Preservation in Progress

Historic Seattle’s Blog

INS Building / Inscape Landmark Nomination

Support Preservation in the C-ID!

Last fall, Historic Seattle submitted a landmark nomination application for the former INS Building (815 Seattle Blvd S.) in Seattle’s Chinatown-International District. On Wednesday, June 5, the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board (LPB) will consider the nomination for landmark status. If nominated, the Board will hold a designation hearing in July. We encourage you to support our nomination by submitting written comments to City Historic Preservation Officer Sarah Sodt (email to by May 31. You may also provide verbal comments at the LPB meeting on June 5 at 3:30 pm. The meeting is hybrid so you may comment via WebEx and attend the meeting virtually. Learn more about submitting written and verbal comments to the Board here. The agenda will be published about one week before the June 5 meeting.

Short for Immigration & Naturalization Service, the former INS Building (originally known as the U.S. Immigrant and Assay Office) served as Seattle’s detention and processing center for immigrants from 1931 until 2004. In 2008, a group of private investors purchased the building and transformed it into an arts and culture center. Known as Inscape Arts since 2010, this place matters not only for the complex histories it contains but also as an example of how art and community can be the impetus for both recognizing the difficult past and supporting culture and creative space. Historic Seattle’s HeartBomb in February with Friends of Inscape took place in front of the building.

The former INS Building is listed individually in the National Register of Historic Places and Washington Heritage Register and is a contributing resource in the International Special Review District (ISRD). We hope it will soon be a designated Seattle landmark. Learn more about the former INS Building’s history and significance in the nomination report prepared by NW Vernacular. Graphics for the report can be found here.

The former INS Building has a high level of integrity and ability to convey significance, and we believe the property meets four of the six designation standards of the Landmarks Preservation Ordinance (standards A, B, C, and F):

A) It is the location of, or is associated in a significant way with, a historic event with a significant effect upon the community, City, state, or nation; or

[The building is associated with the WWII incarceration of Japanese Americans. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor by Japan on December 7, 1941, the FBI conducted sweeps in Seattle to round up Japanese residents who were then taken to the immigration station. Their personal effects were confiscated and stored at the station. The FBI also arrested and detained U.S. citizens at the immigration station for alleged anti-U.S. acts.]

B) It is associated in a significant way with the life of a person important in the history of the City, state, or nation; or

C) It is associated in a significant way with a significant aspect of the cultural, political, or economic heritage of the community, City, state or nation; or

[As the immigration station in Seattle for 73 years, the building is associated in a significant way with the city’s immigration history through most of the twentieth century. This history is a significant aspect of the city’s cultural and political heritage.]

D) It embodies the distinctive visible characteristics of an architectural style, or period, or a method of construction; or

[The building was designed in the Mediterranean Revival style and reflects the distinctive characteristics of the style.]

E) It is an outstanding work of a designer or builder; or

F) Because of its prominence of spatial location, contrasts of siting, age, or scale, it is an easily identifiable visual feature of its neighborhood or the city and contributes to the distinctive quality or identity of such neighborhood or the City.

[The building’s scale and massing contrast with surrounding buildings making it an easily identifiable building within the Chinatown-International District neighborhood. The building’s design and original use contribute to the identity and distinctive qualities of the neighborhood.]

INS Holdings (as property owner) has generally been a good steward of the INS Building. Its use as arts and culture space after federal government ownership has been an excellent example of the adaptive reuse of this historic building. Given the individual listing in both the State and National registers, inclusion as a contribution resource in the ISRD, and the protective covenant that came with the sale to INS Holdings when it acquired the property, we believe local landmark designation is an appropriate additional layer of designation and protection for the historic property. The property owner placed the property on the market a couple years ago, but it did not sell. Its future as arts and culture space depends on who owns the property. While landmark designation does not dictate use, we still believe obtaining this status will help preserve the building for the future.


Photo: INS Building/Inscape, 2023 (Eugenia Woo)

Labour Temple – 2023 Best Preservation Project Award

Historic Seattle’s Annual Preservation Celebration is coming up on September 28, 2023. We’ll celebrate the projects and people that help amplify our mission. Today, we feature the Labour Temple, the 2023 Best Preservation Project Award recipient.

Congratulations to the Labour Temple!

Designated a City Landmark in 2008, the Labour Temple (originally the Seattle Labor Temple) in Belltown (2800 1st Avenue) represents an important aspect of Seattle’s notable labor history as the booming wartime workforce increased the number of local workers and numerous unions that established offices in the vicinity. Constructed by the labor unions in 1942, the building was owned and occupied by them for almost 80 years. An addition to the north (containing an auditorium) was constructed in 1946 and a third story was added to the original two-story building in 1955. The property served as headquarters of the MLK Labor Council and as long-time focal point for union organizing and activities in the county. It was the last large functioning labor hall in Belltown, a neighborhood that was once the center of union activity.

In the last few decades, with the rising costs of real estate, constituents of the labor unions moved farther out of the city and the building took on some deferred maintenance. The Seattle Labor Temple Association considered restoring the building or listing it for sale. They chose the latter; FAUL purchased the original south building in December 2020 and the north addition was sold to a church. The building underwent extensive renovation, welcoming its first office tenants in 2022 and reopening as the rebranded “Labour Temple,” with the “u” signifying the u-shaped building and union history.

The transformation of the former Labor Temple into a modern co-working community hub with common amenities has given the landmark a new lease on life. The rehabilitation included restoration of the brick and terra cotta facade, original steel windows, mahogany office doors and Labor Temple signs; new roof, building systems upgrades, renovated historic lobby and preservation of the private offices and corridors. The courtyard was activated, and a rooftop terrace added, providing outdoor spaces. The building also offers event and meeting spaces and participates in the monthly Belltown Art Walk.

The commitment of the team to preserve and enhance this “working-man’s” office building into a creative co-working space has resulted in the preservation and extension of the useful life of this historic building for the Belltown community. Kudos to project team members: FAUL, Kenneth Wilson Architect, Venture General Contracting, HCMP, DCI Engineers, Berger Partnership, Marian Built, Finishing Touch Masonry, BuildingWork, Region 6 Systems, Net Tech, and Joe Seabeck.


Image courtesy of Evan Parker Photography

The Attic – 2023 Preserving Neighborhood Character Award

Historic Seattle’s Annual Preservation Celebration is coming up on September 28, 2023. We’ll celebrate the projects and people that help amplify our mission. Today, we feature the Attic, the 2023 Preserving Neighborhood Character Award recipient. 

Congratulations to the Attic!

In the constantly changing urban streetscapes of Seattle, it’s the places that have been around for decades or more that help shape and maintain the character of a neighborhood. Central to any community are the legacy businesses that we all come to love. These “third places” bring us together. One such place is the Attic Alehouse & Eatery in Madison Park. The Attic has anchored the neighborhood at 4226 E Madison St since 1967, the same year the building was constructed, replacing a much older structure that once housed a bowling alley in 1907, then a shooting range transitioning to a bar in 1937. The Attic abruptly closed in early February 2020 before pandemic-caused closures. The historic bar’s longtime owner of 30 years, Mark Long, passed away in 2018. At this time, an interim ownership group stepped in prior to the current business owners.

Fortunately for Madison Park and Seattle, the Attic has survived as a legacy business and reopened in late April 2023, saved and resurrected by ESR (Ethan Stowell Restaurants) led by Executive Chef Ethan Stowell and Howard Wright, the Founder and CEO of Seattle Hospitality Group (SHG). The new owners purchased the historic watering hole, installed new hardwood floors, and made “facelift” improvements to the space. This new chapter in the long and storied history of the Attic celebrates many memories and great times and continues making new ones.

As described in a recent Seattle Times article, “Under Long’s stewardship, the pub turned into that proverbial third place, where softball teams hung out after league games. Many locals had their first dates there, and families hosted celebration of life events.” According to Stowell, “In the last 50 years, tons of parents have taken their kids here for their first beer. Watch Cougar and Husky games. This is like the neighborhood ‘Cheers.’”

The continuation of the Attic gives us hope because Seattle has lost and continues to lose so many legacy businesses. It’s these words by Ethan Stowell that caught Historic Seattle’s attention and why we honor the Attic with a Preserving Neighborhood Character Award, “It is a preservation thing,” Stowell told the Seattle Times. “We would like to see other neighborhood institutions continue on. If we can help with that, we would be happy to take that on.”

To that we say, “More please!”


Image courtesy of the Attic

Clay Eals – 2023 Preservation Champion Award

Historic Seattle’s Annual Preservation Celebration is coming up on September 28, 2023. We’ll celebrate the projects and people that help amplify our mission. Today, we feature one of two recipients for the Beth Chave Award for Preservation Champion–Clay Eals.

Congratulations Clay!

Clay Eals is a pied piper of preservation in Seattle.

In 1989, he spearheaded landmarking of the Admiral Theater in West Seattle, saving it from demolition and redevelopment. (Check out this news clip from 1989!) In 2016-17, he worked with owners of the Hamm and Campbell buildings in the West Seattle Junction and inspired the community while securing landmark designation of these two crown jewels of the business district. He also was instrumental in saving the landmark Alki Homestead, a unique log structure built in 1904. He is working with other advocates to Save the Stone Cottage in West Seattle.

While Clay is a preservation champion, he also is many other things.

Born July 21, 1951, Clay lives in West Seattle and has devoted his adult life to writing and publications. He worked 15 years as an editor, reporter, and photographer for four Pacific Northwest newspapers, two years as a journalism teacher, 13 years as a curriculum writer and publications editor for Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and five years as communication officer for the Encompass children’s organization. He also wrote and had published biographies of child actress Karolyn Grimes (Zuzu in “It’s a Wonderful Life”) and singer-songwriter Steve Goodman (“City of New Orleans”).

Before working nearly five years as the first executive director for the Southwest Seattle Historical Society, he was a founding member in 1984, serving on its board for 12 years and as its president for three.

With a passionate and enthusiastic approach, Clay loves to elevate stories of local people and places. In 1987, he edited, designed and partly wrote a 288-page history of West Seattle and White Center, “West Side Story,” published by Robinson Newspapers. Since 2019, he has prepared, with Jean Sherrard, the weekly photo-history column “Now & Then” for Pacific NW magazine of The Seattle Times. Their column continues the 37-year tradition of its founder, Paul Dorpat. Clay often seeks “Now & Then” subjects that reveal why preserving historic places is vital.

As Clay told the West Seattle Blog: “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.”


Image: Clay Eals emceeing Pete Seeger’s 90th birthday celebration at the Admiral Theater, 2009; Jean Sherrard, photographer

SIFF – 2023 Community Investment Award

Historic Seattle’s Annual Preservation Celebration is coming up on September 28, 2023. We’ll celebrate the projects and people that help amplify our mission. Today, we feature SIFF, the 2023 Community Investment Award recipient. 

Congratulations to SIFF!

SIFF is the centerpiece of Seattle’s film community. The Seattle International Film Festival is THE event that cinema lovers in the Pacific Northwest look forward to every year. Beyond running one of the world’s largest and most dynamic annual film festivals, SIFF has also fully embedded itself in the Seattle community through year-round events, gatherings, summer filmmaking camps, and more. Most visibly, SIFF has stepped forward time and again to rescue beloved Seattle movie theaters that might otherwise have been demolished or left to collect dust including the Uptown, the Egyptian, and now Cinerama!

For this, Historic Seattle honors SIFF with a Community Investment Award for its work in reopening and maintaining the Cinerama, a cultural icon in Seattle since it opened in January 1963 that operated continuously until its closure in February 2020. For over three years, the theater sat empty with an uncertain future. SIFF announced its acquisition of the Seattle Cinerama Theater from the estate of Paul G. Allen in May 2023 at the opening celebration of its 49th annual film festival. They appreciate the estate’s support and commitment throughout the process. The Cinerama has offered one of the city’s most unique great movie theater experiences since its inception. Representing a significant part of American film history, it is notable as one of only two remaining Super Cinerama theaters, and one of only three capable of showing the original Cinerama three-strip films. When the Cinerama reopens later this year, it will be under a new name due to trademark issues, but in SIFF’s hands, the experience will be just as we remember. The theater’s programming will be similar to previous Cinerama programming, blockbuster studio films, specialty festivals and events, and first-run arthouse films.

With LA’s Cinerama Dome currently out of use, SIFF’s decision to buy and invest in the theater’s future is not only important to Seattle but also on a national and global scale. However, what truly makes SIFF’s purchase so special is that it ensures the long-term survival of a beloved downtown venue full of cherished moviegoing memories for generations of Seattleites. Now, thanks to SIFF and its generous supporters, future generations will get to make their own wonderful memories at Cinerama. With its purchase of Cinerama SIFF has proven once again that it is here to serve Seattle no matter what, not only as part of the city’s film community, but also the community as a whole.


Image courtesy of SIFF

Dr. Dorothy L. Cordova – 2023 Preservation Champion Award

Historic Seattle’s Annual Preservation Celebration is coming up on September 28, 2023. We’ll celebrate the projects and people that help amplify our mission. Today, we feature one of two recipients for the Beth Chave Award for Preservation Champion–Dr. Dorothy Laigo Cordova. 

Congratulations Auntie Dorothy!

The Beth Chave Award for Preservation Champion goes to Dr. Dorothy Laigo Cordova, or “Auntie Dorothy,” as she is affectionately known, for her outstanding life-long contributions to the preservation of Filipino Americans’ rich history and cultural heritage. Born in Seattle in 1932, she grew up here feeling unaccepted as American and saw her Filipino heritage being systematically erased, even in immigrant communities.

Auntie Dorothy met her husband, the late Dr. Fred Cordova, while studying Sociology at Seattle University. They cofounded the Filipino Youth Activities (FYA) in 1957 to promote healthy activity options to youths in Seattle, including their own eight children. Dorothy and the FYA advocated for civil rights, especially for immigrants and refugees, helping to connect them to employment and other services. In the 1970s, as Executive Director of the Demonstration Project for Asian Americans (DPAA), Dorothy conducted pathbreaking sociological and historical research that focused on Korean Americans and Filipino Americans.

Frustrated by the dearth of information and inaccurate portrayals about Filipino American history, Dorothy founded the Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS) in 1982 and has volunteered as FANHS’ unsalaried Executive Director since then. Its mission is “to promote understanding, education, enlightenment, appreciation and enrichment through the identification, gathering, preservation and dissemination of the history and culture of Filipino Americans in the United States.”

Under her leadership, and with Fred as Founding President, FANHS established the National Pinoy Archives housed with the FANHS National Office located inside the historic Immaculate Conception Church in the Central District. It is one of the largest collections of Filipino American historic photographs, oral histories, recordings, exhibits, ephemera, and material artifacts in the world. FANHS also designated the nationwide observance of October as Filipino American History Month. Since 1987, FANHS has been sponsoring biennial national conferences in different cities, gathering hundreds to learn about Filipino American history, with the most recent conference in 2022 held in Seattle.

Dorothy and FANHS have been serving as the Principal Investigator for the Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation’s effort to identify, document, and commemorate the rich contributions of Filipino Americans to the state’s history.

Although she announced her intention to retire from FANHS in 2024, to transition to “Resident Researcher,” now, at 91-years-young, Auntie Dorothy can still be found at the FANHS National Office every day, answering phone calls and email inquiries, giving interviews, hosting students, sharing photographs, talking story, and documenting the layered history of Filipino Americans.


Image of Dr. Dorothy L. Cordova researching collection at FANHS, courtesy of Clay Eals (August 2023). 

Historic Wallingford: 2023 Community Advocacy Award

Congratulations to Historic Wallingford!

Historic Seattle’s Annual Preservation Celebration is coming up on September 28, 2023. We’ll celebrate the projects and people that help amplify our mission. Today, we feature the Community Advocacy Award recipient, Historic Wallingford. 

Founded in 2017, Historic Wallingford is a grassroots organization that fosters awareness and appreciation of Wallingford’s heritage through education, publications, and community activities. The nonprofit organization has done a remarkable job of celebrating and sharing the history and architecture of the Wallingford neighborhood in just six short years. Historic Wallingford has been instrumental in creating a historic district, organizing walking tours, hosting educational events, and advocating for the protection of historic buildings and landmarks. It is a shining example of how local groups can make a positive difference in preserving the past, celebrating the present, and shaping the future of their neighborhoods.

Historic Wallingford’s recent effort to sponsor the successful listing of the Wallingford-Meridian Streetcar Historic District to the National Register of Historic Places is a notable achievement in the organization’s short history. Beginning in 2019, Historic Wallingford hired Northwest Vernacular to conduct a feasibility study (with grant support from 4Culture) on potentially qualifying areas in the Wallingford neighborhood for a National Register historic district. To aid in this effort, volunteers were trained to survey the neighborhood and conduct archival research. The organization conducted fundraising via direct mail and support from 4Culture. After three years and over 2,000 volunteer hours by Historic Wallingford board members and volunteers, with the skillful completion of the nomination by Northwest Vernacular, the area which subsequently became known as the Wallingford-Meridian Streetcar Historic District was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on December 9, 2022. The district showcases the development of streetcar transportation in Seattle, as well as the architectural and social diversity of the neighborhood areas along the historic routes. The district benefits the residents, visitors, businesses, and environment by providing a sense of place, identity, and pride, as well as promoting walkability and building maintenance.

Historic Wallingford continues to advocate for its community, promoting the historic district, publicizing the value of the historic architecture, and collaborating with local businesses to produce self-guided activity brochures—”Exploring Wallingford” and “Where in Wallingford?” This year, the organization celebrates Wallingford with a second self-guided tour brochure, a locally focused live radio show at the farmers market with Feliks Banel, and neighborhood beautification efforts such as Earth Day cleanup and historically themed utility box wraps.

Historic Wallingford exemplifies community and preservation. We honor them with the 2023 Community Advocacy Award!

Image courtesy of Historic Wallingford – street signs at N 45th St and Wallingford Ave N

Byrd Barr Place: 2023 Outstanding Stewardship Award

Congratulations to Byrd Barr Place!

Historic Seattle’s Annual Preservation Celebration is coming up on September 28, 2023. We’ll celebrate the projects and people that help amplify our mission. Today, we feature the Outstanding Stewardship Award recipient, Byrd Barr Place.

Byrd Barr Place is a community action agency supporting the diverse Central District neighborhood of Seattle with housing and energy assistance, a food bank called The Market which utilizes the client choice model that centers community as they are called upon to choose their items like a typical market as well as offering financial education for residents. The organization is named after Roberta Byrd Barr, a community leader, educator, and journalist who became a passionate advocate, elevating the voices of the Black community and the marginalized.

The old Firehouse #23 was built in 1908, is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, and is a Seattle Landmark. The building was leased to the Central Area Motivation Program (CAMP) in the 1960s, giving a place to an important social organization formed by Seattle’s Black community to alleviate poverty and racial inequality in the Central District. Today, the organization continues to serve the neighborhood and Seattle’s urban core, last year completing its first major firehouse remodel since its original renovation to a community center in 1970.

The design approach affirms history, place, and service to the community, re-shaping the interior to meet changing needs while respecting its historic character. The renovation reconfigured the interior for a daylit market, a community meeting space, a generous reception area, and flexible office spaces for staff, allowing Byrd Barr Place to serve people more effectively. Firehouse #23 is a welcoming, accessible, and effective community-centered place to pursue Byrd Barr Place’s continued efforts to center Black voices in the decision-making for Black-bodied people. Improved building systems increase energy efficiency and decrease the building’s carbon footprint. New site-specific art supports Byrd Barr Place’s continuing contribution to Seattle’s Black population. The redesigned Market enhances customers’ experiences, increases food distribution capabilities, and promotes health and well-being. Reflecting her legacy with the organization, a wall mural illustrates the life of Roberta Byrd Barr. The project preserves a unique cultural asset for Seattle’s Black community and modernizes the 115-year-old building to expand social services and engagement.

The building renovation represents outstanding stewardship of a historic and cultural resource, revealing and accentuating the building’s original structure while providing for new programs and equitable public circulation.

Congratulations to project team members: Byrd Barr Place (owner), Pacific Program Management, SHKS Architects, Rafn Company, Lund Opsahl, FSi Engineers, Travis Fitzmaurice Wartelle Balangue Engineers, SparkLab Lighting Design, Coterra Engineering, Wetherholt & Associates, SiteWorkshop, PanGEO, Inc., Rafael Soldi Photography, and Zorn Taylor Photography.


Photo credit: Rafael Soldi Photography

Reflections on an exciting start to 2023: The Seattle First National Bank building

Preservation is a Public Benefit

In the past month and a half, preservation supporters in Seattle came together to advocate for maintaining the integrity of the landmark designation process. Since 1973, the City of Seattle has designated approximately 450 landmarks that are subject to protection by the Landmarks Preservation Ordinance (LPO). Ostensibly, the recent controversy revolved around the landmarked Seattle-First National Bank Building (SFNB), located at 566 Denny Way in Uptown, but it became much bigger than that one landmark.


The Seattle-First National Bank Building was designated a Seattle landmark in 2006 under four (out of six) designation standards, a strong statement by the Landmarks Preservation Board (LPB) in recognizing the significance of the building. The exterior and the site were included in the designation. Walgreens purchased the property in 2007 (one year after the designation), adapted the former bank into a retail store, and worked with the Landmarks Preservation Board to reach a Controls and Incentives (C&I) agreement in November 2021 that would apply to the site and exterior of the building. (Controls help to protect a landmark and economic incentives can help an owner maintain a landmark.) The final step in the landmark designation process is City Council approval of the designating ordinance and adoption of the C&I agreement.

Because the SFNB is located in the Uptown neighborhood of Queen Anne, it is eligible as a landmark sending site for Transfer of Development Rights (TDR). This is an important financial incentive that became available for Uptown only in the last few years. The owner can sell TDRs and use the money to maintain the landmark building. A developer who owns a property in Uptown that qualifies as a receiving site can purchase the TDRs to benefit their housing project by increasing FAR (and therefore, additional units). This is a win-win for preservation AND housing. It’s both/and, not either/or.

The Issue

OK, great! So, what was the problem? On December 9, 2022, the City Council’s Neighborhoods, Education, Civil Rights, and Culture Committee met to review Council Bill 120312 (an ordinance relating to historic preservation; imposing controls upon the Seattle-First National Bank Building). At that meeting, four members of the Committee questioned why the Seattle-First National Bank Building was landmarked (they did not believe it was significant), wondered what public benefit the landmark offered, and cited the need for more housing in Uptown, a dense urban neighborhood. Essentially, the Committee believed this landmark was getting in the way of more housing and they wanted to dictate the use on this privately owned property. However, the LPO does not give the LPB nor the Council authority to control use in a landmark building or site. The property is not for sale and there are no redevelopment plans for the site. Uses other than housing are also allowed on the parcel.

The Council Committee recommended to the full City Council that they reject the designating ordinance. We saw this recommendation as a major threat to preservation in Seattle and the City’s preservation program. Removing C&I would leave the landmark vulnerable to demolition and set a bad precedent that could undermine the landmark designation process for any designated landmark that does not have controls and possibly any future designated landmarks.

The Call-to-Action

CB 120312 was scheduled for the January 3, 2023 City Council meeting and then postponed for another week to January 10, 2023. Historic Seattle, the Queen Anne Historical Society, West Seattle-based advocates, the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, and many individuals jumped into action in December and January to urge Councilmembers to honor the Landmarks Preservation Ordinance and designation process by passing the designating ordinance and adopting controls and incentives for the Seattle-First National Bank Building. A key message was that preservation and housing are not mutually exclusive—this is a false choice. It’s both/and, not either/or. We also supported a compromise that would place no controls on the parking lot north of the landmark building—making it easier for potential development. Council Central Staff provided an analysis of housing development potential on the parcel. It turns out that retaining the landmark could potentially yield more housing units on the site by using a combination of incentives, bonuses, and creative design of new construction. Detractors argued the parking lot is too small for a high-rise. We beg to differ given the many examples of high-rise residential construction on smaller or similar-size lots in this city.

The road to the January 10 City Council meeting was a wild one! There were three amendments to the original bill. The Council realized it could not de-list or “unlandmark” the building so the designation would remain. It is the role of Council to adopt, modify, or reject controls and incentives for a landmark. The Walgreens lawyer suggested to Council that they pass the designating ordinance but remove controls and incentives. So it became the battle of the amendments. Amendment A (proposed by Councilmember Tammy Morales) was to pass the designating ordinance but place no controls and incentives on the building and site (worst-case scenario in our minds). Amendment B (proposed by Councilmember Lisa Herbold) was to pass the designating ordinance and place controls on the exterior of the building and specific character-defining features on the site, but remove controls on the parking lot. Amendment C (proposed by Councilmember Andrew Lewis) supported Amendment B but would also remove the character-defining features on the site, effectively placing controls on the building, the site between the building and Denny Way, and the site between the building and 6th Avenue N. Are you still with us? Crazy, we know!

Historic Seattle supported Amendment B. And ultimately, we supported Amendment C. The result was City Council voted 9-0 for Amendment C which places controls on the landmark building’s exterior and the portion of the site between the building and Denny Way and between the building and 6th Avenue North.

Ultimately, Historic Seattle is happy with the outcome because City Council’s unanimous vote confirmed the longstanding landmark designation process. The Council’s role is not to “rubber stamp” but to confirm and respect the process. Historic preservation is a public benefit in and of itself and should not be pitted against other public policies. Only 0.5% of parcels in Seattle are designated landmarks or in historic districts. That is a minuscule amount in the grand scheme of the built environment.

A big thank you to all who contacted City Councilmembers advocating for the preservation of this modern landmark and for respecting the designation process. Every communication in support was important. Your voices were heard! Council President Debora Juarez’s recent weekly newsletter shows that Council received 124 letters in support of CB 120312 and the compromise amendments and 32 letters in opposition—four times more in support! Finally, we thank City Council for its final decision and particularly Councilmembers Herbold and Lewis for seeking a compromise solution that supports preservation of the landmark and maximizes housing potential.

Learn more:

Materials related to CB 120312 

Feliks Banel, KIRO Newsradio, “Preservation groups: Seattle City Council making mistake with historic bank.” Click here to read or listen to this story!

Emma Hinchliffe, Daily Journal of Commerce, “Compromise reached in debate over future of landmarked Uptown bank building.”

ADVOCACY UPDATE: Tell City Council to vote “YES!” on Amendment B

We need YOU to urge City Council to vote in favor of Amendment B, a pro-housing and pro-preservation resolution, to the Controls & Incentives (C&Is) agreement for the Seattle-First National Bank (SFNB)* building at tomorrow’s January 10 Council Meeting at 2:00 PM!

Click here to read all supporting documents for the SFNB bill (CB 120312), including Proposed Amendment B. Sponsored by Councilmember Lisa Herbold, the amendment aims to meet demands from Council for housing development on the site while protecting and preserving the designated landmark by adopting C&Is for the building only:

“This amendment would remove the surface parking area on the north side of the Seattle-First National Bank building from the designated features of the landmark. Development would be permitted on the parking area, but controls and incentives would continue to apply to the building on the site, the sign post, the drive-through area, and landscaping between the building and the street.”

NOW is the time to Tell the Council that a vote in favor of Amendment B honors the Landmarks ordinance and process by adopting C&Is for the Seattle-First National Bank building and maximizes housing development on the parking lot:

  • Remote Public Comment – Register online to speak during the Public Comment period at Online registration to speak will begin two hours before the meeting start time, and registration will end at the conclusion of the Public Comment period during the meeting. Speakers must be registered in order to be recognized by the Chair.
  • In-Person Public Comment – Register to speak on the Public Comment sign-up sheet located inside Council Chambers at least 15 minutes prior to the meeting start time. Registration will end at the conclusion of the Public Comment period during the meeting. Speakers must be registered in order to be recognized by the Chair.
  • Submit written comments to all Councilmembers at


Questions? Contact Eugenia Woo, Historic Seattle’s Director of Preservation Services, at

The Seattle-First National Bank Building (SFNB), located at 566 Denny Way in Uptown was designated a Seattle landmark in 2006. Walgreens purchased it after the designation, adapted the former bank into a retail store, and worked with the Landmarks Preservation Board (LPB) to reach a Controls and Incentives (C&I) agreement (in November 2021) that would apply to the site and exterior of the building. The last step in the landmark designation process is City Council approval of the C&I agreement, but some members of City Council seem to believe that preservation and housing are mutually exclusive. This is a false choice. It’s both/and; not either/or.

If this amendment to the C&I agreement is not adopted, the landmark will be vulnerable to demolition, setting a dangerous precedent for ALL future and current Seattle Landmarks without controls and disregarding a tried and true program (Transfer Development Rights) that allows preservation to be an asset in creating more housing within Seattle.

ADVOCACY UPDATE: Historic Preservation in Seattle needs your voice now!

Feliks Banel with KIRO Newsradio has got it exactly right: Seattle City Council is making a mistake with the Seattle First National Bank Building (SFNB). Click here to read or listen to this story!

Having postponed the full council vote until Tuesday, January 10, City Council is still threatening Seattle’s robust landmarking process by not adopting already agreed upon Controls and Incentives (C&Is) for the SFNB. Instead, they may adopt an amendment, written up by the lawyers hired by Walgreens, to eliminate all controls and incentives. Some members of City Council seem to believe that preservation and housing are mutually exclusive. This is a false choice. It’s both/and; not either/or.

With the full council vote already delayed until January 10, NOW is the time to make your voice heard! Join us in telling the Council that denying C&Is for the SNFB:

A) sets a dangerous precedent for ALL future and current Seattle Landmarks without controls,

B) disregards a tried and true program (Transfer Development Rights) that allows preservation to be an asset in creating more housing within Seattle,

C) and insults our and your belief that preservation enriches the lives of all in Seattle.

AND, demand that City Council honor the Landmarks ordinance and process by adopting controls and incentives for the Seattle-First National Bank building.

Click here to review the 1/10/23 City Council Meeting Agenda, which includes three options to provide Public Comment to the Council:

  1. Remote Public Comment – Register online to speak during the Public Comment period at Online registration to speak will begin two hours before the meeting start time, and registration will end at the conclusion of the Public Comment period during the meeting. Speakers must be registered in order to be recognized by the Chair.
  2. In-Person Public Comment – Register to speak on the Public Comment sign-up sheet located inside Council Chambers at least 15 minutes prior to the meeting start time. Registration will end at the conclusion of the Public Comment period during the meeting. Speakers must be registered in order to be recognized by the Chair.
  3. Submit written comments to all Councilmembers at

ADVOCACY ALERT: A potential threat to the Landmarks ordinance

12/30/22 UPDATE:

Seattle City Council will vote in their January 3rd meeting (this coming Tuesday!) to adopt or deny Controls and Incentives (C&Is) for the Seattle First National Bank Building at 566 Denny Way in Uptown. A vote to reject these C&Is subjects this existing Seattle Landmark to NO protections and increases its vulnerability to demolition.

Join us in telling the Council that denying C&Is sets a dangerous precedent for ALL future and current Seattle Landmarks and demand that City Council honor the Landmarks ordinance and process by adopting controls and incentives for the Seattle-First National Bank building.  

Click here to view the January 3, 2023 City Council Meeting Agenda, which includes the following options to provide Public Comment to the Council: 

  1. Remote Public Comment – Register online to speak during the Public Comment period at Online registration to speak will begin two hours before the meeting start time, and registration will end at the conclusion of the Public Comment period during the meeting. Speakers must be registered in order to be recognized by the Chair.
  2. In-Person Public Comment – Register to speak on the Public Comment sign-up sheet located inside Council Chambers at least 15 minutes prior to the meeting start time. Registration will end at the conclusion of the Public Comment period during the meeting. Speakers must be registered in order to be recognized by the Chair.
  3. Submit written comments to all Councilmembers at

WE NEED YOU to urge City Council to adopt Controls and Incentives for Seattle-First National Bank Building!

Seattle-First National Bank. Image credit: Construction News Bulletin, 1950.

Here’s the deal—we’re in a pickle: the Seattle-First National Bank Building (SFNB), located at 566 Denny Way in Uptown was designated a Seattle landmark in 2006. Walgreens purchased it after the designation, adapted the former bank into a retail store, and worked with the Landmarks Preservation Board (LPB) to reach a Controls and Incentives (C&I) agreement (in November 2021) that would apply to the site and exterior of the building. The last step in the landmark designation process is City Council approval of the C&I agreement, but we’re concerned Council may reject controls and incentives, thereby leaving the landmark vulnerable to demolition.  

We need YOUR Help! Write to City Council before January 3 (ideally by December 23) and demand they honor the Landmarks ordinance and process by adopting controls and incentives for the Seattle-First National Bank building (reference CB 120312). A decision to reject controls and incentives for SFNB puts preservation and landmarking at risk! Contact all Councilmembers by emailing 

Context for said “pickle:” until recently, the SFNB has been declared as a building of significance (by virtue of its landmark designation), and a C&I agreement has been signed in which economic incentives are available to the property owner in exchange for committing to maintain the building.

You may recall from our ongoing Showbox advocacy efforts that landmark designation alone does not save buildings – controls and incentives are critical to protecting the places we love. The SFNB, having a designation and C&I agreement signed, means this building is well on its way to being preserved as an asset and public benefit to the City of Seattle. The final step is for the City Council to adopt Council Bill 120312.

OK, great! So, what’s the problem? On Friday, December 9, several members of the City Council’s Neighborhoods, Education, Civil Rights & Culture Committee met and challenged, without documentation or justification, the Seattle-First National Bank building’s landmark designation and the need to place controls and incentives on the building and site. 

In advance of the meeting, Seattle City Council Central Staff provided the Committee with a 10-page memorandum detailing the landmarking process and recommendations for next steps. Additionally, the Committee received a joint letter of support for adopting controls and incentives for SFNB from Historic Seattle and the Queen Anne Historical Society

The Council Committee’s recommendation to reject controls and incentives without reasons relevant to the Landmark Preservation Ordinance and in contradiction to the Landmarks Preservation Board (a group consisting of volunteers appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by City Council) is unprecedented and a major threat to preservation in Seattle and the City’s preservation program.

On Tuesday, January 3, 2023, Seattle City Council will decide whether to adopt the jointly agreed Controls and Incentives for the Seattle-First National Bank building. If rejected, the Council’s decision could undermine the landmark designation process for any designated landmark that doesn’t have controls and possibly any future designated landmarks. 

This is NOT OK! Again, we urge you to write to City Council ( before January 3 (ideally by December 23) and demand they honor the Landmarks ordinance and process by adopting controls and incentives for the Seattle-First National Bank building (reference CB 120312).

Questions? Contact Eugenia Woo, Historic Seattle’s Director of Preservation Services, at 

Queen Anne Exchange: 2022 Best Preservation Project

Congratulations to Queen Anne Exchange!

In Seattle, there is often tension between preservationists and developers; a conflict between saving existing buildings and serving the needs of the community, specifically with places for more people to work and live. Queen Anne Exchange reconciles two divergent goals: through the adaptive reuse of a landmarked neighborhood building, it transforms a structure used as a storage facility for over five decades into 25 apartments in highly desirable Queen Anne.

The building now known as Queen Anne Exchange was constructed in 1921 as a two-story telephone switchboard operation facility for the Pacific Telephone & Telegraph Company. In 1929 a third floor was added with plans to expand to a fourth floor if necessary. According to the landmark nomination, the building facades express a “restrained neo-classicism” with vertically proportioned windows and a primary entrance on the east façade. The primary façades are clad in brick with wire cut, rug-faced texture and variegated buff to reddish-orange colors, and off-white glazed terracotta trim with “fine Greco-Roman detailing.” The terra cotta elements frame the main entrance and are used at the windowsills and at the exterior stair copings.

The building was donated to the Seattle Public Library in the 1970s and was remodeled in 1977 to serve as a materials distribution hub. As a structure intended for staff purposes only and not open to the public, this remodel served to stabilize the building and make it more functional for storage needs. The original sheet metal cornice, assumed to be in an unsafe state of disrepair, was removed and replaced with a flat band of light-grey exposed aggregate stucco.

The adaptive reuse of Queen Anne Exchange included the following elements: replacement and restoration of three window openings in the brick façade; restoration and preservation of the exterior brick and terra cotta façade; reconstruction and replacement of the original cornice; replacement of a glazed main entry door and sidelight; infill of a portion of the interior courtyard with a small addition housing a new elevator, exit stair, and shear walls; new fourth-floor addition only minimally visible from the street; new vehicle ramp and new garage entry to the lower level; and enlargement of six windows to create viable residential units at the lower level.

Both the site and building exterior were designated as a Seattle landmark in 2015, providing an opportunity to create a land use pathway for the structure to be redeveloped into multifamily housing, a use not typically allowed by the site’s SF 5000 zoning designation. Queen Anne Exchange provides an example of how, through creative design and a belief in an existing building’s potential, the preservation and re-use of existing buildings, especially those with long histories and a strong physical presence, can align with Seattle’s need for increased density and affordable housing. With this completed project, a precedent has been set for an ongoing win/win scenario.

Congratulations to Faul, LLC and the entire project team, winner of the 2022 Best Preservation Project Award!

Project Team:
Owner/Design: FAUL, LLC
Architect: BuildingWork
Interior Design: Graham Baba Architects
Structural Engineer: Coughlin Porter Lundeen
Civil Engineer: SiteWise Design
Landscape Architect: Karen Kiest Landscape Architects
Contractor: Venture Construction
Bank: Umpqua Bank

Lorne McConachie: 2022 Beth Chave Award for Preservation Champion

Congratulations to Lorne McConachie!

Lorne McConachie, Principal Emeritus of Bassetti Architects, has invested his career in preserving historic structures in communities and developing design strategies to upgrade and revitalize the built environment to support 21st-century learning and living. Lorne joined Bassetti in 1985, leading historic renovation projects across the Pacific Northwest and beyond.

Prior to that, Lorne worked at Bumgardner Architects for five years where he played a key role in the Queen Anne High School renovation and adaptive reuse. Bumgardner was hired to renovate this 1909 national landmark into apartments, and this project, along with the renovation of several historic residences, launched Lorne’s passion for historic places.

Over the past 36 years, Lorne has refined his expertise in the planning, and design of historic facilities. From the creation of the historic structures report for the St. Edward Seminary in Kenmore, WA to the renovation of a portion of the old Rainier Brewery into Fran’s Chocolate Factory in Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood to the restoration of the Collegiate Gothic Mary Gates Hall building at the University of Washington, his tailored approach has produced projects that preserve the character, extend the life, and revitalize the purpose of historic structures that honor the past and protect cultural resources for future generations.

A report conducted in 2011 by the Preservation Green Lab, now the Research and Policy Lab at National Trust for Historic Preservation, concluded in all the studied cases that the rehabilitation and retrofitting of existing structures resulted in fewer carbon emissions over the life of the building when compared to new construction. Lorne’s support of the notion that “the most sustainable building is one that is already built” has led him to be a true advocate of carbon footprint reduction savings when revitalizing a historic structure.

In addition to his numerous articles, lectures, and workshops on modernizing historic schools, Lorne has served his community for decades and is regarded as an important resource by his peers. During his tenure on the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board, Lorne reviewed countless landmark nominations with great interest, in his role as a board member and chair. He presently serves on Historic Seattle’s Foundation Board and continues to share his expert knowledge of historic places.

We offer our sincere congratulations to Lorne McConachie, winner of our 2022 Beth Chave Award for Preservation Champion!


Historic Seattle established the Beth Chave Historic Preservation Award in 2013 to honor our friend and colleague who served as the Landmarks Preservation Board Coordinator for the City of Seattle for 25 years. The award recognizes outstanding achievements in the field of historic preservation. Beth Chave (1955-2012) left an indelible mark on the city’s historic built environment. Her work with professional colleagues, landmark and historic district property owners, and neighborhood advocates throughout Seattle has left a legacy of honoring and protecting historic places that matter in our communities.

Images courtesy of Lorne McConachie. Image 2: Fran’s Chocolate Factory. Image 3: Natrona County High School.

Dr. James & Janie Washington Cultural Center: 2022 Community Advocacy Award

Congratulations to the Dr. James W. Washington, Jr. & Mrs. Janie Rogella Washington Foundation!

The Dr. James W. Washington, Jr. & Mrs. Janie Rogella Washington Foundation was established in 1997 by the couple to “preserve the art, writing, and lifetime works of Dr. James W. Washington, Jr., their home and gardens, and share their vision through the preservation, interpretation, and showing of his works and studio, and the family gardens and home.  Also, to encourage others by providing a setting where they can grow beyond the book, spiritually and artistically, and to share their talents with a larger audience.”

Dr. Washington was born and raised in Gloster, Mississippi, and came to Seattle with his wife Janie to work in the shipyards as part of the WWII war effort. James was a renaissance man with a wide variety of talents and interests; besides his mechanical and industrial capabilities, he was a prolific painter and sculptor, becoming an eminent member of the Northwest School of Art, as well as a writer and community activist.

Dr. Washington’s world-class sculptures are not only in places such as the Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture, the Smithsonian, Rotunda of Achievement, but also locally at the historic Mount Zion Baptist Church, Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic, Seattle Center, Washington State Capitol campus in Olympia, and in private collections worldwide. On May 20, 1973, James W. Washington Day was proclaimed by the Mayor of Seattle.

The Washingtons bought a house in Seattle’s Central District in 1949, where they resided for 51 years. A dream developed in them to bequeath their home to the community, leaving a place where people from all backgrounds could experience art, gather, and learn. To this end, the Washingtons established a non-profit foundation in 1997, personally selecting their board of directors, a few of whom are still serving the organization. When James and Janie both died in the year 2000, they left their home, a treasure trove of artwork, artifacts, and collections, as well as a substantial endowment as their legacy for the entire community.

Over the years, the Washington Foundation has maintained and upgraded the house, studio, and gardens and presented activities and programs for the community. Last year, the Foundation launched a Strategic Planning Committee to refresh its mission and vision and a fundraising campaign to continue the work and legacy of its founders.

As the winner of the 2022 Community Advocacy Award, the Dr. James & Janie Washington Cultural Center will receive a $3,000 prize in support of their efforts to improve and preserve the landmarked house, grounds, and studio of James & Janie Washington; renew the Foundation’s Artist in Residence program; make the studio space available for rental; install exhibits in the house on a rotating basis; and make available the library with over 3,000 books of potential interest to artists and scholars, as well as Dr. Washington’s personal documents, photographs, and African art collection.

Project Team:
The Dr. James W. Washington, Jr. & Mrs. Janie Rogella Washington Foundation Board

Images courtesy of The Dr. James W. Washington, Jr. & Mrs. Janie Rogella Washington Foundation.

University National Bank: 2022 Community Investment Award

Congratulations to University National Bank!

The University State Bank was incorporated in 1906 before eventually becoming the University National Bank of Seattle in 1922. The bank occupied two locations prior to constructing this Neoclassical building on the northeast corner of NE 45th Street and University Way NE. The Beezer Brothers, the building’s architects, relocated to Seattle from Pittsburgh, PA, in 1907 and designed a new and larger headquarters, built of steel and concrete, completed in 1912.

The gleaming white bank, sheathed in a skin of terra cotta tiles, replaced a fraternity house that had once stood on the property. Wells Fargo (under various entities throughout the years) operated the building as a bank branch until its closure in 2018, ending 106 years of continuous bank operations.

With the consolidation of its banking operations in the University District, Wells Fargo decided to put the building on the market for the first time. Recognizing both the historical significance of the building (its use, location, and legacy to The Ave) and the rare opportunity to acquire one of Seattle’s most handsome buildings, Hunters Capital closed on the property in the fall of 2020, making it the company’s first expansion beyond its home territory in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood.

Hunters Capital worked with architect Stephen Day to lead the restoration project. The University National Bank building was listed in the National Register of Historic Places and designated a Seattle landmark in 2021. Given the two-story building’s grand size of 25,000 square feet, the entire project took 26 months to complete. The project scope included adding new mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineering systems, as well as the addition of fire sprinklers and fire alarm systems throughout the building. The team rebuilt the marble foyer and grand stairs to the second floor and made minor restorations in the grand vault, thus exposing the hidden heavy timber truss systems on the second floor. The scope also included a rebuild of the original mezzanine space that was used for sorority dances in the ’20s and ’30s, restoration of hardwoods to the upper floor, refurbishing original windows, and adding ADA lifts and restrooms to the building.

We congratulate Hunters Capital and the entire team on their beautiful restoration of University National Bank, their continued efforts to preserve this historic and cultural University District icon, and deserved win of this year’s Community Investment Award!

Project Team:
Owner/Design: Hunters Capital
Architect: Stephen Day
Contractor: JHC Construction

Feature image courtesy of MOHAI; images two and three courtesy of Hunters Capital.

Soul Pole: 2022 Preserving Neighborhood Character Award

Congratulations to The Soul Pole!

The Soul Pole is a historic artwork that has stood tall outside the Douglass-Truth Branch of The Seattle Public Library (SPL) at 23rd Ave & E Yesler Way in Seattle’s Central District for almost 50 years. The 21-foot wooden sculpture was gifted to the library in 1972 by the Seattle Rotary Boys Club. Carved by six young community artists in the late 1960s, it honors 400 years of African American history and the struggle for justice in the United States.

At 50 years old, the Soul Pole’s wooden structure has weathered many seasons. With its condition deteriorating, the artwork became a safety concern in recent years, prompting a partnership between the Black Heritage Society of Washington State (BHS) and SPL to oversee the restoration of the beloved Soul Pole.

In 2021, SPL contracted with Artech Fine Art Services, an organization with extensive experience in restoration and preservation, to deinstall the Soul Pole and evaluate it. The pole was relocated to their shop, and Artech collaborated with well-known conservationist Corine Landrieu on a plan to repair, stabilize, and protect the sculpture. Realizing its historical significance, the focus of the project was to preserve the Soul Pole as close to its current form as possible for generations to come.

SPL and BHS worked closely to research the history of the Soul Pole and the artists (all Rotary Boys Club youths) who carved it. According to documents from the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Soul Pole was created in 1969 as part of a summer arts festival associated with the Model Cities Program to bring attention to African American history. SPL and BHS remain interested in garnering information and stories related to the Soul Pole to expand archives at both organizations. Family members and friends of the artists have come forward to share their memories, including the supportive leadership at the Rotary Boys Club.

With community and neighborhood invested, and the community’s desire to follow the preservation process, a partnership was formed with Converge Media to document the restoration project, including its deinstall, conservation, and reinstallation. The conservation work was successfully completed in late 2021, and the sculpture was reinstalled at its historic home on the Douglass-Truth Branch lawn in April 2022. The sculpture is now prepared to withstand several more decades of exposure to Seattle weather. The sole visible alteration to the Soul Pole is a zinc cap placed atop the sculpture to protect it from rainwater. SPL is in the process of adding an additional plaque alongside the original plaque at the Soul Pole’s base to share more information about the conservation project and the history of the artwork.

In a neighborhood that has seen many changes influenced by gentrification, the Soul Pole is a tangible symbol that claims space and honors the African American history in the heart of Seattle’s Central District.

Cheers to the Soul Pole partnership team for saving this important piece of history and earning the 2022 Preserving Neighborhood Character Award!

Project Team:
Owner: Seattle Public Library
Community Advocacy/Project Lead: Black Heritage Society of Washington State
Conservation Partners: Artech Fine Art Services, Landrieu Construction, Converge Media

Feature image of Soul Pole Reinstallation Ceremony with Stephanie Johnson-Toliver, Elijah Mu’ied, and TraeAnna Holiday. Second image courtesy of Artech. Third image courtesy of Seattle Public Library.

Bremer Apartments: 2022 Outstanding Stewardship Award

Congratulations to The Bremer Apartments!

The Bremer Apartments, located in Belltown at 1st Avenue and Broad Street, was constructed in 1925 for client George Bremer and designed by architect Max Allen Van House. Today, the Bremer is one of a diminishing number of character buildings still standing in the neighborhood.

Van House had worked previously in Tacoma, Washington, and Butte, Montana. He was the architect of many notable buildings in Seattle across several styles, including The Mission Inn, 1743 Boylston Ave., The Ellenbert Apartments, 915 East Harrison St., The Bering Apartments, 233 14th Ave. E., and The Seaview Apartments.

Community Roots Housing (formerly Capitol Hill Housing) acquired the 49-unit property for use as affordable housing in 1992 and oversaw a minor rehabilitation at that time, which included the provision of new plumbing systems, plumbing fixtures, lighting, interior finish improvements, and energy-efficient window upgrades.

In 2018, the nearly 100-year-old apartments were deemed “high-risk” in the event of an earthquake by the City of Seattle. In a partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the more recent rehabilitation included a voluntary seismic retrofit to address the building’s unique wood-framed, load-bearing structure and double wythe masonry veneer, stabilizing the veneer and the parapet against the effects of a seismic event and protecting the life safety of residents and community.

The project was a substantial alteration, and key life-safety elements of the building were brought into compliance with current building and energy code requirements. In addition to the seismic improvement, the building’s electrical, heating, plumbing, and ventilation systems were significantly upgraded. Extensive demolition was required in dwelling units to facilitate the seismic retrofit work and to accommodate the required envelope and systems improvements. While this resulted in the loss of some original features within the units, considerable effort was made to maintain or restore the common areas, including the principal stairwell and its 1st Avenue windows which were replaced with wood windows.

The Bremer Apartments rehabilitation illustrates how historic preservation can be used as a strategy for retaining affordable housing while, at the same time, addressing the critical issue of the climate crisis through the utilization of the embodied carbon already extant in the building. Belltown, like so many neighborhoods in the Seattle metro area, is seeing significant development and related increases in housing costs. Retention of affordable units through preservation is a vital way to keep communities economically diverse and maintain units proximate to employment, city services, and amenities. Community Roots Housing’s commitment to minimizing displacement through reinvestment in existing structures serves to retain both the character of our neighborhoods and our communities.

Congratulations to The Bremer Apartments project team, one of two winners of the 2022 Outstanding Stewardship Award!

Project Team:
Owner: Community Roots Housing
Architect: SMR Architects
Structural Engineer: Swenson Say Fagét
Mechanical Engineer: Sider + Byers
Electrical Engineer: TFWB
General Contractor: Buchanan General Contracting Company

Images courtesy of Community Roots Housing

Frye Hotel: 2022 Outstanding Stewardship Award

Congratulations to The Frye Hotel!

Built at the base of the original Skid Road (Yesler Way) in 1908, The Frye Hotel, originally advertised as Seattle’s “First Fire-Proof Hotel,” was Pioneer Square’s first luxury hotel to have en suite bathrooms. The building, 11 stories above grade with two basement levels, was converted to 234 units of apartments in the 1970s. In the late 1990s, the Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI) purchased the building, making it the largest Section 8 preservation project in Washington State.

LIHI is thrilled to have given this iconic beauty a new lease on life with mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems overhauls, as well as a new insulated roof and extensive exterior renovation. Rehabilitation costs totaled approximately $35 million. Included in the renovation was exterior masonry cleaning, repair, and seismic reinforcement, along with a full replacement of the failing cornice along the street front sides of the building. Windows were also repaired or replaced, with historic wood windows repaired and preserved along street front sides and new energy-efficient windows on secondary facades.

The building remained occupied during the renovation, adding substantial challenge to the project. The progress of the rehabilitation work was driven by the location of the plumbing stacks throughout the building, work was done in 10 vertical zones spanning  residential floors 2 to 11. Over the course of approximately two years, tenants were relocated within the building to clear the way for the construc-tion crew to progress through the zones. LIHI staff worked closely with tenants to make moves as easy as possible, with many house-holds moving only once – into a newly refinished unit.

The renovation, completed in 2021, increased the comfort and energy efficiency of the building, preserved affordable housing, and honored the historic features of this grand old hotel. LIHI staff, along with architect (Robert Drucker of Environmental Works), contractor (Walsh Construction Co), and many skilled subcontractors, worked tirelessly to complete this renovation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Historic Seattle is pleased to recognize this project as one of our two 2022 Outstanding Stewardship Award winners!

Project Team:
Owner: Low Income Housing Institute
Architect: Environmental Works
Contractors: Walsh Construction Company, Pioneer Masonry Restoration

Images courtesy of the Low Income Housing Institute.

Giving a New Life to a 1909 Schoolhouse

By Bassetti Architects

Located at the heart of the Beacon Hill neighborhood and designed by Seattle renowned architect Edgar Blaire, the Original Van Asselt School building was constructed in 1909 as one of the first elementary grade schools in south Seattle. Four classrooms organized around a central stair comprised the original two-story, wood-framed structure. The Original Van Asselt building has been described as a “free interpretation of the Tudor Style”, with a heavy timber porch and decorative half-timbering at the central gabled bay.

Subsequent major additions included the 1940s basement classroom additions and a 2002 elevator addition. Both additions were built to the west – what is viewed today as the back side of the building. In 1950, a sprawling, one-story mid-century modern high school with a flat roof and brick veneer siding was constructed adjacent to the original 1909 school, largely obstructing its view from Beacon Avenue S.

In 2019, 110 years after the school saw its first cohort of students, Seattle Public Schools hired Bassetti Architects to renovate the 1909 school building as part of a master plan to add capacity to the campus. This site was identified by Seattle Public Schools to be used as a swing site for several schools during their own renovation or replacement construction period.

Vacant and boarded up since 2016, the building was in disarray, but the design team could see its potential. In May 2019, the building was designated a City of Seattle Landmark, and both the exterior and interior of the original 1909 construction were considered significant contributing elements.

As part of the restoration, the classrooms will keep their original plaster walls and black slate chalkboards, while new mechanical, electrical, fire safety, and technology systems will be thoughtfully integrated to bring those spaces up to 21st century learning environment standards.

The main central stair will see its original plaster restored and the space will be brought up to code compliance on several fronts: the guardrail height will be increased while maintaining original elements, a new automatic sprinkler system will be installed, new light fixtures will be added, seismic upgrades will be completed, and fire separations will be provided. The building’s exterior wood and stucco siding will be repaired and painted, and its original wood window sashes and frames will be restored, reviving this community landmark’s historic character and integrity.

What is particularly unique about this project, is the successful revitalization of an abandoned centenary schoolhouse into a contemporary learning environment. Historic schoolhouses are often repurposed into apartments, museums, retails, or offices.

Because 21st century classrooms and other school resources require spaces and systems that are difficult to fit into smaller and older structures, the reuse of historic schoolhouses as modern teaching environments can be challenging. Thus, it’s no surprises that restoring the Van Asselt schoolhouse to its original purpose and protecting this part of Beacon Hill’s history while developing the site to best respond to the school district’s needs is an effort that was praised by the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board, the School District staff, and the neighboring community alike. The schoolhouse’s new lease on life is an opportunity to make Original Van Asselt the shining jewel of the site once again and an integral part of the campus life.

To accommodate the swing site capacity need, Bassetti designed a new two-story classroom and gymnasium addition to provide space for an additional 650 students on campus. This new structure is designed with sustainable structural system of Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) and will adjoin the Original Van Asselt school in a way that maintains the prominence of the original schoolhouse entry and provides a backdrop against which the landmark structure is featured. A formal courtyard, designed to accentuate the symmetry of the 1909 façade, further elevates the architecture and the neighborhood presence of the landmarked building.  

The color palette of the 1909 building was selected to accentuate the different architectural features while the exterior finishes of the new addition will complement the original schoolhouse, thus the buildings will read as a comprehensive composition within the larger campus. Bassetti focused on maintaining a level of simplicity in the design of the new addition. In doing so, the restored 1909 building is clearly established as the focal point of the site and remains the tallest and most ornate structure.

A true testament to the Landmark review process, the Original Van Asselt project is a shining example of a historic schoolhouse rehabilitation that will be celebrated and enjoyed by many more future generations of students, teachers, and community members.

Bassetti Architects is a generous sponsor of Historic Seattle’s 2022 Community Education & Advocacy Programming. This post is part of a series of guest blogs submitted by members of the Historic Seattle community.  The views and opinions expressed in guest posts are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Historic Seattle.

1: 1909; 2: 1950; 3: 2022; 4: original classroom; 5: classroom remodel rendering; 6: hallway perspective; 7: site perspective (all courtesy of Bassetti Architects)

EmBracing Retrofits: Gridiron Condominiums

By the Gridiron team

This month Historic Seattle is embracing retrofits and HeartBombing unreinforced masonry buildings (URMs).

One URM that has already been retrofitted is Gridiron Condominiums located in Pioneer Square. The century-old Seattle Plumbing Building was a four-story unreinforced masonry warehouse. It is the only triangular historic building in Pioneer Square and sits at the southern gateway of the historic district and the rising waterfront park.

Daniels Real Estate turned the four-story masonry building into condominium homes by adding seven levels of housing plus rooftop amenities, blending historic and contemporary architecture.

It took over a year to retrofit the masonry building before the glass-sheathed residences could be built on top.  The first-floor commercial space still retains the warm brick and rustic beams original to the building.

And this year, we are celebrating that the first floor will soon come back to life as office space and some type of food and beverage venue, giving us all an opportunity to enjoy this unique building.

Daniels purposefully reimagined the historic building as commercial with condominiums on top given its proximity to the Stadium District and the new waterfront.

Railroad Way, named after the railroad track that formerly ran in front of the warehouse, will be one of four pedestrian gateways that will reunite Pioneer Square to the waterfront promenade, perfect for the new retail.

For homeowners, it’s a front row seat to over 20 acres of programmed open spaces, running and walking paths, vendors, entertainment, restaurants, and much more.  In addition to living in Pioneer Square, a National Historic Register & local historic District, you’re just minutes from Light Rail with access to anywhere north, south, east, and west.

Established in 1903 and reinvented in 2018, Gridiron is a model for repurposing unreinforced masonry buildings to meet a community need, and we are very excited that the commercial spaces are soon going to be adding to the vibrancy of Pioneer Square, our city’s sweetheart neighborhood for historic masonry buildings.

Learn more about owning a piece of history.

Gridiron is a generous sponsor of Historic Seattle’s 2022 Community Education & Advocacy Programming. This post is part of a series of guest blogs submitted by members of the Historic Seattle community.  The views and opinions expressed in guest posts are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Historic Seattle.

Janet Egger Makes Plants Access-ible

What plants live at the Good Shepherd Center? Where are they located? How can we recognize them?

Thanks to Janet Egger, these questions can be answered through the magic of technology. Janet generously gave her time to create an Access database for plants at the Good Shepherd Center to support Historic Seattle’s lead gardener Tara Macdonald.

Tara says, “It has been a goal of mine for the past 8 years to create such a database, but I simply didn’t  have the time. I also only know Excel which would not have been a sufficient system. This wasn’t as simple as just entering names but included identifying, mapping, and photographing plants requiring several trips to the garden.”

Janet has been in horticulture since 1971 and has been a plant breeder since 1980. She holds a B.S. in Botany and an M.S. in Horticulture from UC Davis. She recently retired as head plant breeder for Terra Nova Nurseries, Inc. in Canby, Oregon. Plants in the trade that Janet bred include cultivars of Heuchera, Heucherella, Sedum, Kniphofia, Agastache, Penstemon, Phygelius, and Podophyllum ‘Spotty Dotty’ among others. She has taught horticulture classes at UC Davis, Merritt College and Gavilan College. Janet currently is volunteering at Dunn Gardens in Seattle, as a board member, docent, propagator, lecturer, and plant identifier. Since retiring to the Seattle area, she has been filling her time with projects like this and learning from plant identification experts about plants she is not yet familiar with.

The inspiration for the Good Shepherd Center project came from Dunn Gardens, where Janet had created a database. The assistant gardener there suggested that she consider the GSC.

“Tara had lots of plant lists & knew the names of plants. She broke the map down into sections & then I located the plants and identified unlocated plants & put them each in their sections using codes. It was a lot of data input,” Janet said. In total, 800 plants were added to the GSC plant database, which can continue to evolve and be maintained. Each plant listing includes the botanic name, the common name, location on site, and flower color or physical description.

Janet added , “It was really fun. I got to learn new plants. The Good Shepherd Center has some really cool plants, because the former gardeners and current are plant people so they keep putting new things in…which is fun for a plant geek.”

With this new database, any plant at GSC can be looked up using a photo of whole plant and close-up image of the stem, leaf arrangement, or flower.

Thanks, Janet, for your work to make plants Access-ible!

Photos from top to bottom, provided by Janet: Plants at the Good Shepherd Center, Rosa ‘La Montoya’, Vitex agnus-castus White form, and Lobelia tupa

40 Years of Places: Parting Words from Cindy Hughes

Looking back over my 40 years with Historic Seattle, I find myself focusing on various sets of memories, from the many executive directors with whom I have worked (five in total), to the volunteer governance that I have supported (some of whose tenure with the organization goes back almost as far as mine), to the many properties acquired and restored by our real estate arm.

Somehow, it is the many and varied places where I have worked that rise to the surface when I reflect. Most who know the organization cannot picture us as being anywhere else than the Dearborn House, but there was much that went before.

I first joined the staff of HS when their offices were located on the 12th floor of the Smith Tower in Pioneer Square, at a time when our IBM Selectric typewriters represented the most advanced office technology of the day. My most recent workplace was my upstairs home office on Queen Anne Hill, working remotely during a global pandemic. In between?

There were stints in several Pioneer Square properties, both owned and rented, in the historic Dearborn House on First Hill when it was donated to us in the late 90s, as well as the Good Shepherd Center in Wallingford. All of these locations represented the organization recovering, growing, responding to opportunities, pivoting, and making the most of the unique set of powers it holds as a public development authority.

Through all these years and locations, I have been motivated and inspired by the mission of the organization. I always felt that I was part of a group accomplishing the valuable work of preserving places in Seattle that are important to all our residents. I look forward to watching this crucial and timely work continue even as I move onto my next chapter.

-Cindy Hughes, Council Assistant & Good Shepherd Center Rental Coordinator


Photo: Historic Seattle presented Cindy with the 2021 Preserving Historic Seattle Award at its Preservation Celebration in October.

Our Favorite People of Preservation in 2021

What better way to end this challenging year than by celebrating the people who we’ve seen doing great work in preservation throughout 2021?

We’ve worked with many incredible people throughout the past year, but here are the standouts our staff chose as their favorite People of Preservation in 2021.

Eugenia Woo (Director of Preservation Services)
For over a year, I’ve been inspired by the residents and neighbors of the La Quinta Apartments, a Frederick Anhalt-developed, 1920s, courtyard apartment building in Capitol Hill. The long-time owner had passed away; community advocates sounded the alarm about the future of the property early enough so that Historic Seattle could help by sponsoring the landmark nomination prepared by Northwest Vernacular. This place is important not just for its architecture but also for the stories connected to the people associated with the La Quinta for many decades. The advocacy group, called ¡Viva La Quinta!, succeeded in its efforts! The Landmarks Preservation Board designated the La Quinta Apartments and placed controls on the property in 2021. Residents brought their skills to the table by creating a website, designing cool graphics used for effective messaging, tapping their networks to build support for landmarking, and sharing their passion to fight for saving this historic place. Their commitment to save the La Quinta was inspiring.  

Photo credit: Jean Sherrard for Now & Then

Jeff Murdock (Preservation Advocacy Manager)
Not knowing exactly what they were getting into, in late 2019 Justin Lemma and his wife Victoria Pinheiro purchased one of the Victorian-era (1893) vernacular houses perched in a row along the east side of the 800 block of 23rd Avenue. Historic Seattle holds a preservation easement on four of the houses, and they are also designated Seattle Landmarks. As such, Historic Seattle and the City weigh in on proposed alterations to ensure the historic character of the buildings is maintained. Justin, an alum of the U.W. College of Built Environments and a Project Designer with Build LLC, was excited to get started on making repairs to the house and only slightly intimidated by the approval process. The ensuing pandemic provided Justin plenty of time at home to do the work. He made repairs to the rotting entry porch, cleaned up the overgrown yard, installed a new paver driveway and replaced the scraggly chain link with a trim cedar fence. They converted the tiny garage at the back of the property into a living space, complete with a bar and small loft, providing space for the couple to work from home in separate spaces. Justin even installed historic windows salvaged from another old house being torn down in the neighborhood. Recently, Justin convinced two more architects from his U.W. Architecture cohort to purchase the house next door, so there is now a community of preservationist architects on this block of 23rd Ave!

Simon Wright (Facilities & Maintenance Manager)

The collective ownership and operation of the Good Arts Building. I’d long admired Cherry Street Coffee’s immaculately painted and maintained façade. Meeting Steve, Jane, Ali, Greg, and Armondo showed me that work was not done just for curb appeal and that the collective ownership has been amazingly successful in collectively restoring, operating and maintaining a historic building for a contemporary use!

Taelore Rhoden (Community Events Manager)

I give all of my flowers to Dorothy Cordova, Cynthia Mejia-Giudici, and Pio De Cano II. These three have been preserving Filipino American history for decades! It was an honor to partner with them and the Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS) to share the legacy and impact of Seattle’s Filipino American community with hundreds of people (and counting!) this year. Their leadership, camaraderie, and genuine love of people is deeply inspiring and worthy of all of the gold stars.

Cindy Hughes (Council Assistant & GSC Rental Coordinator)

Leanne Olson
is not a newcomer to historic preservation, having received Historic Seattle’s Beth Chave Award for being a “Preservation Champion” in 2018, but she has continued to work tirelessly throughout the pandemic for the preservation of Queen Anne Hill’s historic legacy.  The longtime Board member of the Queen Anne Historical Society and the chair of its Landmarks Preservation Committee, Leanne provides an example of a highly effective advocacy approach to preservation through her steady participation in meetings of the City of Seattle’s Landmarks Preservation Board. Additionally, she is my neighbor, and I enjoy running into her on the streets of Queen Anne and chatting about what’s happening on the Hill!

Jane Davies (Director of Finance & Administration)

Hats off to Beneficial State Bank, especially Cynthia Weaver and Stacey Krynsky.  They are responsive and personable and truly make banking fun.  Their creativity in solving our financial puzzles allows us to nimbly engage in preservation projects.  Additionally, they understand our mission of saving meaningful places to foster lively communities by connecting our organization with other groups, creating a preservation-minded network in Seattle.

Danielle Quenell (Office Administrator)

This spring, my partner and I bought a home in the historic Fort Ward district of Bainbridge Island. We quickly realized our new neighborhood was teeming with preservationists, including district commissioner Sarah Lee and the non-profit organization Friends of Fort Ward. Together, they managed to save the historic Fort Ward Parade Grounds in 2002 and have them dedicated as a public park, and most recently restored the 1910 bread bakery into a beautiful community hall.

Naomi West (Director of Philanthropy & Engagement)

This year, I’ve been awestruck by Stephanie Johnson-Toliver! In 2021 alone, she joined Historic Seattle’s council; became a new HS donor; attended several virtual & in-person programs, our gala, and tours of properties; was a panelist for our Central District History Collective; moderated our conversation with Candacy Taylor; and began working with us to plan a partnership with
Black Heritage Society of Washington State. Are you tired just reading that? Reflecting on this year, I recall her concern about her ability to commit enough time to being a part of our leadership. That’s because when she’s in, she’s all in. Her dedication, commitment, and generosity of spirit are remarkable. Thank you for all you are giving to the preservation community, Stephanie!

Kji Kelly (Executive Director)

I have so many favorite individuals and organizations within the preservation community. One individual who has stood out to me, frankly for his entire career, b
ut particularly over the past year is Kevin Daniels. The completion of The Lodge at St. Edward Park is an unbelievable achievement, a terrific example of creativity and sheer determination. 

Historic Seattle & Indow: Spreading Preservation Awareness through Non-Traditional Means

By Kristina Damschen Spina

Indow is a Portland-based manufacturer of interior storm window inserts. Our inserts are designed to preserve a building’s original windows by improving their performance in areas of noise, drafts, and energy consumption. We are passionate about historic preservation, so we created a zine to engage communities around the issue.

A zine (pronounced zeen) is a small DIY self-published work of original or appropriated texts and images, often produced via photocopier. The format of making zines—unencumbered by rules relating to form, function, or purpose—allows makers to share stories about anything. As preservationists work to expand the narrative on saving old places, make preservation inclusive, and reach new audiences, zines are one strategy you should add to your toolkit.

The Indow zine theme for 2021 is community sustainability and how we have managed to maintain a sense of community and place in isolation. When we announced this theme, we asked: “How do we celebrate a place when we cannot stand in it? How do we lift up a community when we cannot gather?” We are grateful for creative people like those at Historic Seattle, who answered our question by asking in return: “Who says you have to stand still in a place to celebrate it?” Historic Seattle’s bike tour of historic sites in the Emerald City, which they’ve been organizing for several years, is an ingenious way to safely gather people and honor the city’s old places.

This year’s Preservation Month Bike Tour offered three routes throughout the city highlighting the remaining Paul Thiry architecture. Thiry introduced Seattle to European Modernism, one of the subgenres of which is Brutalism, used widely in the communist countries of the Eastern Bloc. As a result, many Seattleites had difficulty warming to this new architectural aesthetic popping up in the city. Famously, a Thiry-designed home went on sale for $1 but was demolished after no one purchased it. While Thiry’s contributions may not be widely celebrated, they are part of Seattle’s architectural heritage, and we applaud Historic Seattle for teaching this part of the city’s history.

Did you attend Historic Seattle’s Preservation Month Bike Tour? Consider making your own zine to spread awareness about preservation in your community. Check out Historic Seattle’s submission to the 2021 Indow zine for inspiration. You can find this year’s Indow zine and all of our past editions on the Indow online zine library. Past zine themes include preservation and illuminating our cities with neon. Looking through our past zines will help to demystify the process of making your own. Watch out for our online zine submission page for an update on next year’s zine theme.

If you have a great idea for your zine, but aren’t quite sure how to get it off the ground, we got you covered. Take a look at the Indow Zine Resource Center to learn how to create your first zine. Be sure to watch the zine workshop for wonderful insight provided by the panel with members of the Indow marketing team and guests.


Indow is a generous sponsor of Historic Seattle’s 2021 Community Education & Advocacy Programming. This post is part of a series of guest blogs submitted by members of the Historic Seattle community.  The views and opinions expressed in guest posts are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Historic Seattle.

The People Who Kept the Market

There are some things that are so obvious, they seem silly to state. The Pike Place Market is a Seattle icon. Yeah, we know. Yet, we truly take this for granted. In fact, Seattle’s icon was nearly flattened. It’s only because of the tireless work of community activists that you can enjoy the flower shops, bookstores, restaurants, produce stands, tchotchke vendors, and artist stands that have a home at the Market today.

This month’s VivaCity recognizes those activists who worked to “Keep The Market.” 50 years ago – on November 2, 1971 – the Pike Place Market was saved through a voter initiative. “By the early 1960s, the Market we know today had seen better days. Seattle’s mayor called it a ‘somnolent fire trap.’ Downtown business leaders and property developers were eager to use federal urban renewal fund to ‘renew’ the Market by demolishing it,” as Friends of the Market tells it.

That’s where “Keep The Market” stepped up, to fight a demolition plan and save the Market. Landmarking wouldn’t cut it. Seattle’s Landmarks Preservation Ordinance wasn’t codified until 1973.

So what did they do? “City Councilmember Wing Luke wrote a newspaper op-ed, calling for citizen action to preserve the Market. Architect Victor Steinbrueck and attorney Robert Ashley answered the call. In September 1964, they brought together sixty friends for a champagne breakfast to launch the effort in Lowell’s Café (still in the Market). Architect Fred Bassetti, unable to attend, wrote that the Market was ‘an honest place in a phony time,’” according to Friends of the Market.

The plan was to establish a 9-acre historic district that saved the Market. These days, Seattle has a number of beloved historic districts, but in its time this effort was groundbreaking. The story of the Market is captured in the film “The Market.Watch it here.

The Market was narrated and produced by Bruce Chapman, who was elected to Seattle’s City Council in 1971. The film notes that activists “ran an initiative campaign to establish a Pike Place Market Historic District. Seattle’s voters passed it by a landslide. It was the first historic district ever created by a public vote, and it was the first historic district officially pledged to retain a place for the poor. It also was one of the first historic districts in America to manage uses of buildings as well as their appearances. It was one of the first successful efforts to incorporate historic preservation into urban renewal.”

We owe a debt of gratitude to the activists who saw a threat to a place they loved and fought to save it, with a vision that has changed preservation in the decades that followed.

And, happy golden anniversary of so many firsts, Seattle! How should we celebrate? The only appropriate way: a stroll through the bustling Market, picking up flowers and having a nice dinner from its iconic small businesses, of course.

For more information:
Read this great piece by The Seattle Times.
Tune in to the re-airings of Labor of Love: Saving Pike Place Marketdates listed here
A Memory of the Future film


Photo credit: Friends of the Market

An exciting future for the Georgetown Steam Plant

Last month, Seattle City Light announced “a long-term lease and operating agreement with the newly formed Georgetown Steam Plant Community Development Authority (GTSPCDA), a non-profit organization dedicated to continued public use and restoration of the building. The agreement allows the GTSPCDA to assume programming and operations of the Georgetown Steam Plant, a nationally recognized and historically significant landmark in Seattle’s historic Georgetown neighborhood in the heart of the Duwamish Valley.”

In addition to being the recipient of Historic Seattle 2019 Best in Neighborhood Preservation Award, Sam Farrazaino, as described in the City Light article, “is the lead of the GTSPCDA team and is building on his past successes of redeveloping industrial properties for arts and cultural uses. As founder of Equinox Studios, Sam has championed affordable space for artists and artisans and fostered an engaged relationship with the Georgetown community and beyond.” In this month’s feature, we talked with Sam about plans for this exciting community-centric preservation project

Can you speak to the process of forming the GTSPCDA? What challenges were there in establishing the CDA?

Well, the CDA is intentionally not fully formed yet. The committee that is in place now is only meant to provide the framework for the community to come into, to form, and actually be the CDA. We haven’t formalized bylaws, or the board, or any of those pieces because we want the community to come in and be a part of that process. When we start the community engagement process, we will go through the steps of sort of distilling the large community first, into what we’re calling a Community Programming Team. This group will consist of folks that want to throw their voice into what this building will become. Next, will be the Community Advisory Team, which will consist of people with expertise in certain areas that we can call on and collaborate with for specific things. The final step of that process will be to build the board out of those layers of community. Once we build that board, and have good representation from the community, then we will leave it to the board to write the bylaws and apply for federal status.

What aspects of the GTSCDA’s proposal do you think resulted in the project’s selection during Seattle City Lights request for proposals?
I think the collaborative approach, the fact that we want to partner with City Light and the community, the comprehensive community aspect of things is what really shined and ‘won the bid,’ if you will.

What does your experience developing Equinox bring to plans for the Steam Plant?

Equinox was born and bred little by little, it’s been an organic process that has been shaped in large part by the people that have come to it. Whether its new people coming to the building, or us reaching out to the public, whether its people throwing their ideas in, their space in, or their money in, all of that engagement informs the evolution of Equinox. It’s in fact why Equinox has evolved. The Steam Plant is interesting because without the community, it is just sitting there, it’s static. Being able to partner with a lot of organizations and enabling them to come in and program there, that will bring the dynamic nature to it, that will bring the life into it. As was the case with Equinox, we first need to make the Steam Plant building safe (stabilizing, fire, seismic, etc.), and get it accessible to as many people as we can with elevators, ADA exits, etc. and then our hope is that over the next 100 years or more the community will really live into the building. It is a National Historic Landmark, and the community here will be the stewards of it, but it is really a national resource, and we really want it to live up to that expectation.

Do you feel personally connected to the Steam Plant’s history or to Georgetown’s (industrial) history in general?

I don’t have a personal history here other than the 26 years or so that I have been coming and going and playing and working in Georgetown. I’m not from here, and I didn’t grow up in a steam plant (haha), but all my life I’ve been drawn to spaces like this. I really love the sculptural, creative, elements of function — the mechanics of industry, gears, turbines, the noise. Mechanical collaboration, this idea of all of the parts and pieces coming together to create whatever you’re creating, is super inspiring to me.

I would LOVE to somehow have a window into when this plant was operating. In fact, we’ve actually been talking to Arts Corps, who is on our team, about creating VR tours where you could step into what it may have been like, maybe feel the heat, hear the noise, and smell the smells. That, to me, would be so awesome!

What are some of the big challenges this project is facing?

Getting it right. The biggest challenge is making sure that we have truly authentic community engagement and that we’re being equitable and inclusive in everything that we do — in all of the processes. From selecting contractors and consultants, right down to the day-to-day use of the plant. We are not just trying to check boxes, we are actually trying to get as deep down into the community as we can and that takes time, energy, space, and money. One of our team member’s mantras is “moving at the speed of trust.” This means getting the community to that level where they trust the organization, trust the project, and really feel like they are an authentic part of it. It’s about making sure that this is really a community-driven and community-used resource and asset. Our goal is really getting that right.

The second biggest challenge is probably the money. Getting to the $20M we need (this is our working figure) will be a huge lift financially.

The last part is figuring out the actual details of things. Like, ‘how do we incorporate seismic bracing, fire sprinklers, elevators, and life safety things into the building? How do we weave that into the structure in a way that honors its history and makes sense?’ It’s a big puzzle and a matter of figuring out how to fit the pieces together.

What are you looking forward to (in terms of the project) within the next year?

The pandemic is definitely a factor in that, how do we actually do the community engagement part in the midst of all of this. We are in the process of reaching out to the organizations we are involved with to determine how we outreach. How do we ensure we reach enough of the community? We have started seeking bids and permitting, etc., for some of the necessary physical upgrades, so that is exciting. Hopefully by February we’ll have enough of the other parts (life safety, etc.) in place so that when we launch community engagement piece, we have this vessel (the plant) and the framework ready.  The question then becomes, “what do we (the community) want to do with this?”

Historic Seattle’s mission is to save meaningful places that foster lively communities. Place and community are at the center of our work. How do you envision this project/place fostering community?

From the actual day-to-day-ness of it. What the team has envisioned is for the plant to be open to the public every day, for people to experience it in that museum sense, dig into some of its history, and be inspired by it. Another part of the vision of the plant is as a daily educational facility, where people can learn in and from an inspiring space, and where people and partner organizations can bring kids of all ages in and program there. On the event side of it, it’s about bringing the community in in different ways. Whether it’s centered around celebration – like a wedding or a nonprofit gala — or it’s a community meeting, having the community really see themselves in this space is what we want to create. It’s about that invitation to have the community own this, to really hold it, and then activate it.


Remembering Kay Bullitt

The following tribute was contributed by John Chaney, former executive director of Historic Seattle.

It was always just “Kay”, a presence far beyond Historic Seattle and Seattle. Kay was experienced and skilled in philanthropy. In this sad time of her passing I am reminded of an observation she often made. “I wish more obituaries would suggest a gift to things the deceased supported and enjoyed in life, not the disease that took their life.” I’m remembering the enterprises she supported and enjoyed.

Kay served on the Historic Seattle Council for many years. I had the great pleasure of serving on the Council with Kay Bullitt for 4 years and then as Historic Seattle’s Executive Director for another 15 years. During that time the Historic Seattle Foundation was created and Kay was the first President. Kay fervently supported the long-planned completion of the Good Shepherd Center, creating long term affordable housing in historic buildings, and undertaking challenging projects like the acquisition of the Third Church of Christ Science now Seattle Town Hall and the Nisqually earthquake damaged Cadillac Hotel which now houses the National Park’s Klondike Gold Rush Museum. Kay was an early and stalwart supporter of historic preservation in Pioneer Square, the Market, and around Seattle long before I knew her. For me and so many others in Seattle, she was a shining example of community service.

Kay showed me by example that there can be great joy in adding your efforts to those of others, small grains of sand that eventually will tip the balance favorably. That part of living is experiencing victories and losses, both pyrrhic and valued. The important thing is to make investments in incremental change. Things you may not fully see nor personally enjoy. She was always present but also looking over the horizon.

Kay was part of the struggles and success of many organizations, large and small. She saw the value in working to preserve, protect and interpret our past for future generations. I often recall her gentle way with other board members and citizens. Kay was an exceptionally skilled leader.

Kay was a consistent voice for meaningful stewardship.  She cautioned me more than once about the potential hidden agenda in “sustainability” and challenging the pretty pictures of the future. Taking the long view and tempering the fashion of the day was something Kay helped me understand.

Kay’s memory will live on with many who knew her and I am hopeful that those who benefit now and in the future from her remarkable community service will also remember her. She saw each day as an opportunity to make a difference, to put energy toward making even the slightest positive change in the trajectory of our shared community. She invested in Seattle whether she found agreement with others views or not. In these times my memories of Kay will help me continue to invest in our collective future and I know new citizen warriors are carrying her ideas forward, it is the cycle of life and Kay lived it fully.

In 2012, I was retired and received an e-mail from Kay that I intend to use myself. She wrote: “My computer and email have become a burden. Today I am closing my email account. To reach me, please call or write to me.” For the next 8 years we wrote and spoke on the phone but the best times were a quiet chat at her home or at her Wednesday Summer Picnics. I will leave it to others to speak of her leadership in world and community affairs, maritime preservation, environmental awareness and a bit of progressive politics too. If you did not know Kay, it may be hard to fathom her energy and passions.

Walt Whitman wrote in 1882 on the passing of a very dear friend. ”… one beyond the warriors of the world lies surely symboll’d here.  … all loving, all-inclosing, and sane and clear as the sun. … we are here to honor … conscience, simplicity, culture, humanity’s attributes at their best, yet applicable if need be to average affairs and eligible to all. … I shall henceforth dwell on the blessed hours when, not long since, I saw that benignant face, clear eyes, the silently smiling mouth, the form – to the very last, with so much spring and cheeriness. Warrior, rest, thy task is done.”

Photo courtesy of the Seattle Times

Welcoming a New Resident at The Good Shepherd Center | Seattle Genealogical Society

Situated on a hilltop in Wallingford on a lot once surrounded by fruit orchards is the Historic Seattle-owned Good Shepherd Center (GSC). Today, the GSC is a vital multi-purpose community center housing a senior center, six live/work units for artists, a rehearsal and performance space, various schools, local and international non-profit organizations, and several small businesses that all together (in “normal” times) attract an estimated 125,000 visitors annually.

Originally built in 1906 as the Home of the Good Shepherd, the Sisters of the Good Shepherd occupied the building and grounds for over 60 years, providing shelter, education, and training to young women and printing and laundry services to local industries such as The Great Northern and Northern Pacific Railroads. After the Home of the Good Shepherd closed in the ’70s, the Wallingford community fought and defeated a proposal to turn the 11-acre site into a shopping center and the City of Seattle purchased the property in 1975. The building was then transferred to Historic Seattle for use as a community center. For over 40 years, Historic Seattle has since worked continuously to honor its past and further its legacy as a place full of vitality where community can thrive.

Of course, the story of the Good Shepherd Center continues to evolve, and this month part of that evolution is the introduction of our newest GSC tenant — the Seattle Genealogical Society! This month, we talked to Jim Secan, the genealogical society’s current president. Below are Jim’s responses to questions we asked about the work of the society and changes that are underway as they make their move into the GSC and prepare for their upcoming centennial and the next 100 years.

A graphic of a word cloud with several words associated with genealogy, such as "ancestry", "lineage", "generations", etc.

What is the Seattle Genealogical Society?

Our mission is two-fold. One, we have taken on the mission of collecting and preserving materials that are of interest historically, primarily, in a genealogical sense. Genealogy is a specialized history — it’s the history of the “little man,” so to speak. We look not just at what the Dennys, Terrys, Doc Maynards, and “so and sos” of Seattle did, but at what the ‘Bill Smiths’ and such did. An not only in the 1880s, but also for the future’s sake, in 2010.  We are in the business of preservation of community. We preserve the documents that community have made over the years documenting its history – everything from tax records, birth certificates, marriage certificates, death certificates — anything that documents someone doing something. We are preserving the paperwork and now the digital works, that a community collects over the years.

The second part of our mission is to provide education to our membership. We are in a similar kind of business (as Historic Seattle). We educate on the parts of history that we deal with, just like you deal with education on the parts of history you deal with. This is particularly important these days when it goes beyond teaching people how to do research in a musty old library. Now, the question is also, “How do you do research on the internet? How do you work with digital materials?” And “How do we best preserve these materials so that they are most accessible?”

Why move to the Good Shepherd Center? What are your plans for the next 100 years?

The Seattle Genealogical Society crest. There is an evergreen tree on a rock with a book at the base and the words Search and Prove appear on a banner at the bottom.

We’re coming up on our centennial in 2023, and so we are asking ourselves, “What do we need to look like to prepare for the next 100 years?” As part of that, we decided we would relocate. We were looking for a place that would energize our base and energize ourselves. This has been an opportunity for us to look at everything with a critical eye and ask, “Is this something that is key and core to our mission?”

And while the space is smaller than our previous home, it fits into our plans to downsize our library and move away from the books and paper genealogy of our past and to force ourselves to move into a more digitally oriented future. With this pandemic, we have really had to look at how we go about the education portion of our mission because until recently that had primarily been done in person. We are also asking ourselves where we fit in to the larger genealogy educational programs. “What holes are there, and what opportunities are there in this this time that has been so impacted by the pandemic?”

How to interest younger generations in genealogy has also been a big topic of discussion.  Many of the people we are trying to attract to genealogy are more interested in accessing things digitally and online. Of course, we are still going to have books and papers, but we are narrowing our collection to focus only on the Pacific Northwest, and items that are unique to our collection. As well, as a society we are moving away from traditional definition of a family which prompts us to ask, “What kind of a program can we set up that would provide the tools for young people wanting to get into this kind of research without imposing barriers of any kind?” We want to go there, but we want to go there with great care.

The Good Shepherd Center, you walk up to the building and think, “How could you NOT love this place!” This is a move into a building that is not only beautiful, but also has a long history. Longer than ours in fact. We are excited to connect and collaborate with Historic Seattle, as well as others both in the building and in the surrounding community. We were originally based in the main Seattle Public Library building downtown; this will be our fifth location since being in the library, and it feels like coming home.

Visit to learn more or get involved with the Seattle Genealogical Society. To learn more about the GSC’s history, check out  Good Shepherd Center Garden History Tour, part of Historic Seattle’s Preservation Station video series on YouTube. Interested in experiencing the Good Shepherd Center in person and tasting this year’s heirloom apple harvest? Join us for our 7th Annual Heirloom Apple Event on Thursday, October 14, 2021!

VivaCity: Summer 2021 – A Seattle History & Preservation-Related Reading List

Last month, in celebration of summer, we asked you to share what Seattle history or preservation-related books you recommend, or have on your summer reading list. Here is a list of all of the excellent titles that were suggested. Happy reading!

Building Tradition: Pan-Asian Seattle and Life in the Residential Hotels by Marie Rose Wong

The Cayton Legacy – An African American Family by Richard S. Hobbs

Crossing Puget Sound: From Black Ball Steamer to Washington State Ferries by Steven J. Pickens

Distant Corner: Seattle Architects and the Legacy of H. H. Richardson by Jeffrey Karl Ochsner and Dennis Alan Andersen

Emerald Street – A History of Hip Hop in Seattle by Daudi J. Abe

The Forging of A Black Community Seattle’s Central District, From 1870 Through the Civil Rights Era by Quintard Taylor

The Gang of Four: Four Leaders. Four Communities. One Friendship by Bob Santos

Gay Seattle by Gary Atkins

Ghosts of Seattle Past – An Anthology curated by author/editor Jaimee Garbacik

The Good Rain by Timothy Egan

Hill with a Future – by Jacqueline B. Williams

High Voltage Women Breaking Barriers at Seattle City Light by Ellie Belew

I’m Down by Mishna Wolff

Jackson Street After Hours -The Roots of Jazz in Seattle by Paul De Barros

Lost Seattle by Rob Ketcherside

Madison House by Peter Donahue

My People Are Rising: Memoir of a Black Panther Party Captain by Aaron Dixon

My Unforgotten Seattle by Ron Chew

Native Seattle: Histories from the Crossing-Over Place by Coll Thrush

Nisei Daughter by Monica Stone

Olmsted in Seattle: Creating a Park System for a Modern City by Jennifer Ott

Overground Railroad: The Green Book and The Roots of Black Travel in America by Candacy Taylor

The River That Made Seattle A Human and Natural History of the Duwamish by BJ Cummings

Seattleness: A Cultural Atlas by Tera Hatfield, Jenny Kempson, and Natalie Ross

Seattle Prohibition: Bootleggers, Rumrunners and Graft in the Queen City by Brad Holden

Seattle’s Women Teachers of the Interwar Years: Shapers of a Livable City by Doris Hinson Pieroth

Shared Walls: Seattle Apartment Buildings 1900-1939 by Diana James

Skid Road – An Informal Portrait of Seattle  by Murray Morgan

Sons of the Profits by William C. Speidel

Too High and Too Steep by David Williams

Tradition and Change on Seattle’s First Hill: Propriety, Profanity, Pills, and Preservation by Lawrence Kreisman

Women In Pacific Northwest History edited by Karen J. Blair





VivaCity: Preserving Culture | Friends of Mukai

Friends of Mukai (FoM) is a Vashon Island-based non-profit comprised primarily of volunteers and dedicated to the operation of the Mukai Farm & Garden. Since 2012, FoM has worked to secure and preserve the Mukai house, garden, and fruit barreling plant—all constructed nearly 100 years ago.

Founded by Japanese immigrant pioneer B.D. Mukai in 1926 as a strawberry farm, Mukai’s heritage home, Japanese garden, and historic barreling plant are today recognized as a King County landmark and are also listed on the National Register of Historic Places. These designations and the site’s present-day vitality honor the significance of Mukai Farm & Garden in Vashon Island’s Japanese American and agrarian heritage.

The story of the Mukai Family on Vashon and the Farm & Garden is rich and complex and shaped largely by racism and World War II era anti-Japanese policies imposed by the U.S. government. We encourage you to watch this Mukai Farm & Garden video — or better yet visit the farm itself — to learn more. In this feature, FoM board member Mary Rabourn shares some challenges and accomplishments the group has faced along the bumpy road to the site’s restoration and describes the vision for Mukai Farm & Gardens’ future.


The early stages Mukai’s preservation efforts were plagued by a years-long legal battle for ownership rights and ultimately public access to the property. This culminated with a win in 2016, when a superior court judge finally granted ownership to Friends of Mukai (except for the barreling plant which is technically owned by King County and leased to FoM). Community support, both in the form of advocacy and funding, was key to the victory. King County, Historic Seattle, The Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, a slate of over 18 pro bono lawyers, and numerous individuals have fought tirelessly to preserve and restore the site.


“In 2014, even before the court case was won, Artifacts Consulting was hired to do a full restoration plan for the property. The document was 250 pages long and covered everything. In 2016, once legal matters were resolved that plan was put into action,” said Mary. The restoration was carried out in phases and much of the work was done beautifully and economically by volunteers.  “It wasn’t really the ‘super sexy stuff’ — stabilizing the foundation, adding accessibility features, restoring the kitchen, updating the heating and electrical systems — but it was all necessary work,” said Mary.

According to Mukai’s website, B.D. Mukai’s wife Kuni “surrounded the house with a formal Japanese stroll garden as a way to celebrate her Japanese roots. At the time, the garden was an unusual and significant achievement for a Japanese woman.” Mukai’s website describes a blending of two cultures: Kuni was focused on preserving Japanese traditions and heritage expressed in her garden design, while in contrast B.D. embraced the American way of life as reflected in Mukai’s traditional, American-style home and in B.D.’s entrepreneurial business endeavors.

Mary continued, “Around 2018 Fuji Landscaping began the restoration of the garden, and the ponds were redone by Turnstone Construction. The garden and ponds were originally designed with incredible attention to detail with rocks were carefully placed to represent ships, and other aspects of the Japanese island landscape. The restoration was done meticulously. The placement of every little rock was recorded and replaced it exactly as Kuni had it originally. After seeing the property fenced off, tattered, and neglected for so long, just 3 to 4 years later, it was completely transformed. It was pretty amazing.”

Mukai began to really flourish again. “People began to discover it, a really good mix of people from both on-island as well Japanese Americans and other people from off-island,” Mary added. Mukai even gained international reach when a group visited as part of an exchange program through the Japanese American Friendship Society. “I have a lot of family in Japan,” said Mary “and I’ve found that many people there don’t know much about imprisonment and other experiences Japanese Americans had here during World War II. They were busy trying to survive the war and news like that wasn’t reaching them.” Mukai allows visitors an opportunity to learn about this this part of American history and provides a glimpse into Japanese American and agrarian life on Vashon during the 20th century.

Like so many businesses right before the pandemic, as Mary put it, “Mukai was on its way.” They were heavily engaged in community interaction, social justice, and cultural awareness experiences. They hosted numerous workshops and classes celebrating traditional Asian food, art, music, and more. Over 800 people turned out for their first annual Japan Festival, and 2,000 people attended following year. According to Mukai’s website, “Every February, we commemorate Executive Order 9066 as a reminder of the impact the incarceration experience has had on our families, our community, and our country. It is an opportunity to educate others on the fragility of civil liberties in times of crisis, and the importance of remaining vigilant in protecting the rights and freedoms of all.”

When the pandemic hit, Mukai adapted by pivoting to hosting virtual events and COVID-compliant outdoor activities. “This year, on February 19th, we hosted a virtual day of remembrance (of Executive Order 9066) with a screening Claudia Katayanagi’s documentary A Bitter Legacy. Last year’s Japan Festival was a month-long event that included a popular self-guided lantern walk and other engaging activities. We held a haiku contest and posted winning poems throughout the garden for visitors to experience as they explored the garden. Even during COVID, Mukai has been a wonderful place to visit. It is really peaceful and restorative,” said Mary.


“Our facility is available for rent again, we have hired a part-time executive director, and we are really looking forward to completing the restoration of the barreling plant. It is a large old agricultural barn with multiple structural and stabilization needs. Once we have secured funding and that work is completed, we have an agricultural, food-based tenant identified for the space,” said Mary.

Historic Seattle is working closely with Friends of Mukai as a technical advisor assisting with architect selection, design development, bidding, construction management, budget management, and more. The vision is for the barreling plant to be a functioning production facility again with public access and an educational element so that its history as an entrepreneurial mini-industrial agricultural complex that enabled berries to be shipped across the United States can continue to be shared.

Mukai is located about a mile west of the town center. The farm and garden are currently open for self-guided tours and access is free. The house is open for private tours and scheduled open houses. Please visit {} to donate, schedule a private tour, or for information about becoming a member of Friends of Mukai. 

VivaCity: Capitol Hill Historical Society

A curiosity about his historic apartment building eventually led Tom Heuser to found the Capitol Hill Historical Society. Here, Tom shares his love of Capitol Hill and how the pandemic has changed the Capitol Hill Historical Society.

Founded in 2017, the mission of Capitol Hill Historical Society (CHHS) is “to gather, preserve, and share the history of the communities that have shaped Capitol Hill.” Events offered by CHHS include intriguing history presentations, book author presentations and Q & As, panel discussions, walking tours, and more — all related to the rich history of the Capitol Hill neighborhood. The CHHS blog features pages of interesting stories about places and people significant to the neighborhood’s story. And CHHS frequently advocates for the preservation of meaningful Capitol Hill sites by voicing support at City landmark hearings, conducting surveys, and connecting citizen advocates, local architects, researchers, and others to help further community preservation efforts. In celebration of National Preservation Month, we checked in with CHHS Board President Tom Heuser. Below, Tom shares highs and lows of the past year, tells us about what inspired the organization’s formation, and highlights what CHHS is looking forward to in the months ahead.

What were the highlights of the past year?

Some highlights include the Capitol Hill coloring book that we published, which was a lot of fun to work on. There was also a lot of growth in social media engagement with our posts, which I think many people have enjoyed. Another highlight has been expanding our scholarship into new areas that are less recognized, such as the neighborhood’s Black history and Midcentury Modern Architecture. We celebrated Black History Month at our annual members meeting with a series of short presentations on significant Black members of the Capitol Hill community throughout history and recently had a virtual event co-sponsored by DOCOMOMO WEWA, where my project partner Lana Blinderman and I shared our methodology, findings, and some interesting photos from the Midcentury Modern project that is currently underway.


What are you looking forward to in the next year?

A lot of that is, of course, up in the air due to the pandemic but generally speaking, I’m really looking forward to more in-person events. For example, we really want to do a walking tour featuring midcentury apartments, and who knows — maybe we’ll be able to actually do the holiday party again this year!

How has the pandemic impacted CHHS?

Many of our members have had to scale back their involvement or step down entirely to address more immediate issues, whether family, or work or both. That has definitely changed how we do things, and what we are able to do, as well. Planning for the future is a little more difficult at the moment, so we’re trying not to jump into anything too big while things remain so uncertain. I’ll add that our virtual events are getting more attendance than in-person events. This doesn’t surprise much because it’s easier to just sign on, but maybe it also allows people to participate who may not have otherwise been able to do so. It makes me think for the future it may be good to do some sort of hybrid model for events – I think that would be a good thing to explore.

Do you feel personally connected to the history of Capitol Hill? To any place in particular?

Yes, for sure! For the amount of time I have lived here, I definitely feel connected to the history of the neighborhood. And I feel particularly connected to The Capitol Building Apartments at Broadway & John, the building I have lived in for most of my the 17 or so years here. While I did actually just move out, that building will always hold a special place in my heart, and I will always think of it fondly. In fact, that’s where my interest in the neighborhood’s history got started. I began getting curious about my building, and then I got really fascinated with everything I was learning about it, and I just kept going and this is where I ended up. I was surprised that there wasn’t already a historical society for Capitol Hill, and I just had this desire to see what could be accomplished by bringing more people together.

There are many opportunities to get involved with CHHS, visit their website at to learn more!

The Cayton-Revels House – A Newsworthy Landmark

The Cayton-Revels House in 1909, sourced from The Seattle Republican.

The Cayton-Revels house in Capitol Hill (518 14th Avenue E.) was built in 1902 for Horace Roscoe Cayton and Susie Revels Cayton. Born into enslavement by White people in Mississippi, Horace Cayton came to Seattle in 1890 and started the Seattle Republican, the first Black-owned newspaper in the city. Susie Cayton was the daughter of the first Black American U.S. Senator and joined Horace in the newspaper publishing business becoming the city’s first female associate editor of a publication.

Taha Ebrahimi, author of the Cayton-Revels House landmark nomination.

In February 2021, The Landmarks Preservation Board (LPB) voted unanimously to nominate the Cayton-Revels House for designation as a City Landmark. The nomination was written and submitted by Taha Ebrahimi with enthusiastic support from the current owners, Erie Jones and Kathleen Jo Ackerman. Taha’s well-researched nomination report details the Cayton family experience — in which their success was inversely related to increasing racism and racist policies — and describes Seattle’s connection to the broader Black American experience.

In the following, Taha shares details about what inspired this nomination and discusses the importance of recognizing cultural significance, like that of the Cayton family, in our landmarks.

“One of my favorite books about history in Seattle is called Skid Row,” said Taha. “It’s a very popular book, and in it, there’s a whole chapter about early Seattle newspapers. Yet, the Caytons’ newspaper is never even mentioned! For some time, The Seattle Republican was the second most popular newspaper in Seattle – not just amongst Black Americans – but in Seattle!  Susie Cayton becoming the first female associate editor of the newspaper in 1900 was also hugely significant.”


Horace and Susie Cayton, 1896. Source: Headlines and Pictures July 1945


According to Taha’s research, it wouldn’t be until 1940 when another woman became an editor of one of the most-read newspapers in Seattle. “It was shocking that none of this was in there, and it was this shock that inspired me to get this place, and this part of our history, recognized,” Taha said.

Cayton Family,1904. Source: Vivian G Harsh Research Collection of Afro-American History and Literature, Chicago Public Library

According to Taha’s nomination, “Because of their business and political involvements, the Caytons were one of the most well-known Black American families in Seattle at the turn of the 20th century.” Yet, despite this and despite growing up in Seattle, Taha only recently became aware of the family’s significance. “As a student, we were required to study Washington State history. We would take field trips to places like the Klondike Gold Rush Museum, places relevant to the history of Seattle, and yet I had never heard about the Caytons. I was embarrassed that I didn’t know their story, and shocked that more people didn’t know about them. That’s when I started to learn more about the family, I got more books and I started to get deeper into the research,” said Taha.

Taha first learned about the Cayton-Revels’ residence in another book called The Hill with a Future, by Jacqueline B. Williams. “In it, they off-handedly mention the address,” said Taha. “I’d been taking these long walks during the pandemic and one day I walked by it and happened to meet one of the owners working in the yard. Quite honestly, I assumed it was already landmarked. Knowing what I knew then, I could not believe it wasn’t already designated.”

The Cayton-Revels House today, courtesy of Taha Ebrahimi.

Among those unaware of the Caytons’ legacy were also the current owners of the Cayton residence. “When they were redoing their attic, they found a couple of artifacts that had Susie Cayton’s father’s name on them. One was a marriage certificate, and the other was an ongoing tab he had at a local store,” said Taha. Susie’s father, Hiram Revels, was the first African American to serve in the U.S. Congress, elected to represent Mississippi in 1870 when Jefferson Davis abandoned his seat to become president of the Confederacy. “They found this out by Googling his name! Shortly thereafter, by coincidence some of the Cayton cousins got in touch with the owners and walked them through the rest of the story,” Taha explained.

When asked for her thoughts about the larger meaning of the unanimous vote by the LPB to nominate the Cayton-Revels House, Taha said, “I think that, until recently, there’s been a tendency to value architectural significance over cultural significance. And frankly, a lot of culturally significant places may not be architecturally significant. In that case, it begs the question, ‘What is a landmark then?’ The Seattle Landmarks Ordinance is great because cultural significance is built in as one of the qualifying criteria for designation. I think, and I hope, that the Board really wants nominations based on cultural significance. They are open to it, and I think this unanimous board vote reflects the desire to have more nominations centered around cultural significance.”

Historic Seattle’s mission is to save meaningful places that foster lively communities. We asked Taha to describe how she thinks the Cayton-Revels House fosters community. She said, “I think official recognition of any culturally significant landmark fosters community because it helps connect people with places in a personal way. This helps people feel pride and shared appreciation for our communities’ heritage, especially at a time like right now when a lot of people are trying to think about what a future looks like. When you have a shared sense of your past and that kind of foundation, I think you can move forward, together, better.”

The LPB will consider designating the Cayton-Revels House at its April 7 meeting. We encourage you to support designation through written comments and/or verbal public testimony at the hearing which begins at 3:30 pm. Send comments to the Landmarks Preservation Board Coordinator Erin Doherty by Monday, April 5 (

People in Preservation | A Look Behind a Landmark Nomination

If you’re reading this, you’re probably somewhat familiar with the City Landmarks Preservation Ordinance. You may know that landmarking is generally a two-part process. The first step is nomination; then, if a nomination meets certain criteria and receives enough votes, it goes on to be considered for designation.

What are those “certain criteria” for landmarking? Does a place need to be super old and really fancy to qualify?
A place does not necessarily need to possess remarkable architecture to qualify as a city landmark. What it does require is to: 1) be over 25 years old, 2) possess integrity or the ability to convey its significance, and 3) meet at least one of the six criteria for designation outlined in the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Ordinance.

Ok, how are landmark nominations initiated?

Nominations come from a variety of sources, including preservation consultants, organizations like Historic Seattle, property owners and citizen advocates. They can also be a requirement triggered by a permit application. In this post, we highlight an example of a recent nomination submitted by a novice citizen advocate on behalf of the property owner.

The Considine House Nomination

The Considine House (also known as the Cohen House and the Immaculate Conception Convent) at 802 16th Ave in the Central District was unanimously nominated by the Landmarks Preservation Board on January 20. Like many of Seattle’s grand old homes, this Neoclassical style residence has lived many lives — first as the home of the Considine family, who played a part in Seattle’s early theater and vaudeville history. Later, it served as a convent for the nearby Immaculate Conception Church. Finally, it was divided into 4 apartments, one of which now serves as the home of its current owner. The nomination report noted that the property “has borne witness to almost 120 years of social and cultural evolution in the heart of Seattle’s Central District…[and] has served as a reflection of the diverse and ever-changing neighborhood.”

Sarah Greiner, who authored the Considine House nomination, grew up less than a mile away. Her partner is the granddaughter of the house’s current owner, artist Sue Perry, whose artwork often reflects the rapidly changing Central District neighborhood. Sue and her daughter Amy Hagopian currently reside in two of the four units that comprise the Considine House today. With extra time on her hands while between jobs, Sarah took on the task of preparing the landmark nomination on behalf of Sue and Amy.

Amy Hagopian arrived in Seattle in 1972 to attend UW as an undergraduate and has lived all over Seattle in the years since. In the late 1980s, her mother and stepfather decided to relocate to Seattle from Boston and enlisted Amy to help them find a house.

The first weekend I set out looking, I was shown the Considine House and I immediately told the realtor my folks would take it — sight unseen,” said Amy. “My folks were a retiring faculty member and a social worker, so they didn’t have a ton of money. The fact that it was a multiplex and could produce some necessary income, coupled with the historic nature of the house and that it would be a bit of a project, all made it the perfect place.”

The personal connections Sue, Amy, and Sarah all have to the Considine House aren’t solely what inspired them to seek landmarking for the Considine House.

“It is very much a socially significant place,” explained Sarah. “The history of the Considine House truly reflects the changing demographic of the neighborhood, and everyone I talked to when I was doing research was excited that to learn that it might get recognition that would help preserve it.”

Even a long period of vacancy at the Considine House tells an important part of the story, not just of the House, but of Seattle too. Prior to the purchase by Sue and John Perry and following the time it served as a convent, the house sat unoccupied for 6 years. Redlining — a policy imposed in 1960s by White legislators — made securing loans and buying property nearly impossible for Black people, Native Americans, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, people of Mexican ancestry, and Jews. Because of this restrictive policy, the Considine House sat unoccupied for six years between serving as a convent and finally being purchased by Sue and John Perry.

“Redlining is such an important historic factor in how this house came to be the way it is,” Amy commented.

The Buford family home in August 2018, now demolished.

“As this neighborhood changes it becomes more and more important to hold on to some of the original components of this community and what mattered here,” said Amy. “It was heartbreaking when the Buford’s home was torn down just to the north of us.” Amy continued, “They got swindled out of their house by developers, which is what’s going on all over the Central District now. For me, watching developers attempt to swoop in take over the neighborhood has a lot to do with wanting to protect this house.” You can read more about the Bufords and their ties to the Considine House and significance in Seattle’s legendary jazz history in the nomination.

Despite multi-generational ties to the neighborhood, Sarah and the Hagopian and Perry families acknowledge their part in the process of gentrification. “I definitely feel complicated in my relationship to the neighborhood,” said Sarah. “When my parents bought their house in the late ‘80s, they were the first White people on the block.  The block, and of course the neighborhood, looked very different then than it does now. The Hagopian and Perry family is also mostly White and despite their activism, social awareness, and caring for all their neighbors, they are still a White presence in the neighborhood. I think we can preserve elements of the neighborhood, such as the house, while acknowledging the damage that people including our families and our friends have done. As the nomination report describes, over time the House has been mostly a residence for working class people, and it continues to be one of the only affordable rentals within a few blocks. Not wanting to see more people displaced is a big part of why we are seeking to preserve it. I want to see it continue to be a family space, a gathering space, and a place people can afford to live in.”

The designation hearing for the Considine House will be held on March 17 at 3:30 pm. Read the nomination report to learn more. We encourage you to support designation through written comments or verbal public testimony at the meeting. Send comments to the Landmarks Preservation Board Coordinator Erin Doherty by March 15 ( 

VivaCity: Keep Music Live

A Brief Introduction

Keep Music Live (KML)

Keep Music Live WA is a COVID-19 relief fundraising campaign established by music lovers to support our small, independently owned venues in Washington State.

Tomo Nakayama (TN)

Born in Japan and raised on Seattle’s “east side,” Tomo Nakayama is a UW alum, a singer-songwriter, and a producer who has been playing live music in Seattle for over 20 years. “I’ve played in practically every venue in town, from the smallest bars to the Moore Theatre and The Showbox, and I’ve met most of my best friends playing around town at shows.”

Leigh Bezezekoff (LB)

Born in New Mexico and raised in a suburb just south of Seattle, Leigh is a fellow UW alum and staple at the Tractor Tavern in Ballard. “I pretty much learned there was a music scene here in Seattle when I saw Pearl Jam’s Even Flow video and I was like ‘This is happening here!? In Seattle?’ And from that moment on I started going to shows, then I moved to Seattle proper, and I’ve been here ever since!”

Michael Gill (MG)

Michael Gill hails from Montana originally. When he moved to Seattle in 2013, he started working odd jobs at Chop Suey because bands that he had played in touring out of Missoula always had great experiences there. “When I moved here, I hit them up and was like ‘can I wipe tables or clean up puke or something?’ Then, after some time, I was offered a job at the Central Saloon and I started talent buying there.”

Historic Seattle’s mission is to save meaningful places that foster lively communities. How do you think live music fosters community?

TN: The music itself is just one of the elements of what goes on at shows. It brings so many people together, and the experience of live music just can’t be recreated online. I’ve been playing Zoom meetings for the past year and it’s made me realize just how much I miss the organic relationships that form from being in the same room as someone. I miss the opportunities for different collaborations, the inspiration from seeing other people and being creative and that’s really something you can only get from being in a room with other people.

A 2019 show at the Tractor Tavern from Leigh Bezezekoff’s Instagram account @everyconcertigoto.

LB: Before I started officially working at the Tractor, I managed bands that played there a lot and I was there so much that by the time I started working there I already knew everyone!  It’s the type of community where even if you go to a show alone, you know you’re probably going to know some people there. And I think this is an important part of what we are all missing, not just your immediate and closest friends, but the people you are just used to seeing all the time.

MG: You know, I see this a lot at the Central Saloon because of our geographic location. We really are at the center of so many things — in proximity to the stadiums and the waterfront, and you just get so many different communities coming together in the space purely because of music.

Pioneer Square’s Central Saloon. Image courtesy of Michael Gill.

Why do independent venues matter to you, and why is it important that they continue to exist?

TN: Independent venues aren’t driven entirely by commerce. What you get with the bigger conglomerates is sort of a built-in hierarchy of bands, and what happens in that case is you get the same type of music getting booked and getting promoted over and over again. You need these smaller venues, to foster creativity and for people to take chances with your music. And there are so many people involved in the music industry aside from the artists themselves – there are the sound engineers, lighting, the people who run the venues – they all rely on this ecosystem to keep our industry going. When people think of Seattle music and the character of the city, that’s what you’re talking about — the independent places, and the independent experiences – they differentiate it from a corporate conglomeration.

LB: Smaller venues have the ability to help artists grow their careers. From local artists building momentum to get on the road to helping touring artists build their fan bases in each market. I love that the Tractor will book an artist at The Sunset or even Conor Byrne and help them get ready for a bigger room. We’ll even help promote them at Neumos or The Showbox to help the transition.

MG: Independent venues are why many people start playing music, to have an emotional connection with the audience. The further you get from a small venue, the further you get from that direct connection. No matter how many people hold their lighters up in a stadium, you’re just not going to get that same experience that you do in a small venue. When music matters most is when it’s at a small venue. The reason it’s important for them to continue to exist is the same reason why they exist in the first place — bands need to grow from somewhere. Small venues offer the chance for discovery – for both the patron and the artist.

How has KML changed the relationship between venues, artists, and people in the industry?

LB: The Seattle music industry is pretty small when it comes down to it. We all kind of know each other and we’re all just one or two degrees away from one another in the scene, but what has been unique about this is that we have been developing relationships – strong foundational relationships of working together on behalf of everyone else and not just our own venues. I think everyone in the group kind of recognizes that if you were just out for yourself (as a venue) you might make it, but the important thing is to make sure that everyone else is coming along. That’s something I’ve not seen in Seattle before. Another thing is the coming together of people who have been ancillary in the venue scene, like Holly Hinton who curates music for Starbucks. She’s on the Keep Music Live leadership team and getting to work closely with her and other people from different facets of the industry has been amazing.

MG: To add to that, meeting and working closely with others in different marketing and financial circles of the Seattle music industry has been so beneficial. While we have spent a lot of the last year sort of struggling to figure out how to do this, on the positive side we’ve also realized ‘Wow, imagine the opportunities we will have when we all come back together as a whole!’ Relationships have been built and trust has formed, fundamental relationships between neighborhoods within Seattle, relationships that connect us state-wide, and new connections with music-loving corporate resources who are ready to get their hands dirty. What Seattle and Washington State can now do for its music fans, its artists, its venues is — well, it gets your imagination rolling!

LB: There are developers, philanthropists, business leaders — there so many people coming together over a shared love of music, and I really feel like our artist community is going to benefit greatly from all the synergy that is coming about during this year.

Do you feel personally connected to the history of a particular venue or to Seattle’s music legacy in general? If so, how?

TN: Yeah, absolutely! I grew up going to all-ages shows at the Vera Project and started playing in bars here when I turned 21. What you don’t realize is that you see the same faces booking and playing at shows here and you grow up along with the bookers and the promoters and they become your friends and we’re all growing together as a community. So now it’s a really personal mission for me, to keep this community going.

LB: I used to feel more tied to ‘the scene’ than a particular venue but now, having been through what we’ve been through over this past year, I feel much more intertwined with the history and the impact the Tractor has had, and I feel more deeply ingrained as part of that.

MG:  Yes, we book a lot of bands at Central Saloon from Brazil and places in South America where Grunge was just huge and when they get the opportunity to play here, they just lose their minds! I want to keep that emotional connection to the city and use it to continue to uphold the caliber of its music community today.

Posters inside the Central Saloon. Image courtesy of Michael Gill.

Do you consider yourself a preservationist? If so, why?

TN: I think with the issues housing and equity being what it is we need to grow and change, so I’m not saying that every old building needs to be preserved for the sake of it. But I do think there is a way to grow consciously as a community and identify the things that we value as a community and to preserve those things. I’m not opposed to growth, but it needs to be done in a way that honors those that built our city and make it what it is, and it really needs to ensure sustainability for the future. I just want us to be aware of what we are creating.

LB: I would say I started as an archivist and have moved more into the preservationist role. I have so much memorabilia that I’ve collected from shows over the years, things I dutifully care for and take with me as I move from place to place. I have an Instagram account where I started documenting every single show I go to, and to have a record of that moment happening helps tie me to it a lot more. Every time we lose a place here in Seattle that’s tied to our hearts, it’s so hard. That’s why I got involved with efforts to save The Showbox, to start to take a more active role in making sure these places don’t go away. I think that’s why a lot of us were drawn to this [KML] – not just out of concern for our own jobs — I knew I’d be ok, that I’d find something else if my particular venue went away — but I didn’t want ANY of them to go away. And that’s why so many of us are working so hard to figure this out.

MG: Yeah, it’s crazy. One of the first venues I went to in Seattle was the Funhouse. I remember trying to find it again when I moved here. All I could remember was that it was near the Space Needle. I walked around for hours trying to find it before realizing it had been right there, where there is now a giant hole in the ground because they’re building a new building.

I also think about this in terms of the Central Saloon. It has such a rich musical history and I think it’s important to honor that legacy, but we don’t want to be a museum. We have a lot of old posters up, but we mix in more recent ones too. I think it’s more productive to have pride in where you have been, but also be proud of where you’re going.

What are some of your favorite historic places in Seattle?

MG: The Showbox at the Market comes immediately to mind.

LB: (emphatically agrees) Smith Tower, too.

TN: I probably feel closest to the Tractor Tavern – it’s where I’ve played the most shows over the years. Also, the Fremont Abbey and the Triple Door. Each one has its own character and vibe, and a specific memory of where I was in life.

With so many places you love, you don’t realize how much you love them until they’re gone. For example, I used to go to Bush Garden all the time to sing karaoke before it closed – and until it was gone I didn’t realize how much it meant to me. I think there are a lot of places like that, that you take for granted and you don’t necessarily consider historic – just places that have been around for a long time. Then every time something closes it hurts on a personal level. This pandemic has really made me more aware of what we have and how we have to keep those places alive.

Click here to register for our free virtual Heart Bomb with Keep Music Live on February 9 at 5:30!

¡Viva La Quinta!

Talk to anyone who has ever been a La Quinta Apartments resident about what it’s like to live in this Frederick Anhalt-developed building on Capitol Hill (1710 E Denny) and you will immediately hear stories of connection, accounts of really knowing your neighbors, and descriptions of a very close-knit community.

“La Quinta is a unique place where all of the neighbors grow close and really like spending time together… all of the people I have met there seem to genuinely want to make the place they live not just a home for themselves, but also a community where people look out for each other and become family,” said a friend of a La Quinta resident since the 1990s.

You may also hear descriptions about the magic of the courtyard, shared balconies, charming turrets, and a unique design that welcomes interaction.

“La Quinta is more than just gorgeous architecture. It’s a perfect place to be a writer, with plenty of beauty and solitude balanced with a supportive community just outside my door.” said Chelsea Bolan, a La Quinta resident since 2003.

La Quinta Apartments from the courtyard. Photo by Jesse L. Young, Seattle.

Given all of this, it is no wonder why a group has come together with a well-coordinated effort to seek protections for this extraordinary place. Formed in late 2020, ¡Viva La Quinta! is a group of residents, neighbors, and allies (including Historic Seattle) dedicated to preserving La Quinta Apartments and making it a City landmark.

This month, we took the opportunity to talk to two people involved in ¡Viva La Quinta! Lawrence Norman, who grew up at La Quinta in the ‘60s, shares his unique connection to the place and the influence it had on his life trajectory. Chelsea Bolan describes what it’s like to live there today and tells us more about the group working to preserve La Quinta for generations to come.

“Born” at La Quinta: Lawrence Norman & Seattle’s First Black-Owned Computing Business

“My father was a Black man and from Mississippi and my mother was a White woman from Alabama – they met at Boeing. He was an aeronautical engineer, and she was a mathematician and computer programmer. She actually programmed some of the first satellites!” said Lawrence Norman describing his origins at the La Quinta Apartments. He continued, “To an extent, I think some of the reasons they came to Seattle were to get as far away from the South as possible. They were pretty idealistic, and, at the time, Seattle was pretty radical.”

While It may have been radical in some ways, during that time (the mid-1960s) Seattle and many other “progressive” cities exercised an intentionally discriminatory practice known as “redlining.” In this practice, White people wrote racial exclusions into property deeds and community covenants, effectively prohibiting property ownership for Black people, Jews, and other people of color, beyond very limited areas bound by red lines.

Image from “The History of Redlining” by KCTS9 on YouTube.

Despite this very significant obstacle, Lawrence’s father Richard worked to purchase the La Quinta apartments by making a deal directly with the property owner at the time. “When he bought La Quinta in…1964, or 1965, it was just over the ‘red line,’” Lawrence explained. According to Lawrence, Richard was not new to real estate. “He had previously owned a property in the ‘Negro area,’ (as defined by redlining) and he’d owned another right on the line,” Lawrence says. Given the practices of those times, it is not surprising that Richard’s ownership had been reflected as a gap in the official records. You can read more about this, and other interesting aspects of the building’s ownership history in the landmark nomination report here.

Lawrence added, “My parents worked together at Boeing for a few years before starting a computing business out of La Quinta. Apartment 9 was home, and Northwest Computing was basically a startup, born out of apartment 10 — In 1965 of all things! I imagine it was probably the first Black-owned computing business in Seattle, but I can’t say for sure. The business lasted for like 8 or 9 years and it was pretty successful, with up to 18 or 19 employees at one point and an office downtown. But then the Boeing bust happened, and we lost it all. It was a painful time. That place is special to me and represents something totally personal.”

A turret at La Quinta. Photo by Jesse L. Young, Seattle.

Some of Lawrence’s earliest memories are from La Quinta. “I remember looking out of the turret into the courtyard from my room, and there were other kids there. I remember one in particular, a little girl who lived in apartment 4. Her room was also in a turret and I had a crush on her, it was pretty cute,” Lawrence recalled. “The community was tight-knit, there was an ease with the architecture. It’s a U-shaped building with everyone facing each other around the courtyard, making it almost like a little village. It’s also a refuge, peaceful and conducive to conversation. My dad was very serious about keeping that courtyard in good shape!”

Because of the Boeing bust Lawrence left La Quinta at age 7, but his time there would shape him in many ways and play into some of his life choices. “The Boeing bust was very real for me and my family. Losing La Quinta set me up to be more conservative in my own life,” he explained.

Lawrence Norman at La Quinta, age 7. Courtesy of Lawrence Norman

Lawrence would follow in his parents’ footsteps by pursuing a career in software. “I got a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science while I was at Evergreen, but I got distracted for a year by Architecture. When I ask myself why I was drawn to study architecture, I’d say it probably came from living in that building,” said Lawrence.

Lawrence at La Quinta in 2020.

Lawrence went on to compare software design and architectural design citing A Pattern Language, a popular book often included in both courses of study. “The book looks at everything from the big design down to a doorknob and asks, ‘what’s the optimal design for human functionality?’ I think La Quinta represents a ton of those design patterns. And when you get really geeky, you know that design patterns are also part of software design! Whether you’re trying to design a user interface or housing where people can coexist, some designs invite human interaction and some detract from it. The question is, ‘how do you want to structure these things so human beings can have the best experience?’ It applies to software, it basically applies to anything you’re building.”

In summarizing why La Quinta should be protected, Lawrence said, “It’s a unique piece of architecture whose scale and design promotes bonding between neighbors, and I’d like to see historical designation for it so that it could maintain its natural affordability instead of maximizing buildable volume.”

A Legacy of Community: La Quinta Today, and Hopes for its Future – Chelsea Bolan

Chelsea Bolan, one of the founders of ¡Viva La Quinta! and resident since 2003.

¡Viva La Quinta! member Chelsea Bolan came to Seattle from Spokane in the 1990s to attend UW. She lived all over Capitol Hill in her early days here and remembers always admiring La Quinta and thinking “one day, if I could ever afford it…” In 2003, that day came, and Chelsea’s life has taken shape around La Quinta ever since.

“When I first moved in, I treated it like any other apartment building, where you’d be like, ‘Oh hi, nice to meet you,’ and go inside and never talk to your neighbors again. Within days, we had neighbors knocking on our door saying, ‘We’re having a BBQ, do you want to come out?’ and I just thought ‘Wow, this is amazing!’ I’d never had an apartment experience like that, with people who are really interested and really want to get to know you. That aspect of liking your neighbors, of being able to talk to your neighbors, and actually being friends – that has never changed since I’ve been here. One thing I’ve learned from this project (¡Viva La Quinta!), from talking with other people who lived here in the past, is that it was always this way,” said Chelsea.

Movie night in the courtyard.

“We have a lot of traditions and gatherings within, among just us and our friends. Sometimes it’s centered around food, like when we all made tamales together in a big assembly line in Aaron and Marta’s apartment, then ate them in the courtyard garden. We have one tradition that was started by someone who no longer lives here, someone who left over ten years ago. It’s based on the 12 days of Christmas since there are 12 apartments. It’s a roaming party where we spend 20 minutes in each person’s apartment, which is now organized by a neighbor who wasn’t even here when it got started. It’s gone on for years now and it’s interesting that it still works. The people change, but it’s always a mix of people who are interested in these things. I wonder if it’s the architecture that brings people out, because by design, we share so much space. I think the building just draws a certain kind of people too, people who are open to talking to each other.”

“There’s a lot of community within, but it extends out into the neighborhood and larger community in a lot of ways too. One example is our annual BBQ. Every year, we have a free community BBQ that is a fundraiser for a local nonprofit. We invite everyone in the neighborhood. People love it, and it’s a great opportunity to meet new neighbors.”

A community gathering at La Quinta.

In describing how ¡Viva La Quinta! came about, Chelsea said, “We heard from the apartment manager that the building was going to be coming up for sale. He wanted to let us know, in case we wanted to landmark it before it got sold. We said, ‘We’ve got to get on this!’ Someone sent an email around and we started planning. Word spread and neighbors came forward saying ‘We can help, we’ve done this before, we can put you in touch with the right people,’ and they connected us to Historic Seattle and then Historic Seattle contacted Northwest Vernacular (the firm that wrote the landmark nomination). It’s amazing, among us we have architects, photographers, writers, people who know how to build a website and do graphic design. Everyone just naturally came into a role, and it all came together. It was actually Jeff (Murdock, Historic Seattle’s Advocacy & Education Manager) who came up with the name ¡Viva La Quinta! It really captures the spirit we have, this lively spirit. And also, ‘Long live!,’ let’s keep this thing going!”

On why she thinks the La Quinta Apartments should be protected, Chelsea added, “The community that the place fosters is a big part of it, but it’s also just a great building. With its Spanish style, it is unique even among Anhalt designs. He made it feel like a home, more than just an apartment. There’s a thought toward individuality, every apartment is different, and there’s a lot of thought to detail from the layout to the fixtures. The courtyard too is valuable, especially as greenspace becomes more and more limited. It has provided so much to us during the pandemic. Both the community and the architecture are really important to preserve.”

Both Lawrence and Chelsea thought a co-op or a condominium ownership model would be beneficial in the long-term. “My dream for the place would be that everything that needs updating and attention would be fixed, and that after all of that, it would still be affordable.”

¡Viva La Quinta! Get involved!

Because of its significance to the community, Historic Seattle has prioritized the La Quinta as a major advocacy effort. A landmark nomination was submitted in October 2020. The Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board will consider the nomination at its February 3 public meeting.

You can help support the La Quinta preservation efforts! The ¡Viva La Quinta! website, created and maintained by the residents, is a great resource. Stay connected through the ¡Viva La Quinta! email list and Instagram. If you already follow Historic Seattle via eNews, Facebook, and/or Instagram then you’ll stay in the know as well.

Historic Seattle Staff ❤️ These Places: Local Businesses to Support with Your Holiday Spending

We all know how critical it is to support small businesses in our community right now. In light of this, we compiled a list of Historic Seattle staff’s favorite small & historic businesses for holiday shopping and spending. From bacon-flavored candy canes to African coffee beans, check out this amazing list for inspiring ideas, meaningful gifts and experiences, and businesses you can feel good about supporting this holiday season and beyond!

Note: In the making of this list, we asked our staff to submit “one or two” favorite places. As you can see below, some of us couldn’t stop ourselves at one or two, or even three or four!  These recommendations were too good to leave out, so we’re sharing them all with you!

Enjoy & happy holidays from the Historic Seattle team!

The 2020
Historic Seattle Staff
❤️ These Places
Shopping List

Jane Davies | Director of Finance & Administration

Ballard Ave
A variety of stores all in a designated historic district!  You can stop for a covid-safe bite to eat outside at a number of restaurants as well!


Bailey Hess | Philanthropy & Communications Manager

Ghost Gallery (Pike-Pine Corridor)
While no longer located in the 1914-built apartment building where the gallery was originally founded thanks to #displacement, this shop still rocks and is worthy of your business for many a good reason. Focusing on local and regional artists & designers, the gallery’s hybrid model provides an ever-evolving, welcoming space where artists and collectors, new and established, can connect. Ghost Gallery showcases a curated selection of visual art, handmade jewelry, tarot, apothecary, and bottled wines. Check out artwork by Historic Seattle’s own office administrator featured in this year’s Holiday Mini Exhibit!

Dusty Strings (Fremont)
From Dusty Strings’ website, “When Ray and Sue Mooers started Dusty Strings in 1979, Ray built hammered dulcimers in the couple’s basement–” Ok, I have to stop here and make a confession. I have no idea what a dulcimer is, and I don’t have a drop of talent for playing instruments in my body! Yet, I still LOVE shopping at Dusty Strings. Located in the basement of a 1926 masonry building in Fremont since 1982, Dusty Strings is a music store, school, and repair shop. Go here for gifts of beautiful instruments, virtual music lessons, or to repair your beloved’s dulcimer!

Keep Music Live
One of my favorite gifts to give are gifts of experiences — including tickets to live music shows! Since this isn’t an option this year, consider making a gift to (perhaps in someone’s honor?). Your gift will help ensure the survival of beloved independent music venues (and their ecosystems!) across the state. 


Cindy Hughes | Council Assistant & GSC Rental Coordinator

Five Corners Hardware (Queen Anne)
Mom & Pop hardware store located on one of the many corners at 3rd W. & W. McGraw.  Opened in 1944 and family-run since then, they are super-friendly and have everything you need for your pandemic home projects, (and practical gifts as well)  in a small-box space.

Stuhlbergs (Queen Anne)
Gifts, toys, home accessories, cards and more in a restored turn-of-the-century Craftsman on Queen Anne Ave. N.  These old-houses-converted-into retail are fast disappearing along that street so Stuhlbergs stands out even more.


Amee Jorgensen | Bookkeeper

Fremont Vintage Mall
Located in a basement in Fremont, this vintage store is the culmination of treasure sold by a collective of multiple sellers. It’s like visiting the Room of Requirement in real life. 


Kji Kelly | Executive Director 

Horizon Books, Magus Books
Nothing says the holidays like quality time walking the stacks of a Seattle used book store!


Tara Macdonald

Tara Macdonald Good Shepherd Center Lead Gardener

Scandinavian Specialties (Ballard)
Selling Scandinavian goods in Ballard since 1962, it is now the last remaining Scandinavian store in Seattle.  They carry a wide range of Nordic goods from food to sweaters to books and they have a nice selection of Christmas decorations. It’s a good reminder of Ballard’s recent cultural history.


David McClain

David McClain | Asset & Property Manager

Elliott Bay Book Company
A venerable old independent bookstore that keeps going strong. Though no longer in their original Pioneer Square location in the Globe Building, I still feel a sense of history every time I visit their present home in Capitol Hill, originally constructed in the 1920s. I enjoy browsing their books any time of the year, but especially during the holiday season.


Jeff Murdock | Advocacy & Education Manager

Le Panier
It’s hard for me to get out of the market when holiday shopping! We bring their palmier cookies to friends and family.

In Melrose Market, interesting clothing designs, home items and plants, well-curated gifts.

Steinbrueck Native Gallery (on Western, north of Pike Place Market)
Compelling artworks by Northwest Coast First Nations artists. I love the modern interpretations of traditional art, and chatting with Elizabeth Steinbrueck is a treat.

University Book Store
Always fun to wander the aisles of gifts, books, art supplies downstairs. Reminds me of grad student procrastination days. . . but now I can do it without guilt!


Matt Murray | Good Shepherd Center Building Operations Manager

DeLaurenti (Pike Place Market)
A specialty food and wine store with a great selection of cheese, wine, chocolate, and other food essentials.


Our awesome Office Administrator

Wall of Sound Records
The best record shop in the city for deep cuts, outer-sounds, and obscurities. I never leave empty-handed!

Frye Art Museum Store
An artfully curated selection of decorative objects, beautiful books, and original work. Even though the museum is closed, you can still shop the store online!


Taelore Rhoden | Community Events Manager

COMMUNION Restaurant & Bar (Central District)
COMMUNION is Chef Kristi Brown’s of That Brown Girl Cooks! (TBGC!) brand new restaurant in Seattle’s Central District. Located in the Liberty Bank Building, COMMUNION marks the return of a Black-owned restaurant to the 2300 block of East Union Street (see Thompson’s Point of View) as well as the return of fan favorites from Chef Kristi and team, including the TBGC! Black-Eyed Pea Hummus and bottled craft cocktails from Brown Liquor Cocktail Co. The COMMUNION menu is what Chef Kristi describes as “Seattle Soul,” a story of people, culinary flavors, and cultural traditions. I recommend the Catfish Po’Mi, a masterful mash-up of a po’ boy and a bánh mì! Gift cards available.

Boon Boona Coffee (Downtown Renton)
What a treasure! I’ve tried multiple varieties of beans from Boon Boona and everything has been delicious! All of their coffee sourced from multiple countries throughout the continent of Africa and is available for purchase online and in-store. My go-to drink order is the Africano with cinnamon. Gift cards available.

Métier Brewing Company (Woodinville)
Washington State’s only Black-owned brewery does not disappoint! The Woodinville location offers about a dozen beers on tap, outdoor seating, a gallery to showcase local artists, and rotating food trucks on weekends. Métier is bicycle-friendly (check out the logo) and a huge supporter/partner of the Major Taylor Project

Footprint Wine Tap (Capitol Hill)
Quaint and bright, Footprint Wine Tap is Seattle’s first and only sustainable keg wine on tap bar and shop sourcing fine PNW wines. It’s one of my favorites for happy hour and they have wine growlers and it’s Black-owned! Heck yes, Footprint! Gift cards available.

Flowers Just-4-U (Central District)
Ms.Mary has been in the floral business since 1984 and is one of a few Black florists in the Greater Seattle area. Originally located on 23rd & Jackson, Flowers Just-4-U relocated to 23rd & Cherry in 2018 after a wave of community support to keep the business open. If gifting plants and flowers is your thing, visit Ms. Mary this holiday season!

Ola Wyola (Columbia City)
Take all of my money, Ola Wyola! This Columbia City shop has everything from hand-crafted crystal jewelry to vintage clothing and accessories to hand-dyed hoodies. It even has an apothecary – swoon!

Vivid Matter Collective Pop-Up Shop (Capitol Hill)
Buy dope art from Vivid Matter Collective (VMC), the group of Black and Indigenous artists who created the Black Lives Matter mural on Pine Street. VMC returns back to where it all began with a winter pop-up shop next door to Molly Moon’s in Capitol Hill. I stopped by last week to grab a few prints and a coloring book and was impressed with the variety of products available for purchase – originals, clothing, greeting cards, stickers, and more! 919 E Pine Street | Thursday – Sunday  12:00 pm – 6:00 pm 


Naomi West | Director of Philanthropy & Engagement

Pike Place Market
Wandering around the market is a treat any time of year, but it feels like the most festive place in town during the holiday season. If you aren’t comfortable with shopping in person this year to support the tons of small businesses there, you can shop from home on their new online platform:

Capitol Hill Historical Society Coloring Book
Do you need to calm your amygdala at the end of this tough year? Experts everywhere, from UW to the Cleveland Clinic, say you should try coloring! Whether for a kid, an adult, or yourself, try the Capitol Hill Historical Society’s new coloring book. 


Eugenia Woo | Director of Preservation Services

Click! Design That Fits
Amazing store for cool “design-y” gifts in the West Seattle Junction for those with discerning taste.

Wing Luke Museum Store (AKA the Marketplace)
From books about the Asian American experience to super cute things, this museum shop in the C-ID is the place to go. Over 100 small businesses are supported in the Marketplace.

Kobo Seattle (2 locations – Kobo Capitol Hill & Kobo at Higo in Japantown)
Well-curated shop and gallery in historic buildings! The Capitol Hill one is in the Loveless Building across from the old Harvard Exit. The Japantown shop is in the old Higo space. For those who love art, design, and cool objects from Japan, the Northwest, and beyond. 

Archie McPhee
Need something fun, silly, or quirky as a gift or for yourself? Or just want to brighten up your mood and get a good laugh? Browse around this classic Seattle shop, which was recently voted one of Seattle’s Top 20 Essential Seattle Shops by Seattle Met.

Paper Hammer
This modern stationer in downtown Seattle is the place to go for well-designed paper goods. If you like letterpress, you’ll love Paper Hammer. The studios are in Tieton. 


Simon Wright | Facilities Maintenance Manager

8th Generation at the Pike Place Market
A great Native-owned and operated boutique that amplifies indigenous artists by making their art into unique apparel, jewelry, and accessories

BLMF Literary Saloon
I’ve never met anyone who knows as much about books as JB, and he has a recommendation for anyone he’s ever sold a book to.

Umami Kushi
Japanese culinary ambassador/bakery and a favorite local business in Rainier Beach


Giving Thanks to Our Supporters

Support for Historic Seattle comes in many different forms. Advocates and program attendees are critical to our mission, but donors go beyond, allowing us to take our work to new heights. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we want to give you ALL our thanks.
Below we’ve featured a few people in our Supporters’ Circle who make our work possible.
Thank you, from all of us at Historic Seattle.


Sustaining Support

Kelsey Williams | Monthly Donor

Monthly donors help sustain our work throughout the year!

Why do you enjoy giving to Historic Seattle?

KELSEY: When I decided to move to Seattle in 2018, I obsessively researched the city, its architecture, and its preservation initiatives. Historic Seattle caught my attention quickly!

Shortly after my move, I participated in Historic Seattle’s Advocacy Workshops and observed how knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and devoted the staff was. Beyond those workshops, I’ve seen Historic Seattle’s members in action at Landmark Preservation Board meetings, in their fight to save The Showbox, and at historic house tours. There are few things more energizing to me than witnessing another person learn the history of a home or building, teach others about its significance, and then fight with all of their spirit to save it. Seeing the staff’s educational connection with our communities and their success in keeping historic properties alive made me want to support Historic Seattle continuously.

Historic Seattle did catch my attention quickly—but it also gained my sustaining adoration.


Business Membership Support

Lance Neely | Heritage Realty

Business members help to support Historic Seattle and have the opportunity to network with others who share a concern for Seattle’s architectural heritage.

At the core of Heritage is founder and designated broker Lance Neely. With a passion for the stewardship of historic places and a keen interest in our region’s unique architectural history, Heritage Realty is in alignment with both Historic Seattle’s mission and its community of supporters.

What inspired you to join our organization as a business member?

LANCE: First and foremost, my appreciation for historic homes is what initially led me to get into real estate.  Playing a small role in how some of the extraordinary homes of our region are passed down from caretaker to caretaker is very gratifying and what informed my decision to name my business as I have. Naturally, my interest and involvement in preservation as it relates to residential real estate carries over to historic commercial buildings, many that I have had the privilege of experiencing from my time as a resident of this city and now, professionally, as an agent & brokerage owner. I have specifically sought out other businesses and organizations that celebrate the unique architectural history of our city. Historic Seattle speaks to the ethos of my business.  Heritage takes great interest in preserving the integrity of existing residential architecture and we hope to provide clients with a different viewpoint and resources on creating a lifestyle to suit both historical and modern sensibilities, but always with the goal of preserving the landmark homes and buildings of our region.


Corporate Sponsorship

Northwest Vernacular

Generous sponsors help Historic Seattle bring you a variety of education and advocacy programs, as well as special events, that enable you to explore our historic built environment. Please contact Director of Philanthropy & Engagement Naomi West to learn more about 2021 sponsorship opportunities.

Not only has Northwest Vernacular generously supported Historic Seattle’s education programs, they’ve been outstanding partners in preservation through their extensive advocacy and preservation consultancy work – a notable example, preparation of the successful Showbox landmark nomination!

What value is there in aligning with Historic Seattle
as a corporate sponsor?

NORTHWEST VERNACULAR: Historic Seattle’s work exemplifies so much of what historic preservation can offer — from their educational programs and advocacy efforts, to their role as active stewards of historic properties in the city to provide community spaces that contribute to the city’s quality of life. As a historic preservation consulting firm, supporting Historic Seattle is a natural extension of the work that we do.



Thank you to all of you who support Historic Seattle!
Together we are shaping a city that values and protects its collective history.

Time to Save The Hahn Building, NOW

By Ruth Danner, President – Save the Market Entrance

The following is part of a series of guest blog posts submitted by members of the Historic Seattle community. The views and opinions expressed in guest posts are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Historic Seattle. As part of our mission, Historic Seattle is supporting Save the Market Entrance’s advocacy and communications work to landmark the Hahn Building.

With ground floor storefronts built in 1897 and two floors for workforce housing added in 1908, the Hahn Building/Hotel Elliott stands proudly at the southeast corner of Seattle’s intersection of First and Pike, at the main entrance to Pike Place Market. While Pike Place Market is a designated City of Seattle historic district (Pike Place Market Historical District) and listed in the National Register of Historic Places as the Pike Place Market Historic District, the historic buildings on the east side of First Avenue have been left to fend for themselves.

Its historic timeline goes back to the early 1880s arrival of Robert Hahn. In 1889, at the time of the Great Seattle Fire that devastated most of Pioneer Square, Hahn operated a wood-frame saloon and beer garden on this site. After the fire, it was said to be the last place standing for a man to buy a beer.  Following the fire, wood structures were out and brick was in, and in 1897, Hahn built the structure under nomination as a one-story, brick building.

A decade later, two stories were added to the existing structure just as Seattle prepared for the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in 1909. Those two new floors were dubbed Hotel Elliott, which provided private semi-permanent housing for Seattle’s growing workforce, one of the first single-room-occupancy (SRO) hotels to offer private baths with running hot and cold water. The Hahn Building/Hotel Elliott is prominently featured in historic photos of the Market Entrance across the decades. Along with the Hotel Elliott, the ground floor has retail has hosted a number of commercial ventures—from long-time tenant Owl Drugs to the infamous International Donut Shop.

In the massive reinvigoration on Pike Place Market in the 70s, blacktopping on Pike Place from Pike to Virginia was returned to its former bricked cobblestones out to and including the intersection at 1st and Pike that tied the four corners of the Market together. In 1981, the Hahn family, perhaps inspired by the market’s facelift and newly returning popularity undertook a beautiful, historically sensitive remodel. Identifying Hotel Elliott as affordable housing, the City of Seattle allocated $500,000 to reinforce the structure with seismic retrofitting. Hotel rooms continue to occupy the upper two floors operating as the Green Tortoise Hostel since 2005.

Twice since the current owners purchased the Hahn in 1986, they have presented the Landmarks Preservation Board with anti-nominations designed to argue against historic significance in an effort to clear the way for future demolition (in 1999 and again in 2014). But the five-year limit in the Landmark Preservation Ordinance that precludes another nomination to be considered has passed (as of December 2019), and the door is open for the public to argue their own case for the importance this building plays to our city and beyond.

The Hahn Building is not currently protected, and the current owner has plans to demolish the Hahn building and replace it with a 14-story boutique hotel. On December 2, at 3:30 pm the Landmarks Preservation Board will meet to consider our nomination, which we submitted in December 2019. We hired Katie Pratt and Spencer Howard of NW Vernacular Historic Preservation to dig a little deeper into the Hahn’s history and importance at this important intersection. What they found is compelling. Preservation of this building is essential to the symmetry and historical authenticity to this treasured four corner Market entrance and intersection.

We need your help! Please send written comments in support of landmarking to Sarah Sodt, the City of Seattle Historic Preservation Officer, via by or before Tuesday, December 1.  Comments must relate to one or more of the six criteria for landmark nomination/designation. More information is available here.

Photo by Shree Ram Dahal

About Third Church

By Cindy Safronoff

The following is part of a series of guest blog posts submitted by members of the Historic Seattle community. The views and opinions expressed in guest posts are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Historic Seattle.

The classical revival style church edifice on Greek Row in the University District has been an important community gathering place for nearly a century.

Architectural rendering of Third Church of Christ, Scientist, Seattle, by architect George Foote Dunham, 1919 (Third Church of Christ, Scientist, Seattle)


The edifice built by Third Church of Christ, Scientist, is twin sister to Fourth Church, now known as Town Hall Seattle. It was designed by the same architect in a similar style and layout and built by the same general contractor during the same time period. Although smaller overall, the auditorium has the same elegant curved ceilings, indirect lighting, and similar Povey Brothers windows with Dannenhoffer art glass. The decor of the auditorium was intended to express sunshine, sky, and clouds. The Greek motif was said to express the simplicity of truth.


Third Church of Christ, Scientist, Seattle, auditorium as it was when it was a Christian Science church (Photo: Dale Lang)


Lower auditorium stained glass windows (Photo: Dale Lang)


The building project was launched by Third Church of Christ, Scientist, the week of Easter 1919 as the Spanish Influenza pandemic was fading out. Shortly after the Building Committee selected George Foote Dunham to be their architect, he sent them a watercolor rendering to show the completed building. The painting hung in the Christian Science Reading Room in the University State Bank Building at 45th and University – where church services were being held at the time – to inspire their members to contribute to the building fund. It took three and a half years to complete the building, due to construction delays caused by funding problems. For an entire year, the site on Northeast 50th Street and 17th Avenue Northeast (then called “University Boulevard”) sat inactive with completed walls and roof but no windows or doors. Members took shifts standing watch at the building at night to protect it from vandalism. After completing financing for the project in early 1922, the building was completed within the year. Three overflowing opening services were held on Sunday, November 12, 1922.

The church edifice was officially dedicated seven years later. The Great Depression had begun, and – even before the economic collapse – Third Church had been struggling to pay off its overdue mortgage bond. After the infamous stock market crash on October 24, 1929, the other Christian Science churches contributed their next Sunday collections to the cash-strapped U-District congregation, enough to eliminate all their debt. Dedication services were held, again with three overflowing services, on Sunday, November 24, 1929.

The U-District congregation was youthful, which is perhaps unsurprising for a rapidly growing start-up church near a university. Most of the members of the Building Committee, which was representative of the overall membership at that time, were in their 30s. Christian Science then was one of the most popular religious preferences among University of Washington (UW) college students, especially among the female students. Two members of the Building Committee, Ruth Densmore and Helen Lantz, had recently graduated from the UW with graduate degrees and were married to UW professors.

In the early twentieth century, Christian Science offered a new religious alternative that empowered women. Founded in 1879 by a woman, Reverend Mary Baker Eddy, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, recognized equality of the sexes, preached support of women’s rights, and normalized women as church service officiants. Around 90% of Christian Science practitioners, the closest equivalent to clergy or ministers, were women. In the history of Christian Science in Seattle, women played a prominent founding role. Christian Science was planted in Seattle in 1889 by Mary Baker Eddy’s student Julia Field-King. The U-District church was organized in 1914 by Mollie Gerry. The Sunday School teachers were predominately women. As was typical of Christian Science branch churches from the earliest days, the Board of Directors and the Building Committee at Third Church was gender-balanced. The membership body, the ones who made the most important decisions in this democratically governed church, such as whether to build an edifice and how to pay for it, was comprised of a super-majority of women.


Floor Plan of Auditorium, as originally furnished with seating for 860


The Third Church auditorium was originally designed to seat 860, although there were concerns that it would not be large enough to accommodate continuing growth. Upon moving into the new building in 1922, the church started holding a second Sunday service in the evening, a schedule that continued for decades. By the 1940s, the foyer level was filled with folding chairs for overflow seating, and the church decided to help fund a new church building in nearby eastern Green Lake. The approach of cooperative financial support between the area Christian Science churches, of which Third Church was beneficiary in 1929, continued through the Great Depression and for several decades after, paying off church mortgages one by one and enabling church building in nearly every district in Seattle, even during the most difficult economic conditions. At the peak of the movement in the 1960s, there were 16 Churches of Christ, Scientist, Seattle. Once the need for church edifices was met, they continued cooperative building for the Christian Science Organization on University Way, a nursing facility, and the Christian Science Pavilion at the 1962 World’s Fair.

Like the Fourth Church building, the Third Church foyer fills most of the main floor of the building, allowing the entire assembly to mingle after meetings. (Photo: Dale Lang)


The foyer level as it was originally, showing usher stations by number. Churchome has converted the Reader and Soloist offices into additional bathrooms.

Several generations of Christian Scientists grew up attending Sunday School in the basement level of this building and socializing in the large foyer after services. In the late twentieth century – along with churches of nearly every denomination – the population of the Christian Science church declined and no longer needed so many large edifices. The story of Third Church’s 2005 decision to sell its building was told in detail in the May 2007 issue of Seattle Metropolitan magazine, with Kathryn Robinson’s article “Cross Purposes” portraying Third Church as exemplifying global trends in the religious landscape, representative of the U-District, Seattle, and other communities throughout the country.

The entire membership body of Third Church was involved in deciding which purchase offer to accept. They democratically selected an offer that would preserve the building by converting it to an event venue for lectures, similar to Town Hall Seattle. In a last-minute turn of events that surprised even the members of Third Church, however, the building went to City Church, now known as Churchome. Churchome did many of the same building improvements that an arts and civics organization would have: new carpets, fresh paint, theater lights in the auditorium, an expanded stage, and additional bathrooms. Listing the building for sale in April 2020, it now seems Churchome no longer needs the property. The Third Church building needs a new owner, ideally one who will preserve it for future generations.

Christian Science churches are known to be well-suited for reuse, in part because of their lack of religious symbolism. In Seattle, nearly all the edifices originally built as Christian Science churches still stand. Some have been landmarked, including First Church on Capitol Hill (now luxury condominiums), Sixth Church in West Seattle (now an event venue), and Seventh Church on Queen Anne Hill (now Church of Christ). Eleventh Church, the Green Lake church that took the 1940s overflow from Third Church, is now owned by a Taiwanese Christian church. Dunham’s designs in particular have proved adaptable. Besides Fourth Church’s conversion to Town Hall Seattle, Dunham’s edifice in Victoria, British Columbia, still owned by First Church of Christ, Scientist, Victoria, doubles as a community event venue. His edifice in Spokane, Second Church, is now owned by Holy Temple Church of God.

It is sometimes said of old buildings, somewhat remorsefully, “if only these walls could speak,” as though the decades of events that took place inside and around them are unknowable to us today. But in the case of Third Church, its historic happenings are beginning to be heard in detail all around the world. Its well-documented, colorful, and important story is unfolding through narrative nonfiction podcast and book. As a representative of a significant global movement, including establishing women’s rights and gender equality in religion, the building stands as a monument to progress. Regardless of the building’s future, its legacy will be shared with the world. For a preservation-minded owner, the building’s emerging fame could enable fundraising efforts to potentially draw on supporters far beyond Seattle.

Cindy Safronoff is an independent scholar who has presented her research on the history of the Christian Science movement in Seattle at academic conferences in Taiwan and Italy. Her previous book, Crossing Swords: Mary Baker Eddy vs. Victoria Claflin Woodhull and the Battle for the Soul of Marriage, won ten book awards and was featured in the Sunday Boston Globe. Her newest book, Dedication: Building the Seattle Branches of Mary Baker Eddy’s Church, A Centennial Story – Part 1: 1889 to 1929, has been recently released. The audio version is available now as a podcast, “Dedication: A Centennial Story.”

Note: A demolition permit was filed by Churchome in May 2020, pending review by the City of Seattle. Sale was pending in August 2020 but the property is back on the market as of this writing.

Additional reading: “Another Old Church Building on the Edge of Demise,” Clair Enlow,, July 22, 2020.

Seattle’s Full Story | October 2020

Wa Na Wari

“This dream is our home.

Our home is the ember.

The ember is the idea.

The idea is endurance.

The endurance of

Black dreaming

Black family

Black song

Black stories

Black embraces

Black smiles

Black memories

Black tears

Black imagination

Black solution

Black logic

Black love

Black futures.

Wa Na Wari is the home built on a foundation of red clay dreams.

It is the living whisper of our ancestors,

the surviving ember of a watery dream,

an overture of the living for the unborn.”

In this film (originally recorded at Ampersand Live in 2019), Wa Na Wari’s co-founder Inye Wokoma shares its origin story. Wa Na Wari recently received Historic Seattle’s 2020 Community Advocacy Award.

To support the organization’s work to create space for Black ownership, possibility, and belonging through art, historic preservation, and connection, join the WA NA WARI VIRTUAL HOUSE PARTY on Wednesday, October 28. This fundraiser features a cooking tutorial with Chef Tarik Abdullah, an art activity with Perri Rhoden, DJ sets with Jusmoni and Larry Mizell, music by Pink Lotion, and curated films by Amir George. Register here:

Healing Trauma | Washington Hall’s Pongo Poetry Program

The Pongo Poetry Project teaches and mentors personal poetry by youth who have suffered childhood traumas, such as abuse, neglect, and exposure to violence. The following is an interview between Historic Seattle (HS), Pongo’s founder Richard Gold (RG), and its interim executive director Barbara Green (BG). The Pongo Poetry Project is a tenant within Historic Seattle-owned Washington Hall in Seattle’s Central District.  


Pongo graduate Maven Gardener. Photo by Michael Maine

HS: In the video “The Impact of Trauma and How Pongo Helps” on your website, Richard says, “As an impact of trauma, the emotions are all balled up inside our clients — in our writers’ hearts. They feel horrible, and confused, and mistrustful. But when they externalize into a poem their experiences, they are engaged in a transformative process from, ‘I’m a terrible person, to this is a terrible thing that happened to me.’ And in that process, they see themselves as writers. They see themselves as people whose creative work can make a difference in the world.”

What do you have to add to these words in light of the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement and other current events?

BG: I think that the Black Lives Matter movement has done a great job of raising awareness about the trauma of systemic racism. I’m hoping that this will help youth of color see the difficulties that they’re experiencing in a different light, with a broader perspective. And I think that now, because of the increased awareness of systemic racism, more people can appreciate how relevant our work is. I also think writing poetry is a way for the youth to say, “I matter,” and for people to hear that they matter. We can help amplify their voices so that others can understand what their experiences have been.

The Black Lives Matter movement has also increased awareness of the racism that is inherent in the criminal justice system. One of my hopes is that this will lead to fewer youth — fewer everybody — being incarcerated and lead to the creation of alternatives. I think that the Pongo poetry method could be a great part of a diversion program for youth to help them deal with the trauma that they have experienced.

RG: I would just add that at its heart, Pongo is about listening. I think the killing of George Floyd was a revelation for many white people. And when we really listen respectfully, and understand one another better, it’s a way of healing society as well as individuals. 

HS: How has the pandemic uniquely impacted your work and the communities you serve?

BG: I don’t want to presume to talk about the communities we serve because I’m not really part of that, but I do know that for everybody the pandemic has created a lot more anxiety, depression, and trauma. And that has been particularly true in the Black community because of the disproportionate impact that COVID has had in communities of color. Furthermore, the youth that we are serving are primarily in institutions, and the pandemic has only made it scarier and lonelier for people who are living and working in those institutions. 

On the other hand — and I hate to say this – but in some ways there have been positive impacts on our work. Even though we are no longer able to go into the institutions where the kids are living, we have been working with them remotely. The surveys they complete after they have gone through the program have demonstrated that the work has been just as impactful, if not more so, since we’ve been working remotely. The other “silver lining” is that in our last round of volunteer recruitment we recruited volunteers from around the country. As a result, the skill level of our volunteers has increased exponentially.    

RG: Yes, what we’re saying is that we now have a set of volunteers from all over the country who are working in King County Juvenile Detention with us. These are people who believe in the work, but they are also learning the work. We have now taught Pongo nationally and internationally. Our work, that we know of, is now being done in 11-12 different countries.

HS: According to Historic Seattle’s executive director Kji Kelly, “Pongo joined us at Washington Hall in August 2016. As a result of our space planning efforts before Phase 3 of construction, we identified areas within the building that we could offer to organizations matching the mission of the project. Washington Hall’s mission is to create a transformative space in Seattle’s Central District that honors the history of The Hall and is a home for arts & culture that reflects its legacy. Richard, and now Barbara, sit on our Hall Governance Board along with Creative Justice and our anchor partners.”  

What would you like to add to this background story of the relationship(s)?

RG: It’s been a real honor to join that community and learn from the arts organizations there. For example, we began with a focus on healing individuals, and part of our growth has been to recognize that the trauma that these individuals have – mostly youth of color, is from social injustice. They are part of a community of people of color in Seattle that has suffered. The organizations in Washington Hall are serving that very community, and it has been a privilege to be there and be part of that work.  

BG: I would add that I am really looking forward to partnering with Creative Justice and the other tenants in the building on both programmatic and anti-racism work.

HS: A lot of Pongo’s programming takes place at juvenile detention centers, hospitals, homeless shelters, supportive housing, etc. That said, what is the connection/significance of Pongo being based in Washington Hall?

RG: Washington Hall is our place for meeting as an organization. We (normally) interview volunteers there, we plan our work there, we communicate from there with donors, and people internationally who are doing the work. We bring people in there a lot and always talk about the history of the Hall. It is our home, and the history of the Hall is now part of our story. As I was saying earlier, we are working with individuals in institutions, but our goal is to be more present for the community and Washington Hall is an opportunity for us to do that.

It is also fun to be based in Washington Hall. These historic buildings, these places with history, places that have the edginess and imperfections that come with time and occasional neglect in some cases, they’re very soulful places. And thanks to Historic Seattle many have now been made available for artwork, and community work, and there’s energy there. We deal in healing people, so we know that there is a lot of beauty in imperfection, and the response to it, and the opportunity within it. That’s how I think about restoration too, it’s all very soulful. 

BG:  I have two points to add to that. One is, as you know, Washington Hall is a space that’s dedicated to arts and culture for people of color, and so is Pongo. So, I think in terms of that, it’s a really good fit. And secondly, the juvenile detention facility is our neighbor – it’s right down the street from where we are. Pongo is providing services for youth in our neighborhood, and they are some of the youth that could benefit from it the most. 

HS: Were you aware of Washington Hall before the Pongo Poetry Project took up residency there? Do you have any “first Hall experience” stories to share?

RG: I was a longtime subscriber to On the Boards. While it is not a social justice organization, On the Boards is a highly innovative, edgy, creative, arts organization – always stimulating, always interesting, so I always had that connection with Washington Hall.

BG: And I used to go to political events there, you know, back in like the 80s, and would also occasionally go to On the Boards performances there. So, when Richard told me where the office was located, I knew exactly where it was. And it sure looks great now!

HS: What interests you about the history of Washington Hall?

RG: I think I’m most moved by, and appreciative of, the iconic Black performers – Billie Holliday, Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Dinah Washington – the people who performed there. That that was their venue. They were not allowed to perform in white clubs in Seattle. So much of art is a response to challenges, and to exploration of ourselves. And at that time, it was a response to racism and the racist history of this country. I’m just very connected to that part of the Hall’s history and the beautiful bittersweet art that came out of that landed in the Hall because it couldn’t be somewhere else.

BG: I echo what Richard said and will add that, as a Jew, I was very interested to learn that Yiddish theater was performed there, and that the neighborhood was a largely Jewish neighborhood when the Hall first opened.

A Yiddish theater performance at Washington Hall, ca 1920s. Image courtesy of University of Washington, Special Archives.


HS: Do you consider yourself a preservationist? Why or why not?

RG: I never would’ve thought to apply that word, “preservationist,” to me, but we publish books, we take people’s stories, and we give them a concrete life of their own beyond the moment. And it’s actually a very important part of healing. Preserving the stories. With the difficulties they’ve had in their lives, our writers may not have had a parent to put their creations on a refrigerator with a magnet. But every story, and there have been something like over 8,000 poems written now, is saved. Anyone that comes to me and says, “In 2004, I did work with you in juvenile detention,” I can say, “Of course, tell me your name,” and I can send them their poetry.  So, it is part of acknowledging people’s value, to preserve. And maybe that’s the best way to compare Pongo’s work to Historic Seattle’s, we’re both acknowledging value, and preserving stories and manifestations.  

BG: I would add that I think it’s important to preserve historic buildings so that they can continue to benefit community. And I think that’s at the core of what Historic Seattle does. It’s not about preserving a fancy home so that one person can live in it, it’s about restoring it to its original beauty so that it can benefit the community.

To read or hear the work of some of Pongo’s teen writers, to get involved, or to donate visit There is also an opportunity to learn the Pongo method at a virtual workshop on Saturday, October 17. Learn more and register here.

The italicized text above is paraphrased, not directly quoted. The meaning has been preserved.

Seattle’s Full Story | September 2020

An Interview with Georgio Brown, conducted by 206 Zulu’s Kitty Wu

“I am happy to share with Historic Seattle readers an interview with one of our beloved community members, Georgio Brown. Georgio is a documentary filmmaker born in Harlem and has been in Seattle since 1990 documenting the Northwest’s Hip Hop scene. He currently sits on the board of 206 Zulu, a non-profit Hip Hop organization located at Washington Hall, as well as SeaDoc – Seattle’s Documentary Association. His seminal work, The Coolout Network, was a weekly television program originally seen on Seattle’s Public Access channel 29/77. The 30-minute weekly program was focused primarily on regional artists and is one of the longest-running Hip-Hop television programs in the nation capturing the rich musical history that the Pacific Northwest has to offer for nearly 30 years.

As an elder in the Hip Hop community, Georgio Brown is many things. He is a leader, a motivator, an empath that feels deeply the importance of artists and their contributions to the world. He is a listener that asks the important questions. He is the butterfly on the wall capturing what would otherwise be a memory.

Since 1991, Georgio Brown, creator and director of Coolout has created more than 700 episodes. Over the years he has filmed artists at their start, from Mary J. Blige, Busta Rhymes, Mix-a-Lot, to Specs, Laura Piece Kelly, Jonathan Moore, Macklemore and hundreds more. This video vault, along with more than 70 hours of new interviews comprise his most recent project, The Coolout Legacy, a historic retrospective of the first decade of the Coolout Network 1991-2001 and was the featured presentation at the inaugural Seattle Hip Hop Film Festival in 2019.” – Kitty Wu

Kitty: Georgio, take us back to 1991. When you started Coolout the internet did not exist. You had a television show on SCAN that was a platform to show folks what was going on in the city. Can you talk a little bit about what the Seattle Hip Hop community was like back then.

Georgio Brown: What the hip hop community was like back then was really organic.  It was a mixture of the era that came before, that had the bands and the live instrumentation and it was combined with the turntable. It had more of the live element. I like the way it felt, I like how people was doing it from the heart and I remember the first time I heard Seattle Hip-Hop was on KFOX with Nasty Nes when I first got here. I remember hearing a track called Union Street Hustlers by this guy named Ice Cold Mode who ended up being an emcee named Merciful. When I came up here was after the Mix-A-Lot era. There was a time when NastyMix records in the 80s was the Seattle record company in Seattle and Mix was the representation, the only one I heard about when I was in New York. Shows were polished man, they used to do shows at the Langston and that’s where I got a chance to meet people like Isaiah Anderson Jr. and Felicia Loud, Rico Bembry and Steve Sneed who used to put on shows there and they used to create a space for the community to come together. That’s where I got a chance to meet the black community one on one. Ghetto Children, Sensimilla, Tribal, all of those were the hot groups that I was seeing. I met Roc Phizzle and Funk Daddy up in Renton. It was a different mix of music and musical styles coming out of Seattle at the time. Some of it had an East Coast influence, some of it had a West Coast influence but it seemed like people in Seattle, they would take a little bit of each area and create their own sound. It was thought provoking, it was very musical, it was a different organic feel.

KW: Why was it so important for you to film these shows? 

GB: The feeling that you get when you go to a live show is like no other because you are doing this energy exchange with an artist and they are sharing a special part of their creative energy with us. So I wanted to share that with people that wasn’t in the room and I wanted to show it to the artist to show them what they were giving us. So when I say that I’m saying the artists are up there on stage and they are performing and they may get the applause, we are exchanging energy, but they don’t have any idea of what we felt when they were there, so I started filming them and showing them what we saw and showing them what we felt by showing them doing their art. That was always special to me because it was my way of showing them that we appreciated them.  A lot of artists go unnoticed. So as long as Coolout was there, there’s a chance that more people could see you. That was my mission, show the artist how dope they were, give them fuel to keep going and share something that I saw that felt good. 

KW: You talked about Langston Hughes, what other places were in Seattle at the time?

GB: Langston Hughes was the space, there was no other place that was really open to Hip-Hop because remember at that time gangster rap was making its signature on Hip Hop. So the city was hesitant as far as letting Hip Hop into the public venues. That’s when the Langston staff, Steve Sneed and Reco Bembry created a musical program that gave kids a creative option to gangs and crime. That was the heart of what ended up to be the Seattle hip-hop scene. 

KW: Over the years you’ve used a wide range of analog and digital technology to produce your programs, can you tell the people your ethos about filmmaking? 

GB: (laughs) My ethos, right. It’s never the camera, it’s the eye.  It’s not the device, it’s the story.  It’s taking what you have to tell a story. Using what you have to capture it. I say this because I’m 30 years in, so I remember cameras with big VHS tapes.  It was the content and the feeling I was choosing to showcase. I wanted to share this feeling that I was having with the world. It’s all about what you capture…the technology just makes it a lot easier.

KW: You and I, the whole world, have been dealing with COVID-19. As an artist, what is it like for you working in the midst of all of this?

GB: In a time of COVID, who knows how long it’s gonna be before we get to be in one room vibing together. See right now we’re in this new-new.  We are figuring out what that is and how we can still stay connected because the world works on energy, we are energy. We need a way to exchange that with each other, you know, exchange that and share it in the form of  positive affirmations, mutual admiration and self respect.

I miss the energy exchange. I miss being around creatives together in one space sharing creative ideas and building together. Right now in COVID we are stuck in the house or glued to  our phones and stuck on our screens. There was a time when we were interacting with each other face to face looking in people’s eyes. I mean, that’s a really important thing, COVID just pushed our isolation to a whole new level. As far as what I miss most, I miss feeling the energy of an artist performing, I miss the energy exchange of the applause, dancing and the interaction between the community. COVID has us all in boxes. We got to figure out a way to think Outside the Box to create a safe way for us to gather and enjoy the energy exchange while still social distancing. So the new-new is the future. That’s what we have to figure out. 

KW:  Speaking of the future, talk a little about the Coolout Academy.

GB: The Coolout Academy is an after-school program that we have been wanting to do for years, man. It’s taking the knowledge that we have gained over the past three decades and sharing that with the young people we work with at 206 Zulu. Right now more than ever, with the issues we all are facing this is an outlet for them to talk about the stories that matter to them. Captivating stories. I want to know about all of the students’ ideas and help them make videos that display their life and what’s special, I want to see things, what’s special about people. 

KW: Congratulations G, that is really exciting and a testament to your lovework. Any last words?

GB: I’m probably going to have a lot more to say when this is done, it always happens that way.  Coolout Network is 30 Years in April 2021. I still can’t believe that I’m still sitting in a place like Washington Hall where my original Coolout banner is on display. You know?  That is real special to me. I got to see the evolution of the music scene from Sir Mix-A-Lot to Grammy award winning Macklemore and all the groups in between. I got a chance to see the Seahawks win the Super Bowl. I got a chance to see a whole bunch of cool stuff that happened over 30 years in Seattle. This is the land of Boeing, Amazon, Microsoft, Starbucks. We start worldwide trends here. The world is watching our growth and evolution looking at what we are gonna be doing moving forward. Last words…I love the music scene here. Everyone that I film, I call them Coolout Fam for Life because we all shared in this evolution and their talent didn’t go unnoticed and was appreciated. Coolout Fam for Life.

Video Link: The Coolout Legacy Episode 1

Coolout aired weekly for 16 years on Seattle’s Public Access before going digital.  In April 2021, The Coolout Network celebrates 30 years of music and art in Seattle.

Photo by Shooter in the Town

Wa Na Wari: 2020 Community Advocacy Award

Congratulations to Wa Na Wari!

Wa Na Wari is an active center for Black art and culture sited in a 5th-generation Black-owned home in Seattle’s Central District. The home, originally built in 1909, was purchased by Frank and Goldyne Green in 1951 and members of the extended Green family continued to reside there through 2013.

In 2016, Inye Wokoma became the estate guardian and put a plan in place to preserve and maintain the home in perpetuity. Establishing Wa Na Wari is the first step towards securing that long-term vision.

The Central District, a historically redlined neighborhood, was 80% Black in the 1970s. Today, gentrification has taken hold, with a population that is now less than 14% Black and dropping. Seattle’s affordability crisis has impacted residential, commercial, and cultural opportunities for Black residents and has all but eliminated spaces where Black artists can live, work, and create. Aging Black homeowners struggle to afford skyrocketing property taxes and remaining Black residents experience isolation and economic hardship.

By providing space and resources for Black artists to collaborate, exhibit their work, and network with other artists, collectors, and patrons, Wa Na Wari is advancing the community in the face of such challenges.

Wa Na Wari was nominated for this award by Cynthia Brothers of Vanishing Seattle. “As a Black-led organization, Wa Na Wari is not only physically preserving a historic home – it is preserving Black culture, ownership, and the social connection which is integral to the neighborhood and to the city as a whole,” Cynthia said.

Wa Na Wari’s visionary usage of art and community stories both defends and creates space to sustain and reignite local Black cultural life. Furthermore, Wa Na Wari is actively demonstrating how Black art and culture can be effective tools for combating gentrification and displacement by securing Black-owned property for community use.

In the spring of 2020, Wa Na Wari launched a new program to help anchor the Black community in the Central District: The Central Area Cultural Ecosystem 21st Century (CACE 21). CACE 21 is a community organizing initiative that seeks to build grassroots power, expertise, and capacity among Black Central District homeowners and artists to envision and advocate for community-driven land use policies that fight displacement and lower the barriers to creating more cultural spaces, such as those based on the Wa Na Wari model.

At a time when the Black heritage of the Central District is at risk of being erased, Wa Na Wari has taken the lead in protecting and enhancing its cultural legacy. For that, it is our privilege to present them with Historic Seattle’s 2020 Community Advocacy Award. This award includes a $3,000 prize which Wa Na Wari plans to use to support their homeowner advocacy work.


Featured image by Mujale Chisebuka; 3rd embedded image by Jill Freidberg

Town Hall: 2020 Exemplary Stewardship Award

Congratulations to the project team!

Owner: Town Hall Association; Architect: BuildingWork and Weinstein AU (Matt Aalfs AIA, Kate Weiland AIA, Dave Aynardi AIA)

Structural Engineer: Magnusson Klemencic Associates; Civil Engineer: SiteWise Design; Landscape Architect: Karen Kiest Landscape Architects; Acoustic and AV Design: Jaffe Holden; Theater Consultant: The Shalleck Collaborative; Mechanical Engineer: Mazetti; Electrical Engineer: Stantec; Lighting Designer: Blanca Lighting Design; Interior Designer: Amy Baker Interior Design; Owner’s Representative: Point32; General Contractor: Rafn Company

The Town Hall Seattle building, originally the Fourth Church of Christ, Scientist, was designed in the Classical Revival style by architect George Foote Dunham and opened in 1916. In 1997, the congregation of the Fourth Church of Christ, Scientist was faced with the possibility of selling to an unsympathetic developer. Historic Seattle completed a feasibility study that supported its use as a performance space and successfully negotiated a purchase and sale agreement for the property. In 1998, Historic Seattle assigned the purchase rights for the building to Town Hall, LLC, an investor group led by David Brewster. Now called the Town Hall Association, the nonprofit ownership has offered hundreds of music performances, author readings, lectures, and a variety of “town hall” civic discussions and events in the years since.

After operating in the existing building for 15 years, Town Hall’s leadership realized that – while the building’s historic character helped define the organization – the building had many liabilities that limited programming opportunities. More people had passed through the building’s doors in its 20 years as a venue than in the previous 84 combined, pushing the century-old infrastructure to its limit and necessitating a complete renovation of the building. As part of the planning for the renovation project, Town Hall self-nominated for City of Seattle landmark status to help ensure that the upgrades would not alter the historic aesthetic.

“To address Town Hall’s liabilities, we started with a deep and thorough investigation of the historic building to learn how it was built, using both the latest 3D scanning technology and old-fashioned on-site physical investigation. We continually looked for and found innovative ways to integrate new construction within the building’s historic fabric. Our solution challenged conventional notions of design and engineering to prioritize historic preservation,” the architects at BuildingWork said.

The building’s preservation and modernization work included a complete seismic retrofit that minimized the visual impact of the structural work, improved accessibility, a new gender-neutral restroom, a new entrance to the downstairs venue, restored stained glass and light fixtures, state-of-the-art performance systems, new code-compliant mechanical systems, and sustainability upgrades – all while meeting the highest possible standards for preservation.

Today, Town Hall stands beautifully rejuvenated. The Forum on the lower level providesfor more intimate gatherings, and the stately Great Hall is a perfect performance and meeting space for large gatherings. Town Hall now has the facility it needs to further its mission for many years to come, earning the project team our Exemplary Stewardship Award.

Building 9 at Magnuson Park: 2020 Best Preservation Project Award

Congratulations to the project team!

Owner: Mercy Housing Northwest; Architect: Tonkin Architecture

General Contractor: The Rafn Company; Structural Engineer: IL Gross Structural Engineers; Civil Engineer: Coterra Engineering; Landscape Architect: Karen Kiest Landscape Architects; Mechanical, Electrical, & Plumbing Engineers: WSP USA; Historic Preservation Consultant: Kate Krafft; Environmental Consultant: PBS Engineering and Environmental; Building Envelope Consultants: RDH Building Science, Wetherholt and Associates; Geotechnical Engineer: Geoengineers; Acoustical Consultant: A3 Acoustics; Preschool Education Center (PEC) Tenant: Denise Louie Education Center; PEC Tenant Improvement Architect: Environmental Works Community Design Center; Health Clinic Tenant: Neighborcare; Health Clinic Tenant Improvement Architect: Miller Hayashi Architects

Building 9, now called Mercy Magnuson Place, at Magnuson Park, originally a barracks building for Naval Station Puget Sound on Sand Point, is now home to 148 units of affordable housing, the Denise Louie early learning education center, and a Neighborcare Health community health clinic – thanks to the outstanding work of the project team in partnership with Mercy Housing Northwest.

The building was constructed between 1929 and 1944 and served as barracks for naval personnel, including a mess hall, gymnasium, chapel, and offices. At its height, the base supported more than 4,600 Navy, Marine Corps, and civilian personnel.

However, the Navy decommissioned Building 9 in the 1990s. In the years since, the building fell into disrepair, with leaking roofs, graffiti, looters who stole the copper gutters and downspouts and pigeons.

Restoring the building, a contributing resource in both the Sand Point Naval Air Station National Register Historic District and Seattle Landmark District, was a massive undertaking. Building 9 is over 800 feet long, containing over 240,000 square feet of interior space. 75 tractor truckloads of asbestos and mold-laden demolition material were removed before the project team could begin.

To ensure the preservation of Building 9’s character, significant architectural features such as doors, stairways, and terrazzo flooring were restored, repaired, or rebuilt. To bring it into the future, the project team focused on preserving the building exterior and historic landscaping, creating vibrant resident and community spaces, accessibility, energy efficiency, interior lighting, envelope improvements including new roofing and windows, ventilation, and new building systems. This was all in addition to a seismic upgrade, which incorporated new steel brace frames and concrete shear walls.

As a complex renovation and new affordable housing project, Building 9 required multiple funding sources, including historic tax credits, low income housing tax credits, city, and state, private lender and philanthropic support.

In a city that desperately needs more affordable housing, Building 9 is a shining beacon of hope. In addition to providing much needed affordable homes for Seattle families, it repurposes a piece of Seattle’s history.

This project proves that, with the right mix of incentives and the right team, our historic built environment can respond to meet the needs of an ever-changing city.


South Park Yacht Club Apartments: 2020 Preserving Neighborhood Character Award

Congratulations to the South Park Yacht Club Apartments & owner Padraic Slattery!

The South Park Yacht Club building was originally built in 1954 as a 13-unit mid-century apartment building. Over time, it fell into disrepair and was completely dilapidated, becoming a blight for the neighborhood.

Where many may have seen a prime candidate for a teardown, Padraic Slattery – a preservationist and mid-century modern revivalist  – saw a building in need of some TLC. Over the years, Padraic has thoughtfully restored and revitalized several mid-century modern residential, commercial and dwellings throughout the Seattle area. Approaching his projects as a designer first and real estate developer second allows Padraic to create transformation.

Such is the case with the South Park Yacht Club. Slattery’s reimagining of the building defied the industry’s conventional wisdom as it pertains to both design and economics – more artistic crusade than traditional real estate investment. The building’s design was prioritized over the return on investment, elevating the project to a new standard and producing aboutique hotel-like feel for the apartments. The marina theme pays homage to the adjacent South Park Marina on the Duwamish River.

The project included restoring the brick façade, exposing the rustic wood ceilings, refinishing the concrete floors, and adding solar window shades, sound-absorbing insulation, smooth finish drywall, custom cabinetry, new appliances, wood or quartz slab kitchen countertops, full penny round tiled kitchen backsplash and shower walls, custom bathrooms with rain showers, frameless glass shower panels, brass lighting and hardware, and fully-fenced outdoor patios.


In lieu of being able to speak to you directly at this year’s Preservation Celebration Benefit – canceled due to COVID-19 – Padraic said, “To be recognized by Historic Seattle amid a deep and talented pool of past, present and future preservationist award recipients represents nothing short of a profound honor for me. The Yacht Club underwent a remarkable transformation and the project was treated more like an obligation to both the neighborhood and the structure itself rather than a real estate focused renovation project.”

He continued, “The building was in tear-down condition and resembled a housing complex that was no longer fit for human habitat. In my approach, I believe that as historic preservationists, we have an underlying debt not only to the buildings we preserve and the future occupants but also to the former tenants and the impact we have on the surrounding communities we invest in. From a design perspective, I make it a point to get funky because you can’t stand out if you fit in. I want people to see my soul in my work. When I started out on this journey, I made it a mission to dispose of outdated industry culture and standards. I prioritized design and that mindset often clouds economic reality but ultimately, I’m so much more satisfied with the end user product because of it. Nothing worthwhile comes easy, cheap, or fast and historic preservation done properly is no exception.”

“In closing, I would like to personally thank everyone who has inspired me, I collaborated with, and the people that provided me with the opportunity to be in the unique position to rehab historic buildings. It’s my aspiration to one day inspire a future design-oriented developer in the same way others have inspired me to follow in their footsteps,” Padraic concluded.

And we’d like to thank you, Padraic, for your vision and hard work to restore the South Park Yacht Club. Congratulations for earning this year’s Preserving Neighborhood Character Award!

Dan Say: 2020 Preservation Champion Award

Congratulations to Dan Say!

Anyone who meets Dan Say immediately sees that he is a passionate person. Dan brings passion and sensitivity to the structural design for every individual project. This means if a traditional structural approach is best for the project, great. But if an unusual, edge-of-the-box approach will better serve the design intent and maintain historic integrity, then that’s what you’ll get.

With 39 years of structural design for historic buildings under his belt, Dan has amassed an expansive resume. He and his team have touched a number of iconic places including the Pike Place Market redevelopment, King Street Station, more than a dozen buildings in the historic Pioneer Square neighborhood, six Carnegie Library renovations for Seattle Public Library, the Washington State Legislative building both pre- and
post-Nisqually Earthquake, the original Rainier Brewery, the Cherberg Building in Olympia, and multiple county courthouses throughout the state.

Dan is a native and second-generation Seattleite – his grandfather was an immigrant tile setter who worked on the original King Street Station lobby in 1906. He grew up on Beacon Hill in the shadow of the historic Pacific Tower (then called the Pacific Medical Center), attended O’Dea High School, and completed his education at Seattle University. His passion for local history combined with his love of people led him straight to a historic preservation career path. When Dan looks at a historic building, he not only sees the building’s bones but also the people that occupied that building and its relation to its neighborhood. He understands that the goal is not just to save the building, but to preserve the neighborhood’s history for future generations.

Building restoration is a key element in preserving a community’s history. Dan’s ability to provide practical design solutions with minimal intervention and his people skills are a winning combination for a successful renovation endeavor. Whether it’sproviding preliminary historic structure evaluations, or inserting seven stories of braced frames to the FX McRory’s project while removing only minimal portions of the
existing structure, or tracking down the original 1941 Yesler Terrace Steam Plant chimney stack drawings from the Chicago cons

truction company critical to the analysis that preserved the stack (resulting in $800,000 savings for Seattle Housing Authority), Dan and his team’s thoughtful approach for every project results in preserving the historic fabric for Seattle’s neighborhood gems.

In addition to being a founding principal with Swenson Say Fagét (SSF) for the past 25years, Dan’s community commitments include six years on the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation Board of Directors ( he is currently still a non-board member volunteer), four years on the AIA Seattle
Board of Directors, and two years on the Design-in-Public Board of Directors.

Nicholas Vann, AIA, Washington State’s Historical Architect with the Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation, speaks to Dan’s unrivaled approach to preservation state-wide:

“Dan Say truly sets the gold standard when it comes to sensitive, practical, innovative approaches to structural challenges in historic buildings. His diligence and attention to detail are unrivaled as evidenced by his outstanding accomplishments in Seattle and Washington State. He possesses characteristics that breed success in every project he touches, and he inspires others to approach historic rehabilitation projects with the same care and sensitivity as he does.”

So, raise a glass to Dan (an Italian red, he’d likely suggest) and all his accomplishments on behalf of historic places!

Pictured top to bottom, from Dan’s extensive portfolio: Pike Place Market, Metropole Building (Pioneer Square), aerial view of FX McRory’s (Pioneer Square); Fran’s Chocolates (the original Rainier Brewery and Claussen-Sweeney Brewing Company building, known collectively as Seattle Brewing and Malting Co, in Georgetown); the Green Lake and Columbia City Carnegie libraries

Lincoln High School: 2020 Beth Chave Best Rehabilitation Award

Congratulations to the Lincoln High School Project Team!

Owner: Seattle Public Schools
Architect: Bassetti Architects

Construction Manager: CBRE/Heery; Contractor: Lydig Construction; Structural Engineer: Coughlin Porter Lundeen; Mechanical Engineer: Metrix Engineers; Electrical Engineer: Hargis Engineers; Cost Control: RLB | Robinson; Landscape Architect: Cascade Design Collaborative; Civil Engineer: LPD Engineering; Acoustical Engineer: Stantec; Hardware Consultant: Adams Consulting; Food Service Consultant: JLR Design Group

About the Project:

Lincoln High School, a Seattle Landmark and the city’s oldest high school, first opened in 1907 to accommodate the rapid growth in North Seattle that came with the streetcar extension to Wallingford and relocation of the University of Washington campus. 113 years later, another wave of growth called the historic school back into action.

The building has been altered several times over the years. A north wing designed by Edgar Blair, the second school district architect, was added in 1914 and contained an auditorium and two small gymnasiums. A south wing designed by Floyd Naramore, the third district architect, was added in 1930 for art, music, classrooms, and a study hall.

The final major alteration of the 20th century, an International Style addition designed by NBBJ in 1958, accommodated physical education and performing arts programs but was a significant departure from the building’s historic context.

After a decline in enrollment in the 1970s, Lincoln High School closed in 1981 and was leased out for community use until 1997, when it began to be used as an interim site for schools under construction. The multiple users, haphazard remodels, and deferred maintenance left the building in very poor condition.

Like the 1914 and 1930 additions, the goal of the 2020 rehabilitation was to support modern educational needs while celebrating the rich contextual heritage of the landmark building.

The restoration of Lincoln’s exterior included tuckpointing, cleaning, and waterproofing of the brick cladding, along with terra cotta and sandstone repair and replacement.

New additions were sited to minimize impacts to primary facades while rotting and rusting fenestration was replaced with new, historically referential windows. The historic landscape, crowned by 100-year-old beech trees, was also preserved and revitalized. Interior renovation included complete system upgrades (seismic, life safety, mechanical, electrical) along with adaptive re-use of the building layout to support six learning communities surrounding a centralized student commons. Surviving historic interior elements (stairways, drinking fountain, alumni room, artwork) were also preserved.

The result is a school – which reopened to students in Fall 2019 – that provides outstanding learning settings while instilling pride in the preservation of a community landmark. The Beth Chave Best Rehabilitation Award honors Seattle Public Schools and the project team for their preservation efforts, made possible by community support from school levies and the neighborhood for embracing the renovation of its historic legacy.

Historic Seattle established the Beth Chave Historic Preservation Award in 2013 to honor our friend and colleague who served as the Landmarks Preservation Board Coordinator for the City of Seattle for 25 years. The award recognizes outstanding achievements in the field of historic preservation. Beth Chave (1955-2012) left an indelible mark on the city’s historic built environment. Her work with professional colleagues, landmark and historic district property owners, and neighborhood advocates throughout Seattle has left a legacy of honoring and protecting historic places in our communities.

The Louisa Hotel: 2020 Community Investment Award

Congratulations to the Louisa Hotel Project Team!

Owners: Yuen G Woo LLC (Woo family), Gaard Development
Partners: Chase Community Equity; First Federal; Barrientos Ryan; Rolluda Architects; DCI Engineering; Marpac Construction; Chinn Construction; Gemma Daggatt Interior Design; Northwest Vernacular

About the project:

The Louisa Hotel, a contributing building to the Seattle Chinatown National Register Historic District and the International Special Review District, was built in 1909 as a single occupancy (SRO) hotel with ground floor retail. Designed by Andrew Willatsen and Barry Byrne, disciples of Frank Lloyd Wright who worked in his Chicago studio at the turn of the century, the hotel first housed Chinese, Japanese, and Filipino immigrants while they waited for work in Alaskan canneries.

The building was once home to a casino, a jazz club, and Seattle’s first Chinese bakery – but this history was threatened by both the passing of time and by disaster.

The Louisa Hotel’s top floors were vacant for over 50 years. It had been too expensive to bring them up to code, as is the case with many buildings in the Chinatown-International District. On Christmas Eve in 2013, a fire broke out which burned the roof and compromised the western half of the building. With the mortar in the brick damaged

by the fire, the unreinforced masonry wall along Maynard Alley was in danger of collapse and became a threat to public safety. Furthermore, some of the building’s interior had collapsed onto itself.

The restoration project began by stabilizing, demolishing, rebuilding, and replicating the fire-damaged western side of the building. Just stabilizing the building took two years. The team then worked to preserve the Louisa Hotel’s façade and extensively renovate the eastern half of the building.

The restoration complied with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties. The team preserved the feel of the hallways by removing, refinishing, and reinstalling the historic doors, which still carry the shadow of their original unit numbers. The team paid close attention to detail when restoring the building’s character-defining features, such as the original wood trim, picture rails, leaded glass windows, and bay windows.

Notably, Prohibition era murals from the jazz club (shown here) were also discovered and restored. Furniture and other artifacts salvaged from the Louisa Hotel before demolition have been returned and put on display.

But the building is more than just brick and mortar. True to its origin as affordable workforce housing, the Louisa Hotel reopened with 84 units of affordable workforce housing for individuals and families earning between $35,000 and $80,000 per year. In June of 2019, the building opened its doors to new residents for the first time in over 50 years – and not a moment too soon.

We are proud to recognize the Woo family and Gaard Development with the Community Investment Award for their restoration of the Chinatown-International District’s historic Louisa Hotel.

Seattle’s Full Story | August 2020

Will the Last…Black Woman Leaving Seattle, Tell Seattle’s Full Story?

Written by Anonymous

“It is a difficult place to live (for a Black person),” said a Black person to me in response to hearing me, a Black person, say that I recently moved from Seattle. Side note: Weeks before the current pandemic shut down my new “hometown,” I arrived to start my next chapter, which is a whole other story!

Another think piece about Seattle’s problem with race, you say? Yes, I say! And, a few disclaimers before we get started …

Disclaimer 1: “If it doesn’t apply, let it fly.” Hi! To the White people reading this blog post, before continuing on this literary journey with me, if at any point you are offended by the words I transmit, if the words do not describe the way you live your life, then they do not apply to you – let it fly. However, perhaps evaluate why you felt judged by the lived experience of a Black person, a Seattle expatriate. Observe what comes up for you, if you feel pain in your body as you read and identify where it is, and find a way to move it out of your body through movement. Find a way to process this discomfort, for we cannot move forward until we face the full story of our lives, all the parts, not just the warm and fuzzies. A great resource is My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies by Resmaa Menakem. 

Disclaimer 2: In an effort to enlighten White people that they are a race – White – thus supporting the dismantling of white supremacy and our collective healing, I capitalize “White” in the phrase “White people.” We cannot transcend race until we all, especially White people, talk about race and acknowledge that being White is a thing … it’s been a very popular thing for centuries. The denial of its existence is especially problematic in a White majority city like Seattle. In particular, we need more White people to actually admit they are White and to understand what it means to be a White person, and how the idea of being a White person has caused, and continues to cause harm and trauma, for White people and people of color, especially Black people. We can’t solve a problem without understanding it – basic math word problem solving 101. And, step one of a 12-step recovery program – acknowledge that the problem / addiction exists.

Disclaimer 3: With the emotional pain of writing / speaking about race in the US as a Black person, comes the joy of release, of not intentionally silencing myself, as is customary to make White people feel comfortable, which is especially the case in a predominantly White city like Seattle. Yet, with the release, comes a bit of risk. In order to protect my life and livelihood, I am writing under “Anonymous.” I, unlike a White woman, do not have the same freedom and protection to speak freely about race and be awarded as an “ally.” Instead, I risk potential condemnation for being an “angry, Black woman,” risk employment, and my financial health. Every Black person in the US needs more grace than we receive in the world. Thanks to race, our relationships with White people can be complicated, for there is a tendency for White people to exorcise their anti-Blackness through our Black bodies, to prove they are a “good person,” not a “racist.” This anti-Black exorcism is especially in Seattle, where the chances of being the only Black person in a setting makes this racial complex inevitable and difficult to create trusting relationships with White people. Seattle is a difficult place to live, for a Black person.

What is Seattle’s full story? Well, it’s not one of a progressive, liberal city. It is the county seat of King County, the first namesake being William Rufus de Vane King, a pro-slavery U.S. Senator from Alabama and former U.S. Vice President.* In 1986, the King County Council changed the full name of the County to honor Dr. Martin Luther King. But, progressive Seattle? That moniker, at times, feels like a myth, an aspiration, good marketing, though, just like the supremacy of White people: what they like, where they live, what they produce, history that centers the White experience, buildings and structures associated with this experience, their opinions, etc., etc., i.e., white supremacy. This myth hides the white fragility that lurks in offices, places of business, and on the sidewalks of this majority-White city. It is no coincidence that the author of White Fragility lives in Seattle – it is a book that could be titled White Fragility: Seattle’s Full Story. I have first-hand experience with the pathology of white fragility, nearly line by line from Dr. DiAngelo’s book, from a one-hour business meeting, with a seasoned, White female senior executive in Seattle in 2019. The “Seattle Freeze” or “Seattle Nice?” Perhaps, in the context of race and some experiences of Black people in Seattle, these Seattle euphemisms are versions of gaslighting. And now, a reminder – “If it doesn’t apply, let it fly.”

Like most cities, Seattle is a city that Europeans established through violence and trauma – the displacement of Indigenous Peoples and Nations, and terrestrial and aquatic life. And, the trauma continued well into the modern world. Did you know that for years, that White people banned Indigenous people from visiting Alki Beach, the place where their ancestors once lived?

To tell the full story about Seattle or any city, institution, human experience, is to speak honestly about it. The glamorous parts, and, more importantly, the painful parts – the full story integrates the two parts to create a whole, full story. It’s not easy because the process includes examining trauma, a story that connects Black and White people alike. Trauma is a continuum. White people arrived to the US, the “New World,” as traumatized Europeans who not only traumatized each other – the Salem Witches for example – but also traumatized Indigenous Peoples and Nations and Black people through genocide, chattel slavery, and beyond. Thus, our trauma and subsequent healing are all connected. We can’t heal, what we don’t face.

One take on Seattle’s full story is that there are White people and other non-BIPOC people in your office harassing the one Black employee through a series of microaggressions that collectively become macroaggressions and slowly erode at the Black employee’s mental, physical, and emotional health. These are the same White and non-BIPOC (Black and Indigenous People of Color) employees that are your friends outside of work, that “pre-game” with you in Pioneer Square before a Sounders or Seahawks game. They, the Black employee, are too afraid to speak up, lest they risk their financial health or your friendship or business camaraderie. The full story is that your White friends and non-BIPOC friends are not the friends of your Black friend – they do not treat your Black friend, trust your Black friend the same way that they trust and treat you. Seattle is a difficult place to live for a Black person.

No one knows their biases, their true feelings about Black people until they are in the presence of a Black person. And, it is especially difficult to know your biases in Seattle, if the majority of the people around you are of the same race as you, if the only interaction with a Black person is with a public transit operator or a Black person experiencing homelessness or tangentially when volunteering in service to Black people as charity. Or, in a professional setting with the one Black person, the pressure is on them to defy the negative stereotypes of their race in a sea of White faces, and at the same time, be themselves – a game of conscious or unconscious mental gymnastics. In a city like Seattle, of overwhelming White majority, this is especially true, with a grand illusion of progressiveness that actually gaslights the not so comfortable experiences of Black people who call the city, the state of Washington home. Telling the full story about Seattle means telling everything about everyone’s experience in the city, and a part of that story includes understanding what it means to be a White person, and for the non-BIPOC, understanding how their anti-Blackness manifests from their proximity to whiteness.

So what, now what? To tell the full story of any city like Seattle, is to heal problematic perceptions like anti-Blackness, on an institutional and individual level. Perhaps, at an institutional level, integrate the not so pretty parts in history with the glamorous. It’s as little as Historic Seattle including a tidbit about redlining during their Capitol Hill Apartment Tour. It’s as little as the Southwest Historical Society and West Seattle Bike Connections mentioning on the 2017 “Log House to Long House” West Seattle Bike Tour that Indigenous people “were not allowed at Alki Beach.” But, telling an even fuller story, with the active voice is, “White people denied Indigenous people, such as the Duwamish, access to Alki Beach. Even though the Duwamish helped Europeans in battle against other Indigenous nations, the European inhabitants of Seattle banished the Duwamish from living in Seattle in the 1865 Indian Exclusion Ordinance, a law inconsistently enforced among European inhabitants of Seattle in the late 19th Century.”* A mouthful, but the full story about one of the best places in Seattle.

At a personal level, believe your Black friends and colleagues when they say that your friends are not their friends, that they do not feel as comfortable speaking candidly in the workplace, with your mutual manager or with the owner of the company, in the same way, that you do. Ask them why they feel the way they feel, and listen. Transcend superficial “nice” to deep connection, to, as W.E.B. DuBois said, understand the “Souls of Black Folk” – it’s a privilege to know it. Unlike the streets and other public spaces, there are no cameras in the boardroom or other places of business where cameras are not the norm to provide evidence of lived, painful experiences of being Black. For Seattle, being “progressive” must be more than a label, it must be a verb. And, why not? The word progress, a word that insinuates motion is in the word. So, the 2020 call to action for Seattle and other cities is to transcend the norm.

And again, if nothing in the paragraphs above applied to you, then let it fly … like a Seahawk – this is integral to taking good care of yourself. But, in a city like Seattle, that is majority White, that believes its own hype of being progressive and liberal, the problem is, is that anti-Blackness has been flying under the veil of “progressive” and “liberal” for too long. And, equally important is to admit when the uncomfortable reflection does apply, when the reflection presented above hurts. Find someone you trust to talk to about what came up for you as you read this, journal, seek additional resources about healing from racial trauma. And, if you see something, say something. Even being a bystander to hate and abuse, intentional or not, hurts, too. If you are a Black person and the above applied to you, may this grant you the courage to … be, simply be, and breathe, simply breathe. Be well. May we all have the courage to tell the full story, for why lie when the truth speaks. And, it will, for telling the truth leads to healing, and healing is the inevitable next step after pain. Take good care of yourselves. May all beings be at peace.

*Citation: Walk, Richard. “King County Council Remembers 1865 Exclusion of Native Americans.” Indian Country Today, 10 February 2015.


Will the Last…Black Woman Leaving Seattle, Tell Seattle’s Full Story?” is the August feature in Historic Seattle’s Seattle’s Full Story recurring blog series, contributed by an anonymous author. Submissions for features are accepted on a rolling basis – for more information:

Understanding and Preserving Black History

The tragic death of George Floyd was not an isolated incident. In order to understand this injustice, we must take the time to educate ourselves about the history of racist violence by White people against African Americans – and the intergenerational trauma it has caused. Furthermore, as preservationists, we must work harder to acknowledge and celebrate Black history.

Historic Seattle is committed to addressing racism within our organization and making tangible progress in resolving our organization’s lack of diversity in our staffing, governance, and storytelling. As such, in July 2020, we announced the creation of the recurring blog feature “Seattle’s Full Story.”

About Seattle’s Full Story

Inspired by the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s “Telling the Full American Story” initiative and aiming to help advance the work of the Black community in the ongoing #BlackLivesMatter movement, we are actively soliciting compensated content from Black contributors for our recurring blog feature “Seattle’s Full Story.” This call will expand to all BIPOC community members later this year.

Contributing stories are added to our blog and promoted through eNewsletters and social media.

Because our organization is a public development authority, we cannot include content that endorses political candidates or specific policy positions. It is our intention to post submissions without editing, with the exception of explicit language if needed in order to be appropriate for a general public audience of all ages.

As with volunteer contributions solicited from the public in spring 2020, the following guidelines apply: No prejudiced or biased content. No explicit images. Submissions should relate to telling Black stories of Seattle’s history and/or preservation. The format is not limited to traditional article format – photo series, poems, art, song, video, etc. are all options.

Submissions are accepted on a rolling basis (no deadline). Creators of selected contributions will receive a $100 honorarium for their work. For consideration, contributors may submit either a short concept summary (1-3 sentences) to be developed into full content upon selection or the complete piece if they so choose. Contributors retain all rights and ownership of their submitted intellectual property. We ask contributors to note “Published as part of the Seattle’s Full Story blog initiative of Historic Seattle” in any subsequent posting.

For more information or to submit, contact Historic Seattle at

More Resources

Many other groups & organizations are working to tell the full American story, across our region, state, and country. To learn more, visit:


  • The African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, a National Trust for Historic Preservation campaign “to draw attention to the remarkable stories that evoke centuries of African American activism and achievement, and to tell our nation’s full history.”
  • Preserving African American Historic Places, a 24-page primer published by the National Trust.
  • The Mildred Colodny Diversity Scholarship, a National Trust program that “provides financial assistance and experiential learning opportunities to individuals preparing for careers in historic preservation. The purpose of the Colodny Scholarship is to increase the diversity of people pursuing degrees and careers in historic preservation in the United States.”
  • The Space/Race Reading List, a crowdsourced reading list “on how race and racism are constructed with spatial means, and on how in turn space can be shaped by racism.”


  • Beyond Integrity, a 4Culture initiative to elevate equity in preservation standards and practices.
  • The Northwest African American Museum, an institution which “envisions a Pacific Northwest region where the important histories, arts, and cultures of people of African descent are embraced as an essential part of our shared heritage and future.”
  • Wa Na Wari, a “space for Black ownership, possibility, and belonging through art, historic preservation, and connection…in Seattle’s historically redlined Central District neighborhood.”
  • The Black Heritage Society of Washington State, whose mission is to “collect, preserve, and interpret the contributions of African Americans in Washington State.”

This page will continue to be updated. If you’d like to suggest a resource, please email

Pictured: A stained glass window at Mount Zion Baptist Church, manufactured by Mr. Douglas Phillips of Cleveland, OH. At the time of the construction of this church, Mr. Phillips was the only Black owner of a stained glass studio in the United States. The windows represent some of the Black church leaders and heroes who have made significant contributions to American civilization and were designed exclusively for the Mount Zion Baptist Church of Seattle.

Left: Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929 – 1968). Preacher, prophet, peaceful warrior. Civil rights leader. Right: Nathaniel “Nat” Turner (1800 – 1831). Enslaved Black man who launched one of the most historic and largest revolts to end enslavement in Southampton County, Virginia. It lasted 48 hours before armed, White men suppressed the revolt. (Source: Zinn Education Project)

#BlackLivesMatter #TellTheFullStory

Heart This Place: My End of Queen Anne Boulevard

By Cindy Hughes

To celebrate Preservation Month from home, we have launched Heart This Place – a new blog series from Historic Seattle staff. Each post will feature a different place that is significant to a member of our staff. In this installment, Council Assistant & GSC Rental Coordinator Cindy Hughes takes us on a tour of Queen Anne Boulevard:

30 years ago this month, my husband, infant daughter, and I moved to a shingled 1910 house located in the northern reaches of the historic Queen Anne Boulevard on Queen Anne Hill. I don’t think we realized at the time that we would be living on such a storied route – our actual new address was on 8th Ave. W. (no addresses are actually labeled “Queen Anne Boulevard,” they all correspond with the existing streets and the term is applied to the scenic route as a whole) and the area didn’t seem to have much in common with the celebrated Boulevard on the south slope of the hill.

Everyone knows that route for its expansive views and mansions built by timber barons and real estate magnates, but the Boulevard is more than the south brow of the hill – it reaches democratically north to encompass more modest blocks of builder’s bungalows and several small neighborhood business districts.

The little commercial district at 7th Ave. W. and W. McGraw St. with the Boulevard’s tree canopy embracing it from the south.

Over the years I have spent many hours venturing both north and south on the Boulevard from my house – walking, driving, bicycling, pushing strollers, waiting for school buses, walking dogs, and navigating its twists and turns as it stitches its way around the crest of the hill. Many of our visitors from out of town have experienced the walk with us south along the Wilcox Wall, past the Marshall Park Viewpoint and the grand estates along West Highland Drive, and ending at the iconic city and mountain viewpoint at Kerry Park. Less often I have headed north and then east along leafy streets with territorial views and sections where it would seem ironic to apply the designation of Boulevard at all.

But in the end it is the quieter north end of things that I am ending up appreciating, especially now that the Boulevard serves as my sanctioned close-to-home quarantine walk route during the COVID-19 pandemic. The rest of the city seems to have discovered the pieces to the south, but the crowds tend not to cluster north of West McGraw Street. These blocks represent recreation to me in a way they never did before, a way to get out of the house that now serves as a cramped workplace for three adults.

Montpelier Maples are a rare species of street tree lining this block of 8th Ave. W.

The legal description of Queen Anne Boulevard takes up two pages and gathers up 23 separate stretches of road ranging in length from one to eight blocks.  The fact that the Boulevard runs along narrow, already-platted streets made it unique; it differed greatly from the other broad roadways in the Olmsted plan. The design that was worked out by the Parks Board, the City Engineering Office, and neighborhood residents called for six phases of development that took place between 1911 and 1916. The tree planting plan was not particularly well coordinated between phases, resulting in a charming variety of tree species – consistent on each individual block but different from one block to the next.

Some additional highlights of the Boulevard north of McGraw:

The 1910 Prairie-style Handschy/Kistler House at 9th Ave. W. & W. Wheeler St. – the only City of Seattle Landmark home located on the Boulevard on this side of the hill. The architect was Andrew Willatsen, a student of Frank Lloyd Wright.

This house at 9th Ave. W. & W. Fulton St. was featured in Jud Yoho’s 1916 pattern book, “The Bungalow Craftsman.”

Peeking into Mt. Pleasant Cemetery as we round the curve back onto 8th Ave. W.

The venerable Arthur Wright Mortuary/Butterworth Funeral Home on W. Raye St.

As W. McGraw Pl. emerges at a 5-way intersection onto W. McGraw St., we can see the 5 Corners Hardware Store. It’s been open and heavily frequented during the pandemic.

As the Boulevard snakes through the Seattle street grid, it creates a number of small triangles at various intersections. This one at W. Smith St. and First Ave. W. is heavily landscaped by Seattle Parks and Recreation and features a prominent identification sign.

Foursquares were a popular architectural style on Queen Anne during the early years of the last century – this one is located at W. Smith St. and First Ave. W.

There are a number of stretches where the Boulevard doesn’t include sidewalks, especially along Wheeler and Bigelow Streets. Pedestrians are forced to walk in the street, which we are all doing anyway right now in order to socially distance ourselves. There is talk of closing at least part of the Boulevard to car traffic, under Seattle’s Stay Healthy Streets campaign begun during the pandemic.

An acknowledgement of the Boulevard’s status along the McGraw Street Bridge.

This triangle displays the brown directional street signs that were installed just a few years ago to guide Boulevard travelers along its non-intuitive twists and turns.

And one last look at yet another triangle created by the Boulevard’s energetic swoop along McGraw St. to Nob Hill Ave. N.

I am grateful to the community members of Queen Anne in the early part of the last century for bringing this remarkable streetscape to life, and to later historic preservation efforts to protect it and make it accessible to all. When this pandemic is all over it will continue to enrich our experience of the city, as it has done so well over the last 110 years.

Heart This Place: Hash Browns & History

By Naomi West

To celebrate Preservation Month from home, we have launched Heart This Place – a new blog series from Historic Seattle staff. Each post will feature a different place that is significant to a member of our staff. Up next, Director of Philanthropy & Engagement Naomi West serves up her favorite diners. Click below to enlarge:

Heart This Place – Tractor Tavern

By Jane Davies

To celebrate Preservation Month from home, we have launched Heart This Place – a new blog series from Historic Seattle staff. Each post will feature a different place that is significant to a member of our staff. Next up, Director of Finance & Administration Jane Davies’ poem for the Tractor Tavern in Ballard:


The Tractor Tavern

Built in nineteen hundred and two

On the historic street, Ballard Avenue

At a time when shingles were the jam

And Ballard’s population was about 10 grand.


New Melody Tavern came before,

From the 40s until around ’94,

The Tractor Tavern then took the stage

And today it is still all the rage.


When again it opens up its door

Let’s meet at the Tractor Tavern once more

Rich in history, music and booze

With a night at the Tractor, you just can’t lose.


Above photo: Jane Davies

Featured photo: A historic image of the Tractor Tavern building, courtesy of the Puget Sound Regional Branch of the Washington State Archives (via the Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

Heart This Place – Madison Park Beach

By Brady Begin

To celebrate Preservation Month from home, we have launched Heart This Place – a new blog series from Historic Seattle staff. Each post will feature a different place that is significant to a member of our staff. In this installment, Engagement & Administration Coordinator Brady Begin celebrates Madison Park Beach.

I first visited Madison Park during the summer after I graduated from UW. I said the neighborhood was “honestly too cute for words,” but that didn’t stop me from coming up with cheesy Instagram captions like “city beach vibes” and nailing far too many hashtags to my posts like some sort of millenial Martin Luther.

I had taken a photo of a trio of surfboards near the bathhouse, which, in retrospect, cracks me up. Who surfs on Lake Washington? They were more for decoration than anything, an escapist aesthetic that inspired the collages you see below. Look, I’m no artist, but I wanted to do something creative for my contribution to Heart This Place.

While I’m lucky enough to actually live in Madison Park now, I’m quarantined at my family’s home in the suburbs because my apartment doesn’t get enough natural light to work from home (if the neighborhood is one big beach, then my apartment is a sea cave). I cut out images and text from old magazines that my parents were throwing out and mashed them up with two different photos of the shoreline.

A collage based on a recent photo of the beach. The historic structure on the right is a boathouse that connected to the boardwalk, with one of the boardwalk’s swings also in view (courtesy of UW Libraries). The canoes are from another historic image of the shoreline (courtesy of MOHAI). Click to enlarge.

The first is a recent photo of me walking along the beach, backed by a waterfront condo building. The second is a historic photo of the boardwalk and pavilions that once adorned the shore, before development of the Lake Washington Ship Canal lowered the lake’s water level and before a 1914 fire burned down the main structure – Beede’s Madison Street Pavilion. The historic images came from Pavilion days on Lake Washington, a post from the now-defunct Madison Park Blogger, which details the structures’ centrality to the burgeoning beachfront community between the late 1800s and early 1900s.

I’ll admit that I’m torn as to whether or not I think the beach would be better with the boardwalk and pavilions that once lined the shore. On the one hand, there’s obviously a lot of recreational and amusement value there. On the other, the beach we have know is more laid-back and its modesty generally reflects the slower, quieter character of the neighborhood. Regardless, Madison Park Beach is still a great in-city retreat for Seattleites in search of their own Margaritaville or Kokomo.

A collage based on a historic photo of the Madison Park boardwalk and pavilions (courtesy of UW Libraries). Click to enlarge.

In a few months I’ll be leaving Seattle to attend graduate school at the University of Georgia. I’ll miss a lot of things, including this little slice of paradise here in Madison Park. I’m holding out hope that we’ll be able to gather safely before then so we can go out and enjoy Seattle’s many public shores.

Cheers to you, little beach village!

Heart This Place – Tramp Harbor and KVI Beach

Written by Kate Kelly, 12th Grade, Vashon High School

Photos by Davis Kelly, 10th Grade, Vashon High School

To celebrate Preservation Month from home, we have launched Heart This Place – a new blog series from Historic Seattle staff. Each post will feature a different place that is significant to a member of our staff. Next up, Executive Director Kji Kelly’s children Kate and Davis do some research into Tramp Harbor and KVI Beach:

Point Heyer, known as KVI Beach to residents of Vashon, was unofficially named after KVI Radio purchased the spit of sand and built a 431-foot radio tower in 1936. KVI Beach is the northern boundary of Tramp Harbor, located on the east side of Vashon Island. Now owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group, KVI Beach surrounds tidal salt marshes, which are an essential ecosystem to migrating birds, specific types of grasses, and numerous species of crabs, shellfish, and fish that find shelter in the marsh. This natural barrier lagoon is the largest in King County. In an attempt to preserve and protect the lagoon and habitat, the County has been proactively acquiring waterfront land to the north of the beach for many years.

Tramp Harbor has played an important role in the development of the Island. Vashon’s first automobile ferry dock was built on Tramp Harbor soon after a new highway was built connecting Seattle and Des Moines in 1916. This new car dock was located between two existing passenger docks at Portage and Ellisport that served the “Mosquito Fleet.” In 1922, instead of sending cars from Tramp Harbor to Des Moines, then driving north to Seattle, traffic was directed straight downtown to Colman Dock from a newly constructed dock on the north end of Vashon. (My parents will beg and plead with anyone who cares to listen, now that the West Seattle Bridge is closed, to once again re-direct cars to Colman Dock!) After cars began to leave the island from the north end, the Tramp Harbor dock was leased by the Standard Oil Company and was repurposed to bring gasoline, kerosene, oil, and diesel fuel to Vashon Island. The dock was used for this industrial purpose until the mid-1980s, when the dock was once again re-purposed and opened as a public fishing pier.

We, and so many other Islanders, spend many summer days at KVI Beach and on the protected waters of Tramp Harbor. Since our house faces the beach, it is the first thing we see when we get up and the last thing we see when we go to bed. With dogs playing fetch, the inlet off the south side of the beach being the perfect place to paddleboard, and an endless amount of beach glass you can find amongst the rocks, KVI is one of the most popular beaches on Vashon Island. With the beach and harbor being just a short walk from our home, we feel lucky to get to grow up in this magical place.

Kate, Kji, and Davis Kelly

Checking In with Friends of Little Saigon

Last September, we presented Friends of Little Saigon (FLS) with the Community Advocacy Award at our annual Preservation Celebration Benefit, recognizing their work preserving and enhancing Little Saigon’s cultural, economic, and historic vitality. For the first time ever, this award included a $3,000 prize which FLS intended to use to help advance their mission by building out and opening the Little Saigon Cultural Gathering Space. Like so many others these days, FLS’s plans have shifted because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nonetheless, their work to support, strengthen, and preserve culture and community is as robust as ever. We checked in with Valerie Tran, a member of Friends of Little Saigon’s leadership team, for her take on how the pandemic is impacting the Chinatown-International District (CID) community and what FLS is doing in response to those challenges.

One such response has been establishing the CID Restaurants and Other Small Businesses Relief Fund. In late March, a $100,000 seed gift from Vulcan enabled FLS, the Seattle Chinatown-International District Preservation and Development Authority (SCIDpda), and the Chinatown-International District Business Improvement Area (CIDBIA) to come together to provide much-needed financial relief to neighborhood restaurants and small businesses.

“By March, the neighborhood had already suffered effects of the pandemic for a long time,” explained Valerie. “As early as late January/early February, the spread of misinformation and racism had caused many people to feel afraid to visit Asian and Chinese restaurants and businesses.” To date, the emergency relief fund has raised over $300,000 in donations, and over 87 neighborhood restaurants have received critical funding through the program’s first wave of distributions. Currently, 130 non-restaurant businesses are being evaluated for the next wave of distributions, which is expected to take place in May.

There are many unique challenges in responding to the crisis and managing the relief fund. “Many of our community’s small businesses don’t have a history of engaging with us through mediums like email, websites, and social media,” Valerie said. Interactions in the community more often occur face-to-face, which proves difficult when people are in isolation and businesses are shuttered. “There is also a lot of skepticism because of scams that are targeting small business owners,” she added.

“Language has also been a challenge. In the beginning there was a flurry of information coming from the city, state, and federal governments. Information was coming quickly, but many in the neighborhood were getting the information 4-7 days later because of the time it takes to simplify, translate, and redistribute information. In some cases, we’ve brought information out to the community in hard copy. We’ve been doing a lot of advocacy to the state and city, urging them to provide translated information at the same time that it’s delivered in English,” Valerie noted. “It’s so important to provide consistent information about legitimate sources of assistance in a timely manner.”

About the role community has in responding to the crisis, Valerie said, “COVID-19 has had some positive effects in the way the community has come together to respond. Throughout history, Asian American and Pacific Islander groups have been pitted against each other. This leads to finger pointing and debate over which ethnic group is more oppressed. Now people are coming together, people are stepping up, and community groups are partnering like never before to provide financial relief, wellness checks, groceries, and meals to people in need. We’ve got to be in this together.”

In addition to her role as Operations Director at FLS, Valerie Tran previously served on the boards of FLS and the International Special Review District. She also currently serves on Historic Seattle’s Council and understands the value of preservation. “This COVID-19 response work is important for cultural preservation. If these businesses and cultural institutions can’t reopen, this will be a huge loss to the cultural fabric of the city and the communities that rely on them,” she said. “This is why this work is critical. We can sometimes take our cultural businesses and places for granted, but the crisis brings to light the importance of community preservation, and that our work must go beyond physical and architectural preservation.”

Valerie Tran (second from the left) with members of Friends of Little Saigon

While the opening of the Little Saigon Cultural Gathering Space is delayed as a result of the recent construction moratorium, space has been leased and will include a small business resource center, office space, a Vietnamese café, a library, and an art exhibit space. Earlier this year, FLS launched a call to artists and selections were made for what will be the art space’s inaugural exhibit. “Owning It” will feature several visual and 3D artworks by Vietnamese American artists.

It has been just three years since Friends of Little Saigon brought on its first paid staff member, executive director Quynh Pham. Prior to her arrival, FLS had been an all-volunteer group since its founding in 2011. “The progress that has been made toward our mission is a testament to Quynh’s ability to implement the volunteer board’s vision,” said Valerie. Historic Seattle joins Valerie in commending her colleague and the ongoing achievements of FLS.

Heart This Place: Union Stables

By Jeff Murdock

To celebrate Preservation Month from home, we have launched Heart This Place – a new blog series from Historic Seattle staff. Each post will feature a different place that is significant to a member of our staff. First up is Advocacy & Education Manager Jeff Murdock:

The Union Stables building as it appeared in 2011

After working for several years in my hometown in suburban Los Angeles, I made my way back to Seattle in 2007. We moved into to a fixer-upper apartment just up Western Avenue from Pike Place Market, situated diagonally across the street from the Union Stables building. At that time, these two buildings anchored a difficult block of Western Avenue. Surrounded by nefarious parking lots, with the viaduct walling off Western a half block north and the Battery Street tunnel ushering traffic north, it was easy to miss the historic building. It didn’t help that the mostly vacant property had been boarded up with plywood decorated with painted-on window details and garish multi-story banners advertising the property owner’s furniture business.

An interior view of the Union Stables building, 2011

But the intriguing urban stables did invite further investigation. I have always felt that there are a few old buildings in any neighborhood which, even after being ignored for decades and falling into the background of the city, can still convey a sense of memory and history – even as they wait precariously for a new life. To the casual observer, this was clearly once a working building – with its massive red brick masonry structure expressed in piers, large Roman arches, and expansive window openings. A curiously large pedimented parapet on Western is detailed with a telltale horse’s head, in terracotta. I had the opportunity to tour the ghostly interior of the building a couple years after we moved to the neighborhood. Walking through the massive horse-gnawed timber structure, it was easy to understand the layout of the stables, how horses moved through the building, and where they would spend their days waiting to convey their empty wagons home to the farms that supplied the public markets. You could imagine the heavy clip-clop of hoofs striking the substantial decking and alfalfa bales being lifted to the rooftop barn. But I don’t think it was my imagination bringing about the sensation of an odor of “agriculture,” that is, horse urine.

The terracotta horse’s head, 2011

In earlier-developed eastern cities, urban stables are a more common component of the built environment – reflecting the era when horsepower meant “powered by a horse.” Before the automobile’s transformative impact on urban design, cities developed with fashionable shopping streets offset by gritty working streets, which included urban stables as a building type. These working streets with their adapted stables would later provide the artist lofts and warehouse offices which contribute to many of our richest historic urban neighborhoods.

The Union Stables building was designed by George Dietrich and was constructed in 1910, not long after the Pike Place Market was founded. Accommodating over 300 horses, it was the largest of several stables constructed on Western Avenue (another one across the street from us is now occupied by Cloudburst Brewing, indicative of our changing neighborhood). A Seattle Daily Times article called it “the most modern stable west of the Mississippi.” However, it was built toward the end of the era of horse-drawn transportation in Seattle. By the early 1920s, the automobile had largely replaced equestrian transport in Seattle. The Union Stables’ robust construction and interior ramps allowed the building to be converted for various automotive uses. Over the years, the building intermittently served as a towing garage, furniture warehouse, and was even the location of an illicit cache of prohibition-era bootleg liquor, “the largest stock ever unearthed by police.” But its occupancy and uses dwindled over the years, and by the time we moved to the neighborhood the building was long empty.

The Union Stables building as it appears today

Today, our neighborhood is almost unrecognizable from when we moved here. The viaduct has disappeared, creating views that draw pedestrians north from Pike Place Market. Parking lots once noteworthy for being locations of illegal drug trade and nighttime gunfire are gradually becoming sites for high-end apartment development. Still, the Union Stables building holds court on our block. In 2013, the property was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and also became a City of Seattle designated landmark. Skillfully rehabilitated in recent years, the building is still occupied by stalls of daily workers – in architecture, construction, and technology.

See All the People: Mt. Virgin Church Changes with the Times

By Eleanor Boba

The following is the fourth in a series of guest blog posts submitted by members of the Historic Seattle community. The views and opinions expressed in guest posts are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Historic Seattle.

If you have an idea for a future post, please send a draft to You can review the guidelines here.

Here Is the Church

It started with a small wooden church on a hill between the Rainier Valley and Seattle’s Central District named for the patron saint of Germany. St. Boniface was built, probably sometime in the 1890s, by and for German Catholic immigrants to the city who hoped to worship in their own language.

Information on the little German church is scarce. The 1901 and 1902 Seattle Polk Directories list “St. Bonifacius, German Roman Catholic” at 28th Avenue South and Massachusetts, along with the words “no services.” Later additions of the directory make no mention of the church at all. The 1912 Baist map show the church alone on the hillside except for a small house immediately to the north. Anecdotal evidence indicates that a succession of caretaker families lived in the basement of the church, some German-speaking, some Italian.

The Italian Transformation

By 1910, the area surrounding St. Boniface was made up largely of Italian immigrant families – so much so that the area was nicknamed “Garlic Gulch” – and thus the little church was the natural choice for an Italian parish. Seattle Bishop Edward John O’Dea called on the Jesuits to minister to the growing Italian community in the city. On September 10, 1911, Fr. DeRop, S.J. said the first mass in Italian at the church. The diary of the Jesuit order notes that two weeks later Fr. DeRop took “some of our old pews” to the new Italian church. About this time the church’s name was changed to Our Lady of Monte Virgene, after a well-known church in Caserta, Italy. A sketch rendered by University of Washington graduate student Nellie Roe in 1914 depicts the church and school surrounded by a fenced garden. The caption states that “102 Italian children” attend the school.

In 1913 Fr. Lodovico Caramello arrived to take over for the ailing Fr. DeRop and immediately began to fast track plans for a new, grander edifice in the Florentine style of his homeland. The fruition of this project in 1915 is credited largely to Fr. Caramello’s commanding personality and his contacts in his native Italy.

The Italians built their church just to the west of, and back-to-back with, the old German church. The 1916 Sanborn map shows “Mt. Virgin R.C. Church” almost touching the “Old Church.” The small house is labeled “School,” although it was also the parish rectory. With the tower removed, St. Boniface became the parish hall and later served in a number of capacities, including as a gym, kindergarten, and workshop, before ultimately being torn down about 1970. Army surplus buildings, placed on the church property in the 1940s, became the Mount Virgin School where local children received instruction from Irish Dominican nuns and sometimes from the priests themselves.

For several decades, Mount Virgin and Father Caramello were the heart of the Italian community in Seattle. Long-time resident Ralph Vacca recalled:

The church in the Italian community, at least in that generation, was the center. And Father Caramello was God in America. You could take a string or measuring stick and go out whatever distance from Mount Virgin Church and there would be a lot of Italian names and families.

Vincent LaSalle spoke of the Italian culture that defined the church:

I was raised in the Catholic school with the Dominican nuns, Mount Virgin, the little Italian parish. And I became an altar boy when I was only in about the fourth grade and Father Caramello says he’s “gonna make an altar boy out of me.” So I became an altar boy; I was number one! And you never seen anything like it – such beautiful boys! You know the altar boys at the end of the year, they used to have a great big party, you know, all the Italian kids. They were all Italian, all of them.

Vacca-Patricelli wedding, 1927. Courtesy of the Rainier Valley Historical Society

To this day Our Lady of Mount Virgin is designated as a “national parish,” one without traditional geographic boundaries. Specifically it was, and is, an “Italian National Parish,” one of several in the country created to serve a specific immigrant community.

Opening the Doors

In the last decades of the 20th century, the Italian population in Garlic Gulch began to disperse, pushed out by the I-90/Mount Baker tunnel projects and changing demographics. Many Italian-Americans had already moved out to the suburbs by the time the second major freeway expansion began in 1979. Attendance at mass dwindled steadily and there were fears the church might close altogether. However, in that same year the first of several waves of Laotian Catholic refugees arrived in the Rainier Valley. Assisted by an Italian Catholic group working with the tribal people of Laos, these refugees were adopted into the parish, bringing new life to the little church.

Mount Virgin also has a special relationship with Native American Catholics in Seattle. For a number of years the parish offered a special mass for Native Americans. Today it continues to reach out to immigrant communities, particularly Laotian, Chinese, and Vietnamese communities, while still honoring its Italian origin. During the current Covid-19 crisis, no masses are scheduled, although the church is open for quiet contemplation during specified hours. It is located at 1531 Bradner Place South, just off MLK Jr Way, in the shadow of the Mount Baker lid.

Things have changed for Mount Virgin, but there is hope for the future as the church embraces the Catholic tradition of “adopting and adapting” to new circumstances and cultures.

Information for this story is drawn from the archives of the Seattle Archdiocese, Special Collections at the University of Washington, Puget Sound Branch of the Washington State Archives, and oral histories collected by the Rainier Valley Historical Society.


Eleanor Boba is a public historian who writes about historic places off the beaten path at Remnants of our Past. A stint at the Rainier Valley Historical Society gave her a deep appreciation of Southeast Seattle.

The Regrade Disasters

By Michael Herschensohn

The following is the third in a series of guest blog posts submitted by members of the Historic Seattle community. The views and opinions expressed in guest posts are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Historic Seattle.

If you have an idea for a future post, please send a draft to You can review the guidelines here.

Between 1929 and 1930, a wee bit of Queen Anne (that part east of 5th Ave. N., west of 9th Ave. N. and bound by Denny Way on the south and Broad St. on the north) got washed into Elliott Bay as part of the third Denny Regrade. Our bit formed the northeast corner of the project. The lowering of Denny Park, the city’s first park, was a big part of the work even though purists will say the park isn’t in Queen Anne at all!

I’ve known that for a very long time and ever since I moved back to Seattle in 1985, I’ve wondered why. Stumbling on a paper written some 42 years ago, I discovered the reason. Having returned in my first old age at age 36 to graduate school to study historic preservation planning and architectural history, I took Seattle as the subject of many assignments. After all, I had just spent four years teaching at the UW, so Seattle history became my go to topic.

R.H. Thomson, courtesy of Paul Dorpat

I prepared that paper (“The Denny Regrade”) for a class in the history of American urban planning with the dean of the field, Professor John C. Reps. My paper traced the history of the regrade projects. The first one took place between 1898 and 1899 when city engineer Reginald Heber Thomson (1856-1949). convinced city officials to remove a portion of the hill on the north end of Seattle’s downtown. Thomson had been the city engineer for nearly a decade when the project began. He was obsessed with fostering the city’s economic growth and sure that expanding the business district out of the pit in which he saw it trapped would help the city grow. Thomson defined the pit as the land between the mud flats south of Yesler Way and Denny Hill.

Washing the hill away, courtesy of the Seattle Public Library

The first regrade washed away First Avenue from Pine Street to Denny Way. The second regrade (1903-1911) took down Denny Hill from Second Avenue to Fifth between Pike and Cedar.  The third one occurred between 1928 and 1930 as a nutty response to the second one after it failed to increase land values or attract the energy of the burgeoning central business district. Some say Thomson was a visionary. I see him in the same class as robber barons, those stubborn autocrats set on getting their way whatever the consequences. I forgive Thomson because his bull-headed behavior was well intended and didn’t make him rich. To be perfectly fair, Thomson had nothing to do with the third regrade. He’d moved on long before it began.

Hydraulic sluicing Seattle’s soft clay made the regrade projects easy to do. The sluices were, by the way, a common strategy for moving wet earth and were part of Seattle’s culture following the Klondike Gold Rush where stream beds were diverted through sluices to strain them for gold. By the time of the third regrade, the work got easy. Rubber conveyor belts moved the washed-out dirt to Elliott Bay where cleverly designed barges dumped it. Filled with dirt falling from the belt, the double-sided barges were towed out in the bay where they flipped over, dumped their loads and presented an empty bin ready for refilling at the shore.

The Denny Hotel in 1903, courtesy of Paul Dorpat

It seems fair to say that except for dumping tons of dirt into Elliott Bay and leveling a very big hill, the regrades flopped terribly. They did practically nothing to improve the economic vitality of the city until almost a century later when Amazon finally redeveloped that big chunk of the third regrade between 6th and 8th avenues. It is Thomson’s failure to see the possibility of the regrades failing economically that interests me.

The first regrade set the stage for the second. James Moore, owner of the huge Washington Hotel on top of Denny Hill, resisted the regrade concept that Thomson touted. Moore had bought the unfinished Denny Hotel at the tippy top of the hill from Arthur Denny, renamed it the Washington Hotel and completed it at considerable expense.

The Washington Hotel on Denny Hill after the first regrade, courtesy of MOHAI

Moore balked at tearing down his hotel and his substantial portion of the hill, but Thomson charged ahead with the first regrade making Moore’s hotel pretty inaccessible. When Moore caved in, Thomson moved forward with the second regrade. The top of the hill and the hotel began to disappear in 1906. About the same time, Moore built a new hotel, the New Washington, at Second and Stewart (today’s Josephinum) and the Moore Theatre next door. Both were completed in advance of the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, the world’s fair held on the UW campus.

Stretching roughly from First Avenue east to Fifth and from Pike north to Cedar, the second regrade leveled about 170 feet of Denny Hill. For comparison purposes, it stood a little bit more than one third as high as Queen Anne Hill (436 feet) today. As Walt Crowley tells it, the failure of the first regrade was driven partially by being butted up to the second half which provided a dismal backdrop to the new flatlands of Belltown. Crowley also points to two other factors that stymied the redevelopment of the regrades. Both can be attributed to poor thinking by Thomson or his arrogance.

Crowley politely contends that Thomson could not have anticipated the advent of the automobile which made close in development of the city less necessary and that he had no way to understand the impact of skyscrapers such as the Smith Tower (completed in 1914). Skyscrapers increased the density of offices in the historic core and like the automobile reduced the need to expand over the land.

I’d agree that Thomson’s timing was off, but skyscrapers were already dotting New York and Chicago. Seattle got its first skyscraper, the Alaska Building, in 1904, just about the time of the second regrade, the big one, got underway. Were he the far-thinking urban planner local historians have seen in him, he would have understood the future of very tall buildings. Maybe his rural Ohio roots blinded him to this urban potential. As for the automobile, Crowley may be right. There were only a couple of thousand cars in the state when the second regrade began. The automobile was still very far from its polluting heyday, and no one could have anticipated its impact on urban sprawl. In fact, we still haven’t figured out how to manage it.

The system embraced for financing the regrades may have been the final nail in the coffin. To finance the work, the city adopted a local improvement district, a LID, just like the one recently imposed on downtown businesses to fund improvements along the waterfront. Property owners in the regrades were taxed to pay for the work under the assumption that the improvements, the lowering of the hills, would increase property values and make them rich.

It just didn’t work out that way. The new flat land of the second regrade was unnecessary and ugly. Without the need for fancy stores, homes or hotels in the new neighborhood, flop houses, bars and some tenements moved in. At the very same time Paris and New York were identifying unhealthy neighborhoods for their ultimate removal, Seattle built one.

Thomson tried to remedy the problem with the second regrade by washing the hill he’d left behind into the bay. The outcome was nearly as bad. The flop houses, bars and single room only apartments only spread. Eliminating the eastern portion of hill gave license to the down and out character of the first regrade to spread unchecked. My guess is that Prohibition didn’t hurt either.

The third regrade completed between 1928 and late 1930 eliminated what remained of the hill. Eventually, the bulk of it was bought up by the Clise family, Seattle’s most well-known real estate developers. As late as 2008, the Clise property was the largest contiguous inner-city tract of land in the United States, larger even than New York City’s 22-acre Rockefeller Center.

Now, long after I wrote that paper for John Reps, I worry about the people in government making unchallenged decisions that are transforming our world. At the end of 19th c., Thomson convinced city officials to undertake a project that transformed Seattle. Until Amazon’s recent purchase of broad swaths of the third Denny Regrade, the northern portions of Seattle’s business district were a disaster, lying fallow for over 100 years. In reviewing my paper, my fear of simply accepting the wisdom of people in power is confirmed. Of course, Thomson did some great things for Seattle, particularly the Cedar River watershed project which still provides our clean drinking water, but he garnered too much power. His biggest ideas went unchallenged, and some, such as the Denny Regrades, bore rotten fruit.


Michael Herschensohn trained in architectural history and preservation planning at Cornell University. He served on the Historic Seattle Council for nearly 30 years. Michael continues volunteer preservation work as president of the Queen Anne Historical Society where he regularly writes about the fabric of his neighborhood’s built environment. This piece originally appeared on the QAHS website.

Color Your Own Showbox Marquee!

Are you looking for something fun to do while staying safe indoors? Robb Hamilton of Simcoe Industries has shared a copy of his original pen and ink drawing of The Showbox for you to print and color yourself. You can even write your own message in the marquee!

We can’t wait to see what you create – tag us in a Facebook or Instagram post, and don’t forget to use the hashtag #savetheshowbox. You can also email your completed marquee to us at! Read on to learn about how Robb got started drawing old signs of Seattle.

The following is the second in a series of guest blog posts submitted by members of the Historic Seattle community. The views and opinions expressed in guest posts are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Historic Seattle.

If you have an idea for a future post, please send a draft to You can review the guidelines here.

By Robb Hamilton

After the Four Seas in the International District closed a few years ago, I made a pen and ink drawing of the sign for my brother as it was the spot where he met his friends before and after Seahawks games. It elicited such a positive reaction that I started to draw more old signs from Seattle, including Art’s Plaza, Ying’s, and Imperial Lanes. Although none of these signs were architecturally or historically significant, they were treasured by people who grew up in the city for the memories they invoked.

When I learned that Historic Seattle was involved in trying to save The Showbox, I got the idea to make a poster of the original Showbox marquee which I could sell to raise funds for the preservation effort. I’ve seen tons of shows at The Showbox and the thought of losing it bothers me greatly. Just as my brother had a strong emotional tie to the Four Seas, lots of folks in Seattle have similar reactions to The Showbox.

Since we all need activities to keep us busy during quarantine, here is a copy of my original pen and ink drawing. Feel free to color in the neon tubes and letters and write your favorite show on the marquee (my fav was Screaming Trees).

Click the image below to download and print the PDF:

Robb Hamilton is an illustrator from Seattle. He likes drawing old signs. Simcoe Industries is named after the Simcoe Mountains in Klickitat County where his grandparents lived.

What Researching my Partner’s Grandfather’s Old Home Taught Me About Seattle’s Homebuilding History

By Kelsey Williams

The following is the first in a series of guest blog posts submitted by members of the Historic Seattle community. The views and opinions expressed in guest posts are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Historic Seattle.

If you have an idea for a future post, please send a draft to Not all submissions will be posted but we appreciate your interest in contributing!

Last spring, I sat attentively in a classroom at the Good Shepherd Center, learning from Historic Seattle’s Advocacy Workshop Series. I was relatively new to Seattle—having lived in this city for only six months—and found myself wanting to join its historic preservation community. After learning how to research properties, I was itching to start a research project of my own and was deeply curious about how Seattle’s neighborhoods came to be.

I had no firm roots in the city yet, so it was challenging to choose a property that felt personally meaningful. I loved the Space Needle and Smith Tower, but selecting those structures for my initial historical dig was perhaps too ambitious—and overdone! My partner’s family, however, has been established in Seattle for four generations. One property tied to his family history stood out to me instantly: in 1948, his grandfather purchased a Craftsman home on 1st Avenue N.E. in Wallingford (the home was constructed in 1911). The first time I visited my then-long-distance partner in Seattle, he proudly drove me past the house. It was a place that found its way into numerous stories he had shared with me. It was glaringly solidified in his life and memory as a landmark (his dad was raised in the home, and my partner himself spent a few years living there in his early twenties before his family made the tough decision to sell it).

With this home in mind, I dove enthusiastically into a three-month research project to uncover every possible detail of its construction, past tenants, and alterations. What I discovered was far more impactful than I anticipated: I uncovered the otherworldly history of the pioneering days of a city so fresh to me.

Although the house has been altered, the address on the historic photograph (taken in 1937 and provided to me by the Washington State Archives, Puget Sound Regional Branch) has been removed to respect the privacy of the current homeowners.

My most ambitious goal was to complete a timeline of the house’s tenants and trace its history back to the architect and commissioner. I thought this would be relatively simple because of the Seattle Public Library’s Polk’s Seattle City Directory collection. An annual printing of the Polk directory listed Seattle’s citizens in alphabetical order by surname, including an individual’s home address and profession. “Reverse” directories began to be searchable via street address from the year 1937 onward, so things got tricky in terms of finding information about the years prior. For those earlier years, I needed to know the name of a person in order to search for the home’s record. I learned that the Soderlind family owned the house in 1937, so I was able to trace their tenancy backward in time. But when I got to the year they weren’t listed as the tenants (1920), I hit a dead end. I had to miraculously conjure up the name of the person(s) they received the home from, which seemed an impossible task unless I was willing to leaf through 1,000+ page volumes of small text.

I searched arduously for possible dwellers of the home by visiting the Seattle Department of Construction & Inspections Microfilm Library, and looked through census reports, newspaper archives, and genealogy sites. The other tenants were slowly unveiled. Finally, the names of the first owner and the man who sold the plot for construction were in my possession. But no architect or builder was listed for the project! What did that mean?

The most alluring piece of history that I was introduced to during this project was the existence of plan books. History Link described this aspect of the Seattle building climate of the 1900s-1920s best: “A housebuilding industry began to take shape—spectators, developers, builders—but architects were rare. Instead, architectural plan and pattern books were popular on the frontier. These evolved into more complex and more prescriptive pattern books commonly used by builders and architects through the mid- and late-nineteenth century.” Home construction by the layman became a common occurrence. A plot owner purchased one of these plan books, ordered a design of their liking, and had the necessary materials and instructions delivered. The plot owner had the option to construct the home themselves or hire a contractor or builder. As a new societal endeavor, plan books offered home builders access to building materials and architect-approved drawings to, as Western Home Builder’s 5th edition stated, “secure a design of an attractive, artistic, well-arranged home at a price within the reach of all.”

Design No. 764 in American Dwellings: Bungalows, Cottages, Residences.

Seattleites were able to choose designs ranging from the practical, single-roomed farmhouse to a massive, ornate, Victorian-style residence—all available from the same publication. A standard plan book house design that you’ll see scattered across Seattle’s topography is Victor Voorhees’ design No. 91, now affectionately known as the “Seattle Box.” The closest plan book design I found to the Wallingford house in question was design No. 764 from Glenn L. Saxton’s plan book American Dwellings: Bungalows, Cottages, Residences. Almost identical, both houses feature three front-facing gables, a roof overhanging the front door’s porch, triangle knee braces, and a side dormer.

Now, after learning about this old-time process of home construction, I have a newfound wonder for the homes in Wallingford and other Seattle neighborhoods. Whenever I drive past or walk by a residence that mimics Home No. 764’s style, I wonder if a family over 100 years ago bought that plan from a book for $1.00*. In the case of my partner’s grandfather’s home, that one dollar sure went a long way—it traveled sentimentally through generations, disguised as a 1.5-story vessel for living.

*The cost of the plan book was $1.00; however, that particular house design had a materials cost of $3,000.


Kelsey made her way to Seattle nearly two years ago by way of Los Angeles. She is the Photography Archivist for the Eames Office and a historian for the Eames House. She spends much of her free time researching, stalking, and photographing mid-century modern architecture—both locally and nationally.

Death of a Landmark: The Sullivan House

It took only a couple hours (if even that) to demolish the 122 year-old Sullivan House on Capitol Hill the morning of March 18. This historic home, prominently situated on the southeast corner of 15th Avenue and E. Olive Way, was a designated Seattle Landmark. The house was built in ca. 1898 for Patrick J. and Joanna Sullivan. P.J. Sullivan was the proprietor of Queen City Boiler Works before becoming involved in real estate development. The house was designed in the Queen Anne style by the prominent architecture firm of Josenhans and Allan, credited for designing notable works such as the Marion Building at 818 2nd Avenue, the C.C. Cawsey House at 325 West Kinnear Place West, as well as Lewis, Clark, and Parrington Halls on the University of Washington campus.

The property was listed for sale in 2017 for $2.2M, a price that did not reflect the decades of deferred maintenance of the house. It was a prime candidate for renovation and some TLC but the asking price was cost prohibitive, leaving the property vulnerable to market forces. Seeking a way to preserve the historic house, a Seattle architect and Capitol Hill neighbor submitted a landmark nomination application in 2017 without support from the owner (the owner’s consent is not required to landmark a building in Seattle).

The Sullivan House was designated a landmark by the Landmarks Preservation Board (LPB) in 2018. Its designation was supported by Historic Seattle and many in the Capitol Hill community. We supported the nomination and designation of the Sullivan House because it embodied the distinctive characteristics of the Queen Anne style, represented an outstanding work of the architecture firm of Josenhans and Allen, and was situated prominently at the southeast corner of 15th Ave and E Olive Way, presenting a striking contrast to surrounding buildings.

An early photo of the Sullivan House, courtesy of Seattle Dream Homes.

After the building was designated on February 7, 2018, the owner and the LPB staff entered into negotiations for a “Controls and Incentives” agreement. Controls are what protect a landmark’s designated physical features. Incentives are financial benefits and zoning and building code relief available to owners of landmarked properties. Historic Seattle advocated for controls to be placed on the Sullivan House through a detailed analysis and pro forma demonstrating that the property, as a designated landmark with controls, could still provide a reasonable rate of return to an owner or investor. We felt it was important to conduct this analysis because two other recently designated landmarks (the Galbraith House and the Wayne Apartments) had no controls placed on them, paving the way for demolition. We did not want to see another historic property face the same fate.

At its September 19, 2018 meeting, the Board voted to place controls on the property. This victory was short-lived, however, as the owner appealed the Board’s decision to the Hearing Examiner. In early 2019, the owner and the City of Seattle settled and controls were lifted – leaving no protections for the Sullivan House. The decision not to place controls was the result of a “Stipulation and Proposed Recommendation and Order” signed by the Hearing Examiner at the request of the City Attorney and legal counsel for the owner. The stipulation claimed that “Controls will prevent the Estate from realizing a reasonable return on the property…”

Historic Seattle strongly disagreed with this conclusion because we demonstrated to the Landmarks Preservation Board (in a public comment letter containing well-reasoned analysis) that controls would not prevent a reasonable return on the property. Real estate finance is not an exact science. What one developer finds to be an acceptable rate of return, another may find unacceptable. Other factors that come into play, such as market value, cap rate, comparables, etc. are all malleable.

The Sullivan House was the third landmark to be designated without controls in just over a year. The landmark Galbraith House (also on Capitol Hill) was demolished in January 2018 because it had no controls. It has now been over two years and the site of the Galbraith House is still vacant, as a replacement project has yet to be built. Controls were not placed on the landmark Wayne Apartments in Belltown in 2018, and its days are numbered as well because the property is for sale and may be under contract with a developer.

Until the last couple of years, it had been rare for the Board to place no controls on a designated landmark. We know these must have been difficult decisions for the Board and City staff. What’s not helping is the current, overinflated market value of properties in Seattle and the trend of “demolition-by-neglect” by owners who let their properties deteriorate to the point where rehabilitation is much more expensive than if the properties had been maintained over the years. If a developer or property owner can show no “reasonable economic use” for a designated property, then the death knell will surely sound for the landmark.

The deteriorating Sullivan House as it appeared toward the end of its life. Photo courtesy of Seattle Dream Homes.

The Sullivan House had been converted to a five-unit apartment building in 1949, offering affordable rents for 70 years until it was sold in 2019 to a private developer for just under $2.2M. A victim of neglect and development pressure, it will be replaced by eight townhomes which will be sold for market rate.

The demolition of the Sullivan House will not be in vain. We will learn from this as we work to protect other designated landmarks where controls are not yet in place, because this cannot be the new normal for our city’s historic places. Something needs to change. Historic Seattle and our community partners in preservation hope to work with the City to look for ways to improve the Landmarks Preservation Ordinance so that it can provide the legal protections needed for our city’s historic places.

Historic Seattle’s landmarking of The Showbox is now in the controls and incentives phase. We are doing all we can to demonstrate that as a designated landmark with controls, the Showbox property will still provide an owner or investor reasonable economic use. Landmarks deserve protection, not plaques.

The “stairs to nowhere” on the site of the now-demolished Sullivan House

Women’s History Embodied in our Built Environment

It goes without saying that women’s history is embodied in numerous places within Seattle, across the state, and throughout the country. How aware are we of these places, and in what ways are they recognized or, better yet, protected?

Let’s first look at local sites. Four of our city’s six landmark designation criteria can be applied to women, either as a cultural group or individually. Therefore, a number of Seattle’s landmarks were designated as such specifically because of their association with either individual women or groups of women whose lives played large roles in shaping our city’s history. The Cooper School in West Seattle’s Delridge neighborhood, the Dr. Annie Russell House in the University District, and The Good Shepherd Center in Wallingford are three examples of places recognized as landmarks at least in part because of their association with women.

The Youngstown Cultural Arts Center in the Delridge neighborhood, historically known as The Cooper School, courtesy of Denny Sternstein.

According to the landmark designation report for The Cooper School, now home to the Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, the building “was the location for the appointment of the first African-American teacher hired by the Seattle Public Schools, Thelma Dewitty (1912-1977). She began her teaching position in September 1947, after pressure on her behalf from the Seattle Urban League, NAACP, the Civic Unity Committee, and Christian Friends for Racial Equality… Although Seattle was known for racial tolerance, Dewitty’s appointment was newsworthy and generated some conflict. When she was hired at Cooper, other teachers were informed that a black teacher would be joining them and were given the option to transfer. One parent requested that her child be removed from Dewitty’s class, although that request was denied by the principal. After teaching at Cooper, Dewitty continued her career in several Seattle schools before her retirement in 1973 and was known for her civic involvement. She was the president of the Seattle chapter of the NAACP in the late 1950s and also served on the State Board Against Discrimination and the Board of Theater Supervisors for Seattle and King County.”

The landmarked Dr. Annie Russell House at 5721 8th Avenue NE in the University District, courtesy of Joe Mabel.

The Dr. Annie Russell House landmark designation report states, “Dr. Annie Russell (1868-1942), the original owner, is significant in Seattle’s history because she was one of the first female physicians in Washington State and the City of Seattle. She was a colorful character, with an adventurous personality and an interesting history. She was also a controversial figure in the Seattle medical community in the early 20th century.” The controversy refers to Dr. Russell having her medical license revoked for performing abortions out of her home. She was eventually pardoned, and her license was later reinstated which furthered the controversy that surrounded her.

A historic postcard features an image of Wallingford’s Good Shepherd Center in its early days.

Today, the Historic Seattle-owned Good Shepherd Center (GSC) is a thriving multi-purpose community center housing a senior center, six live/work units for artists, a rehearsal and performance space, various schools, local and international non-profit organizations, and several small businesses. But originally the property and grounds were occupied for over 60 years by the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, who provided shelter, education, and training to young women. According to a HistoryLink essay, “The mission of the Order of the Good Shepherd Sisters was to purify and strengthen the souls of girls living in poverty and in environments considered immoral. Founder Saint Mary Euphrasia, canonized in 1940, taught an attitude of ‘maternal devotedness’ and that ‘example is more powerful than words.’ The nuns were not to use corporal punishment. Good behavior was rewarded and restoring the girls’ self-esteem was paramount.”

For many, the GSC was a place of refuge. However, the GSC’s history is not without controversy. Girls were referred to the GSC by the courts or brought in by families from throughout Washington and the Northwest. Oral histories, like this interview with former resident Jackie (Moen) Kalani, describe a distinct harshness in how the girls were treated at the GSC. For example, Kalani describes a strictness practiced by the Sisters that “probably nowadays would be called abusive.”

If you’re interested in learning more about the GSC’s history, join our popular Behind the Garden Walls tour on April 11. You’ll walk the GSC grounds with Lead Gardener Tara Macdonald to learn about its 1900s origin, the community fight to preserve the GSC, and current efforts to maintain the historic gardens while embracing ecological awareness.

On the national level, Where Women Make History stands out as a unique way of recognizing places significant to women’s history. This recent project of the National Trust for Historic Preservation aims to recognize 1,000 places across the country connected to women’s history, in order to “elevate their stories for everyone to learn and celebrate.” While this ongoing project is still accepting submissions and taking shape, it currently recognizes 12 places in Washington, three of which are in Seattle. Among the places recognized is the Historic Seattle-owned landmark Washington Hall, located in Seattle’s Central District. The “Hall for All” carries a rich and varied history that includes performances by legends Billie Holliday and Marian Anderson, but it is the fact that in 1918 Miss Lillian Smith’s Jazz Band played the first documented jazz performance in Washington State that landed it on this list.

Washington Hall as it appeared in 1914, just 4 years before Miss Lilian Smith’s Jazz Band would perform the first documented jazz performance in the state. Interested in learning more? You can journey through the history of jazz in Seattle and Washington Hall’s role in it while enjoying performances by exceptional pianists Stephanie Trick and Paolo Alderighi, as well as Garfield Jazz, at History Told Through Music, our special event coming up on April 22 at Washington Hall.

Another local site listed is The Booth Building at 1534 Broadway, which was nominated last month as a City of Seattle Landmark and will be considered for designation at a public Landmarks Preservation Board hearing scheduled for April 1. According to the Where Women Make History project’s description, “The 1906 Booth Building in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood is most significant for its association with educator Nellie Cornish. In 1914, Nellie Cornish (1876-1956) established the Cornish School of Music in one room of the Booth Building, eventually occupying all of the second and third floors. The school grew rapidly and incorporated painting, dance and theater into its curriculum. Nellie Cornish recruited to her faculty such talented artists as Mark Tobey, Martha Graham, Merce Cunningham and John Cage. In 1921, Cornish commissioned a purpose-built building further north on Capitol Hill, while the Booth Building remained the location of various arts education uses until the 1980s. The Cornish College of the Arts remains a vital educational institution in the Pacific Northwest and still reflects Nellie Cornish’s unique educational pedagogy promoting ‘exposure to all of the arts.’”

The Booth Building as it appeared in 1937, courtesy of the Puget Sound Regional Archives.

While some of these places have been preserved, there is no denying that many places significant to women’s history in Seattle have been lost and many more remain unprotected. This vulnerability is a threat to all kinds of places across Seattle, particularly places tied to histories of certain groups – namely people of color, the working class, LGBTQ+ communities, and women. In fact, only 7.8% of City landmarks are designated primarily because of their association with underrepresented communities, according to the findings of a recent study by 4Culture. Fortunately, a shift in thinking seems to be underway, specifically in how “cultural significance” is weighed and valued in terms of landmarking. Local movements like 4Culture’s Beyond Integrity initiative are emerging to “elevate equity in preservation standards and practices.” Let’s hope these efforts will help to remedy disparity in landmarking and result in designations that better represent our collective history.

Vanishing Seattle’s New Documentary Film Series

“The ‘vanishing’ part of ‘Vanishing Seattle’ is just one part of the story,” said Cynthia Brothers. “There are also many stories of resistance, resilience, and creation.”

Cynthia Brothers is the founder of Vanishing Seattle, a social media account that is “documenting disappearing/displaced businesses, homes, communities, and cultures of Seattle.”

Clad in one of her signature miniskirt and Vanishing Seattle t-shirt ensembles, Cynthia is stood in the living room of a packed house as she introduced the new Vanishing Seattle documentary film series. The series premiere was at and about Wa Na Wari, a project housed in a 5th-generation Black-owned craftsman in the historically Black Central District neighborhood. According to a sign in the entryway of this legacy home, Wa Na Wari (which means “our home” in the Kalabari language) “creates space for Black ownership, possibility, and belonging through art, historic preservation, and connection.”

Cynthia has teamed up with Martin Tran, a filmmaker and former co-director of the Seattle Asian American Film Festival, for this seven-part film series. The films will expand upon a lot of the same themes and questions that Vanishing Seattle raises with its Instagram chronicles. Cynthia explained, “Vanishing Seattle and this film series involve conversations dealing with change. But not a dichotomy of old: good, new: bad. Instead it asks, ‘What does change mean? What does progress really look like, and what are the ways that change can serve and benefit communities? What’s possible with creative, forward-thinking ideas? What do different solutions to displacement and gentrification look like?’ In the case of places that are vanishing we ask, ‘Why is this happening? What caused this to vanish, and what can be done to prevent this from happening?’”

“The advantage of this project is that film is a lot more dynamic as a medium,” said Cynthia. “Most of the Instagram posts have been of buildings and physical places, and it’s hard to get to the people behind those places with just pictures and captions. The films humanize these places and allow people to share stories in their own words.” While all the films in the series are co-produced by Cynthia and Martin, they engage different filmmakers to tell various stories about different communities. “One of the principles of this film series is that the filmmakers have a personal connection to the community and the place that they want to make a film about,” Cynthia pointed out.

“Some of the things we struggle with in using film pertain to timing,” described Cynthia. “Everything is happening so fast, in some cases, places are gone before we can find a filmmaker to tell its story. It is also hard to be selective. There are countless stories to tell, so many places to talk about. Often, there are multiple stories attached to a single place and the shorter the film is (the films are just 7-10 minutes long), the harder the choices are that you must make. We’re always asking ourselves, ‘Are we doing this justice?’”

“The goal of the series is to raise general awareness of these places and communities, through their stories,” explained Cynthia. “It’s about capturing and sharing places that are built into the structure that make Seattle unique. We all lose out when we lose these places. They should be important to us as a city. With many of these films, there is an active opportunity to support small businesses and places that provide space for art and culture to thrive.”

In the living room of Wa Na Wari, Inye Wakoma, one of the founders of the project and the grandson of the owner of the home where Wa Na Wari is based, warmly emceed the evening’s program. People sat cross-legged on the floor or in chairs, stood in the dining room and hallways, and trailed up the stairs. Food and drinks were generously offered, and the upstairs rooms were activated with exhibits by Black artists. A Shelf-Life Community Stories neighborhood cultural mapping project was on display, and a vintage rotary phone that you can pick up and hear oral histories through sat on a little table beside a wooden chair in the hallway.

An open door labeled "Shelf Life Community Story Project" leads to a room adorned with sketches of storytellers. A computer in the corner has headphones for listening to the stories.

The Shelf Life Community Story Project space in Wa Na Wari

Performances by storyteller-rappers and poets (namely Yirim Seck and Ebo Barton) preceded the screening of the film, which was directed by devon de Leña and CHIMAERA. The film rolled and Wakoma was then on screen talking about the gentrification and displacement currently happening in the Central District: “The biggest thing that folks are trying to pinpoint is ‘How do we actually survive this? And then, how do we come out on the other side of this, in some way that actually feels whole?’ We need imaginative responses, ways of imagining ourselves in the future that have everything to do with us getting there on our own, in ways that make sense to us.” 

Watch the film Central District: Wa Na Wari here, and be sure to follow @vanishingseattle on Instagram to stay informed about future screenings and other opportunities to get active! You can also read more about Wa Na Wari and the Vanishing Seattle film series in these Crosscut articles.

Two Mid-Century Modern Commercial Buildings Nominated as Landmarks

At its December 4 meeting, the Landmarks Preservation Board (LPB) nominated two modern buildings for landmark consideration — the former Community Psychiatric Clinic in Eastlake and (by unanimous vote) the Stoneway Electric Building in Fremont. Historic Seattle strongly supports designation of both properties — the designation hearing is scheduled for January 15, 2020.

In 2001, Historic Seattle and Docomomo US/WEWA produced a popular modern architecture tour (repeated in 2004) of the Eastlake neighborhood which contains an eclectic mix of building types and styles including a collection of small scale, mid-century commercial buildings designed by some of Seattle’s most prominent architects from the era.

One of these buildings, the former Community Psychiatric Clinic building (or CPC, located at 2009 Minor Ave E), was designed by the firm of Kirk, Wallace, McKinley & Associates and was completed in 1962. It is an important and distinctive work of Paul Kirk, one of the most well-regarded architects in the Pacific Northwest. The owners of the CPC, now the Bush Roed & Hitchings building, submitted the landmark nomination application to determine its historic status as part of their due diligence in potentially selling the property. Kirk’s own firm’s architecture office is located adjacent to the south. We believe that the office, too, is landmark-eligible (it is not slated for demolition at this point and the property has a different owner).

Cars are parked beneath the Community Psychiatric Clinic, which stands up on stilts. The building is long, rectangular, and features tall windows.

The Community Psychiatric Clinic as it appeared in 1975. Courtesy of the Seattle Municipal Archives.

The other modern commercial building nominated on December 4 is the Stoneway Electric Building (originally Golden Rule Dairy) located at 3665 Stone Way N. Built in 1945-1946 for Golden Rule Dairy, the building has been a fixture in in the Fremont neighborhood for more than 70 years. The modern style building is restrained in its design, reflecting a time when the nation was emerging from the aftermath of World War II. The building is a good example of the style and stands out on a major street that is experiencing rapid change. The landmark nomination was submitted by a developer interested in purchasing the property for redevelopment.

A pickup truck is parked in front of the brick Stoneway Electric Building. The entrance to the building is framed by two trees without their leaves.

The Stoneway Electric Building.

Historic Seattle encourages you to support designation of these two historic modern buildings. Learn more about each property’s history and significance in the landmark nomination reports and email your comments to Landmarks Preservation Board Coordinator Erin Doherty.

Giving Thanks to our Supporters’ Circle

Support for Historic Seattle comes in many different forms. Advocates and program attendees are critical to our mission, but donors go beyond, allowing us to take our work to new heights. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we want to give you ALL our thanks.

Below we’ve featured a few individuals to highlight some of the ways people in our Supporters’ Circle make our work possible.

Thank you, from all of us at Historic Seattle.

Membership Support:
Longtime | Mollie Tremaine

Not only does Mollie Tremaine hold the esteem of being one of Historic Seattle’s first members, she was also a Historic Seattle staff member in the 80s and 90s when our office was in Pioneer Square and we had a staff of just three! Mollie continued to volunteer for Historic Seattle in many capacities after her retirement and served six years as a Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board member.

Why do you think it is as important to support Historic Seattle today as it was at the time of our founding in 1974?

Mollie Tremaine: If you believe in preservation, you have to support it! If you want to have preservation, you must wave the flag.

While preservation has always been my advocational interest, I think it’s really important to continue to recruit new support for preservation by educating people about places. To do this you have to keep a pulse on where people go, what places matter, and what people want to protect.

A woman with short, blonde hair and glass smiles

Mollie Tremaine.

New Member | Nancy Paine

What prompted you to join our organization?

Nancy Paine: I was raised in Seattle; it’s been my home since 1962. I believe we need to work on preserving places that embody our history. When I heard about the potential sale and possible  threat to the Hofius House on First Hill, I knew I needed to act. You guys are the mechanism for preserving our history.

Four white columns frame the entrance to the Hofius House, made of brick. Four windows sit above the entrance

The Hofius House on First Hill.

Monthly Donor:
Dale Dvorak

Monthly donors help sustain our work. Some employers, like Dale’s, match gifts which can significantly boost your contributions.

Why do you enjoy giving to Historic Seattle?

Dale Dvorak: This organization first got my attention when I purchased a 1918 craftsman (bungalow) house in 1998. I stumbled across an article in the Seattle Times spotlighting an upcoming Bungalow Fair sponsored by none other than Historic Seattle. After attending the event, I was hooked; there was so much to learn about styles, colors, and history through workshops, lectures, and tours.

Since then, I have expanded my interest to more than just craftsman homes; Historic Seattle provides a range of activities that keeps me engaged and satisfies my curiosity. I have been on walking tours, enjoyed food and drinks, listened to lectures, and I’ve also been challenged to not only enjoy Seattle’s rich history, but also to be part of keeping it for future generations to embrace instead of razing those beautiful windows into the past to build another glass and steel structure. I’m proud to be a member of Historic Seattle and glad that I can financially support such a vital organization doing so much good for the community.


Dale Dvorak stands in the middle of a group of people and laughs during a tour of Georgetown. Brick and industrial buildings are seen in the background

Dale Dvorak (center) at Plates, Pours, and Preservation: A Georgetown Food, Drink, and History tour.

Corporate Sponsor:
Bassetti Architects

Generous sponsors help Historic Seattle bring you a variety of education and advocacy programs, as well as special events, that enable you to explore our historic built environment.

What value is there for Bassetti in aligning with Historic Seattle
as a program sponsor?

Lorne McConachie | Bassetti Architects:
We value the rich texture of historic buildings within our urban fabric.
We value the cultural continuum of our evolving history.
We value the embodied energy of our landmark structures as we confront climate change.
We value the opportunity to preserve and restore our cultural and architectural legacy.
We value the educational opportunities embedded in our history.
We value the beauty of our landmarks.
We value the stories.
We value our community.

Save The Showbox Contributor:
James Keblas

Contributions to our advocacy fund were essential in securing landmark status for The Showbox. This support also enables us to continue to fight to protect other cultural spaces in Seattle.

Why did you decide to make a gift to Historic Seattle to help save The Showbox?

James Keblas: I was so relieved to hear that Historic Seattle was taking the lead to save The Showbox. I remember the moment well because it was the first time I had hope that saving The Showbox was actually possible. It meant so much to have an organization from outside the music community understand the cultural value The Showbox has for Seattle. I immediately went online and made a donation to support the cause.

The Showbox is a pillar of our music and creative identity. It’s beautiful and unique. It has hosted incredible events over generations and created memories that have come to define a significant piece of Seattle’s identity.

Most importantly, live music venues are the vital ingredient to creating a healthy music community. It’s where artists hone their craft and begin collaborations with other artists. It’s where audiences and community get developed over a shared love of music. There are many things that contribute to a healthy music scene, but I believe nothing is as critical as live music venues. If we have live music venues, all the other pieces fall into line. If we lose them, this community will lose its musical identity. I am grateful Historic Seattle is fighting to prevent this from happening. Seattle is a great music city. Let’s make sure that legacy is there for the next generation.

James Keblas, wearing a shirt that says "Save The Showbox," stands to the right of Corin Tucker of Sleater-Kinney.

James Keblas pictured backstage at a show in Washington, DC with Corin Tucker of Sleater-Kinney. Corin told James she was “heartbroken” when she heard about the threat to The Showbox.

Volunteer Leadership:
Council Member Valerie Tran

Valerie Tran joined Historic Seattle’s Council in 2017 and now serves as secretary, as well as on our education, advocacy, and benefit committees. As current board president of Friends of Little Saigon and a former International Special Review District board member, Valerie brings a deep understanding of the value of preservation to community — particularly to communities of underserved immigrants, refugees, and people of color.

Why does our cause matter to you?

Valerie Tran: It matters because it’s important to have a voice for historic preservation. There need to be resources and a network to prevent the loss of not just physical assets, but cultural assets. Historic Seattle understands the value of preservation of not just physical places but the preservation of community and use. When you preserve, you’re helping to prevent displacement and protect the physical representation of cultural groups. You ensure that physical places are here for the people who have historically used them and want and need to continue to use them.

Valerie Tran stands to the left of a board that says "2019 Preservation Awards - Community Advocacy - Friends of Little Saigon." She smiles while she holds a the 2019 Preservation Celebration Benefit journal.

Valerie Tran (left) at Historic Seattle’s 2019 Preservation Celebration Benefit.

Thank you to all of you who support Historic Seattle! Together we are shaping a city that values and protects its collective history.

Behind the Garden Walls | A Glimpse into the Allure and Surprise of the Good Shepherd Center

On October 17 Historic Seattle will hold its 5th Annual Heirloom Apple Tasting at the Good Shepherd Center (GSC). GSC lead gardener Tara Macdonald had this to say about this free event: “It captures the spirit of fall, in its simplicity and the abundance offered. It also captures the essence of the place. Like the Good Shepherd Center itself, the event has a similar element of surprise, discovery, and pride. And in the broader sense, it reflects the importance of community. This all exists because of community.”

Read on to find out what else Tara has to share from her years as the conscientious steward of the alluring Good Shepherd Center grounds.

Tell us about your connection to Seattle and how you came to be lead gardener at the GSC.

I came to Seattle for the horticultural opportunity, it’s a great place to be in the business of gardening. I had a landscaping business, but I wanted to get involved in something more plant-centric and public spaces are very important to me so when this opportunity came along it was a great fit. Here there is a great plant collection and a great backstory that adds richness to the place.

What was your earliest memory of the GSC, and what has it been like to go from that first glance to the relationship you now have with the place?

I always refer back to my first impressions because it tells me what other people’s first impressions might be. The name for Historic Seattle’s tour of the grounds is “Behind the Garden Walls,” which is fitting because there is a holly hedge that surrounds the property. Depending on what stage the hollies are in, you can see glimpses of a big historic building behind there. It has this mysterious quality to it, a quality it has had throughout history because it was a very cloistered space.

My first impression was just “wow,” and then “interesting,” as I began to walk and explore the grounds and discover the diversity of the landscape and plants. You can tell the place was created with intent, but intent from times past. You have these rich woodland settings, lawn areas, formal gardens, and even a parking lot orchard! The diversity and peacefulness is unique, and people are surprised by it. You find yourself asking, “Why was this space created, and by whom?” The place invites and encourages a lot of questions and I’ve had the opportunity to dig into those questions. In my gardening, I’d like to make those questions pop into people’s heads. The way I imagine that happening is by defining the spaces more to make the character, and therefore the history of the spaces more prominent. By doing this you wouldn’t be able to avoid the question, “Why is it like this?”

Also, my awareness of the vibrancy of the community aspect — how much goes on here, and the impact this place has on community — has grown over the years. This position comes with a lot of responsibility, to both the history and the community. It’s not about me as a gardener, or my horticultural goals or whims; it’s about the history of the place and the value of it to the community both past and present.

You developed and lead Historic Seattle’s popular “Behind the Garden Walls” tour; what have you discovered about the place through the process of developing your tour? What have tour attendees seemed surprised to learn about this place and/or its history?

That there’s more to the story than people realize. I think that’s what surprises people most, how little they know. Most people know about the place only superficially, and not very accurately. All the details are news to them…they enliven the place and explain it in ways people didn’t even think to ask.

A tour group forms a semi-circle around Tara and a sign on a tri-pod that shares information about the Good Shepherd Center grounds.


Do you feel personally connected to the GSC’s history in any way?

The more I’ve learned about the place the more I realize how much it’s a reflection of women’s history. It reflects how women were treated, how girls were treated, how they were seen. Even the nuns, the fact that they were here is part of the story. This was a home for women and girls of various ages, and what that says about the how society treated abused women, neglected children, “bad girls,” is intriguing to me. As a woman, you have to feel a connection to that.

I’ll say as well that outdoor space is obviously very important to me and the fact that this home, which the grounds were very much a part of, was built around the importance of outdoor space also resonates with me personally. Outdoor space was integral to providing a good home. They saw outdoor space not only as an important outlet for female energy, but also as an important part of a healthy environment.  There were ornamental gardens, and playfields, but they also included sustainable agriculture in that space to feed themselves.

How do you see the gardens and grounds foster community?

Being on site daily, I see a ton of people come through here. It offers a lot. While many people definitely regard it as a meeting place, I also hear people using words like peaceful and oasis to describe it.

I probably interact with dog walkers most because that’s a community that needs and uses a lot of green space regularly. The dogs interact so the people interact, and the same happens with children and their parents on the playground. Others come here to unwind and inevitably stop and catch up with neighbors along the way.

Each neighborhood has its own identity and I think the Good Shepherd Center and the Meridian Playground are a big part of that, at least for the immediate Wallingford community and perhaps for some further afield. So, it creates a sense of community, ownership, and identity. And it really goes beyond those who use the building and the grounds, we get people all the time who come through and ask, “Can we go in?” and they’re usually really surprised by what they find.

And of course, there’s the apple tasting! With the apples themselves as a very tangible resource, we’ve been able to do a lot over the past 4 years to build a sense of community with this event. Certainly, with the bakers (GSC community volunteers who contribute baked goods to the tasting using GSC-grown apples) it gives them an opportunity to use their time, energy, and passion to contribute and participate in the community, which is a lot of fun. It also helps by connecting the communities within the building to each other and to the community at large.

Tara hands an apple slice to a child from across the table at our annual apple tasting. The table is full of different apple varieties.

Sticks & Stones Photography

What is one thing you wish everyone knew about the GSC?

That this place exists because of the efforts of the community. The big take-home is that if you want places like this, be active in preservation. It takes the same amount of effort from the community now to continue to have places like this.

Get to Know Author Diana James and Understand Her Passion for “Shared Walls”

In September, author Diana James is set to lead her thrice sold-out North Capitol Hill Apartments Tour with Historic Seattle. Read on to learn more about Diana, including what inspired her book Shared Walls: Seattle Apartment Buildings, 1900-1939 as well as a perhaps little-known fact about the history of apartment buildings.

Historic Seattle caught up with Diana James in the “Heritage Room” of First Baptist Church on First Hill on a sunny August afternoon. “After I finished my degree in historic preservation, the people who had been the stewards of this for over thirty years were anxious to turn it over to me,” said Diana, a longtime member of the church, in reference to the beautifully curated room containing archives and objects reflecting the 150-year history of the church.

Originally hailing from Houston, Diana’s interest in the built environment was initially sparked overseas. “When we were still in Houston my husband, who was an architect, received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts that enabled us to live in England for a year. His focus there was on how new architecture fits in with old. As a result, I saw a lot of great old buildings there and when I returned to the U.S., they stuck with me.”

Her family’s much-welcomed move to the Northwest in 1980 was prompted by an opportunity for her husband to join the locally-founded global architecture firm NBBJ. “It was not until my husband died, and my two daughters graduated from college, that I sold our home in the Montlake neighborhood and moved into an Anhalt [apartment] building at 13th and Republican. I looked out a back window and realized I was surrounded by apartment buildings, buildings that I had never given much, if any, notice to previously.”

It was her curiosity about the surrounding apartment buildings that eventually led Diana to pursue a graduate degree in historic preservation. “All along I had in my mind that I’d like to write about apartment buildings for my thesis.” While the idea was rejected when pitched for her thesis, “The director of the school said, ‘You can write a book about it later,’ and I thought ‘Ok, I will!’” said Diana.

A group of 14 people on a walking tour of Capitol Hill apartment buildings wave at a resident across the street, who is standing on the building's second-story balcony

An apartment resident waves to the group during the 2018 Capitol Hill Apartments tour led by Diana James.

On the process of writing Shared Walls, Diana said, “People LOVE their old apartment buildings. The stories I could tell about gathering information for the book could be a book in itself. You’d think without having a financial investment that wouldn’t be the case, but I heard it time and time again. It was encouraging. I realized all buildings have stories to tell, each one with a life of its own. And as I wrote about them for the book, I tried to honor each place’s unique and individual story.”

“One interesting thing that popped out of my research was how many women were involved in real estate dealing with apartment buildings…owning the lot, hiring the architects, and then either turning around and selling it or keeping it as an investment, I mean in 1905! At first, I thought maybe it had to do with the adventurous spirit of the women that came west in pioneer times, but it wasn’t the case. My research showed that women all around the country were doing the same thing; it was not a phenomenon limited to the West,” she added.

Why and how was this happening? Diana cited several different reasons; one early, local influence was the Donation Land Claim Act of 1850. “The government didn’t want just men to come west, they wanted the civilizing effect that women brought so they gave married women the same land ownership opportunities that they gave men.”

On the role that historic apartment buildings play today, Diana said, “I’m all for contemporary architecture and density, but these interesting buildings save the city from just being a number of boxes lining the streets. They lend character and interest. They embrace and invite community. I have a friend who lives in The Arcadia, and they had a birthday party for their building! Some were dressed up in period clothes. One woman has worked for years writing the history of the building and its residents. The community is like a big family. In another apartment building, a resident that lived there told me he got married in the lobby of the building, and I said, ‘You know what? I happen to know you’re not the only person to ever have a wedding in the lobby of an apartment building!’ We need these tangible reminders of our history, when they’re gone, a picture doesn’t do it.”

Diana’s September tour is sold out. Stay tuned for future talk and tour opportunities. Shared Walls is available at bookstores such as Elliott Bay Book Company.

Bringing the Community Together One Event at a Time

In case you haven’t noticed, the Georgetown neighborhood has it going on! Brimming with artistic creativity, rich in history, and packed with cool industrial architecture, Seattle’s oldest neighborhood managed to level up again last fall with the opening of The Palace Theatre & Art Bar, AKA “Georgetown’s first gay bar.” For this month’s VivaCity feature, Historic Seattle chatted with the venue’s proprietor, Sylvia O’Stayformore, to learn how this flourishing community gathering place came to be and how it fulfills its mission to bring the community together one event at a time.

Sylvia’s business partner in the Palace, Carlos Paradinja Jr., originally opened a coffee shop (The Conservatory) in the space about 5 years ago. Sylvia explained, “The Conservatory was not only a café, but also an artists’ salon type of space that offered art classes and workshops. While it was successful in many ways, it was ultimately not earning enough to sustain itself. So last September, Carlos came to me and said, ‘I either need to close up shop, or do something different.’ Meanwhile, I had recently lost my corporate daytime gig and ‘Bacon Strip,’ Seattle’s longest standing drag show which I produce, was looking for a new place to flourish. I said to Carlos, ‘Since coffee wasn’t working, why don’t we try alcohol, and keep it a performance space and let me be the booker of the talent and just program the hell out it and see what that does.” And thus, the Palace Theatre & Art Bar was born.

Sylvia O'Stayformore, a drag queen in a blonde wig and blue and white checkered dress, calls out bingo numbers. In front of her are a collection of colorful bingo balls.

Sylvia O’Stayformore calls bingo at The Palace

About the name, Sylvia said, “The name actually comes from the name of the building. It originally opened in 1903 as The Palace Hotel and Bar, owned by Fred Marino. It was a workman’s hotel, and there was the Palace Bar, which is where the Seattle Tavern pool hall now is, there was a hardware store in our space, and a cardroom where Star Brass is. But nothing was called The Palace anymore. It’s an amazing name so I said, why don’t we call it ‘The Palace,’ and then “Theatre’ since that’s what we want to do, and ‘Art Bar’ so people know that it’s strong in art and creativity. And by the way, it’s also a gay bar.”

The Palace Theatre & Art Bar is a bar with a mission, “to bring the community together one event at a time.” Sylvia said, “We’re really trying to grow with community events and be a gathering place where you find something you won’t at other bars. The things we try to program are like the monthly Seattle Playwrights Salon. There’s a club made up of playwright aficionados that goes out and looks for new plays that have been written by local playwrights and we give them the space to have those plays read out by local actors on stage. We have free local jazz nights including jazz trio Hilltop Jazz Project and others, there’s a piano sing along night where you bring in your own sheet music, and ‘An Unexpected Improv Night’. We didn’t want it to be an all drag kind of place but rather a place where people say, ‘let’s see what kind of creative thing is happening at The Palace and go hang there.’”

A large group of people seated near the stage at The Palace. 5 people are on stage, each with a stand for the scripts they read from.

The Palace during a performance

About Georgetown, Sylvia said “I’ve been in love with Georgetown since I moved to Seattle in the early aughts. I love that it hasn’t been gentrified as much as other places. It’s like those industrial parts of Seattle that are going away so fast, but it’s been stubborn, it’s stayed alive. Even after prohibition ripped its main money source away from it, it was still able to survive.” When Sylvia isn’t in Georgetown at The Palace, she can usually be found calling out bingo. “I call for 12 different senior centers from Camano Island all the way down to Des Moines.”

Head on down to Georgetown to see for yourself what it’s all about. Check out the Palace Theater & Art Bar event calendar for upcoming events like the free Trailer Park Drag Strip, an annual show that takes place on August 10 as part of August’s Art Attack, Georgetown’s monthly art event.

Beyond Nostalgia & the Spirit of Service to the People

An interview with Shannon Welles and Earnie Ashwood, Showbox employees and founding members of Friends of The Showbox.

What is Friends of The Showbox (FOTS) and how were you inspired to organize this group?

SW: I describe Friends of The Showbox as a grassroots community coalition of people dedicated to saving The Showbox. For me, establishing the group came from wanting to get the employees of The Showbox connected to a greater community of people working to save the venue. It also came from wanting to unite individuals and connect them with groups like Friends of the Market and Historic Seattle to get all parties working together.

Also, I was in grad school when the news about the threat to The Showbox broke. I was taking a public policy class, and I felt like I could help organize people who had energy but didn’t know where to put it. Like the employees, many people wanted to help but didn’t know how.

EA: FOTS is a coalition of people who love The Showbox and have gathered for the sole interest of preserving both the use and the cultural heritage of the building.

Tell us about yourself, your connection to Seattle, and how you came to be a part of The Showbox.

SW: Music has been the driving force in my life since I was a kid. I started working at a music store when I was 16, and I moved to Seattle because of the music scene. Seattle was my music mecca. I would not have come here were it not for the music.

EA: I moved to Seattle to pursue music as a full-time career. I started working at The Showbox, and it quickly became a second home for me. My relationship with The Showbox has dramatically evolved because of the culture of community that exists there.

What is your earliest memory of The Showbox?

SW: I went to my first concert at The Showbox (Gillian Welch) about two weeks after I moved here in 2001. Not long after that, I started working there. I’ve now worked at The Showbox for 17 years and I can’t imagine my life, or Seattle, without it.

EA: One of my earliest memories was meeting the security manager of The Showbox for a job interview at Pike Place Market. It was very simple, he asked me, “Are you compassionate? Do you have the ability to listen? And can you make this more than being about yourself, and flexing power?”

He proceeded to explain that the culture of The Showbox is about more than standard security. It’s about providing a safe space for people to connect and enjoy music. The interview introduced me to the spirit of service to the people that IS The Showbox.

“At the heart of the community’s love for The Showbox is our relationship to music, to memory, and to each other through music. These relationships should not be dismissed as nostalgia. It’s so much deeper than that.”

The above quote is from Friends of The Showbox’s website. Explain how love of The Showbox is about more than people’s nostalgia for a bygone time in their lives.

SW: Well, those are my words so that’s a lot of it! But I also think music is often just dismissed solely as entertainment, without consideration of any other role it has in society. I’ve done some reading about music as a social force, so I see it differently.  It’s old, old function in human relationships is in ceremony, and bringing people together. We build relationships through music.

EA: To me, The Showbox is a shining example of diversity, both in music and in demographic. And as a musician in this city, when small shows pop up at The Showbox you pay attention because that’s where Seattle music really gets to shine. You see so much pride among the musicians performing and within the people who work there. People take this in as a beautiful Seattle event, and a sense of power of connection comes through that space.

Do you personally feel connected to The Showbox’s history? If so, how?

SW: If you’re speaking about the legacy of bands that have played there, I got to be part of many of them, so I feel really connected to that space. Then 5 years ago, for The Showbox’s 75th anniversary, I worked with the GM at the time to put together a celebration of The Showbox. I helped by digging through archives to gather old photographs, I did research, and I read the HistoryLink article. As a result, I became very familiar with The Showbox’s history. 

EA: I feel connected to the history in two distinct ways, as a musician and as an employee. As an employee, finding a new family through work makes me feel like a part of its history as a place where people connect. As a musician, it’s always been a dream to play at The Showbox and I got that opportunity in January of 2017. The opportunity to share my music on that stage changed my perspective about what was possible within myself. This venue represents opportunity for musicians like me.

Assuming this is the first time you’ve been involved in the landmarking process, what are some of the big takeaways you’ve learned thus far?

SW: I’ve read a lot to figure out what it is and how you explain it to someone else. One disappointing thing that I’ve discovered is that landmarking doesn’t necessarily save a place, that it doesn’t protect use. I also learned that the landmarking criteria heavily focuses on the things that you can see and touch, and not necessarily what it means to a community. When you’re trying to make the case for cultural significance, it’s hard if many of the ideas that they have about landmarks are about material space. I know that there have been articles written about equity, and who gets to save what spaces, and what do we value in terms of landmarks process. I think there’s room for improvement and change, to strengthen the rules so that we can save spaces with cultural significance when an owner might have an offer of millions of dollars that involves demolition.

EA: One of the biggest things I’ve come away with is that you can’t assume that other people have the same knowledge you have about a place you care about. And perhaps more importantly, the way you approach educating someone really determines how effectively you can accomplish the goals you’re trying to get across. For example, one of the landmark board members didn’t have a good understanding of the accessibility of The Showbox and the wide demographic that we serve. At first, I got almost angry, “How could they not know this!?” Then I realized I could share my knowledge and use that information as a positive point for why this place should be preserved. It’s not all about being prepared with what you have to say, but also to show up and listen, and address concerns to be effective for the movement.

Shannon, Earnie, and other Showbox employees testify in support of nominating The Showbox for landmark status.

What is one of the more significant ways you’ve seen The Showbox foster community? How would you describe its role in the context of Seattle as a whole?

SW: I see it most among the employees because that’s how I am in the space. The employee base is a unit. But I also see relationships forming there, people make friends there, romances form. In the context of Seattle as a whole, it provides space for people to gather. If you’re in a place where there are 1,000 other people who love that band that you also love, and you’re all singing the songs together and jumping up and down together on that floor, there’s a sense of belonging. If you go someplace like a bar you may be talking together with your friends, but you don’t feel like you’re having some sort of communal experience.

EA: Live music tends to break down barriers, it allows people from different backgrounds and different beliefs to come together. It gives them a space to let that go and just enjoy what’s in front of them, in the moment, with fellow human beings. For example, one of my favorite bands came to play at The Showbox, about a year ago. I was working security and noticed someone wearing a Trump t-shirt and another in a Black Lives Matter shirt. In our political climate that can lead to some very uncomfortable feelings. As security we must be mindful of situations like that. The moment the band started to play, those two got next to each other in the same area and it felt like some type of showdown could go down. Instead we saw the two of them wrap their arms around each other and start belting out the songs together. That is representative of the way this place allows for community to set aside differences and come together.

How would Seattle’s music scene change if The Showbox were to be torn down?

SW: We’re one of just two venues of that capacity here and in terms of how bands move through the Pacific Northwest we’re an important small-to-midsized venue. There are bands that are too big for the Crocodile but too small to fill places like the Moore or the Paramount. You need the venues that are in between and without them I think a lot of bands will just skip Seattle. It would be terrible for Seattle because of what the place means for people in Seattle. Artists who are young and coming up dream of playing there and want to see their name on the marquee. There would be this hole where that used to be. The place is an icon. If you destroy this icon, it’s going to crush the spirit of the musicians in Seattle. The greater touring musicians in this country know The Showbox and want to play there. It will destroy one of the best places to play in the Pacific Northwest and will have effects that people aren’t thinking about now. I think it will affect the greater ecosystem of music in the PNW.

EA: The Showbox is unique not only because of its culture of community but also in terms of its capacity. The average bar here has a capacity from 100-150, then you have places like the Crocodile around 300, and places like Nuemo’s with a capacity of 600-700. This is where The Showbox is really special, it’s a very approachable space that fits 1,100 to 1,200. From there it jumps up from 1,800 to 1,900 at places like Showbox SODO. If you were to lose The Showbox, you’re looking at a jump from about 600 to 1,800. That gap leaves musicians in a very tough spot and limits options for how you can present your music. The unique size of The Showbox is one of the reasons it draws musicians from around the world to Seattle.

I mention the Neptune is the only other place of its size in Seattle.

EA: And I love the Neptune, but it’s different. To me, The Showbox represents a home-grown identity and a home-grown goal. It is unique because of its location in the heart of Seattle, and because of its rich history with artists like Duke Ellington, Soundgarden, and Lady Gaga having played there.

Please share some specifics on how The Showbox impacts Pike Place Market and the local neighborhood.

SW: We’re connected. The bands that come through get off their buses and ask, “Where can I go eat in the Market?” They go over and explore, The Showbox employees go over there, people who work at the Market come to shows. Many of the businesses in the Market already consider us part of the Market because they give us discounts that employees at the Market get! We get a lot of people coming in from the Market during the day asking, “What is this place?” or, “We want to see the show, do you have tickets?”

EA: There’s a strong relationship between The Showbox and the Market, a natural, symbiotic, heartwarming connection between both the people who visit the Market and The Showbox, and the people who work in both places. The Pike Place Market itself is about human connection. It’s about face to face interaction, and service to the people. That same spirit is very much what The Showbox is about.

How has The Showbox influenced your other life pursuits?

SW: I have a good understanding of what it’s like to live in Seattle and have no money and to do something for years because you love it. From being part of that community for so long, and having that be my lived experience, I can advocate for people who have that experience also.

Whether you work as a tattoo artist, or a photographer, or audio tech — you’re part of the creative community. There has to be a place for the creative community. Seattle is not going to be a great place to be if you don’t have any artists or musicians. And we’re supposed to be “The City of Music,” it’s ridiculous that we’re being driven out!  I see my path forward supporting the arts, we need all the support we can get and that’s where I’m going to focus my energies next.

EA: The fight to save The Showbox has changed my perspective about what a community of people coming together can do. I’m not just talking about the Showbox community, or the people of Seattle, I’m talking about the countless people around the world who have shown support for what this fight is really about, which to me, is the concept of profit vs. culture.

The Showbox has provided me with a lot of direction in life. Not only direction, but also the support behind the direction to execute. It has broadened my perspective of what I’m capable of and caused me to question what’s really important to me. These are the reasons I’m fighting so hard to save this place. 

The italicized text above is paraphrased, not directly quoted. The meaning has been preserved.

Time & Place: Julian Barr on the Making of Queer Seattle

As we roll into June and people across the globe engage in Pride celebrations, we wanted to focus in on Seattle and highlight the projects and research of Julian Barr. Julian is a University of Washington PhD candidate who is leading two sold out walking tours for Historic Seattle. His tours are based on a mapping and walking tour project he developed called Pioneer Square and the Making of Queer Seattle. With this piece, Historic Seattle aims to share a little insight into the person behind these important efforts to capture and share this part of Seattle’s history.

Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, Julian received an undergraduate degree in history and masters in geography there before moving to Seattle in 2014 to pursue a PhD in historical geography. He is passionate about historical geography because he believes both where and when something happens are equally important.

Tell us about your connection to Seattle and how you came to pursue the projects and research you’re involved in?

Not long after arriving in Seattle, Julian read Gary Atkins’ book Gay Seattle which helped spawn his interest in Seattle’s LGBTQ history. He soon learned of The Northwest Lesbian and Gay History Museum Project (NWLGHMP) and Angie McCarrel, a local architect and lesbian interested in preserving history and buildings, who developed a Pioneer Square walking tour with NWLGHMP in the 1990s. Julian said, “Although the oral histories collected for The Northwest Lesbian and Gay History Museum Project are now in UW Special Collections, the project hadn’t really been active since the early 2000s.”

Julian explained, “Right around the same time a sociology conference was coming to town and my dissertation adviser Michael Brown asked me to look at McCarrel’s tour and update it to offer to conference attendees.” 

Through that process, he became particularly interested in how Pioneer Square’s LGBTQ history is portrayed to the public. While exploring Pioneer Square, he questioned, “What’s being told? What’s not? What understanding is the public getting from this place by walking around?”

“Gay history wasn’t represented in Pioneer Square, it wasn’t represented in the Underground Tour, not included in Klondike Gold Rush Museum, etc. I was not seeing Seattle’s gay history represented and I wanted it shown more, and for there to be opportunities for people to engage with it.”

Thus, the idea for Pioneer Square and the Making of Queer Seattle was born. With critical support from the UW Simpson Center for the Humanities, Julian developed an interactive map and comprehensively updated the walking tour. Julian will conduct his tour twice this year for Historic Seattle and has been invited to offer it through numerous other outlets, such as MOHAI. “I saw this as a great and accessible way to engage the public in Pioneer Square’s LGBTQ history.”

“We are coming upon the 50-year anniversary of the start of the Stonewall Riots that inspired Pride as a celebration of queer life and sexuality, and a political and social demonstration. In general, so much of gay history focuses on what happened in a place after the 1970s. People forget that there were many vibrant and organized gay communities that existed before then. The Pioneer Square project offers the public a glimpse of what it was like living in Seattle as a LGBTQ person in those earlier times.”

What’s next for Julian?

“Well, I’m working on completing my PhD! My dissertation is on Queer Pioneer Square and understanding the historical geographies of lesbian and queer women in Seattle.”

What is your favorite place in Seattle?

“I have a strong affinity for Pioneer Square. Specifically, the corner of 2nd and Washington which is where my tours start and also where The Double Header used to be. I was lucky enough to visit the Double Header before it closed, and it was there that I really felt the connection to the queer history of Pioneer Square.”

Although Julian’s upcoming tour with Historic Seattle is sold out, if you are interested in learning about protecting the places that anchor Seattle’s LGBTQ communities join us for There Goes the Gayborhood!, our free panel discussion happening June 8th. Learn more and register here.

Happy Pride from your friends at Historic Seattle!

In Memoriam: Cathy Galbraith

With heavy hearts, we note the passing of Cathy Galbraith, executive director of our organization from 1987 to 1992. Cathy was a lifelong leader in historic preservation in the Pacific Northwest.

From her obituary: “Catherine Mary Galbraith passed away on Nov. 23, 2018 at Hopewell House hospice from complications following a stroke. She was surrounded at her last breath by friends who loved her.

Cathy was born September 1, 1950 in Pittsburgh, PA to John and Catherine (Stuparits) Galbraith. She attended St. Augustine High School, Pennsylvania State University for her BA in Community Development, and did her graduate work in Urban Planning at Portland State University. She was also certified in Nonprofit Organization Management and Development at the University of Washington.

As Planning Director and then Director of Development Services in Oregon City, OR, from 1977 to 1986, Cathy’s responsibilities were broad, but she was especially noted for her work advocating for the importance of historic places, including co-writing the Canemah Historic District nomination, developing the city’s historic preservation program, and planning the End of the Oregon Trail Center. In 1987, she moved to Seattle to serve as the second executive director of Historic Seattle. Her impactful work there included the successful acquisition, financing, and rehabilitation of eight endangered historic properties which created 72 housing units, and starting the annual lecture series. The Belmont/Boylston Historic Houses project she shepherded resulted in 48 units of affordable housing in Seattle’s first project combining historic preservation tax credits with low-income housing. The effort received the National Mortgage Bankers Association Multi-Family Project of the Year, and an Honor Award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

She returned to Portland in 1993 to serve as the founding Executive Director of the Bosco-Milligan Foundation. In addition to administrative responsibilities, she managed the inventory of the organization’s extensive collection of architectural artifacts, exhibit and program development, and rehabilitation of the historic 1883 West’s Block and its transformation into the Architectural Heritage Center. The project received a National Trust Honor Award in 2005. Her nationally-recognized and award-winning leadership in documenting historic places associated with Portland’s African American community was encapsulated in Cornerstones of Community – The Buildings of Portland’s African American History, related exhibits and public presentations, and nominations to the National Register of Historic Places. In 2010, she was the second recipient of the University of Oregon’s prestigious George McMath Award in Historic Preservation which recognizes outstanding contributions to the field from leaders throughout the state. Cathy retired from the AHC in 2016.

Her extensive and passionate volunteer contributions in education, advocacy, and planning included leadership roles in many organizations such as the Oregon-California Trails Association, Historic Preservation League of Oregon (now Restore Oregon), and innumerable city planning efforts such as Portland’s Interstate Corridor Urban Renewal Area. Her personal advocacy efforts at the national level in 1987 had a direct effect on the National Park Service’s decision to restore Crater Lake Lodge.

In 2007, Cathy wed jazz and blues music icon James “Sweet Baby James” Benton and made her home in Scappoose. James passed away in 2016. Cathy was also preceded in death by her parents and her youngest brother Matt. She is survived by her brothers John (Mary Beth), Roger (Lynn), sister-in-law Janna Galbraith, as well as nephews Alex, John, and Joe; nieces Jaycie (Garrett), Kelsey and Julia; grand-niece Cora and grand-nephews Bryce and Ellis.

A public Celebration of Life and private graveside service will be held at a later date. Memorial donations can be made to the Architectural Heritage Center’s Cathy Galbraith Fund or a preservation project of your choice.

Cathy’s family and friends want to acknowledge and thank the staffs at Emanuel Hospital and Hopewell House for the compassionate care they provided. Arrangements by Crown Memorial.”

To honor her legacy, a number of her friends and past colleagues have sent kind words and tributes to Historic Seattle. If you would like to add a tribute to this page, please send it to Naomi West.

Historic Seattle is grateful to Cathy for her years of service to our organization and saddened by the loss of such a passionate preservationist who continues to touch many lives through the places she fought to save.

Larry Kreisman

Cathy and I never directly worked together. But we became colleagues and friends while she was at Historic Seattle. When she made the major step of moving to Portland to take charge of the Bosco-Milligan Foundation, Wayne and I would make a point of stopping in whenever we traveled south so that we could share what was happening for us professionally and personally. There was shared respect. admiration, and support for the ways in which we were making a difference in the understanding of architecture and design heritage and the importance of preservation in our communities.

Those who met Cathy may have been challenged at first by her frankness. In a city that prided itself on its politeness, what has been referred to as “Seattle Nice,” Cathy’s style might have been off-putting. She had little patience for the niceties of chit chat. She had strong opinions and was not shy about voicing them. She was all about direct and honest discussion that got to the point and moved beyond the theoretical to the practical. It is how she won arguments and earned praise for getting the job done. Cathy was not one to settle or compromise easily–at least without a good fight!


Lisa (Teresi Burcham) Craig
“Cathy was a dear mentor to me as I began my career in preservation.  One of the most important lessons I ever learned from Cathy was ‘Don’t JUST show up.  If you’re attending a meeting, get up and be heard. It’s your responsibility.’  Of course, I cleaned it up… I think it went something more like, ‘get your a** up there.'”


Remembering Cathy Galbraith by John Chaney

On November 23, 2018, I lost a great friend, but more importantly Seattle and Oregon lost a Preservation Warrior.

Raised in Pittsburgh, Cathy was educated as an urban planner in Pennsylvania and Oregon. Cathy began her professional career in Oregon City, moved to Seattle, Washington and then moved back to Portland, Oregon, for her crowning achievement in creating and leading the legacy of the Bosco-Milligan Foundation and its Architectural Heritage Center. She served as its Executive Director from 1993 until her retirement in 2016.

I met Cathy Galbraith in Oregon City, Oregon in 1977. I was working on the new City Comprehensive Plan, and Cathy was the Senior Planner working on both short and long range planning. She had already immersed herself in the effort to preserve the Canemah Historic District in Oregon City. The Preservation portion of the Comprehensive Plan, after many public meetings, eventually produced an Historic District, an innovative Conservation District and individual Landmarks in this very historic first seat of US government in the West and end of the Oregon Trail.

Cathy would become a significant preservation leader in Oregon and Seattle. I left Oregon City for Seattle in 1982, Cathy continued leading the Oregon City planning office and became the Director of Development Services. She also joined the Board of the Historic Preservation League of Oregon (now Restore Oregon). As President of the HPLO, she led the effort to preserve the Crater Lake Lodge and other important statewide preservation issues.

In 1987 Cathy was hired to be the second Executive Director of Historic Seattle Preservation and Development Authority or simply Historic Seattle. In five years she brought new focus and led expanded activities in advocacy, education and preservation. This unique publicly chartered governmental non-profit preservation organization already had been doing important preservation works in Seattle for over 13 years, but Cathy brought renewed energies to Historic Seattle. She invigorated the leadership of the Historic Seattle Council to engage in expanding membership and creating volunteer opportunities, especially in preservation education. Historic Seattle also actively engaged in preservation projects with ownership of the Good Shepherd Center in the Wallingford neighborhood and the Mutual Life Building in Pioneer Square. Cathy managed these properties and would lead Historic Seattle in a new development direction.

Cathy did not rest on Historic Seattle’s past accomplishments and stewardship. She will be remembered for two very important initiatives that permanently shaped the legacy of Seattle. First was creating the basis to move forward on an impasse to preserving historic Seattle school buildings; and the second, combining the public policies of historic preservation and affordable housing.

On the Seattle School Preservation front there was an impasse. The School District did not want to be required to preserve historic schools even though the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board had designated a number of historic schools. Working with Historic Seattle Councilmember Steve Arai, Cathy led the effort in preparing a comprehensive evaluation of all the extant historic Seattle school buildings. This evaluation placed all the buildings in perspective and allowed communities and the School Board, as stewards, to fully understand the value of each of these community assets. The outcome has been millions invested in high quality preservation efforts for many historic schools. Although many individuals and organizations formed coalitions to assure this outcome, the vision of the comprehensive assessment of these assets was the key step in this long-term preservation outcome. Cathy’s standards of excellence in producing the final product made all the difference, as did her formidable defense of the report in public forums and the press.

When Cathy arrived, Seattle was in a depressed real estate cycle. She worked to find resources to further Historic Seattle’s direct preservation work. She located six adjoining large wood frame houses on First Hill that were vacant and slated for demolition. These became the first project in Seattle to combine the national Historic Preservation Tax Credits and City of Seattle Low Income housing financing. These became the Belmont Boylston Historic Houses (affectionately Bel-Boy) with 48 units of housing in these six buildings. The innovation of Bel-Boy was recognized with many awards including the National Mortgage Bankers Association Multi-Family Project of the Year and an Honor Award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The project was a national inspiration and a local innovation. She followed this with the Victorian Row Apartments and the Phillips House, in total creating 73 new affordable homes in eight historic buildings. I know Cathy’s important accomplishments as I followed in her giant footsteps and the third Executive Director.

Cathy’s career, as evidenced in her dedication and limitless reservoir of energy, has left a lasting legacy. As a non-profit leader she inspired the herculean commitment of others and then led that energy to accomplish great things in spite of often “insurmountable” obstacles. She was passionate and persuasive, always believing in people centered preservation.

In 1882, Walt Whitman wrote of By Emerson’s Grave: “We stand by Emerson’s new made grave without sadness – indeed a solemn joy and faith, almost hauteur – our soul-benison no mere “Warrior, rest, thy task is done,” for one beyond the warriors of the world lies surely symboll’d here.”

Sweet Cathy, rest, thy task is done.