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