Alki Homestead: Historical Society letter urges restoration

October 2, 2009 at 12:33 pm | In Alki Homestead, West Seattle history, West Seattle news | 27 Comments

(Wikimedia photo of Alki Homestead, pre-fire)
Two weeks after Alki Homestead owner Tom Lin stood before the Alki Community Council to discuss his proposal for the fire-ravaged landmark’s future (here’s our story) – possibly a restaurant/bar/B&B complex – the Southwest Seattle Historical Society has forwarded news outlets a letter they and other groups have sent to Lin. It expresses concern for its condition and a request that it be “restored … to its pre-fire condition.” It’s similar to a statement the SWSHS issued last March, two months after the fire (read that statement here). Here’s the full text of the letter:

Dear Tom Lin:

We are writing to you today to express our collective concern regarding the state of the Alki Homestead Restaurant, a City of Seattle Landmark, also known as the Fir Lodge Estate. As a result of the fire in January, 2009, this site is now included in the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation’s “Most Endangered Property List,” announced in May this year. The Washington Trust, together with other preservation and community organizations noted below, have indicated their support for the preservation of this landmark.

Given the state of the Homestead and the on-going damage that inactivity brings to the structure, we collectively urge you to decide and act upon your vision regarding this property.

We collectively ask that you (1) take immediate action to prevent further decay by securing the property and building from vandalism and protecting it as the rainy season approaches; (2) restore the Homestead to its pre-fire condition as befits a city landmark.

We firmly support preserving “a bit of old Seattle” (as Doris Nelson referred to the Homestead) and we believe the community of West Seattle and the City of Seattle will be enhanced by retaining this amazing Seattle landmark. We look forward to working with you to restore the Homestead to its rightful place on Alki. The Southwest Seattle Historical Society stands ready to assist you at every point in preserving the Homestead/Fir Lodge site.

Sincerely,

Judy Bentley
President, Southwest Seattle Historical Society

Andrea Mercado
Director, Log House Museum

Jennifer Meisner, Executive Director
Washington Trust for Historic Preservation

Joe Follansbee
Association of King County Heritage Organizations

Jim Kelly, Director
4Culture

Patricia Mullen, Executive Director
West Seattle Chamber of Commerce

We have e-mailed Lin a request for comment/response and will publish anything we hear back.

27 Comments

  1. Let me share my psychic prediction. Same with the Twin Tee-Pee. Both were builds which were old, considered a landmarks, and attempted sales an new business proved difficult. Both were ‘ravaged’ by fires..and then, sadly, the owners decided there was nothing they could do but leave the building as is until enough rainy seasons passed that the structure was not damaged beyond repair, and GOSH DARN IT, we now have no choice but to tear it down and build a 6 story mixed use condo.

    If that site isn’t a new condo building in 6 years I’ll give $500 to the West Seattle Food bank.

    Comment by Fun to Believe — 1:56 pm October 2, 2009 #

  2. Well said. Thank you SW Historical Society. I agree.

    Comment by jsrekd — 2:05 pm October 2, 2009 #

  3. Oh man, here we go… another classic WSB witch hunt is about to begin.

    Comment by WSM — 2:19 pm October 2, 2009 #

  4. I think before there’s any judgement, Tom Lin should be allowed to respond to this. There have been a few emails back and forth between him and the Alki Community Council, and the Admiral Neighborhood Assn. regarding this very letter, and I think that people need to realize that things do not happen overnight with insurance ot the Landmark board. And Tom Lin seems to be open to suggestions from the neighborhood. Latest question from him to these people is (quoted from yesterday’s e-mail)

    ” I went to the LogHouse and met up with Duwamish Tribe Chairwoman Cecile Hansen yesterday. Alki used to be the gathering place of Duwamish Tribe and there is no trace of that. Wouldn’t it be great to at least to have a presence, as small as it may be, along with Alki Homestead Restaurant?

    I think if would be interesting to incorporate part of the Duwamish heritage into the theme of Fir Lodge/Alki Homestead. Any thoughts about that? ”

    So let’s not crucify the man just yet, OK?

    Comment by JanS — 3:14 pm October 2, 2009 #

  5. Strange letter, considering that Judy Bentley was AT THE ACC MEETING the night Tom Lin presented the plans to bring the building back, and he and his architect explained everything they have been doing. So why continue to publicly persecute and harrass the owner, disregarding all of the work that she knows has been done to bring it back as something stronger than rotting logs that are already failing.

    Comment by AlkiMom — 3:29 pm October 2, 2009 #

  6. Since Tom Lin didn’t get the hotel he wanted on Alki (which I think would have been great) it appears his real motives for the Homestead are coming to light now (not so great). Bye bye Homstead as we knew it. It’s been real.

    Comment by 4thGenWestSide — 3:48 pm October 2, 2009 #

  7. If the Historical society is so keen on this proprty, why don’t they offer the millions of dollars I expect it would take to BUY the property??!!… It is easy to sit back and whine about saving the exact pieces of wood that were in the original stucture…. Especially if they are not going to be the ones footing the bill. Mr. Lin DOES plan on restoring the the building to the best of anyone’s updated, modern ability… More importantly, he plans on honoring the history and the STORY of the place. This is more valuable than having below average chicken served in an poorly built (yes, it is…) unsafe, rotting building.
    The executive Director of the WS Chamber should show greater discretion with her supportof the Histerical (oops…) Society… She will be the first one knocking on the Homstead’s door when this all gets settled. Shame on her and her poor judgment. Do all the businesses she represents share her view on local politics?….. If so, I’ll happilly shop elswhere.
    Mr. Lin has a vision of restoring the original structure, AND improving on it…. thus making it a gathering place that the Alki community can be proud of… One that people will enjoy on several levels. Mr. Lin is taking the steps needed to secure the property, AND he is doing the needed planning required to make it a beautiful part of West Seattle. Give him the time needed to make something good happen…. And hope he doesn’t just get tired of the poor treatment he is getting… Deciding to sell the property to someone who DOESN’T live here….. Someone that wouldn’t think twice about putting up another condominium project.

    Comment by Dano Beal — 5:38 pm October 2, 2009 #

  8. It is so pathetic that Judy Bentley from Southwest Historical Society has no constructive action plan expect to write letters to the blog.
    She was at the meeting, she saw the presentation and still acted as if she didn’t know what was going on. If she truely believes Tom Lin is just sitting around doing nothing, then she should take action like hire an engineer and hire an architech to get a second opion. It is always easy to be a backseat driver, but action speaks louder than words.
    Last time when there was a clean up at Alki Homestead, only few concering high school students showed up. No one from the Historical Society was there to be seen. How sad can that be?

    http://westseattleblog.com/blog/?p=15261

    Furthermore, what is Chamber of Commerce’s role in this? What is their position? Have they changed their charter from assisting businesses to prevent reconstruction of one of the West Seattle’s pride and joy? I was at the meeting and Patricia Mullen was not there. Does Patricaia Mullen really care?
    I suggest Southwest Seattle Society start raising money to either buy the property or share some of the engineering cost. They had mentioned that they are standing by to assist the preservation.
    My question is what resources have SWSHC offered? How much money and effort have they contributed to the cause except 2 instigating letters to the Blog?
    Let’s be adults and be helpful. Don’t take Alki Homestead away from us.

    Comment by Alki_resident — 6:48 pm October 2, 2009 #

  9. To clarify, Alki_resident, these were not “letters to the blog.” These were news releases, also addressed to the WSH (not sure of other media addressees), which published the previous one but I have no idea whether they’re turning this into an article, letter to the editor, or what. We get often more than a dozen news releases a day from all sorts of concerns/groups/agencies/you name it and we share all that have WS news value… TR

    Comment by WSB — 7:19 pm October 2, 2009 #

  10. JanS, what “yesterday’s e-mail” are you referring to/quoting from? who are “these people”?

    Comment by Diane — 10:18 pm October 2, 2009 #

  11. Diane, it’s the Alki Yahoo! group. I believe this is publicly viewable even if you are not logged in as a Yahoo! member:
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/alkibeachcommunity/

    Comment by WSB — 10:51 pm October 2, 2009 #

  12. thanks TR; apparently the Alki group messages are private, not sure why; the Admiral group messages are public; I attend both Alki and Admiral meetings; of course Tracy knows, as I was sitting next to her through the 2 hr Tom Lin/architect presentation at the Alki meeting; then our Admiral group received request to sign the above letter; I/we declined

    Comment by Diane — 11:11 pm October 2, 2009 #

  13. Btw, I know Judy Bentley and Andrea Mercado attended the Tom Lin/architect presentation at the Alki meeting; I did not see Jennifer Meisner or Patricia Mullen there; not sure about Joe Follansbee or Jim Kelly, as I don’t know what either of them look like; but I think anyone signing this above letter should at a minimum have had the courtesy to attend Tom’s presentation, to listen/see what he has been doing and what he has planned; and to be more fully informed before sending this letter to all the news outlets
    ~
    I also would like to hear more specifics about how/what the Southwest Historical Society and other groups propose to support preservation of the Homestead; this letter is very vague

    Comment by Diane — 11:23 pm October 2, 2009 #

  14. It’s hilarious to think that the southwest historical society could come up with a few million to buy the Homestead when they are teetering on the edge financially. Plus, Tom Lin would never sell to them— it would be fabulous if the Homestead could regain their carriage house (perhaps that could be the site of the B&B!)
    People seem to be forgetting that this is Mr.linns personal property, it’s not some publically owned building that we all get to vote and choose what it should become. The SW historical society had their chance at purchasing the Homestead but could not come up with the cash. The research has shown that the building is compromised and it’s coming down, a new, safer, up to code, Wheelchair accessible Homestead is on it’s way/—-hooray!

    Comment by West Seattle resident — 12:20 am October 3, 2009 #

  15. Judy Bentley and Andrea Mercado are both from the same organization. One is the president of the board and one is the director of Log House Museum. Why do they have to sign twice? Is it because they can’t get enough people to support their “mission”?
    It was apparent to me that a lot of effort has been invested in gathering all the facts. Why is Log House Museum making a public statement so vague yet so “supportive” at the end?
    I believe we are all intelligent enough to see through that. What is the real reason? Will Southwest Seattle Historical Society clarify their true intention?

    Comment by Alki_resident — 6:46 am October 3, 2009 #

  16. What good does giving a building landmark status if you can remodel it into something completely different! If this happens and the term Landmark status is watered down, then protecting Seattle’s past is nothing more than a joke! Tom Lin is a Snake, attempting to turn this piece of Seattle history into something completely unrecognizable and if he succeeds then all the other landmark protections will be watered down and History will be updated and NOT restored! This is the equivalent to adding trump towers to Yellowstone park:) You can argue that he owns this property, YES but this is a piece of property whit LANDMARK status and he knows very well the restrictions in place and the purpose hey serve to protect Seattle history… Seattle HISTORY is more important than this property owners vision.

    Comment by fluorescent carl — 11:25 am October 3, 2009 #

  17. One should not pass judgement and just deal with the facts. A landmark building is governed by Seattle Preservation Board. There are codes that need to be followed and there are processes that need to be addressed. A property owner simply can not do what ever he or she wants.
    I personally don’t believe Tom Lin can change the term of Landmark status without going through the process. No one can “watered down” landmark protections. Let’s not forget, it is out of his hand as well. Tom Lin may have a vision, but he still needs to go through Landmark Preservation Board. That is the organization that has the ultimate say. I am sure any landmark peroperty owner is well aware of that.
    Again, let’s not pass judgement and resort to name calling. I think we should have some faith in the system and let’s not forget, no one person has that much power to alter the law.

    Comment by Concerned_citizen — 1:11 pm October 3, 2009 #

  18. to the naysayers like f. carl…first, could you please leave name calling out of this. Tom Lin is no more a snake than you are. And what have you done to help this man, besides name call? Have you researched the actual damage to see what he’s working with? Fire could give a damn what the status of a building is, land mark or not. It is what it is. Instead of complaining, why not participate, Sometimes ya just gotta work with what ya got. There is no reversing the fire damage, no matter how much you wish it.

    This man does not deserve the negativity. He’s asking for suggestions, trying to work with the Alki community. Geez. Get a grip, people.

    Comment by JanS — 1:22 pm October 3, 2009 #

  19. thanks Jan; I flagged TR about the name calling; very inappropriate; and wondering if fluorescent carl was in attendance at the Alki meeting to hear what Tom had to say/show all the work he’s done/plans to do for the community
    ~
    I’m pretty sure Tom is required to work with the Landmark/historic folks since this is a landmarked site, but he voluntarily revealed his work/plans and has requested feedback from the community; isn’t that a huge plus?

    Comment by Diane — 1:58 pm October 3, 2009 #

  20. thanks also Concerned_citizen; just read your post; I do not like name calling anywhere about anyone

    Comment by Diane — 2:01 pm October 3, 2009 #

  21. alkibeachcommunity-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

    Diane, you can subscribe to the Alki Yahoo Group at the link above.

    Comment by Cami — 3:26 pm October 3, 2009 #

  22. thanks Cami; I did subscribe last night; had to wait for reply; finally got it tonight and read all of Tom’s great comments

    Comment by Diane — 10:01 pm October 3, 2009 #

  23. BLa Bla Bla your just too PC get real…

    Comment by fluorescent carl — 10:45 pm October 3, 2009 #

  24. Jan S I wont call you a name… but I do find your frequent comments irritating and useless…

    Comment by fluorescent carl — 10:47 pm October 3, 2009 #

  25. thanks, Carl

    Comment by JanS — 2:57 am October 4, 2009 #

  26. Tom – I know you feel ‘picked-on’ by the WS/Alki community. And in some cases, you certainly have a valid reason to feel that way.
    .
    So, I’m going to try not to criticize, just ‘request.’
    While waiting for something to be done with your plans, is there any chance that the grounds of the Homestead could be spruced up abit?
    .
    I live a half block away, and pass by every day. It’s very distressing to see all the beautiful plants and trees just being allowed to die. The yellow tape across the front steps is broken and is flying in the wind, the top to one of the lawn ornaments has been knocked off its’ pedestal, just laying on the grass. These things have been that way for a significant period of time.
    .
    The Homestead is still a very beautiful building – from the front it’s difficult to see the fire damage. So, maybe you could get someone (or you) to check on the property every once in a while and correct those things that make the building look so derelict. I know that is a sore spot with may locals (me included).
    .
    Here’s hoping it doesn’t take years for decisions to be made on this property. Good luck.

    Comment by Jo — 1:37 pm October 4, 2009 #

  27. Unless one has had to work with any chain-of-command in government agencies, you have no idea as to just how “glacial” their pace can often be. Individuals, builders, investors and the like are often ready, willing and able to move quickly to do each thing they are directed to do. Just because someone moves quickly and provides what is requested does not mean that the agency will then be just as quick to respond and move forward. What may look lackadaisical on the part of Tom Lin may have nothing to do with his efforts. It may be up to the people that are doing the analysis or the agencies playing by the numbers.

    On another note, can someone please provide a list of all the steps that Judy Bentley, or anyone else associated with her, has taken to do anything in the nature of “We look forward to working with you to restore the Homestead to its rightful place on Alki. The Southwest Seattle Historical Society stands ready to assist you at every point in preserving the Homestead/Fir Lodge site.” Just a simple list would be nice. A list of things where there has been an effort to work WITH all parties and not just in support of her own agenda.

    Comment by Edla — 11:14 pm October 17, 2009 #

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