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Archive for the ‘Advocacy Alert’ Category

Time to Save The Hahn Building, NOW

By Ruth Danner, President – Save the Market Entrance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by Shree Ram Dahal

About Third Church

By Cindy Safronoff

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

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

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


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


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


Lower auditorium stained glass windows (Photo: Dale Lang)


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

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

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

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


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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Save the Spud Building & Sullivan House!

There’s no shortage of preservation advocacy issues happening. Here’s the latest:

Spud – Next Modern Landmark? Sullivan House – Next Capitol Hill Landmark or Tear-down?

The February 7th Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board (LPB) meeting should shape up to be a pretty interesting one with a ca. 1898 house and a 1959 Modern commercial building up for consideration by the Board.

The Spud Fish & Chips Building (6860 East Green Lake Way N) is an excellent example of a mid-century Modern commercial building with elements of the Googie-style. The iconic design of this legacy business is one of the few remaining intact buildings of this style in Seattle. This property is also threatened with demolition and redevelopment. Historic Seattle will be supporting the nomination of the Spud Fish & Chips building.

The Patrick J. and Joanna Sullivan House (1632 15th Avenue at E. Olive Street) on Capitol Hill will be up for landmark designation. Historic Seattle supports the designation of this significant property because the house embodies the distinctive characteristics of the Queen Anne style; represents an outstanding work of the architecture firm of Josenhans and Allen; sits prominently at the southeast corner of 15th Ave and E Olive Way, presenting a striking contract to surrounding buildings; and is associated with a prominent businessman from the late 19th and early 20th century.

Currently threatened because it’s for sale for $2.2M, we hope to see the property designated and sold to someone who intends to restore the structure, which actually houses five-units.

You may download the nomination reports for both properties on the Seattle Historic Preservation Program’s website, under “Current Nominations.”

We encourage you to support the nomination of the Spud building and the designation of the P.J. and Joanna Sullivan House. You may submit written comments via e-mail to Erin Doherty, Landmarks Preservation Board Coordinator, at, by Monday, February 5th or attend the public meeting on Wednesday, February 7th at 3:30 p.m. and provide comments. The meeting will be held in Seattle City Hall (600 4th Avenue, Floor L2) in the Boards & Commissions Room L2-80.

No Controls on Two Designated Landmarks

In the past two months, the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board placed no controls on two designated Seattle Landmarks—the Galbraith House on Capitol Hill (17th and Howell) and the Wayne Apartments in Belltown. Demolition of the Galbraith House began in early January. The Wayne Apartments building is for sale. With no controls, we expect it will also be demolished unless a sympathetic buyer surfaces. Historic Seattle is very disappointed with this outcome for both historic properties. It has been rare for the Board to place no controls on a designated landmark. And now, in the span of two months, this has happened twice. We know these must have been difficult decisions for the Board and City staff. What’s not helping is the current, over-inflated market value of properties in Seattle and the demolition-by-neglect by owners who let their properties deteriorate so the cost of rehabilitation is much higher than if the properties had been maintained over the years. If a developer or property owner can show no “reasonable economic use” for a designated property, then the death knell will surely sound for the landmark. We hope to learn from these recent examples and work with the City to seek stronger protections for designated landmarks. We do not want this be the new normal for designated landmarks.  

More info on each property:

Capitol Hill Seattle Blog

Friends of Historic Belltown

Photo credits: Spud (daytime) – Joe Mabel photographer; Spud at night (Docomomo WEWA); Wayne Apartment Building (Historic Seattle)

Save Seattle’s Historic Schools!

Calling All Preservation Advocates!

Historic Seattle seeks your help in saving Seattle’s historic schools. We recently learned that a bill has been introduced to the State Senate by Senators David Frockt and Reuven Carlyle (SB 5805) “Concerning the application of landmark or historic preservation regulations with regard to school district property in school districts with more than fifty thousand students.”

In a nutshell, SB5805 seeks to exempt schools in the Seattle School District from the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Ordinance (LPO). The bill states, “For school districts with more than fifty thousand students, school district property shall be subject to state and local landmark or historic preservation regulations only to the extent explicitly approved by the board of directors of each school district.”

The Seattle School District is using the legislature to solve a local issue. Seattle is the only district in the state with over 50,000 students. If the school board does not like the LPO, it should address its issues with the City of Seattle, not the state legislature.

It’s our understanding that all currently designated Seattle School District-owned landmarks as well as all future designated landmarks owned by the School District could be affected. Schools could still be designated through the current Landmarks designation process, but the school board would have the authority to “approve” which elements of the landmark ordinance it wishes to comply with. One could designate a school, but the school board would have the authority to ignore any controls and incentives, thereby opening up the possibility of demolition or significant alterations without approval from the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board.

The bill also refers to “state…historic preservation regulations.” There are no state historic preservation regulations. The Washington Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation reviews historic preservation issues under SEPA (State Environmental Policy Act). Is the School District also looking to be exempt from SEPA?

Seattle taxpayers have approved millions of dollars in levies for schools, much of which has been used to renovate designated landmarks. If this bill is passed, the school board would have the power to “undo” the will of Seattle voters on past projects.

The bill also sets a bad precedent for other school districts in the state.

What You Can Do

Please submit written testimony, ideally, by Wednesday, January 10, close-of-business day (5 pm), or no later than NOON on Thursday, January 11, to Senator Frockt and Senator Carlyle and explain why you are opposed to this bill (SB5805). Be sure to reference the bill.

We also suggest emailing Senator Lisa Wellman and Senator Christine Rolfes, Chair and Vice Chair of the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Committee. And it’s always a good idea to contact the senator in your own legislative district.

Keep your message short. Bottom line, the Seattle School District should not be exempt from the Landmarks Preservation Ordinance. You might even ask Senators Frockt and Carlyle why they are even supporting such a bill.

If there is a historic school in your neighborhood that is designated a landmark or is a potential landmark, please note the school buildings and say why they are important. Seattle’s historic schools are institutional anchors in every neighborhood. The School District has a duty to maintain and sensitively upgrade these buildings to serve the community.

If you have time to attend a public hearing for the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee scheduled for Thursday, January 11, at 1:30 pm, we encourage you to provide testimony in person. The hearing takes place in the Senate Hearing Rm 1, J.A. Cherberg Building, Olympia, WA 98504.

Here’s a link to learn more about testifying in Committee in person and via written testimony (scroll down the page for written testimony instructions).

We recommend emailing the senators and their legislative aides directly. See contact info below:

Senator David Frockt,; legislative aide Jon Rudicil,

Senator Reuven Carlyle,; legislative aide Kate Hoffman,

Senator Lisa Wellman,; legislative aide Noah Burgher,

Senator Christine Rolfes,; legislative aides Linda Owens, and Mikhail Cherniske,

Thanks in advance for taking the time to advocate for the preservation of Seattle’s historic schools!

If you have any questions, feel free to contact Eugenia Woo, Director of Preservation Services at Historic Seattle at


Photo: Seward School, a designated Seattle Landmark (source: Department of Neighborhoods)

Advocacy Alert and Update – December

Support P.J. Sullivan House Landmark Nomination        

There’s a significant historic property being considered for landmark nomination by the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board on Wednesday, December 20, 2017.

The P.J. Sullivan House (1632 15th Avenue at E. Olive Street) on Capitol Hill was built in ca. 1898 for Patrick J. and Joanna Sullivan. P.J. Sullivan was the proprietor of Queen City Boiler Works before becoming engaged in real estate development. The house was designed in the Queen Anne style by the prominent architecture firm of Josenhans and Allan, credited for designing notable works such as the Marion Building at 818 2nd Avenue; the Cawsey C. C. House at 325 West Kinnear Place West; as well as Lewis, Clark, and Parrington Halls on the University of Washington campus.

Download the landmark nomination application here.

Historic Seattle will be supporting the landmark nomination of the Sullivan House and we urge you to do the same. Despite some changes to the exterior, we believe the house retains its integrity and ability to convey significance. This is an architecturally significant property that embodies the distinctive characteristics of the Queen Anne style. The house was originally built as a single-family residence but was converted to a five-unit apartment building. The 7,200 sf lot on which the house sits is zoned LR3 (Lowrise 3)—very desirable for redevelopment. Historic Seattle is monitoring the property which was listed for sale recently at $2.2M. Its current status is pending. Its future is uncertain but if you’re interested in saving the property, please consider connecting with the seller through the listing agent.

To support the landmark nomination, please submit your written comments via e-mail to Erin Doherty, Landmarks Preservation Board Coordinator, at, before 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, December 19th or attend the public meeting on December 20th at 3:30 p.m. and provide comments. The meeting will be held in Seattle City Hall (600 4th Avenue, Floor L2) in the Boards & Commissions Room L2-80.

Photo: historic view of Sullivan House; source: real estate listing for 1632 15th Ave)


Save the Reactor Update: It’s Not Over Until it’s Over

This summer, we shared the good news that the State Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, ruled that University of Washington (UW) is subject to the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Ordinance (LPO). This was a huge victory for preservation advocates and the City of Seattle. The Court held that the University of Washington is a state agency that must comply with the local development regulations adopted pursuant to the Growth Management Act (GMA).

Well, it’s not over until it’s over.

In September, the UW filed a petition to the Growth Management Hearings Board (GMHB) claiming that the City of Seattle did not properly adopt the LPO pursuant to the GMA. Historic Seattle, Docomomo WEWA, and the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation were not named in the petition, but the three preservation organizations intervened in the petition to support the City of Seattle and to continue to be champions for historic preservation. The City and the three organizations filed separate motions to dismiss in October.

On October 31 (trick-or-treat!), the GMHB dismissed the case, finding that the UW, as a state agency, did not obtain the Governor’s consent to petition the GMHB for review, as required by the Revised Code of Washington; and that the UW’s petition was untimely on its face because its challenge of the LPO is about a quarter of a century too late—the appeal period is 60 days.

We were thrilled to see the case dismissed but knew that the GMHB’s dismissal of the case could be appealed to King County Superior Court. UW had 30 days (from October 31) to appeal. That date recently passed and there was no appeal by the UW.


Preservation organizations Historic Seattle, Docomomo WEWA, and the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation have an open dialogue with the University about preservation on campus. We are hopeful for the future of the historic University of Washington campus.

Call to Action: Comment on Mandatory Housing Affordability

Share Your Thoughts on Affordability!
Comment Period Extended to August 7

Have you heard of HALA? MHA? What about DEIS? If these acronyms are not familiar to you, they should be! All will affect your life and your city’s future.

What can you do? We’re asking supporters of preservation to review the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) policy and submit your comments to the Office of Planning and Community Development (OPCD) by Monday, August 7. The DEIS evaluates MHA implementation in urban villages, proposed urban village expansion areas, and all other multifamily and commercial areas throughout the city.

A key component of the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) strategy, MHA will require new development to either build affordable homes or contribute to a City fund for affordable housing. OPCD estimates MHA will deliver more than 6,000 rent-restricted housing units over the next 10 years. As proposed, MHA will expand housing choices by granting additional development capacity to allow for construction of more market-rate housing and commercial space.

The 460-page DEIS evaluates three alternatives (one of which is “No Action”) for implementing zoning changes proposed under MHA, and includes a section addressing historic resources (Section 3.5). The DEIS does not include Downtown, South Lake Union, or the University District, where MHA is already proposed or in effect.

Historic Seattle shares the City’s concern about the lack of affordable housing and supports a number of HALA’s recommendations. However, in our opinion, what’s being proposed for MHA is a “one-size fits-all” approach that will have a potentially significant adverse impact on the livability and quality of Seattle’s neighborhoods.

Here Are Some Ways Historic Preservation + Affordability + Livability Intersect:

Housing Diversity and “Naturally Occurring” Affordability  

Older buildings provide a diversity of housing types and tend to provide more units of affordable rental housing than taller, newer developments. Research shows that neighborhoods with a high concentration of historic buildings and mixed-scale development are more vibrant and perform better in terms of environmental, economic, and social metrics.

Hidden Density 

Older neighborhoods contain hidden density. It has been demonstrated that “human-scale neighborhoods with older fabric are the ‘missing middle’ of cities and can achieve surprisingly high population densities.”

Social Equity

Neighborhoods with a smaller-scaled mix of old and new buildings draw a higher proportion of non-chain shops, restaurants, and women and minority-owned businesses than new neighborhoods.

TAKE ACTION! Historic Seattle will submit public comments on the proposed alternatives and potential impacts on historic properties. We urge you to get engaged so that your voice is heard!

Feel like wonking out a bit more? Here are some more talking points related to the MHA DEIS:  

MHA should provide a more balanced approach to achieving growth

Historic Seattle believes City leadership needs to strike a balance to achieve density without demolition, and affordability without sacrificing livability in order to ensure that how we grow is sustainable and resilient – while retaining urban character and sense of place.

The Historic Resources section (3.5) is inadequate and lacks meaningful analysis. It is repetitive, imprecise, and non-specific

The section on Affected Environment (3.5.1) does not provide any real understanding of the study area’s history, context, and patterns of developments. It should include details on neighborhoods to adequately assess potential impacts to historic resources such as potentially-eligible individual properties and future historic districts. Added development pressure will result in increased demolition of potentially historic buildings and neighborhoods and adversely impact the character and scale of neighborhood blocks.

The analysis should reflect a better understanding of what exists that’s currently affordable, in order to determine the net gain or loss from the proposed MHA changes. What will the impact be in terms of tear-downs, net gain of housing, and how much is “affordable”?

The DEIS does not connect MHA to URM

Unreinforced Masonry (URM) buildings are mentioned in both Affected Environment (3.5.1) and Mitigation Measures (3.5.3), however, the DEIS does not reference the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspection’s (SDCI) list of over 1,100 URM properties in the city. The analysis should include the number of URMs in each of the study area neighborhoods in order to understand how MHA might impact these properties.

Additionally, complying with a possible City mandate to seismically retrofit URMs to the “bolts plus” standard will present a substantial financial burden on many property owners. If preservation of existing affordable housing is truly a goal of HALA, it would then make sense to offer financial incentives to property owners who preserve and upgrade historic URMs and provide affordable housing.

The DEIS should provide substantive mitigation measures

Section 3.5.3 focus on two mitigation measures that are already in place–Comprehensive Plan policies and City Landmarks process, and proposes a third to continue funding of comprehensive survey/inventory efforts that have been inactive for years. A list of other potential mitigation measures follows in a separate paragraph but it is unclear whether any of these have any import or will be considered seriously. Mitigation should actually respond to the potential impacts and not rely only on existing policies, programs, and regulations without ways to implement through added funding and staff resources.

Please use your own words and include examples in your neighborhood that relate to the talking points above. Submit written comments by August 7 to

Or mail to:

City of Seattle Office of Planning and Community Development
PO Box 34019
Seattle, WA 98124-4019

Thank you in advance for taking the time to advocate for Seattle’s future development and places that matter! If you’d like more information about this advocacy effort, please contact Eugenia Woo, Director of Preservation Services, Historic Seattle, at or 206.622.6952, ext 245.


What is an EIS?
EIS Process
Preservation Green Lab (PGL) Older, Smaller, Better report
PGL Atlas of ReUrbanism
CityLab “Density Without Demolition”


Photo: Pike/Pine new construction adjacent to historic apartment building; source: Historic Seattle

UW Draft Campus Plan

The University of Washington (UW) recently issued its 2018 Draft Seattle Campus Master Plan (CMP) and Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the plan. The CMP provides the framework for UW’s future development within the Major Institution Overlay (MIO) of the Seattle campus. The DEIS is intended to identify and assess possible impacts of development.

You can review the CMP and DEIS online:

Historic Seattle submitted comments and we encourage you to do so, too. Download a pdf of Historic Seattle’s comment letter.

As supporters of Historic Seattle, we value your advocacy efforts. Today, we are asking for your support. Contact UW and voice your support of historic preservation at the UW—not in opposition of or at the expense of additional growth, but in concert with appropriate new construction that does not erode the historic buildings and landscapes of the University’s Seattle campus. Public comment for both the CMP and the DEIS are due November 21, 2016.

Historically, the UW has had one of the most impressive and beautiful university campuses in the United States. Guided by its late 19th and early 20th century plans and executed designs, the campus’s character-defining features, spaces, and buildings reflect an evolution of development and growth through many decades. The significant historic resources on campus include not only the older buildings but also the collection of post-WWII resources.

To fully reflect its history, the UW must carefully consider the value of its historic and cultural resources from all eras, not just the older buildings related to its early roots. The draft campus plan continues the UW’s disregard of most of its post-WWII historic resources. This past summer, the UW demolished the National Register-listed Nuclear Reactor Building. The draft 2018 Plan indicates the UW’s intent to demolish more significant mid-century modern resources such as McMahon Hall and Haggett Hall dorms, designed by the prominent firm of Kirk Wallace & McKinley Associates and determined eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places by the Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation (DAHP).

The potential loss of more historic resources is troubling. Equally distressing is the University’s own contradictory statements that, on the one hand, tout “stewardship of historic and cultural resources” as a guiding principle, and on the other hand, give itself an “out” with its bold declaration that any structure that is more than 25 years old or historic can be demolished “if authorized by the UW Board of Regents.”

Furthermore, the CMP states that the UW is not subject to the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Ordinance, following a recent King County Superior Court ruling in its favor. However, the draft Plan does not reveal the fact that there is pending litigation in the State Court of Appeals that will rule on this very issue.

Please stand in support of historic preservation by submitting your comments by November 21 to Julie Blakeslee, Environmental and Land Use Planner, Capital Planning and Development, via email at or

Image: Illustrative Plan of Campus at Full Build-out, University of Washington Draft Campus Master Plan (85 sites for development or redevelopment)


Support Seattle Legacy Businesses

It seems that every day there’s news about yet another beloved local business closing and there’s nothing we can do about it. Existing historic preservation tools do not protect specific uses or businesses. What else can be done? What can you do?

There are efforts underway to try to address this issue of how to protect Seattle’s older businesses. Historic Seattle has been working with other advocates to support the notion of a Legacy Businesses program in Seattle.

Seattle Councilmember Lisa Herbold has been leading an effort to raise awareness of the importance of these legacy businesses. For the City of Seattle’s 2017-2018 Proposed Budget, she is sponsoring a proposal to add $100,000 for a study on legacy businesses with the goal of identifying places and fostering an atmosphere in which they might better thrive going forward. The funding would support a study to determine the scope and definition of a Seattle Legacy Business project.

Historic Seattle supports Councilmember’s Herbold’s budget proposal addition—we testified at a recent Select Budget Committee meeting in support of the proposal.

Today, we are asking for your support. Please contact Council Budget Committee Chair Tim Burgess at to request that he include the funding for the Seattle Legacy Business Study in his proposed balanced budget package. He will announce his budget package next Wednesday, November 2.

Seattle Weekly discussed the issue of Legacy Businesses in a recent article. Read more here.

Learn more about Seattle Legacy Businesses!

Photo by Joe Mabel, Wikipedia Commons. Bush Garden, Seattle Chinatown-International District

Save the Reactor

You heard from us last month about Historic Seattle’s efforts to save the Nuclear Reactor Building (aka More Hall Annex) at the University of Washington (UW). Thanks to those of you who attended the October 26 public hearing at UW and offered comments in support of preserving the National Register-listed Nuclear Reactor Building.

nrb buttonThe Save the Reactor advocacy campaign is a collaboration among three preservation organizations—Historic Seattle, the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation and Docomomo WEWA. We recently launched a website for Save the Reactor to advocate for the preservation of this significant Modern resource in Seattle. Explore the website and learn more about the building’s history, significance and advocacy efforts. Most importantly, we want you to get involved!

The UW’s Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for the proposed construction of the new Computer Science and Engineering Building II (CSE II) highlights a “preferred alternative” that would result in the demolition of this significant building for the construction of the new CSE II building. The Draft SEIS has not adequately considered the adverse effects to the Nuclear Reactor Building.

Please voice your support for a meaningful preservation alternative for the Nuclear Reactor Building. Tell the University of Washington it can do better, and must do better. For talking points, view the blog post on the Save the Reactor website.

We encourage you to submit written comments to the UW. Send comments to Jan Arntz, SEPA Responsible Official, The deadline is Monday, November 23, 2015.

Thank you in advance for taking the time to advocate for the preservation of the Nuclear Reactor Building! There’s more advocacy ahead beyond November 23 so stay tuned…

If have questions about the Draft SEIS and/or you’d like to get involved with this advocacy effort, please contact Eugenia Woo, Director of Preservation Services, Historic Seattle, at or 206.622.6952, ext 245.

Photo credit: Abby Inpanbutr

Seattle 2035 Draft Comp Plan

Seattle’s Department of Planning and Development (DPD) has extended the public comment period on the Draft Comprehensive Plan, known as Seattle 2035, through Friday, November 20, 2015. The Draft Plan identifies proposed goals and policies that will provide a roadmap for the city’s growth over the next 20 years.

The city is hosting a series of community open houses to talk about the proposed changes and allow opportunities to ask questions or share your thoughts.

Historic Seattle urges you to get engaged and have your voice be heard! Your feedback will help DPD evaluate strategies for a city that grows according to the plan’s four core values: race and social equity, environmental stewardship, economic opportunity and security, and community.

The city’s most vibrant urban neighborhoods are those with a high concentration of historic buildings and mixed-scale development. The Comp Plan should value stewardship of historic properties as an important priority along with clean water, natural resources, open space, environmental stewardship, and social equity. It should lay out a path that leverages our historic and cultural resources in achieving healthy, complete communities.

Historic Seattle submitted its public comments outlining recommendations for strengthening the Historic Preservation component. Download Historic Seattle’s letter here.

Here are the key points related to historic preservation:

The Cultural Resource Element is being replaced with an Arts & Culture Element (page 135), where the Historic Preservation component now resides. The Historic Preservation component has been distilled down to one broad goal (page 140), and the language on several of the policies has been weakened.

Recommendations to better integrate historic preservation into the new Comp Plan include:

  • Expanding the Historic Preservation goals
  • Strengthening the Historic Preservation policies
  • Strengthening and expanding the proposed survey/inventory policy
  • Connecting the Historic Preservation component with other Comp Plan elements

Submit written comments by November 20, 2015 to:


City of Seattle Department of Planning and Development
Attn: Seattle 2035
700 5th Avenue, Suite 2000, PO Box 34019
Seattle, WA 98124-4019

Thank you for advocating for the city’s Comp Plan update! If you’d like to get involved with this advocacy effort, please contact Brooke Best, Preservation Advocacy Coordinator, Historic Seattle, at or 206.622.6952, ext 226.

Top left image: Composite image by Clayton Kauzlaric, combining Google Earth view and 1891 bird’s eye view by lithographer E.S. Glover.

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