main3-3Constructed by Valley National Bank as its 101st branch bank, the building at the southeast corner of 44th Street and Camelback Road has become a valued architectural gem of Phoenix’s Arcadia neighborhood.

In 1964, Walter Bimson, president of Valley National Bank, commissioned architects Fred Weaver and Richard Drover to design a branch facility for the site. Weaver & Drover, the predecessor of DWL Architects, designed some 40 buildings throughout Arizona for Valley National Bank.  At the time there were no commercial uses at that intersection. In fact, the land on the northeast corner was vacant.  The Brophy family owned the land that is now the bank site. They referred to it as the “Fuddy-Duddy Corner.”  It consisted of five lots and was zoned single-family residential at the time.

Frank Henry, a protege of Messrs. Drover and Weaver, was the project architect for the commission.  Construction was completed in 1967 by Mardian, after Valley National Bank obtained the necessary zoning change for the site from the City of Phoenix. The re-zoning included designation of the area east of the building, in perpetuity, for public open space. The mature green parkland that now graces the site is a much appreciated legacy of that civic foresight.

In 1985, Valley Forward recognized the building with its “Crescordia Award” for Environmental Excellence among commercial buildings and structures in the valley.  In 1992, the Central Arizona Chapter of the American Institute of Architects nominated it for national recognition by the AIA for its 25-year achievement award for design excellence.  Now under the banner of its third owner, JPMorgan Chase, it continues today to serve its intended function while providing a handsome landmark for the Arcadia neighborhood and contributing to the civic character and architectural distinctiveness and identity of Phoenix.  Its unique and distinctive design is a hallmark of Walter Bimson’s commitment to the economic health and cultural vitality of Phoenix, a tradition that Chase Bank recognizes, respects, and maintains.

The story of this building and its site is a crucible that fuses the names of leaders who laid the foundation for this metropolis in the Arizona sun during the 20th century — Brophy, Bimson, Kerr, Jacobsen — and their patronage of Arizona artists like John Waddell, two of whose sculptures have graced this landmark since it was built.

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