CONGRATULATIONS! Historic Seattle honors Clay Eals as Preservation Champion

(WSB photo, Sunday)

If you went to last Sunday’s Morgan Junction Community Festival and visited the Southwest Seattle Historical Society booth, you would have seen Clay Eals helping kids paint stones and answering questions. He was there as a volunteer, helping out the organization he served as its first executive director. The focus of the group’s booth at the festival was the Save The Stone Cottage preservation effort. Eals has been involved with many other campaigns to protect icons of local history, like the Hamm and Campbell Buildings in the heart of The Junction. That work is one reason why Historic Seattle is honoring him as a Preservation Champion. Eals is also an author and journalist, with a long body of work, including, most recently, Now and Then” columns for The Seattle Times. Historic Seattle’s Erika Carleton tells WSB that Eals’ written work educates and inspires people: “In years past (the award recipients) have often been architects or structural designers … but sometimes it makes sense to think about somebody like Clay, who as a writer, journalist, advocate, plays a really important role … he tells the stories!”

Eals has been “telling the stories” for half a century, in a storied career dating back to his first newspaper job in Oregon in 1973. Here on the Duwamish Peninsula, his five years as editor of the West Seattle Herald/White Center News in the ’80s included producing the most comprehensive book of local history to date, West Side Story. More recently, he wrote the award-winning biography of musician Steve Goodman, “Facing the Music,” first published in 2007, and edited “Seattle Now and Then: The Historic Hundred,” published in 2018, co-authored by Paul Dorpat and Jean Sherrard.

“He gets the stories out there. That’s super valuable for us,” Carleton adds, noting that historical preservation is not always the sexiest topic.

Eals is appreciative of not only the honor but the mission, and those who also walk its path. “I’m deeply honored, and I trust that the ceremony on September 28 will bolster the preservation cause citywide, just as it has in previous years. It’s all about identifying and saving the gems that make us unique so that they can keep functioning and inspiring us all down the road. None of us does preservation work alone. I truly believe in the well-worn phrase ‘It Takes a Village,’ and I’m grateful to know first-hand that many in West Seattle and in the city as a whole are key parts of that village.”

The September ceremony he mentioned is Historic Seattle’s Preservation Celebration, at Washington Hall in the Central District. Attendees will celebrate honorees also including this year’s other Preservation Champion, Dorothy Cordova. Eals shared this photo from a coincidental meeting with her at her Central District-based Filipino American National Historical Society Museum office, weeks before Historic Seattle announced the awards.

(Photo by Ben Laigo, May 18)

You can see who, and what, else Historic Seattle is honoring this year by going here.

16 Replies to "CONGRATULATIONS! Historic Seattle honors Clay Eals as Preservation Champion"

  • John Bennett June 20, 2023 (8:14 pm)

    Clay is my hero. He got me involved in preservation and made me see how important it is to the future of our neighborhoods. He has done so much to educate us on the importance of history on the front line and behind the scene. He is very modest but deserves this recognition for all he has done. I can’t wait to hear him speak at the Historic Seattle Preservation Awards!

    • Brad Chrisman June 21, 2023 (10:00 am)

      We’ll deserved. You could spend an entire day touring historic places that Clay has helped to preserve: the Admiral Theater, the Homestead, the Log House Museum, the Hamm and Campbell buildings in the Junction, the list goes on. The West Side wouldn’t be the same without him.

  • Peter S. June 20, 2023 (8:28 pm)

    Very well deserved!

  • Marina June 20, 2023 (8:44 pm)

    Well deserved Clay! You’re one of those West Seattle gems we’ll always treasure :)

  • Dan Kerlee June 20, 2023 (8:48 pm)

    Long-deserved congratulations to Clay for his tireless years of successful efforts! Let’s hope that many readers will receive inspiration from this well-deserved honor.

  • Dora-Faye Hendricks June 21, 2023 (7:50 am)

    Very much deserved, Clay!!  Thank you for helping us all learn from you. We’re ALL proud of you and happy to have worked with you along the way!  Looking forward to helping honor you Sept. 28th.

  • Patricia Kloster June 21, 2023 (7:50 am)

     Congrats Clay – well deserved!!

  • Judy P. June 21, 2023 (9:00 am)

    Absolutely deserved!!!  You’ve been persistent, understated, principled, and able to still be a nice guy.  What’s next?

  • Kerry Korsgaard June 21, 2023 (11:05 am)

    This is an honor well deserved for a true preservation warrior, Clay. Your education about and advocacy for the preservation of so many high- quality buildings and the historical significance of retaining them for generations to follow has helped keep this village feeling like home to me and so many others. Your mentorship has been greatly appreciated!

  • Alan McMurray June 21, 2023 (12:27 pm)

    Congratulations Clay! Thanks for all you do!

  • Donna, Anthony & Julia June 21, 2023 (2:20 pm)

    Congratulations, Clay! Thanks for all your work!

  • Deb June 21, 2023 (5:49 pm)

    Clay is a true preservation champion in many ways – even baseball!! This is such a well deserved honor. The historic preservation world is much much richer because of Clay’s passion and perseverance. Congratulations Clay. You Rock!!

  • Kathy June 21, 2023 (9:52 pm)

    Congratulations, Clay!  The Southwest Seattle Historical Society is deeply grateful for the example you have set over the years in advocating for the preservation of our community’s stories and landmarks!   This distinguished award is a well-deserved honor.

  • Rod Weeks June 30, 2023 (5:29 pm)

    Congratulations, Clay!   We appreciate your passion for preserving historic places and your superb writing.  Rod & Nancy.

  • Donna Driver July 10, 2023 (7:24 am)

    Clay has been an inspiration to historical societies throughout our area.  We value his enthusiasm and expertise. He’s just the best.Donna DriverFall City Historical Society

Sorry, comment time is over.