Preservation in Progress

Historic Seattle’s Blog

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.

ABOUT THE BETH CHAVE HISTORIC PRESERVATION AWARD
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.

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.

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. indiancountrytoday.com/archive/king-county-council-remembers-1865-exclusion-of-native-americans-I5hcpWZ3v0C7FztJkbCHiQ.

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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: https://historicseattle.org/resources/sfs/

Britton and Rachel Shepard & the Ronnei-Raum House

Nestled in the center of Fall City and adjacent to the Fall City Masonic Lodge stands the 1904 Ronnei-Raum House. In 2019, Historic Seattle purchased the house from the neighboring Masons, who planned to reinvest the proceeds from the sale back into their historic lodge.

With the purchase, the Ronnei-Raum House became the first Preservation Action Fund (PAF) project undertaken by Historic Seattle. The PAF, created in 2017 by King County and 4Culture in partnership with Historic Seattle and the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, is a revolving real estate fund dedicated to purchasing, restoring, protecting, and re-activating historic properties throughout King County (outside of Seattle’s city limits).

Fall City historians and Preservation Action Fund (PAF) team members gathered for a tour of the PAF project site in February 2019 

Historic Seattle’s plans to rehabilitate the house were well underway this spring when an unexpected — yet welcomed — change in plans resulted in the sale of the Ronnei-Raum House this month, in advance of its completed restoration. Fall City resident Britton Shepard was excited by the project and made an offer to purchase it and finish the restoration project. Funds from the sale will be reinvested into the PAF for the next project.

But, you may wonder, who is Britton Shepard? How will he take on the restoration and stewardship of this historic King County landmark? Read on to learn about the man who will play the next leading role in shaping the house’s story.

As a builder and landscape architect, Britton certainly has the sensitivity and expertise necessary to restore the property. “I feel like I am a kindred spirit to your [PAF] group. I recently earned a Landscape Architecture degree from UW, and I share a lot of the core values of the College of Built Environments which have to do with community and cultivating a sense of place,” he explained.

Britton also has plenty of experience restoring old houses. Prior to moving to Fall City, he and his wife, Rachel, owned a 1904 home (the same vintage as the Ronnei-Raum House) in Georgetown. “We put a lot of work into that house to make it happy again. Then, when we moved to Fall City 15 years ago, we were committed to the idea of recycling a farmhouse – a labor of love that is not just about the house and its setting, but also about the lives lived there,” said Britton. Rachel, in fact, grew up in Fall City. “Ten years ago when our son started kindergarten, he did so in the same classroom where she went to kindergarten! Moving out here was a bit of a discovery for me, but it turns out that the character of the neighborhood, the scale of the houses, the open fields with no sidewalks, was similar to the neighborhood where I grew up in Boulder, Colorado. So, I instantly felt at home here.”

“I have always been curious about the Ronnei-Raum House. Last spring, I noticed there was a [PAF] banner up. One thing led to another and eventually it seemed that there was this opportunity — not just to make an investment, but also to participate in  this really visible restoration project,” Britton said.

In its original form, the 800 square foot house was a modest yet nicely detailed middle-class cottage with turned and jig-sawn millwork. Despite some alterations that occurred in the mid-20th century, its scale, simplicity, and some of its detail still echo the earliest stock of vernacular housing in this mill-oriented river town.

The Ronnei-Raum House in 1940. This image shows turned posts and scrollwork on the front porch, as well as the original front door, back porch, and possibly a hint at the original house color (not white, as it appears now).

“I love that the house is humble. I love the idea of creating a dwelling that is based on life in its simplest forms,” Britton explained. “The Ronnei-Raum house was originally a worker’s cottage. Our restoration work will embrace the same values of simplicity and frugality that prevailed when the house was built. This approach aligns with my personal manifesto as a designer, landscape philosopher, and historian. I think being frugal and having just enough is the sweet spot as far as sustainability and living in a mindful way.”

Britton continued, “At the same time, the house was built with quality materials: Douglas-fir lumber that was probably coming from a mill just up the river – materials that nowadays are coveted. It is like a time capsule where all this beautiful local wood was encased in a way that made it last. One of my jobs is going to be to take it all apart and restore and reuse it. We will take apart the inside, salvage the fir, replumb, redo the electrical, and put in a nice farmhouse kitchen. We will restore the original windows and woodworking. And we’ll choose colors, materials, and finishes in keeping with rural living back then.”

“As far as the landscape goes, there are distinctive elements of the property that are considered part of Fall City’s DNA — a simple house, set in place, with open space around it that was once pasture.  These features are specified in the Fall City Design Guidelines. There are also a couple of sources indicating that the Snoqualmie people kept the area near the river as a meadow, burning it off every couple of years to have better access to food and game harvests. The town of Fall City grew up in and around this meadow. The Ronnei-Raum House would’ve sat right in the middle. As a landscape historian, that’s a part of the story I’m really drawn to. I can imagine restoring the turf, with a simple walkway to the door, and bringing back basic elements like these that are inherent to the site,” Britton described.

The approximate location of the Ronnei-Raum House is indicated in red on this map of Fall City before 1900 from “Fall City in The Valley of The Moon” (1972).

The Ronnei-Raum House has been a single-family residence since it was built in 1904. It was home to the caretaker of Fall City Masonic Lodge #66 for decades and was most recently used by the Masons as a rental.  About Rachel and Britton’s plans for use, Britton said, “The goals that we have for the house don’t include selling it. In a sense this is a professional undertaking, one that will allow me to continue to work locally and further invest in this community.”

The Ronnei-Raum house and neighboring Masonic Lodge #66, 2019.

As part of the terms of the sale, Historic Seattle will hold a preservation easement on the property indefinitely. An easement is a tool used to protect a historic resource requiring that current and future owners maintain their property in a way that reflects its historic significance. “We are willing to make the commitment to the [easement] ‘obligation’ because it fits into family plans of being rooted here. Also, the guidelines align perfectly with my own set of values so that I’m actually coming to the same conclusions about how to approach this project,” said Britton.

About being a preservationist, Britton said, “To me, preservation is about meaning. I’m interested in sustainability — as it relates to energy, food, and materials, but also in how we value resources, where things are guarded and turned over and over again, really cherished. I think it is through cherishing, through our acts of caring for the place we live, that we create meaning. I think we need meaning, communities need meaning, as much as we need electricity. I look forward to taking the Ronnei-Raum House apart from the inside out and honoring it. I like to be involved with handling and appreciating the materials and the story. That’s my sense of being a preservationist.”

For an example of his place-making creativity and sensitivity towards our tangible material history, check out this video about Britton’s intriguing thesis project. As the description reads, “WSECU collaborated with landscape designer and University of Washington student Britton Shepard to build community by bringing a vacant lot to life in Seattle’s University District where the credit union’s future building will be built. Part art, part garden, part archeological dig, see how he transformed the forgettable into something special in the middle of a bustling city.”

 

Building Dialogue

About the program:

BUILDING DIALOGUE is Historic Seattle’s monthly reading and discussion group. Engage in facilitated conversation about books on preservation and the built environment with others who share an interest — and perhaps some expertise — in the subject.

Our first book is The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs. We plan to read the book in segments and will hold a virtual (via Zoom) facilitated discussion about each assigned section once a month, for five months. Drop in for one or join us for all – a commitment to participate in every discussion is not required to take part.

Discussion Date Discussion Time Assigned Reading Scope of Assignment
August 19 

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12-1 PM Introduction & Part One: The Peculiar Nature of Cities Chapters
1-6
September 16

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12-1 PM Part Two: The Conditions for City Diversity Chapters
7-12
October 21

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12-1 PM Part Three: Forces of Decline and Regeneration Chapters
13-16
November 18

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12-1 PM Part Four: Different Tactics Chapters
17-22

About the book: 

“A direct and fundamentally optimistic indictment of the short-sightedness and intellectual arrogance that has characterized much of urban planning in [the 20th] century, The Death and Life of Great American Cities has, since its first publication in 1961, become the standard against which all endeavors in that field are measured. In prose of outstanding immediacy, Jane Jacobs writes about what makes streets safe or unsafe; about what constitutes a neighborhood, and what function it serves within the larger organism of the city; about why some neighborhoods remain impoverished while others regenerate themselves. She writes about the salutary role of funeral parlors and tenement windows, the dangers of too much development money and too little diversity. Compassionate, bracingly indignant, and always keenly detailed, Jane Jacobs’s monumental work provides an essential framework for assessing the vitality of all cities.”

About the author:

“Jane Jacobs (1916-2006) was an urbanist and activist whose writings championed a fresh, community-based approach to city building. She had no formal training as a planner, and yet her 1961 treatise, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, introduced ground-breaking ideas about how cities function, evolve and fail. The impact of Jane Jacobs’s observation, activism, and writing has led to a ‘planning blueprint’ for generations of architects, planners, politicians and activists to practice.

Jacobs saw cities as integrated systems that had their own logic and dynamism which would change over time according to how they were used. With an eye for detail, she wrote eloquently about sidewalks, parks, retail design and self-organization. She promoted higher density in cities, short blocks, local economies and mixed uses. Jacobs helped derail the car-centered approach to urban planning in both New York and Toronto, invigorating neighborhood activism by helping stop the expansion of expressways and roads. She lived in Greenwich Village for decades, then moved to Toronto in 1968 where she continued her work and writing on urbanism, economies and social issues until her death in April 2006.

A firm believer in the importance of local residents having input on how their neighborhoods develop, Jacobs encouraged people to familiarize themselves with the places where they live, work, and play.” Learn more here.

Discussion guidelines:

Please self-regulate as you would in an in-person discussion. Remember to be courteous and avoid interrupting when someone is speaking.

If it seems that multiple people want to contribute to the conversation, please raise your hand and we will attempt to call on you in order. Depending on the group size and timing, it may not be possible to get to everyone, every time.

Share the floor: if you have already had a chance to speak, please allow others the chance to contribute to the conversation.

Please avoid side conversations or tangents. The chat feature is a good tool for communicating to a specific person in the group directly or for making a comment to the group without interrupting.

Points of view and opinions will differ. Regardless, participants agree to be respectful and keep the discussion civil so that this can be a space for listening, learning, and exploration. As a safe space for all participants, racism, sexism, homophobic comments, discrimination, insults, etc. will not be tolerated.

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