150+ people turn out for Alki Homestead ‘This Place Matters’ photo

That’s our view from the third floor of the apartment building across from the Alki Homestead, as the official ‘This Place Matters’ photo was taken as part of a rally organized by preservation groups including the Southwest Seattle Historical Society, whose headquarters are in what was the Homestead (originally Fir Lodge)’s old carriage house. By our rough count, around 200 people had gathered by the time the photo was taken. (6:10 pm update: We used our photo-from-above to count: 162.) The photo was preceded by short speeches from those groups’ reps as well as King County Executive Dow Constantine, State Sen. Joe McDermott, County Councilmember Jan Drago, and former mayor Greg Nickels. This came one day after Homestead owner Tom Lin (whom we did not see at the event) announced he’s putting the Homestead up for sale (WSB coverage here), starting with a one-month offer for $2 million to preservation groups. We talked to reps of two – SWSHS executive director Andrea Mercado told WSB they have no official comment yet on the offer; Washington Trust for Historic Preservation field director Chris Moore (a West Seattleite) says his group “unfortunately” doesn’t buy buildings. ADDED 5:53 PM: Video of the politicians’ speeches. SWSHS’s Clay Eals said they’d been asked to speak for 30 seconds each (here’s Eals with a historic Homestead photo during a pre-rally talk at the Historical Society’s annual picnic):

By our count, most of the rally speeches ran closer to a minute-thirty, still relatively brief. Here’s former mayor Greg Nickels:

King County Executive Dow Constantine, more formally dressed than he was in his appearance at the Admiral 4th of July Kids’ Parade three hours earlier, alluded to that as he began:

Next, State Sen. Joe McDermott – a West Seattleite like Nickels and Constantine, and also a candidate for the County Council seat vacated last year by the now-executive:

Finally, the former city councilmember who currently holds the County Council position for which McDermott is running (though she’s not seeking to keep it), Jan Drago, who – Eals pointed out – sponsored the council resolution that made the Homestead a landmark:

Regarding the crowd count, always a thorny issue in any story in which turnout might matter (ever seen those protest stories where police say 2,000 and organizers say 10,000?), our estimate was a rough count, looking at the photo we took with the view from above. Just because we love precision when it’s possible, we’re working right now to blow it up and print it out so we can do an exact count. We can tell you unequivocally that the “nearly 100” in the lead line of KING’s story is too low. 6:09 PM: Finished the photo count: 162. Have adjusted the headline. MONDAY MORNING: As noted in comments: The “official photo” is now online. You can click on it, then click again, for a very high resolution version. We are told Historic Seattle counted 199 in the mega-high-resolution version, to which we didn’t have access yesterday. So we are going to revise our headline to “more than 150” and leave it there, for WSB purposes … no time to print and count yet again … this isn’t an election; we’ll leave the counting from hereon out to the folks who are directly involved.

33 Replies to "150+ people turn out for Alki Homestead 'This Place Matters' photo"

  • JMcReynolds July 4, 2010 (3:13 pm)

    Tom was around but has taken enough s&$t from people. My husband and I were at the “rally” and all I heard was a bunch of hot air. No one spoke about any factual information. I didn’t see anyone offering up money to save the building. This building is in need of major funds to restore and/or rebuild. Maybe some of the “rally” folks can pool together their money, pay the current asking price and quit complaining! Seriously, people. Get in touch with reality. It’s NOT FREE to fix this!!!!!

    • WSB July 4, 2010 (3:25 pm)

      I’m sorry we missed him, then. Two of us were there for WSB and we made a point of walking around the periphery multiple times to make sure we didn’t miss him if he had chosen to be there. – TR

  • Glenn July 4, 2010 (3:39 pm)

    Did any of the 200 or so people notice that the building has a list toward the north? That whole north side of the building appears to be rotten wood! And parts of the building around the stairs and the chimneys is sagging. Did anyone notice at all? Or is it supposed to be magically transposed based on the memories??? Get a clue people!!!

  • Diane July 4, 2010 (3:53 pm)

    I was there too, looked all through crowd from beginning to way beyond end, did not see Tom
    it was fantastic event; sun cooperated til photo shoot over
    I heard many great ideas for positive action based on facts; very inspiring!

  • Upset with Tom Lin July 4, 2010 (4:02 pm)

    This is ridiculous. JMcReynolds, when you buy a landmark building, you know what it entails. After the fire, he has done little to help fix up the place except use all of the insurance money to pay the mortgage and let the place rot while he makes plans to turn it into a bed and breakfast.

    As the public, why should we help somebody who owns the building HELP himself? It’s his obligation to maintain what he got himself into– buying a landmark building and the upkeep involved. If he didn’t want to get into that, why did he buy a landmark?

    I cannot wait until he sells this place. I don’t want him around our neighborhood trying to turn one more place into a hotel. HE already tried on Alki and made the neighborhood upset with his tactics to change zoning, he tried at the top of the hill and made the neighbors upset up there in upper Admiral and now he’s tried again with a landmark. We don’t want a hotel on Alki and zoning does not allow it! I wish he’d stop trying to change our neighborhood and go into a neighborhood that will allow for the zoning he wants. He’s been a bit sneaky and just a terrible neighbor to us here on Alki, in my opinion. I’m sure he’s probably a decent and nice guy but I do not like what he’s done for our neighborhood one bit.

  • west by southwest July 4, 2010 (4:07 pm)

    I’m sorry I missed this event. Thank you to all those that made it, the Homestead is an integral part of West Seattle.

  • AlkiResident July 4, 2010 (4:24 pm)

    Enough of this farce. How much longer are we going to delay this project? I have been to few presentations. Studies have been done, proposals have been made, and lots of money have been spent. Just think how much Tom Lin has to dish out to keep this project alive? Is anyone willing to let a multi million dollar real estate sit idle for a year and a half in hopes of bring a restaurant and building back?

    We are lucky he is still hanging on to it. Now the offer is out to historic societies. Are they willing to bring back our beloved Alki Homestead Restaurant in the original design and structure?

    I am so sad how we as a community do not come together and get a common objective accomplished. Maybe Southwest Historical Society is the right organization to accomplish this task. It seems that SWHS is pretty confident they have the resources to achieve it.

    How about a last ditch effort to meet up with Tom Lin and see where things are and what work he has done and where he wants to take this project? I think we all need to know.

  • Lee Kelly July 4, 2010 (5:26 pm)

    Give Tom credit for what he has done with the block that was home to Alki Mail and Dispatch: it was a dump. Now we have Coastal, Peppers, Pioneer Coffee. I would consider that a positive for the community. Taking property and making it operate in the black can be difficult.
    To his credit, he did restore the Hainesworth estate, another historical building, which he lost money on.
    And lastly, to his credit Tom Linn gave us FOUR more years of all you can eat fried chicken; carrying on a tradition for all of us to enjoy a little longer after Doris passed. Could anyone do better? Making property operate in the black can be difficult.
    So give Tom credit for what he has done and acknowledge he’s also a nut, but let’s move on. The property is for sale. Who is going to be the next owner?

  • JanS July 4, 2010 (6:19 pm)

    Upset with Tom Lin. I live in the Admiral District, and Tom Lin has done nothing to upset me. Are you seriously suggesting that he shouldn’t have paid the mortgage on the property? Do you really have any idea what is involved in the restoration of this building? If not, have you thought to find out? Tom Lin did not set the fire on purpose. Do you think that he wanted it this way? Seriously?

    What I gather from all you negative people is that you think Tom Lin has bottomless pockets, and you don’t want to help resolve the issues. You’d rather just complain. Well..here you are…the building is for sale. Are you all up for making a purchase? Any of the historical societies? Or are you just up for photo shoots? While they look good on paper, it still does nothing for The Homestead that you all profess to love so much. You love it as long as someone else does all the hard work for you to take advantage of.

    What a shame.

  • Humble Opinion July 4, 2010 (6:38 pm)

    I hope Tom agrees to sell it for less than 2 million. That price tag is a bit outrageous. I hope it goes fast and I hope he’d be willing to sell it for less than what he bought it for, given it’s a worse economy and he hasn’t done much to fix it up since the fire.

    Please, Tom, sell the property for a fair price! Let’s move past this! Give it to somebody for a fair price and let’s start fixing it up!

  • Bruce July 4, 2010 (8:08 pm)

    Can you provide (or link to) a larger-size file of the photo, so we can find ourselves in the crowd?

    • WSB July 4, 2010 (9:26 pm)

      Bruce / I don’t have access to the pix at the moment but when reunited w/ that computer later, should be able to do that. Check here tomorrow am.

  • JMcReynolds July 4, 2010 (8:44 pm)

    JanS, well said. Tom Lin has done so much for the Alki community and people seem to be blind to all the good he has done. The Homestead fire was tragic for everyone, INCLUDING Tom. For all those who are griping about fixing up the property and “restoring” the buliding to it’s original condition, PUT YOUR MONEY WHERE YOUR MOUTH IS! If you think it’s so easy, buy it and show the community it can be done!!!

  • M July 4, 2010 (9:05 pm)

    Jan & JM you are correct. Same idea with the “Painted Lady” on Beach Drive. Let these negative clowns toss some of their money at it. At least Tom DIDN’T default on it – go look at the Shoremont and see what happens to a bank owned property- what a mess an no end in sight.
    That said $2M does seem a bit steep..

  • Cami July 4, 2010 (9:24 pm)

    Hey Uncle Sam… nice job on the grounds for the photo.

  • LynnThomsen July 4, 2010 (9:43 pm)

    Lee, I have to correct you. Tom brought in more businesses then you had mentioned. I know because I go to some of them. I believe he added Slices, Pioneer Coffee, Wheel Fun, Coastal, Pepper, Elliott Salon, Speed personal training, and Envy Skin Boutique. These businesses never exist till 5 years ago.

    My understandig is that a lot of these business owners live within 5 blocks from their location. They all live in alki area if not West Seattle. He added more than 30 jobs to our local economy. Of course if Homestead was still around, that would be at least another 10 jobs.

    I usually have my coffee at Pioneer Coffee in the morning and I shop at Coastal. I also go to Envy for my skin care. On weekends, especially on a sunny afternoon, I like to have pizza and beer with my boyfriend on the deck of Slices.

    I don’t think Upset lives in this area. What has
    Tom Lin done to our neighborhood that is so bad for the community? Where is the best place to hang out for locals in Alki? You should come down to Alki and discover for yourself. I think you will change your opinion.

    Now he is selling Alki Homestead because he is fed up with these so called historians. What if he sells his other holdings in Alki? We will not be able to enjoy some of the finer beachy establishments that some of us have learned to treasured.

  • Noelle July 4, 2010 (9:45 pm)

    The old house with the BIG/Huge/WONDERFUL yard on Beach Drive, The Infamously run down brick building on Alki Ave, and Now The Most historical family restaurant in West Seattle are all up for sale! History is up for sale! It is kind of odd that they would all be on the market at the same time. (P.S. Sorry I don’t know the names of the 1st two places off the top of my head. I know most West Seattle people will know where I am talking about though!)

  • visitor July 4, 2010 (10:00 pm)

    The added jobs are created by the businesses, not the landlord. Does he own all these businesses? The risk is taken by the business, not the landlord. The loss always goes to the business -rarely to the landlord. The loss goes to the landlord ONLY if he can’t get one of those businesses to rent in his building. It’s Mr. Lin’s advantage to get renters in his building; it’s not a volunteer community service he’s providing. sheeeesh.

  • Rose July 4, 2010 (10:02 pm)

    2214618 20060615002291 5/18/2006 $1,241,200.00 NELSON DORIS A LIN THOMAS Statutory Warranty Deed Estate Settlement.

    The place wasn’t burnt to a crisp when he purchased it, yet he wants quite a profit in today’s market!

  • Glenn July 4, 2010 (10:35 pm)

    All this time, Tom Lin has said that he wants to rebuild the Homestead. His experts made a thorough evaluation of the building and said that it isn’t salvagable, except for some parts that can be incorporated into a new building. But the historians aren’t interested in seeing a re-creation of this grand, beautiful log building. They want the 106 year-old logs AS IS. NO CHANGES and NO healthy new logs. Tom’s previous attempt to bring in a partner and gut out the old restaurant was thwarted by the fire and the subsequent firestorm that he would dare to do anything at all to such a historic structure. So there it sits, with the ancient wiring, leaking plumbing, sagging walls and floors and a bunch of people saying we won’t let you change a single thing! They will attend every permit meeting, every council meeting and badger every politician to keep the house standing for the next 10-20 years AS IS until he and any future owner run out of money and/or it falls down. I would rather see a lively, safe, warm and inviting place that is fun to take friends and family to instead of an empty barren sagging rotting ghost of the past. What is so special about rotten logs? The great grandson of a buildier of this original monument would lik to bring back the special place that means so much to his family and to many families in West Seattle. It would have its old fireplaces and its charm. But no, THAT doesn’t matter.

  • AlkiMom July 4, 2010 (11:27 pm)

    Hmmmm Do you think the rally was part of a contest to earn a $25K “This Place Matters” grant? Was it a publicity stunt for money? It’s at http://www.preservationnation.org. They just have to gather around a local place and bring attention to it with the signs… Looks like the whole thing was part of a contest!

  • visitor July 5, 2010 (12:59 am)

    so what if it was? good for them if it was a publicity stunt to get money! Not a bad way to make 25K. much more productive than whining.

    BTW, a profit of almost $800,000 over four years is a pretty lucrative deal, esp in a down market, no? esp for a property that has deteriorated, i.e. no improvements to the structure or grounds.

    • WSB July 5, 2010 (1:18 am)

      It was mentioned at the event that this was one of many locations around the country where people have been taking photos with the slogan THIS PLACE MATTERS.

  • Mike July 5, 2010 (6:01 am)

    I hope someday my neighbors do not tell me how much I should sell my house for and how much remodeling I can do. I hope someday the amount of profit on my home is guaranteed and limited by the government. By the same token I hope the loss is also limited by law. Maybe if the government had more control, this country would not be in such disastrous shape.
    If every decision I make about my business, home, and life is opened to scrutiny like Tom Lin’s situation, I may just move out of this country.
    It is so easy for most of us to hide under a name and judge. Visitor and Rose should just let us examine their investment portfolio and see if we agree with them.
    Look at what is happening to our country. We got attacked because certain group of radical people do not agree with our policy. Now, we are in Iraq and Afghanistan. Why?
    I am posting here not because of Alki Homestead. I am posting here because I am concerned about our sad state of mind.
    I admit I am not brave enough to put my name out there, but who is?

  • homesweethome July 5, 2010 (8:42 am)

    to those who don’t understand why this place matters – are you the same folks that condemn any new high rise developments around the area? the same people who moan the demise of the “west seattle aesthetic”? you can’t have it both ways folks – either preserve or watch your neighborhood die

  • Jo July 5, 2010 (9:19 am)

    “Hey Uncle Sam… nice job on the grounds for the photo.”
    Cami, were you referring to the fact that just a few days before the 4th, the weeds on the Homestead grounds were 1-2′ high. And garbage was laying all over the place.
    Someone went in a cleaned it up – probably for the photo.
    Doesn’t matter who or why, I guess, but, thanks.
    And it would be nice if some sort of maintenance/cleanup continued.
    It’s heartbreaking to see that all those big beautiful birch trees and most of the other plantings have died or are dying.
    Jo Ofsthus

  • cecil July 5, 2010 (9:37 am)

    we will soon see some new condos or a jail house there

  • WSB July 5, 2010 (10:45 am)

    A rules reminder here. We have at least one person posting from the same IP address under different screen names. While we do not require real names nor log-ins, when we detect this (and verifying it’s not from something obvious, like a large company, a government entity, coffee shop, etc.) we will NOT approve subsequent comments. So if you’ve already chosen a screen name in this discussion, you need to stick with it. Thanks – TR

    • WSB July 5, 2010 (11:19 am)

      To the person who asked about closeups in the photo – Clay Eals points us to the appearance of the official photo:
      Click on the photo – then click on it again – for extreme closeups. And in the ongoing numbers debate, we are told Historic Seattle came up with 199 in a higher-resolution photo. I’m just changing ours to 150+, because we don’t have time to print again and count again – gotta get on with the news.

  • CB July 5, 2010 (11:19 am)

    Classic Seattle. Kick a man when he is down. Complain bitterly, then do nothing to help.

    Then there is the WSB promoting all of it. Advertisers should think twice before supporting the WSB.

  • Cami July 5, 2010 (1:45 pm)

    Jo, yes, I was refering to the gardening that started on Friday!

  • Jo July 5, 2010 (4:14 pm)

    Thanks, Cami.
    Because looking at the ‘official’ picture, the place looks all clean and tidy and spiffy.
    Even the dead trees don’t look quite so dead.
    And the brown bushes don’t look quite so brown.
    Sorry for the heavy sarcasm, folks.
    But that picture sure isn’t a representation of how that property has been looking for way too long.

  • visitor July 7, 2010 (12:24 am)

    I counted the ppl with a large photo; I got 199.

Sorry, comment time is over.