Exterior repairs continue today on the old Paine Building at the corner of Second Avenue and Main Street.

Exterior work on the historical Paine Building begins restoration of the 1879 property as a cornerstone hub of downtown Walla Walla.

Scaffolding was erected around the building on the corner of Second Avenue and Main Street just over a week ago as exterior work begins the highly anticipated repair work.

“This is Phase One of a larger project to revitalize the Paine Building,” said Eben Corliss, vice president of operations for property owner Tarragon Northwest, in an email.

Corliss said the crumbing condition of the stucco has led to scraping of all the exterior stucco. Cleaning and a full skim coat slated for the outside of the building will maintain the envelope and prevent water intrusion.

He said peeling and missing window trims, corbels, fascia and soffits will be repaired or replaced as needed. New paint will cover all of them.

On the south masonry wall, paint will be removed, and brick will be tuckpointed.

The roughly 40 arched windows on the second and third floors will be replaced with custom steel-framed windows. Corliss said the new windows will provide an airtight seal for weather, energy efficiency and noise.

The change is needed to complete the vision of a high-end hotel/inn for the upper floors. Tarragon Northwest touts the 20,160 square feet of space on its website for future retail and hotel.

“Brothers Frank W. and John G. Paine arrived in Walla Walla in 1861 after failing to find fortune in gold mining,” the site explains. “Here they set up a business selling clothing to miners and used their earnings to fuel other ventures. Together they contributed greatly to Walla Walla’s development.”

Their namesake building was largely associated with banking institutions for 90 years of its history.

From 1949 to 1973, minus a few gaps, the ground floor was known for apparel and shoes, according to information from Walla Walla 2020.

Spaces on the upper floors until 1939 served as offices for dental, grain, insurance, photo, dressmaker and other services. In 1941, the upper floors became residences as the Ellis Hotel/Apartments. A range of seven to 27 rooms operated there until 1987.

In more recent years, the ground floor was home to banks, including a Sterling Savings branch. The building has been vacant though since 2006.

The vision for the Paine Building was first shared in September 2017, when doors opened for a public tour of the property.

An estimated timeline for this phase of construction was not mentioned. During the 2017 tour, a construction timeline was estimated at 18 to 24 months after permit approval.


Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at 509-526-8321, or on Twitter at

Vicki covers business and economic development, including tourism, the Port of Walla Walla and the Strictly Business column, as well as features. She has been reporting for the Union-Bulletin since late 2001.

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