(UPDATED 1:48 AM with removal of the rest of the awning)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
It’s been battered over the years, but not broken. Now, though, Easy Street Records‘ famous neon-decorated awning is coming down.
Half gone already, as of a little while ago, when we took these photos, and the demolition crew is still on the job.
It was more than half a century old, according to Easy Street proprietor Matt Vaughan, and it’s a wonder it lasted this long: Almost three years ago, a truck hit a tree, which in turn took out part of the neon. At the time, Vaughan commented via Twitter that the neon had only just been fixed from the last time it was affected by truck trouble. (We’re not sure if that was the 2008 incident on which we also reported.) But overall, we were told at the store this afternoon, the awning was just flat old and rusty.
Beloved just the same – news of the awning’s imminent removal caused an uproar on Facebook this afternoon – as of this writing, 133 comments on Easy Street’s page, and more than 45 comments on the WSB Facebook page, where we had shared the ESR update.
Some concerned commenters asked if the awning could get protection from the city’s historic-preservation authorities. Short answer – Not without the building having landmark status. When the city inventoried local properties several years back, it offered the opinion that the Hamm Building – the 1926 home to Easy Street and other businesses – might merit that protection. To our knowledge, that hasn’t been sought. City records even show a demolition/development proposal dating back to 2007, though it doesn’t appear to have advanced from the early stages.
As for what if anything will replace the awning, ESR isn’t sure yet, they told us when we first inquired this afternoon. But one thing’s for sure – many West Seattleites, most of whom probably haven’t even heard of its in-progress removal, will miss it – as the understory of the sign that stands over the awning so often offering messages reflecting the community mood, even simple holiday greetings like the one in our November 2009 photo:
We’ll follow up to see what happens from here.
1:48 AM UPDATE: Thanks to Dennis for sending photos of the California SW-side removal:
And that side of the building, awningless:
The famous marquee remains:
ADDED TUESDAY: Thanks to WSB’er Datamuse for pointing out in comments that Easy Street’s website has this expanded statement on the awning situation.