Preservation in Progress

Historic Seattle’s Blog

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.

Photos:
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

Celebrating our 2021 Preservation Award Winners

Teddy Roosevelt once said, “Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.”

Preservation gives us that opportunity. So, we are glad to recognize the hard work that our 2021 Preservation Award winners found worth doing – and we couldn’t agree more with their vision.

These projects are a testament to perseverance, labors of love that take years…even decades.

Join us in celebrating the following people and project teams who worked hard at work worth doing. It’s our mission to save meaningful places that foster lively communities, and this year’s winners make it clear that we’re not alone in that work. You can read more about each in our 2021 Benefit Journal.

The Lodge at St. Edward Park

Beth Chave Award for Best Preservation Project Award

Empty for over 40 years, this building was listed as one of the state’s most endangered buildings by the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation. Thankfully, preservation champion Kevin Daniels stepped in to adaptively reuse the building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places and the Washington Heritage Register. The building was converted into a quintessential Northwest lodge to accommodate 84 guest rooms, opening in the spring of 2021.

The Fantasy Shop

Community Investment Award

The Fantasy Shop was constructed in 1944 and opened as White Center’s first bank. The concrete bank vault remains in place today. In its last operable state, the building was home to Stan’s Fantasy Shop, an adult mega store. Stan retired in 2018 and sold the building to Padraic Slattery, who promised to preserve it in a respectful and historically accurate manner. After a careful restoration, the property will soon be home to the Lumberyard Bar, the LGBTQ+ community hub that was recently destroyed by fire.

Mike’s Chili Parlor

Preserving Neighborhood Character Award

Mike Semandiris immigrated from Greece in 1922 and started to serve his chili, a family recipe, to workers from the numerous mills that made Ballard a lumber and shingle capital. Mike established his namesake Chili Parlor  in its current location on Ballard Way, and the recipe has stayed the same for nearly a century. With its brick exterior and simple unchanged layout of bar stools and booths inside, being there feels timeless.

UHeights

Outstanding Stewardship Award

Founded in 1989 by University District residents and businesses who believed this building would serve as a vital gathering place for the community, UHeights has been serving the Greater Seattle area since its original construction as an elementary school in 1902. When UHeights took possession of the building from Seattle Public Schools in 1990, it had been poorly maintained. UHeights embarked on a long-term maintenance and capital improvement program, all of which has been approved by Seattle’s Landmarks Preservation Board and follows best preservation practices.

Kevin Daniels

Preservation Champion Award

If you live in or visit Seattle, it’s no exaggeration to say that Kevin Daniels has touched your life through his work. Although able to develop anywhere in the U.S., Kevin has kept his attention on preserving Seattle’s history while reimagining the future. His 40 years of career achievements culminated with the adaptive reuse of the Lodge at St. Edward Park (our 2021 Best Preservation Project). Kevin announced his retirement in the spring of 2021.

Save the Stone Cottage

Community Advocacy Award

In the early 1930s, Eva Falk and her mother Helen foraged thousands of stones from local shores and ‘hired’ unemployed Hooverville stone masons to attach them to exterior wood walls in exchange for meals. Recently facing demolition, the Stone Cottage was being watched by preservation advocates affiliated with the Southwest Seattle Historical Society. The new owner/developer agreed to give the newly organized grassroots group Save the Stone Cottage, who worked tirelessly to relocate it to a temporary site in August 2021. Save the Stone Cottage also receives a $3,000 Community Advocacy prize to fund their ongoing work to find a permanent, publicly accessible home for the building.

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.

 

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