Alki Homestead future: Historical Society goes public with concern

March 23, 2009 at 7:54 am | In Alki Homestead, West Seattle fires, West Seattle news | 41 Comments

(WSB photo from January, shortly after the fire)
Two months after the fire that closed the historic Alki Homestead restaurant, repairs have yet to begin, according to city online records which show no permits have been applied for, though records do show a complaint was filed with the city last week about the building’s condition/status. This morning, the Southwest Seattle Historical Society, which operates the nearby Log House Museum, has issued a news release expressing concern about the Homestead’s future:

Because of community uncertainty over the fate of the Fir Lodge/Alki Homestead Restaurant after an early-morning fire damaged the building on Jan. 16, 2009, the Executive Board of the Southwest Seattle Historical Society states the following:

The Southwest Seattle Historical Society advocates protection and preservation of significant historic structures on the Duwamish Peninsula. We nominated the Alki Homestead Restaurant building for city landmark status and the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board designated it a Seattle landmark on Oct. 18, 1995. Then and today, the building needs preservation.

The Alki Homestead, known 100 years ago as Fir Lodge, is a Seattle icon. It was the anchor of a beachfront estate created by the Bernard family. The carriage house that became the historical society’s Log House Museum is the only remaining structure of five outbuildings on that estate. Both the Homestead and The Log House Museum are–and should remain–vital and intertwined sites in our Seattle history for generations to come.

We support the building’s preservation. We urge:
-that the building be protected immediately in its damaged state: that the roof be covered, broken windows boarded up, and the entire structure protected from the elements and from intrusion;
-that the yard and landscape be maintained, perhaps with help from neighborhood volunteers; and
-that all landmarked features be preserved in the restoration of the building.

We are confident that there are many ways in which the building can be used to insure that it has an economically viable future. We urge community support of a vision that restores the landmarked building and sustains the site as a valuable element of the Alki community, the Duwamish Peninsula , and the city of Seattle.

After the fire, Homestead owner Tom Lin had said he still hoped to proceed with a sale of the restaurant operation – not the building itself – which was in the works before the fire; he also said it might take more than six months before the Homestead could reopen. We have a message out to him for comment on the Historical Society’s statement, and the status of plans for repairs/sale, and will let you know what we hear back.

41 Comments

  1. It seems apparent that the owner, Tom Lin, has lost interest in the Homestead, and the historic building is the unfortunate victim. In this economy, is it feasible for Mr. Lin to assume that someone is really going to to be interested in buying a restaurant business, let alone one that is not operating and still has substantial damage? What sort of pride of ownership is that? I hope the Historical Society has the man power to organize some sort of campaign to pressure Mr. Lin to step up and do the right thing. Sign me up and let me know where to show up with my picket sign!

    Comment by Born-N-Raised — 12:05 pm March 23, 2009 #

  2. UNLESS YOU ARE AN INSURANCE COMPANY AND ARE PROVIDING INSURNACE COVERAGE TP THE BUILDING AND CONTENTS OF THE BUILIDNG THE SPELLING SHOULD BE ENSURE

    We are confident that there are many ways in which the building can be used to insure that it has an economically viable future. We urge community support of a vision that restores the landmarked building and sustains the site as a valuable element of the Alki community, the Duwamish Peninsula , and the city of Seattle.

    Comment by JO ANN — 12:07 pm March 23, 2009 #

  3. The roof hasn’t been covered? Are you joking? Shouldn’t we all be a little more concerned for this beautiful property that’s being totally neglected after the devastating fire! Good for the SW historical society for caring and being the squeaky wheel! We should all demand that this gets taken care of. Very sad.

    Comment by GiGi — 12:10 pm March 23, 2009 #

  4. Is the hysterical society willing to run down and grab a few blue tarps? (the unoffical flag of western washington)
    .
    Seems like they could offer to pitch in a couple tarps, round up a few staple guns and ladders, and a couple of hours of labor to help cover the roof.
    .
    Or they could spend that effort writing threatening letters, making signs, and picketing…
    .

    Comment by big gulps,eh? well, see ya later. — 12:35 pm March 23, 2009 #

  5. Welcome to Seattle, where your private property is everyone’s business.

    Comment by CB — 1:04 pm March 23, 2009 #

  6. Once it is a landmark it is indeed everyone’s business. Hope to see a posting for volunteers soon on how we can help out.

    Comment by homesweethome — 1:34 pm March 23, 2009 #

  7. I think that when nothing is being done, it should definately be a concern to our community, especially when it’s such a great historical building. I can’t believe more people aren’t outraged by this.
    What happened to the integrity of Alki being the place where our ancestors first landed? And the fact that this is one of the only remaining landmarks from the beginning of the 20th century in Seattle?
    I’m sorry,but it is everyone’s business when it comes to the neighborhood and community that’s being robbed of it. Who are these people who are nay sayers about this being a problem of neglect? Get real!

    Comment by GiGi — 2:21 pm March 23, 2009 #

  8. Dorie would be so sad to see her place looking like this, my late MIL worked here in the 60s; hubby and I had our rehearsal dinnner here almost 24 years ago. Besides the restaurant, the building itself is part of WS history – let us know when, we’ll be there to help.

    Comment by jsrekd — 2:51 pm March 23, 2009 #

  9. I sincerely hope that enough concerned citizens get involved in the restoration (destruction) of the Homestead before it’s to late. I truly believe that Mr.Lin is purposely neglecting the repairs in hopes that if he waits long enough it might be deemed a total loss and then he will be able to build his dream hotel.
    Scary thought don’t you think?
    Once a piece of history is destroyed it can’t be replaced, Seattle has lost so much of it’s historical landmarks which make it more important to protect the ones we still are lucky enough to have, even if it’s from a developer with no since of pride in our local history.

    Comment by Sam — 2:56 pm March 23, 2009 #

  10. Boy, there are sure a lot of assumptions and accusations flying around. Why don’t you wait until Mr. Lin has a chance to respond before accusing him of all kinds of unsavory things? He obviously didn’t set the fire. And as far as I can tell, he has no real interest (financial, personal, or otherwise) to let the building be destroyed. And just because he wanted to bring a small hotel to Alki (which I think was a huge missed opportunity for the community since we don’t have a single decent hotel in W. Seattle) doesn’t make him an evil, greedy developer. Sheesh!

    Comment by Meghan — 3:38 pm March 23, 2009 #

  11. I detest Tom Lin when it comes to our community’s well being. He has publicly acted like he cares but MOST of his actions have shown otherwise. Same with his sidekick guy, Patrick.

    Comment by Pam — 3:58 pm March 23, 2009 #

  12. Thanks for the name calling Exactly. Way to take the high ground. Wing nut, smart ass, jerk and “developer” all in one post. You go!
    .
    The letter was not directly threatening, but the first responses obviously were. Since my post wasn’t helpful, please enlighten us all on how your divisive name calling makes the community stronger. Yes, I was being facetious, but sometimes a little humor can get things done in a way that threats just can’t.
    .
    I said nothing about just showing up and trespassing. It was a tongue in cheek expression of the idea of extending an offer to help a neighbor instead of threats. I now see that some of the humorly challenged may have miss that. For that I apologize. I will try to be more sensitive to those among us with this condition.
    .
    Why do you assume I am a developer? Maybe I am just neighbor that thinks things can be solved though humor and humane interaction and not threats and finger pointing. Sadly, Mongo just pawn in game of life…

    Comment by big gulps,eh? well, see ya later. — 4:10 pm March 23, 2009 #

  13. Sorry, big gulps, that was a rule-violation comment and has been deleted, apologies we didn’t spot it earlier – TR

    Comment by WSB — 4:43 pm March 23, 2009 #

  14. Why are folks so radically against the “hysterical” society (as ‘big gulp’ sarcastically name calls it). Let’s get a grip here. This is one of the OLDEST structures in Seattle and one of THE most historic. Yes the Ballard restaurant (Denny’s of late) was a bit silly, but this is without any possible theoretical argument the exact reason for a historical society. This is not just a McDonalds or Red Robin we’re talking about. I don’t care if they tear down the generic little 1980′s apartments on Beach Drive, but this is one of the oldest and most significant buildings in the entire dang city.

    Comment by WhyNot — 5:20 pm March 23, 2009 #

  15. And for crying out loud, don’t get so sensitive everyone. Since when did someone posting a “letter” expressing concern get to be the same thing as “threats”? It’s OK for someone to write a letter expressing concern. GOOD FOR THEM! It raises everyone’s awareness, like all of us posting in here. That was the point. It worked. Good job. No reason to get rude or dismissive of groups spending their free/volunteer time trying to save what little is left of Seattle.

    Comment by WhyNot — 5:30 pm March 23, 2009 #

  16. I agree with the real estate proponents on here! Lets tear this sucker down! We could take that land and build four 3 story townhouses in that space. That would make West Seattle a much better place to live. Get rid of all that annoying ‘old’ looking stuff and cram in more condo folks can’t actually afford. After all, we need more $800k condos. Granted only 7% of Seattle makes enough to buy a $800k condo, but 90% of new homes here go for that, or more…something wrong with the math, but I’m sure it’s just me. Oh well, back to the news…something about a mortgage meltdown due to foreclosures. Wonder what that’s about?

    Comment by HomeOnBeachDrive — 5:46 pm March 23, 2009 #

  17. (that post was sarcastic, just in case someone missed that)

    Comment by HomeOnBeachDrive — 5:46 pm March 23, 2009 #

  18. In case anyone is wondering, we are still hoping to hear Tom Lin’s side of the story – have sent e-mail and left voice mail – TR

    Comment by WSB — 5:57 pm March 23, 2009 #

  19. I wish he’s reply sooner if TR left a message and he hasn’t yet responded. Just the fact that there’s not even a F$#&ing TARP keeping the rain out, or the area from getting worse sends the biggest message of all. He doesn’t really care enough to protect what’s left. Bottom line.

    Comment by Pam — 6:02 pm March 23, 2009 #

  20. I think we need to take legal action or some kind of action to force him to take care of it, given it’s historical signifigance in the community. This is BS, Tom! If you buy a property like this, you have to abide by the rules! How did this fire start? Too many strings of lights into one outlet? That seems negligent to me.

    Please SELL this property and let somebody else take care of it who cares! We need answers now. This is ridiculous.

    Comment by Jenn — 6:06 pm March 23, 2009 #

  21. THANK YOU to the person who filed the complaint. THANK YOU to the historical society for taking action. Now, the rest of us need to also take action to preserve this site. Obviously the owner doesn’t care as evident by his actions.

    Comment by JennH — 6:09 pm March 23, 2009 #

  22. Any Concerned party willing to coordinate fixing the roof? With all this Concern we should be eating chicken n biscuits by summer. Personally I would like to restore the peninsula to the state it was when the original inhabitants lived here but I doubt we can coordinate that one.
    .
    I will trick a couple of my wing nut, smart ass, jerks friends to show up and fix the roof and cover the broken windows. I will provide the tools. I can also have drafted a release of liability to hold harmless the owner as well as the volunteers.
    .
    A Concerned party will need to carry the water to the owner and reach agreement. The Concerned party will also need to provide the materials to cover the roof. I also expect Exactly to be there and if not to work, then at least be moral support while I cover the roof.
    .
    I will check this post tomorrow for a response. If there is one, then I assume we can have WSB connect us offline.
    .
    there ya go.

    Comment by big gulps,eh? well, see ya later. — 6:40 pm March 23, 2009 #

  23. But they have insurance to help fix this. I love what you’re doing big gulps (nice name, btw!) but they should be taking responsibility for themselves as the owner. I think it’s our job to keep them accountable to not let the place get in worse shape as they wait for the insurance, permits… who knows what they are waiting for. But, they can’t let it deteriorate any further and water getting inside, animals, etc is really damaging the interior. You can see it just from looking at it from a distance.

    Comment by JennH — 7:03 pm March 23, 2009 #

  24. One of the big problems here is that the building was “terribly under insured”. Which is also negligent of Mr. Lin.

    Comment by GiGi — 8:57 pm March 23, 2009 #

  25. You get the tar, I’ll bring the feathers. I had no idea that WS is such a hotbed of psychic ability. I’m pretty good, but so many people know so much of what is in Mr. Lin’s heart of hearts. Why should we wait for his permission to move forward. I’ll be there with coffee and kucken in the morning.

    Comment by Edla — 10:16 pm March 23, 2009 #

  26. I believe Tom Lin is planning to neglect it enough to make the case for a total loss and I beleive I have reason to think this. His action tell us that this is the case. Tom has tons of contractor friends including his best friend Pat (Patrick, whatever his name is). If they wanted to fix this, they would have patched up the roof IMMEDIATELY! I want to thank the historical society and the WS Blog for bringing this to our attention. Can we get KING 5 or a news station to cover this? This is a major piece of history. Dow? Mayor Nickels? Are you listening and can you help? This is terrible.

    Comment by Sad about Neglect. — 10:18 pm March 23, 2009 #

  27. Dude (big gulp)…what’s with the hostility (couched in poor sarcasm)? It’s ok that people are curious about what’s going on and are concerned and willing to help. You don’t need to ridicule people for that. That’s just mean spirited. West Seattle has a long history of local community involvement, and I think that’s a good thing.

    Comment by HomeOnBeachDrive — 10:33 pm March 23, 2009 #

  28. Wow… I am pretty shocked at the reactions from my neighbors…. And I am ashamed of their accusatory, nasty behavior. Tom Lin is a good guy. He has done things for this neighborhood that these yahoos don’t even know about, or have conveniently forgotten. Give the guy a chance, and remember your nasty comments when your own property needs major work, and you need time to get things done…. Especially after a very damaging fire that happened during an economically difficult time. I see businesses that are shuttered and dirty…Apartment buildings on Alki that have been abandoned for months… homes that need painting or repair work…. Yards that are a mess… garages overflowing with crap so the doors can’t close… Before people start demanding things of this man in the name of “our beautiful neighborhood”, they should reflect on their own piece of it… And do all they can for what THEY are responsible for.

    Again….. Tom is a good guy. Give him the benefit of the doubt that he will continue to do all he can to help our neighborhood.

    Comment by Dano — 11:27 pm March 23, 2009 #

  29. I’ll say it again: Welcome to Seattle, where YOUR PRIVATE PROPERTY is everyone’s business.

    Comment by CB — 8:07 am March 24, 2009 #

  30. CB-
    Unfortunately, when you buy a private piece of property that has the designation of historical significance, it does become the business of others. And fortunately, most owners feel it is their responsibility to be good stewards to this special sites.

    Dano- How long should we give Tom Lin to get it done? I am not sure what the proper etiquette is for one of the first buildings erected by the Denny Party when they landed? But I’m sure you and gulpy have that info right in front of you.

    Comment by Born-N-Raised — 9:44 am March 24, 2009 #

  31. Dude, Seriously. I honestly think someone should approach the owner with a plan to help at least keep the property from becoming more damaged from the weather in the next couple months. That was my poor attempt. I hope someone else tries and does a better job.
    .
    They originally covered the hole in the roof with plastic. The wind tore it off and it needs replaced with more plastic. Some of the windows were smashed out when fighting the fire and they need to be covered. It isn’t a fix, but it will keep further water damage from happening. The landscaping looked well maintained.
    .
    Again, I will cover the roof and mow the yard if that helps him out. I know it is naive and not a solution, but it seems better than passive hostility. Who knows, maybe from this simple effort a larger effort will form. In my experience action tends to lead to more action.

    Comment by big gulps,eh? well, see ya later. — 10:05 am March 24, 2009 #

  32. You do realize that Mr. Lin is reading all of these comments, and it’s obvious he doesn’t care.

    I wish this conversation happened a month ago before the interior of the restaurant received more damage from exposure. Hopefully it’s not too late, in case you are not aware of the extent of the interior damage; the hole in the roof goes straight down to the first floor where the fire started, to the right of the main fireplace. There was probably more than a foot of snow in the main dining room at one time.

    I know it’s only a building but it does not deserve this, it has gone through so much over the years and had loving care for the past 40 years until Mrs. Nelson passed away, since then it has been slowly tortured and destroyed by someone that could care less about the history of it.

    Comment by Sam — 10:44 am March 24, 2009 #

  33. It has snowed a few times since the fire. That means snow, rain, etc has gotten into the building. This is neglect. Plain and simple. And since it’s a historical site, it IS everyone’s business. If it was just some condo or building, I would not care. Look at the way the other building with the fire looks– the one near the beach on Alki. It’s all boarded up so no rain or snow can get in to cause further damage. And that’s not even a historical site but it’s being cared for 100 times better to make sure no more damage occurs! Windows are boarded up, etc.

    Comment by Sad about Neglect. — 10:46 am March 24, 2009 #

  34. I agree with Sam. That is so sad. Should not be legal to treat a historic site that way.

    Comment by Yes to Sam. — 10:48 am March 24, 2009 #

  35. I just emailed Exec Directors of Historic Seattle and Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, to see if they can offer any help or advice; hopefully will also see them tonight at downtown event at historic First Church, about sustainability and preservation
    ~
    it breaks my heart and is infuriating to hear that the roof is open, allowing further exposure and damage to interior; I had no idea this was the case, and grateful to Southwest Seattle Historical Society for bringing this to our attention
    ~
    I am gratified to hear the community outrage about this; hope we can all come together to restore this wonderful historic building asap

    Comment by Diane — 11:29 am March 24, 2009 #

  36. I’d like to file a complaint with the city too along with writing to my local elected officials. Anybody know how I can do this?

    There just isn’t an excuse good enough that Tom can come up with to make me feel OK with this situation.

    Comment by Yes to Sam. — 12:37 pm March 24, 2009 #

  37. I have inquiries out to find out what the city typically does in a situation like this involving a landmark – if anything – aside from dealing with the complaint that has been filed with DPD.

    Comment by WSB — 12:58 pm March 24, 2009 #

  38. Did anyone hear Tom’s interview today on KOMO News radio?
    He said he still has an interested buyer that wants to buy the restaurant, but how can that be true if he purposely allowed the damage to get worse from the elements than the actual fire damage was?
    Makes you wonder doesn’t?

    Comment by Sam — 4:57 pm March 24, 2009 #

  39. Well, he told us the same thing shortly after the fire. We have posted a separate followup this afternoon but he hasn’t returned our requests for comment yet – TR

    Comment by WSB — 5:03 pm March 24, 2009 #

  40. Read this article on the front page of West Seattle Herald web site written by the great grandson of the original builder of Alki Homestead. Make sure you read his complete letter. You will find it interesting.

    http://www.westseattleherald.com/2009/03/23/news/homestead-owner-says-he-will-restore-landmark-time

    Comment by Dora — 9:44 pm March 24, 2009 #

  41. Yes- READ THE LETTER!… aND TO “Born-and-Raised”, are all your comments meant to be sarcastic and belittling….or are you just trying to make friends in some unusal way?

    Comment by Dano — 11:43 pm March 24, 2009 #

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