townsend said.

An inviting, living room-like area lets customers drop by for a cup of coffee by the fireplace with customer services officer Eddie Rollins.

The planned one-year expansion and renovation dragged out to nearly two years. Unexpected hitches, such as having to change the basement from half to full mid-project, and working around a fully operating bank, contributed to the delays.

“When you’re almost two-thirds the way through, people are crazy with the noise and working to keep the doors open,” Davidson said. “But it’s been definitely worth the effort. Bruce (Woolover of Toilsome Construction) and his group did a real quality job.”

“The biggest thing was moving the tellers up to the second floor (street-level) in October,” she said. “We knew there was light at the end of the tunnel.”

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