10:55 AM: We are at the Log House Museum, steps away from the Alki Homestead (above), where 4 groups are announcing their updates on the Homestead’s status, on the 2nd anniversary of the fire that closed it. Historic Seattle says it still hopes to find a way to buy it. The 3 other groups say they have asked the city to step in to prevent further damage to the building. More to come after the media briefing.
12:58 PM: Our video clip contains the complete, unedited 17-minute briefing (including Q/A). It was led by Southwest Seattle Historical Society’s Clay Eals, who, toward the briefing’s end, summarized the event’s purpose: “We are speaking for the building … somebody has to speak for the building.” Full story to come; here’s an updated link to the official news release.
ADDED 1:50 PM: The snug first-floor central space of the Log House Museum was filled with media (including citywide TV crews), historic-preservation advocates, and SWSHS volunteers for the occasion. Speaking, from left, at a table facing cameras were Chris Moore from the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, Flo Lentz from 4Culture, Rick Sever from Historic Seattle, and Eals.
Notably absent was the building’s owner, Tom Lin, who says expert studies he’s paid for show that the building is too far gone for restoration, and would need “reconstruction.” The groups participating today said Lin had been notified of the event by e-mail and was invited to be there – as an observer, however, not as a speaker. Last summer, he had announced he would put the building up for sale, and extended an exclusive monthlong window for these same 4 groups to purchase it. Historic Seattle’s Sever would not comment during today’s briefing on the status of any negotiations and whether any talks had occurred recently, repeatedly saying “due diligence” prevented specific commenting. He also would not identify the “private investors” that were mentioned.
Regarding the request to the city regarding protection of the structure, we were told that came in the form of a letter to the Department of Planning and Development, which enforces code compliance; specific concerns were described as including being open to the elements, accessible to potential vandals, and having “waste” left around the site. Whatever complaint was filed, it’s not showing yet on the official DPD page for the Homestead/Fir Lodge site (2717 61st SW), which does note previous complaints (from unknown complainants), all listed as “case closed.”
The third major initiative announced today was creation of a new poster featuring the “This Place Matters” photo taken outside the Homestead/Fir Lodge last July 4th. Volunteers are going around putting up copies – we followed former Log House Museum director Andrea Mercado, her daughter Ruby and other young volunteers immediately after the media briefing, as they put up the first one at Sunfish Seafood a few blocks away:
So now what? As Sever repeated before the briefing ended, “In real estate, the door’s always open.” Whatever happens next, the Homestead, for now, remains closed.