290,000 USD will get you Fukuoka Prefecture’s oldest bank building

Fukuoka’s oldest bank building to be demolished if buyer is not found

Kitakyushu Wakamatsu Sumitomo Bank 1The owner of a 118-year old former bank building in Kitakyushu City plans to demolish the historic property in the new year in order to sell the vacant block of land.

The former Sumitomo Bank Wakamatsu Branch Building was built in 1897 and is the oldest surviving bank building in Fukuoka Prefecture. The bank closed its doors in 1967, just as the region’s coal mining industry was reaching an end.

The two-storey, wood and brick building fronts onto a covered shopping arcade and adjoins an open plaza that was once the site of the branch office for Sumitomo’s coal mining operations.

Sumitomo’s archival department do not know who the original architect was, although some experts suggest it may have been Magoichi Noguchi (1869-1915), an architect who designed many of Sumitomo Bank’s branches during that period, and who had also designed the Osaka Prefectural Nakanoshima Library.

Kitakyushu Wakamatsu Sumitomo Bank 3

Kitakyushu Wakamatsu Sumitomo Bank 2

Kitakyushu Wakamatsu Sumitomo Bank 4

It is 250 meters from Wakamatsu’s bund area which once flourished as a coal shipping port.

The building and land was purchased by the local shopping promotion association and was occupied by a furniture store up until  few years ago. Due to the ageing of the property and difficulty in maintaining it, the association decided to sell it in July 2015. The property was listed for sale for 35 million Yen (approx. 290,000 USD), but a buyer could not be found. The association have decided that the property has a better chance of selling if it is just vacant land, and plan to demolish the building by February 2016 if no buyer comes forward beforehand.

There have been efforts to preserve some of Wakamatsu’s heritage buildings.

Kita Kyushu Ueno Building
Ueno Building (c1913)

The nearby Ueno Building was built in 1913 as the Wakamatsu Branch for Mitsubishi. It is located alongside Wakamatsu’s bund area. It was bought in the 1960s by the current owner and the various internal spaces are leased out to a variety of shops and cafes, and is sometimes used as filming locations for TV dramas and commercials. In 2012 the building was registered as a National Tangible Cultural Property.

Furukawa Kogyo Building
Furukawa Kogyo Building (c1918)

The former Furukawa Kogyo Building was built in 1918. At one point the owner was planning to tear down the building but local residents campaigned for its preservation and it was purchased by the city and converted into a local community centre. During the renovation work, original blueprints were uncovered in the building.

Location

2-13-26 Honmachi, Wakamatsu-ku, Kitakyushu City, Fukuoka City

Source: The Nishinippon Shimbun, December 11, 2015.

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