Update: Alki Homestead on new “Endangered Properties” list

May 26, 2009 at 1:15 pm | In Alki Homestead, West Seattle history, West Seattle news | 2 Comments

Washington Trust for Historic Preservation has just officially announced its 2009 list of the “state’s most endangered historic properties,” which includes the fire-damaged Alki Homestead – one of four Seattle “resources” on the list, along with the P-I Globe. Washington Trust sent media organizations a preview of this for planning purposes last week and we honored its requested “embargo” of the list until this afternoon’s planned announcement, which explains:

Inclusion in our annual list is intended to raise awareness of the challenges and opportunities facing historic resources across the state and to encourage collaboration with all stakeholders to develop preservation strategies. In numerous instances, Most Endangered status has worked to facilitate solutions that promote the historic significance of sites while retaining important resources as viable, functional components of our neighborhoods and communities.

So what else does today’s announcement mean for the Homestead? We are at the media briefing right now and will add more later. Meantime, it’s been 4 months since the fire — blamed on an accidental electrical malfunction involving Christmas lights — that closed the Homestead. City records do not yet show an application for repair permits, but they do show that the complaint filed because of roof and window areas “open to weather” was resolved earlier this month and the case is closed.

ADDED 2:30 PM: Video from this afternoon’s announcement – starting with a special sign noting the Homestead’s inclusion, then to comments from Andrea Mercado from the Southwest Seattle Historical Society:

Afterward, she told us the group has been in touch with Homestead owner Tom Lin through an intermediary, and is working with him to make sure he has all the available information regarding potential financial help for restoration. Also at today’s announcement, West Seattle-residing King County Council Chair Dow Constantine – who is on the Washington Trust board – with a few words about the Homestead and more about a Vashon property on the list, the Vashon Elementary Gym:

Read on for the full text of today’s announcement, including the complete list:

Seattle Post-Intelligencer Globe Tops Statewide List of Endangered Historic
Properties;
4 Seattle Resources Included

Seattle, Washington: Emblazoned with the motto “It’s in the P-I,” the Globe
sitting atop the Seattle Post-Intelligencer Building along Elliot Avenue
continues to spin even though the presses ceased turning out newspapers over
two months ago. Long a visual icon of Seattle’s cityscape, the Globe first
began revolving on November 9, 1948, at its original location on the corner
of Sixth Avenue and Wall Street. It landed at its current home in 1986 when
the P-I moved its staff to the Elliot Avenue office building – it has
remained there ever since. Regardless of its location, at 30 feet in
diameter and over 18 tons, the Globe has consistently turned heads and is a
cherished symbol of Seattle’s long and proud journalistic heritage. In
assessing structure’s importance, Seattle City Councilmember Sally J. Clark
said, “The Globe is a symbol of our culture and a reminder of our history.
Its preservation is a statement honoring the role that newspapers play in
our society.”

Built by Pacific Car and Foundry and Electrical Products Consolidated (still
in business today as PACCAR), the Globe as logo is a visual representation
for the newspaper and remains a post-war tribute to the significant role
trade signs and the graphic arts hold in commercial advertising. With the
P-I now limited to an on-line presence, the Globe does double duty as a
tangible reminder of the challenges currently facing the newspaper industry
in a community increasingly reliant on digital media formats. With concerns
swirling about how those same challenges might impact the future of the
Globe, local elected officials have engaged in efforts to recognize the
structure as an official historic resource. Councilmember Tim Burgess
stated, “The City Council has long worked to save Seattle’s landmarks and
icons. Councilmembers Clark, Godden and I nominated the Globe as a landmark
to the City’s Landmarks Preservation Board. We intend to work hard to make
sure the Globe has a proper home in Seattle.”

While no plans indicating the Globe’s removal have been publicized, office
space within the P-I building is for lease and maintenance needs for the
structure could play a role in coming years. These facts have sparked
discussion about an appropriate site for the Globe if its relocation ever
becomes imminent. Praising its inclusion in the 2009 Most Endangered
Historic Properties List, Seattle City Councilmember Jean Godden states,
“Kudos to the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation for selecting the
Seattle Post-Intelligencer Globe as one of the top preservation goals for
this state. The Globe not only represents the city’s longest continuously
operated business, but it’s also a symbol of press freedom and public
enlightenment.”

Additional Seattle Resources Included in 2009 List

George Carmack House – Seattle: For nearly thirteen years, this Jefferson
Street residence in Seattle’s Squire Park neighborhood was home to George
Washington Carmack. Credited with staking the first major claim of the
Klondike Gold Rush, Carmack’s gold discovery and subsequent boosterism
helped spark the mobilization of thousands headed to the Yukon to strike it
rich and led to Seattle’s first major economic boom. In addition to the
building’s association with Carmack, the house, constructed in 1902, is a
rare regional example of the Shingle Style – an architectural style popular
on the east coast but much less common in the west.

Vacant for the last few years, the house has fallen into disrepair and been
subject to vandalism. In addition, the property is for sale. Adjacent to
an institutional medical center, existing zoning allows for a much more
intensive level of development than the existing single family house, making
demolition the likely course of action for a new owner. Despite this, the
Carmack House retains a high degree of integrity, a fact acknowledged by the
Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board when a majority of board members voted
to designate the structure as a city landmark at a recent meeting. Even
with landmark status, the future of the Carmack House is uncertain. Plans
to relocate the house to a nearby vacant lot and implement a comprehensive
rehabilitation program are in the works, but as yet no agreement has been
reached.

Alki Homestead Restaurant – Seattle: In 1903, Gladys and William Bernard
began construction of Fir Lodge. This country estate, located near Alki
Point in West Seattle, exemplified the Rustic Style of architecture and
stands as an early iteration of the style in the Puget Sound region. Its
log structure and river rock fireplace provided a retreat from the hustle
and bustle of Seattle and the city’s accompanying growth during the 1890s.
Almost immediately after its construction, Fir Lodge became a gathering
place, serving as the first clubhouse for the fledgling Seattle Auto Club
from 1907-1911. Since 1950, the structure has been home to the Alki
Homestead Restaurant. Because of its architectural quality and its
association with the development of Seattle, the Alki Homestead Restaurant
is a designated city landmark.

In January, the restaurant suffered an electrical fire leaving the interior
and portions of the roof damaged. While temporary measures have been taken
to prevent additional damage from weather exposure, the timeframe for
implementing major repair work needed to stabilize the building is uncertain
at this time. Compounding matters is the fact that the restaurant had been
for sale for nearly a year prior to the January blaze. Despite this, the
owner has publicly stated his intent to restore the building and re-open the
restaurant, allowing denizens of West Seattle and other neighborhoods to
continue to enjoy the warmth and storied history of the landmark building.

Sand Point Naval Station – Seattle: Beginning in 1923, the Thirteenth Naval
District based its operations at Sand Point, supervising aviation activities
for air stations throughout the northern west coast. 1970 marked the end of
military flying out of the base, leaving the task of surplusing a large
tract of land containing numerous structures. In the 1990s, the Navy
transferred ownership of much of Sand Point to the City of Seattle.
Currently part of Seattle’s Magnuson Park, overall integrity of the
buildings at the site is relatively high. With construction dates ranging
from 1929 through 1942, the structures embody an array of architectural
styles.

At present, the City of Seattle has initiated efforts to fully evaluate the
historic structures at Sand Point with the potential goal of collectively
listing the resources as a historic district in the National Register of
Historic Places. Such listing could result in financial incentives for
historically appropriate rehabilitation of many structures at Sand Point,
making private-public partnerships an appealing option for underutilized
buildings. In the meantime, deferred maintenance remains an issue and
deterioration is a factor for several historic structures.

The Remaining Most Endangered Historic Properties of 2009

Since 1992, the independent, nonprofit Washington Trust for Historic
Preservation has used its Most Endangered Historic Properties List to bring
attention to over 100 threatened sites nominated by concerned citizens and
organizations across the state. The Washington Trust assists advocates for
these resources in developing strategies aimed at removing these threats and
taking advantage of opportunities where they exist. By working to find
positive preservation solutions, the Washington Trust seeks to preserve the
irreplaceable heritage of the state. In addition to the four historic
resources located in Seattle, the following 9 sites form the remainder of
the Trust’s List for 2009:

BF Tabbott House – Bainbridge Island: Built in 1903, the BF Tabbott House
is part of a small and cohesive group of early island wood-framed residences
along Ericksen Avenue constructed to house workers at the Hall Brothers
Shipyard in Winslow. The architectural cohesiveness of the area prompted
the City of Bainbridge Island to create the Ericksen Avenue Overlay District
within the city’s Comprehensive Plan. The stated intent of the Overlay
District is to preserve the historic character these resources provide. The
Threat: Counter to the objectives of the Overlay District as defined in the
Comprehensive Plan, the city’s planning commission recently approved a
proposal to demolish the BF Tabbott House, replacing it with a mixed-use
project that would combine residential and commercial uses on the site.
This decision was based on the city’s interpretation that the Ericksen
Avenue Overlay District, while designed to preserve the area’s historic
character, does not specifically prohibit demolition of the historic
resources located therein. The present hope is that someone interested in
relocating the house will step forward.

Bush House – Index: Constructed in 1898, the Bush House was initially
managed by Clarence Bush and his wife who operated the property as a hotel
serving railway passengers venturing over Stevens Pass. Closed for a period
in the 1960s, the hotel re-opened in the 1970s and continued to serve as a
major community gathering place, hosting dances, community celebrations,
meetings, concerts, and weddings. Of the five pioneer-era hotels that once
served Index, the Bush House, listed in the Washington State Heritage
Register, stands as the last remaining. The Threat: Several years ago,
Snohomish County revoked the hotel’s Certificate of Occupancy due to
structural and public safety concerns. Since this time, the building has
been subject to vandalism and squatters. The structure’s shingle roof is
rotting and could be subject to collapse given the heavy snowfall that
commonly occurs in the area. Although the property has been for sale for a
few years and several offers have been made, the owner has not sold the
property. The hope is that a buyer interested in rehabilitating the Bush
House can be found.

Curran House – University Place: The Curran House is a fine example of
mid-century modern design set within an orchard providing a unique example
of early western Washington apple horticulture. Architect Robert B. Price,
noted as the first architect from Tacoma to be inducted to the AIA College
of Fellows, designed the house in 1952. Considered eligible for listing in
the Washington Heritage Register, the Curran House would be the first
Price-designed resource to achieve such designation. The Threat: In the
early 1990s, Pierce County purchased the property and the existing house
from the original owners with funds from the county’s Conservation Futures
program as parkland. After incorporating as a city in 1995, University
Place assumed control of the property. Although a Master Plan developed for
the park in 1999 included retention of the Curran House, the City of
University Place is considering demolishing the building.

Day Block – Dayton: The original Italianate-style Day Block featured
round-arched windows, cast iron store fronts, and a bold projecting cornice
at the roofline. Important architecturally, the building is also
significant for its association with the Day Family. Constructed in 1882,
it stands as one of the earlier two-story commercial structures in Dayton.
The Day Block is a contributing building within Dayton’s Downtown Historic
District, listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The Threat:
The second floor of the building has been vacant since the 1950s. In part
because of a partial roof collapse in December of 2008, the commercial space
on the ground floor is now vacant as well. Failure to address needed
repairs could potentially result in a case of demolition by neglect. At
present, the Day Block is neither for sale nor for rent.

Old Ellensburg Hospital – Ellensburg: The Old Hospital Building is
significant as an intact example of the architectural work of Charles Bebb
and Carl Gould. With its stucco exterior and curvilinear parapet, the
building is expressive of Mission Revival design, an architectural style
unique for Ellensburg. The hospital’s construction in 1919 represents a
shift from smaller, decentralized clinics to a unification of medical
services in the Lower Kittitas Valley. The Threat: Existing zoning for the
hospital building is Public Reserve – a category that limits the potential
use of the structure. In addition, the surrounding neighborhood is zoned
residential, effectively rendering the hospital a “white elephant.” The
hospital is in good condition and stands as a prime candidate for adaptive
re-use, but without a viable program the building could sit vacant for years
to come. Eligible for listing in the National Register and therefore able
to utilize rehabilitation tax credits, the Old Hospital Building is
currently for sale.

Libbey House – Coupeville: Constructed in 1870, the Libbey House is
associated with early Euro-American settlement in the Pacific Northwest.
The builder, John Alexander, was a member of the family that co-founded
Coupeville. In 1871, just a year after construction, the house was sold to
Joseph Libbey, a member of a prominent pioneer family in Central Whidbey
Island. Architecturally, the house as constructed can be classified as
Carpenter Gothic. It is listed as a Class I Historic Structure on the Town
of Coupeville’s Historic Register and is also a contributing structure of
the Central Whidbey National Register Historic District, located within
Ebey’s Landing National Historic Reserve. The Threat: Hoping to construct a
new, larger house on the site, the current owner filed an application to
demolish the historic Libbey House in March 2009. Given the significance of
the resource, the Town of Coupeville is requiring that an Environmental
Impact Statement (EIS) be prepared and has invoked a mandatory two-year
waiting period required whenever demolition is proposed for a Class I
historic structure. Despite this, the concern is that the owners will
continue on the path towards demolition.

St. Edward’s Catholic Church – Shelton: Interested in a new sanctuary in
which to worship, in 1930 the St. Edward’s congregation enlisted Paul Thiry,
a young architect recently graduated from the University of Washington.
Today, Thiry is widely regarded as the “Father of Northwest Modernism” and
is noted for his residential, civic and religious buildings, along with his
role as the lead architect and planner for the Century 21 World’s Fair held
in Seattle. St. Edward’s generally takes the form of a French country
church and, completed in 1931, is significant as a representation of Thiry’s
early work prior to the architect’s emergence as the region’s leading
modernist. The Threat: The church sits on land recently purchased by Mason
County for the purpose of expanding county campus facilities. Per the
purchase agreement, removal of the church building is the responsibility of
the congregation, who in April of 2009 applied to the City of Shelton for a
permit to demolish the sanctuary. Acknowledging the historic significance
of the building, the city has called for a 90-day waiting period before
issuing a demolition permit with the hope that local advocates can work with
the county and the congregation on a strategy for preserving the resource.
The waiting period will expire in August.

Surrey Downs – Bellevue: In 1953, the architectural firm of Mithun & Neslund
was hired to design houses for a new subdivision in Bellevue known as Surrey
Downs. With open floor plans and carports, the houses are distinct examples
of mid-century modern design and the neighborhood is significant as an
intact, early subdivision of Bellevue exemplifying 1950s residential
architecture. The Threat: As Sound Transit continues to focus on an
alignment for the proposed East Link transit corridor through Bellevue,
options under consideration could result in potential adverse impacts to the
Surrey Downs neighborhood. Collectively, the Mithun & Neslund designed
houses have been determined eligible for listing as a historic district in
the National Register of Historic Places. With this determination, it falls
on Sound Transit to ensure that the final alignment selected for the East
Link Corridor fully considers the potential impacts to the neighborhood.

Vashon Elementary Gymnasium – Vashon Island: Built in 1919, the wood frame
gymnasium is reputed to be the largest and one of the most historic
non-agrarian structures on Vashon Island. Vashon’s first high school was
constructed at the site in 1912 and soon thereafter was consolidated to
serve elementary students; the gymnasium was constructed to meet the needs
of the expanding school. Having outlasted several subsequent school
structures (the last of which was demolished in 2004), the gym stands as the
last physical connection to Vashon’s early schools. The Threat: The Vashon
Island Parks District recently received a state grant to develop athletic
fields at the location of the gymnasium. The project requires removal of
the gymnasium and in October 2008 the Vashon Island School Board, which
currently owns the site, voted to demolish the gym. Potentially eligible as
a King County Landmark, the hope is that the gym can be relocated to a
different area of the site and integrated as a viable component of the
proposed recreational fields.

2 Comments

  1. well this is very interesting; glad to hear Alki Homestead included on Endangered Historic Properties list
    ~
    yet bittersweet; now I know how Tracy feels when she puts great efforts into reporting and/or making connections and gets no credit or no response, then sees a report elsewhere
    ~
    I am thrilled to see this action taken, yet dismayed at why the powers that be in historic preservation rebuffed me in person and did not respond to my emails re Alki Homestead back in March when this all erupted
    ~
    I am/will remain totally passionate and devoted to historic preservation; the other part is rather disheartening; does everything have to become so bureaucratic/political? jeesh!!!
    ~
    ~
    the day (3/24) all this controversy came up on westseattleblog, I emailed Exec Directors of Historic Seattle and Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, to see if they could offer any help or advice (having just met them both at annual meeting)
    ~
    I spoke to both of them that night (3/24) at downtown historic event, “Sustainability Begins with Preservation, with keynote Richard Moe, National Trust for Historic Preservation”; the kinder of the 2 responses in person, Kathleen Brooker of Historic Seattle, said this was the first she had heard about it, and she would look into getting Alki Homestead included on Endangered Historic Properties list; I asked her to respond to my email, let me know what happened, if there’s anything else we could do; I never heard back from either of them; at least they took action; and at least I’m learning about the results via the westseattleblog
    ~
    ~
    I cannot access any videos on my computer, so will have to wait til trip to library to hear Andrea’s comments; very curious what she and Dow have to say
    ~
    btw, no matter how busy, Dow has always been very kind, welcoming in person; that means a lot, especially in the crazy political environment; and he’s done incredible works in historic preservation (often with little/no credit)
    ~
    and thanks to Tracy/Patrick for always responding to email tips with a thank you, even when they’ve probably heard it from 14,000 others; always nice to hear
    ~
    Thanks for the awesome report

    Comment by Diane — 3:25 pm May 26, 2009 #

  2. Diane,
    If you will contact the Southwest Seattle Historical Society/Log House Museum, we would be happy to share efforts and credit. Contact us at loghousemusem@comcast.net or 206-938-5293.
    I, too, was at the talk on sustainability and preservation and was heartened that the work of heritage and historic preservation organizations makes environmental sense, too.
    Judy Bentley

    Comment by Judy Bentley — 8:01 am May 27, 2009 #

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