FOLLOWUP: Alki Community Council hears proposal for ‘Rock House’ future

(WSB photo from February)

Surrounded by fencing, windows boarded up, the little stone-studded house at 1123 Harbor SW awaits its future – or lack of one. As we first reported in February, its site has been sold. But local preservation advocates and historians hope to save the hand-decorated Depression-era house and move it. One of their first public presentations was at last week’s meeting of the Alki Community Council, which voted to support the effort. As outlined by Mike Shaughnessy, here’s what’s being proposed:

A volunteeer advisory group called the Alki Beach Rock House Association has been formed, led by local entrepreneur and historic-preservation advocate John Bennett, who’s long been restoring old buildings, from West Seattle to Georgetown to South Park. They would like to move the house from its current location to city Parks land – ideally near the Alki Bathhouse – where it could become a visitor/interpretive center. As the infosheet he circulated at the meeting describes it:

The (center) would be staffed and operated by the Southwest Seattle Historical Society and offer a “gateway” location to the Log House Museum down the street. All relocation and construction-related costs will be provided by the Rock House Association and an “Operations and Maintenance” endowment will be established to release SPR of any incurred costs.

They envision putting it on a raised foundation and including a small space where an SWSHS volunteer could answer visitor questions and direct people to the nearby museum. The building could also be used to display interpretive information about the Duwamish people, the Denny Party landing, the nearby Statue of Liberty Plaza, Seattle Parks, and more.

There’s a precedent for a community-initiated project to become part of Alki Beach Park – a decade ago, that’s how the miniature Statue of Liberty, which originally was on a relatively nondescript base surrounded by asphalt, got its own plaza. (Though the original organizers and proponents of that plan have long since moved on, the ACC has remained caretakers of its originally endowed maintenance fund.)

The Rock House Association has had some preliminary talks with Parks. At last week’s meeting, the ACC voted to send the city a letter of support and also offered some advice on people to consult. Meantime, no redevelopment plan for the site is filed – yet.

12 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: Alki Community Council hears proposal for 'Rock House' future"

  • ACG June 26, 2019 (11:13 am)

    How the heck do you move a structure like that without it crumbling?  I know other homes with different construction materials can be moved, but this one seems way more difficult. Wrap it in Saran Wrap and hope the rocks stay in place???

    • WS Realtor June 26, 2019 (1:25 pm)

      Yep, they’ll hire the right professionals and shrink-wrap it up.  

  • Brian June 26, 2019 (1:53 pm)

    I’m not an engineer or a preservation specialist.  But, just looking at that building, I can’t imagine how it would be decoupled from its current foundation…if there even is one, lifted in some fashion on to a transport vehicle and then moved…boggles my simple mind…but I can’t see it successfully happening.

    • just wondering June 27, 2019 (12:45 pm)

      Excuse me but didn’t we put a man on the moon?  And brought Apollo 13 back using among other things duct tape, socks and a bungee cord!Moving this rock house should be easy with American ingenuity!  And the Nickels moving guys!

  • alkibum June 26, 2019 (6:11 pm)

    Hello — build the same one at 50% of the price of moving- problem solved! Same rocks 500 mil old. What do they know.

  • MJ June 26, 2019 (6:17 pm)

    The building looks to be extremely heavy, huge challenge to move.  Good Luck

  • 22blades June 26, 2019 (9:04 pm)

    Nickel Brothers. They’ve moved everything & they’ll move anything. This is probably a cute side job for them.

    • Just wondering June 26, 2019 (11:59 pm)

      Do you think they could move the Showbox? I’ve seriously been wondering if that’s an option but when inside it seems sooooooo big…

  • dsa June 26, 2019 (11:58 pm)

    Think of the number of earthquakes it has survived.  If Nichol Bros say they can move it, trust them.

  • hardatwork June 27, 2019 (7:06 am)

    DSA, Exactly what I was thinking, earthquakes It has lived thru some big ones!

  • john June 27, 2019 (9:16 am)

    The fact that a building has survived “a number of earthquakes” does not indicate anything other than we have not had ‘the big one’ that is expected.  All of these ignorant pronouncements about buildings that have  survived earthquakes mean little about their seismic stability.

  • Jacob July 14, 2019 (1:47 pm)

    There is a difference between “it can’t be moved” and “I can’t move it.”And to those who say “why don’t we build a new one with new rocks just like it”, I think you may be missing the point. I wouldn’t say, hey, he’s got a bummed knee and high blood pressure, let’s just kill him, find a healthy person who looks, talks, and acts just like him, and then substitute the new guy into his family friends and work. Wouldn’t it be better than the original guy? He’d have more energy to hang out with us AND will live longer!!

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