A future demolition which we will watch, weeping

Checking the lineup for future Design Review Board meetings, we learned of two projects along Cali that will apparently take out what we consider distinctive old buildings. Both will be taken up by the SW DRB on May 10. We posted yesterday about the first one, at 3811 California. The second is a longer, more personal yarn, so we’re putting it (pix included) one click away:

The second doomed building is at 6053 Cali, northwest corner of Graham/Cali (north of Morgan Junction), currently home to a martial-arts studio, Turning Point Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine, and an empty storefront. Before we go on, a photo:


When we first moved to this side of WS more than a decade ago, most of the building housed Butcher Block Espresso, named in honor of a butcher shop that once held the space. (Even now, if you get close to the building, you can see faded lettering over the north half of the awning that appears to read “Randy’s Good Rich Meats.”) Along with the old Java Bean cart in front of the original pre-fire M-Junction Thriftway, BBE was among our favorite places to get the daily latte (yes, espresso-mania goes that far back, back even to the day when WS had only one Starbucks).

Butcher Block Espresso is long gone. What keeps this building in our heart is its design, so clearly an echo of a long-gone day. It’s even got its own page in the city’s catalog of “historical sites,” which describes the 1924 structure as “one of the relatively few buildings in the area that evokes the Mission Revival style, with its arched parapet and stucco cladding.”

caligrahamside.jpgWhen we walk or drive by, we sometimes time-travel back a bit while looking at the ornamental circles on its facade, echoed on the adjoining building’s south side (left photo).
Now, this building has new owners (who paid $1.2 million in January), and it is in the crosshairs of a project proposal for “townhouses (and) live/work townhome units.” The owner, architect, and description are the same as this Harbor Ave project, which might give us a clue as to what’s ahead for the Cali/Graham corner. Progress, progress, yes, we know. And someday those “live/work townhome units” might themselves be considered “historic.” Nonetheless, allow us to mourn some symbols of the past, and hope that perhaps at least someone with real photographic skills might at least snap a few pictures and find a home for them (Log House Museum?) before this, too, is gone.

13 Replies to "A future demolition which we will watch, weeping"

  • Alki Al April 16, 2007 (11:22 am)

    Pretty soon it will look like W Seattle was founded/developed in the 21st century. Woohoo! It is a shame. Some call it progress, I call it a disgusting-blight-congested-greedy-shame. There is little class or respect for history in W.S. We are supposed to be the birthplace of Seattle!? Guess Seattle was founded a couple of years ago. I would say there goes the neighborhood but it has already gone. Thanks in part to the OMNI a_holes.

  • Todd April 16, 2007 (11:42 am)

    West Seattle Blogger – It may be time to change your tag back to over development?

  • westwood April 16, 2007 (4:17 pm)

    I too have always loved this building. But it hasn’t been a healthy retail building for quite some time and I am not quite sure why.

    But at the end of the day, this is exactly where we should be adding density in West Seattle. It is close to bus lines, Thriftway, and a business core. This is the type of neighborhood where one doesn’t need a car to live.

    So, while I am sad to see the “Butcher Block” go, life must go on.

  • jissy April 16, 2007 (4:33 pm)

    Not sure if anyone here was as much an admirer of the brick plex on the corner of California & Atlantic down by the viewpoint as I was, but OMNI got that one, too. Reminded me of the one across from Charlestown. Fit so well into the neighborhood landscape that you didn’t even know it was a multi — very tasteful. And that’s probably the last word I’d use to describe an OMNI project. I’m going to ooze judgemental here, but SHAME on anyone who sells to them!!!!

  • chas redmond April 16, 2007 (4:51 pm)

    Omni is a West Seattle firm and if you peruse their website they seem to have reasonable values. Of course, looking at some of their projects, one would think the owners were asleep at the wheel for quite a few of them. I’m sure they read this blog, too.

  • Danno April 16, 2007 (9:35 pm)

    Omni is the devils spawn. All they care about is their wallets. Greed or Avarice is one of the seven deadly sins, did they not see Seven.

  • The House April 16, 2007 (9:44 pm)

    Aren’t there laws and ordinances that protect “historical” buildings from being demolished?

  • WS Guy April 16, 2007 (10:11 pm)

    OMNI is the worst thing to happen to W Seattle.

  • Jan April 16, 2007 (11:54 pm)

    yes, I suppose change is inevitable, but don’t you wish that instead of hiring Architects-R-Us, they’d hire someone with vision, who would incorporate the beautiful lines of this building into the new build. Guess that’s just too much to hope for..

  • flipjack April 17, 2007 (11:07 am)

    Yes, unfortunately money talks in a Capitalist society, and there are lots of greedy people and companies with no taste/intelligence and too much money. Wish I had a solution.

  • J.R. April 17, 2007 (1:58 pm)

    1. This is indeed an attractive Mission Revival storefront building.

    2. The city’s catalog of historical sites is more of an inventory of older commercial buildings. Check around and you’ll find some really awful stuff. One example from my old neighborhood: http://web1.seattle.gov/dpd/historicalsite/QueryResult.aspx?ID=226975488

    3. The city’s landmarks law provides for the protection of landmark buildings–i.e. first-rate examples of architectural styles, buildings with historical importance, the works of noted architects, etc. This building doesn’t appear to meet any of those standards and would be, at best, a long shot in the landmark process.

  • Kacey April 19, 2007 (8:20 pm)

    My Mom, who grew up just around the corner in the 1940s and 1950s, remembers the butcher shop in this building well. She says at one point there was a grocer in the same building, and you could walk from one to the other inside. She remembers it as JOE Goodrich Butcher Shop.

    To quote her:

    “You had to take a number and wait your turn. Most Moms came with their children in tow (as my
    Mother did with my brother and I.) I remember sawdust all over the floor. I also remember an old fashioned pickle barrel with real sour big dill pickles. The butchers wore white aprons and
    sometimes blood from the meat was on the aprons. They cut your meat to order, weighed it on a
    scale and figured out the price. The meat was very fresh and we ate it all the time except during
    the Second World War when meat was severely rationed and you had to use a ration book to
    buy meat.

    I will be VERY sad if that building is destroyed and torn down. It’s part of my childhood

  • Todd April 20, 2007 (7:22 am)

    Thanks for the story Kacey. I love to hear things like this.

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