FOLLOWUP: How you can help Save The Stone Cottage do ‘a great and magnificent thing’

(Photo by Stewart L.)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

The family whose members lived at 1123 Harbor Avenue SW for decades called it the “Rock House.”

Now, as the “Stone Cottage,” the quirky little unofficial landmark has inspired a fight for its future..

We’ve been reporting for almost two years on local preservation advocates’ hopes of saving it, now that a redevelopment project on its site is about to begin.

Today, the West Seattleites leading the Save The Stone Cottage campaign formally launched a crowdfunding effort to cover the cost of moving it twice – first to a holding site, then to its yet-to-be-determined permanent new home.

They held two media briefings for the launch – one outside the 90+-year-old Stone Cottage, one online.

Participants included members of the original owner Eva Falk‘s family. Granddaughter Patrice Hollrah, who once lived there, enthused, “We are thrilled that people are working to save the Rock House.” Her grandmother lived there until 1997, and kept it as a welcoming place for any and all who needed some place to stay.

Now – it needs its own new, permanent home. Chainqui Development is planning a new residential building on the site, but advocates insist the developers are not the villains here – in fact, they’ve donated $20,000 to the Save The Stone Cottage campaign, and company rep Jenny Tsen has participated in work parties getting the building ready to move, like the one we photographed last month.

(WSB photo, November)

The plan is for renowned building-moving firm Nickel Bros to move it to a holding site on nearby Port of Seattle land. That’ll cost monthly rent. After arrival – probably in mid-January – it’ll be wrapped in plastic, ready to ride out however long it takes to find a permanent home.

There was talk last year of pitching the Parks Department to provide a site. City Councilmember Lisa Herbold, participating in today’s briefing, said she was hopeful those conversations might resume next year.

Will it survive the move? John Bennett, the West Seattle entrepreneur who has saved and renovated rundown old buildings on both sides of the Duwamish River, offered optimism – “I think we can get it from Point A to Point B without destroying it” – while acknowledging there are “no guarantees.” Nickel Bros’ reaction, it was noted, was “We’ve moved three-story brick buildings – this is nothin’.” The building is covered with more than 15,000 stones, hauled from Alki’s beaches. The mortar that affixed them to the house was a mix of sand and cream of tartar.

Those stones are connections to this area’s first people, said Ken Workman, a Duwamish Tribe member who is a descendant of Chief Seattle. He was born nearby, and observed, “When I come here, I’m coming home.” The stones retain the memories of the Duwamish people, he added, after “thousands of thousands of years” during which the Duwamish have lived ‘on the seven hills of Seattle.” He declared that the Stone Cottage is no less than an extension of the Duwamish people’s longhouses, and saving it is “a great and magnificent thing.”

But the advocates can’t do it alone, noted Deb Barker. You can “help preserve the story,” she said. Imagine Eva and her family collecting those stones and turning it into a labor of love, a place of love.

“This place is important – this place matters,” added County Councilmember Joe McDermott, also among the supporters taking part today, as was former City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen.

That phrase evoked memories of a successful preservation campaign further west, also near the West Seattle shore – the one to save the Fir Lodge/Alki Homestead. That building found new life, and this one can too, some kind of “adaptive reuse,” as Bennett put it.

There’s time to dream and plan, once the Stone Cottage is off the site. To inspire some of those dreams, one of the cottage’s supporters, BJ Bullert, made short videos including this one:

You can find out more about Save The Stone Cottage here, and if you’re interested in donating, you can do that here.

5 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: How you can help Save The Stone Cottage do 'a great and magnificent thing'"

  • anonyme December 12, 2020 (6:25 am)

    This structure should absolutely be an OFFICIAL landmark.  The fact that local government has declined to protect it in favor of a large foreign developer exposes the twisted priorities of our so-called representatives.

  • Kathy December 12, 2020 (10:00 am)

    I would appreciate it if someone from the campaign would answer my question: What happens to the donations if the goal is not met? Will the funds benefit the SW Historical Society to be used for their purposes? I think people might like to know, since it seems to be an all or nothing situation with the demolition deadline looming.  For example, in the Purrdie Birrdee  Kickstarter campaign, our donation was not charged until the goal was met. I don’t see any way to contact the campaign or the SW Historical Society to ask the question.

    • Stone Cottage December 12, 2020 (12:45 pm)

      Hi Kathy, sorry for the slow reply and good question. Our current gofundme campaign is for the phase I goal which is saving the structure and moving it in to storage for two years. No matter how large or how small, we appreciate any donations we will receive during the GoFundMe campaign. We are very hopeful we will reach the campaign’s goal, allowing us to move the Stone Cottage safely to a storage location in January and saving it from demolition. During this time, we are already incurring costs to prepare, protect, and maintain the building for achieving phase one of the rescue, and we are prepared to kick in some “private donor” funds in the unlikely event we fall short. Since GoFundMe allows any funds raised to go toward the project’s efforts, we plan to use these generous donations toward that goal. If we overfund, we will apply any additional amount towards future phases of the project (such as the second move from storage to the final location, building repairs, maintenance & upkeep, work on the foundation, etc.). By the end of the project, if there are any residual funds, the remaining balance shall be donated to the Southwest Seattle Historical Society to support its ongoing preservation efforts. You can read more on our website, facebook page or charity.gofundme page where you will find email and phone #’s to contact us. I hope this answers your questions. Regards, Mike S. @ Save the Stone Cottage LLC

  • Kathy December 12, 2020 (5:59 pm)

    Thanks, Mike, yes it does.

  • LKT December 13, 2020 (7:01 pm)

    I’ve always thought having a little coffee hut somewhere  in Lincoln Park would be so nice. The Stone Cottage actually resembles some of the historic stone work down by the beach.  Maybe it could find a home there.

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