Downtown Bakersfield is full of history, and the Chain | Cohn | Stiles building in the heart of downtown is no exception.
In fact, since 1870, the southwest corner of 18th Street and Chester Avenue in downtown Bakersfield — where the law firm calls home now — has been home to various local businesses including mostly banks, and also a Goodwill.
Countless stories can be told about the happenings inside of the building’s walls, which is the reason the popular “Bored in Bakersfield” show decided to pay a visit and highlight the building’s history, and rumored paranormal activity. The program showcases places, businesses, events, and people in Kern County, and is used as a tool for those looking for fun things to do in Bakersfield.
You can watch the show at the link below, and you can learn even more about the Chain | Cohn | Stiles building history by reading on.
- Bored in Bakersfield: “Chain Cohn Stiles Building – Haunted Basement“
The southwest corner of 18th Street and Chester Avenue was the site of the first Kern Valley Bank until it closed in 1911, and would remain home to several other banks in the century that followed including National Bank, Crocker-Anglo Bank, and most currently Wells Fargo and Washington Mutual. Goodwill Industries took over the 30,000 square-foot building in the 2000s until 2011, and remained empty until Chain | Cohn | Stiles moved in 2014.
Chain Cohn Stiles, itself a longtime Bakersfield-based personal injury law firm, celebrating 85 years this year in downtown Bakersfield, occupies the ground floor and uses the basement for storage, while the second floor is leased out to the Kern County College of Law.
Here are some other interesting facts about the historic building:
- 30,000 square feet occupied most recently by Goodwill Industries of South Central California.
- Sixth-month, seven-figure renovation. Features include motion sensor LED lighting throughout, and high-tech energy efficient HVAC system with more than 20 thermostats.
- Chain | Cohn | Stiles takes up the entire first floor: 10,000 square feet, 18 offices, four conference rooms and several open work stations.
- Second floor is available for lease. Basement is used for law firm storage and files, and game room.
- This building has views of most of the previous law firm homes since 1934: Haberfelde (1934-1938), Sill Building (1938-1970) and most recently Bank of America (1990-2015).
- 5 new windows were cut from the 17-inch concrete on the north-facing wall. Each slab of concrete weighed 20,000 pounds.
- Kern Valley Bank held a grand opening in this location on July 6, 1889. The next day, the great Bakersfield fire destroyed the building. It was rebuilt immediately after.
- Anglo-California Bank opened at this location on Aug. 11, 1938, designed by Bakersfield architect Charles H. Biggar. Perhaps the only remaining featured from this building is the demarcation on the roof.
- The building was remodeled on Aug. 4, 1954 by Anglo California National Bank, bringing much of the exterior to what is it today. Other bank tenants over the years include Crocker National Bank, Wells Fargo and Washington Mutual.
- Still remaining in this building are three bank vaults: one on the first floor’s south end, and two in the basement, reportedly used as bomb shelters.
- Our inside and outside sign lights can be changed colors to honor various holidays and observations.
- The 18th Street entrance features an elevator lined with white marble and a staircase of beautiful green terrazzo flooring, probably a holdover from the 1954 remodel.
- The arched roof from the original 1930s Anglo-California National Bank is still present.
- In the basement is an incinerator from the Kerner Incinerator Co. of San Francisco, dated 1914, that still holds old bank transactions.
- Law firm opens on historic downtown corner (The Bakersfield Californian)
- Chain | Cohn | Stiles celebrates new building with ribbon cutting ceremony (KGET-17 NBC) (KBAK-29 CBS)
- A new story for old building: Law firm’s renovation complete (The Bakersfield Californian) (Newspaper Version)
- Kern Business Journal highlights law firm’s purchase of downtown Bakersfield building
- Chain | Cohn | Stiles plans move into historical downtown Bakersfield building
- Chain Cohn Stiles buys a landmark building in downtown Bakersfield (Bakersfield Observed: The Bakersfield Californian)
- Looking past the vacancies at a key corner of downtown (The Bakersfield Californian)
- ‘First Look’: First News for Oct. 13 (Bakersfield.com)
- Officials explore luring more businesses downtown (The Bakersfield Californian)
- Downtown Bakersfield businesses hope for freeway signs (BakersfieldNow.com, KBAK/KBFX)
- Solving a mystery of the history outside of the Chain | Cohn | Stiles building (Blogging for Justice)
- Chain | Cohn | Stiles celebrates new building with special ribbon cutting ceremony (Blogging for Justice)