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.