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The Next Capitol Hill Landmark

LPB mtg_081915_blogLast week, the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board voted unanimously to nominate the Singerman Residence / Gaslight Inn as a Seattle Landmark. In a neighborhood that has been experiencing significant changes and redevelopment, the nomination of the building at 1727 15th Avenue takes on even greater meaning. Originally built in ca. 1904 for Seattle businessman and department store owner Paul Singerman, the property was purchased by the current owner, Stephen Bennett, in 1983. The house has been beautifully restored and transformed into a guesthouse. Mr. Bennett voluntarily submitted the landmark nomination, prepared by BOLA Architecture + Planning with assistance from John Fox, friend of the owner.

The building is important for its architecture as an outstanding example of the Seattle Classic Box or Four Square style. The property also has a significant association with the social history of Capitol Hill. As noted in the landmark nomination form, “The Gaslight Inn exemplifies the efforts by gay and lesbian residents to revive the neighborhood in the 1970s and 1980s, and to create identifiable LGBTQ space in the city.” In most cases, historic buildings are significant for their association with early history. In this case, the history of the recent past is just as significant, if not more so than the earlier history.

At the Landmarks Preservation Board meeting on August 19, 2015, representatives from Historic Seattle and the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation spoke in support of the nomination and thanked Mr. Bennett, Mr. Fox and Susan Boyle and Meagan Scott from BOLA Architecture + Planning for bringing the nomination to the Board. The Board also greatly appreciated the opportunity to review the nomination and learn more about the the property. This portion of the Board meeting was a “love fest”–not usually the case at these public meetings when more often than not, property owners/developers and their lawyers are there to oppose nomination/designation.

A designation hearing for the Singerman Residence / Gaslight Inn is scheduled for October 7, 2015. We anticipate the property will be designated as Capitol Hill’s newest landmark. Hopefully, this will mean the property will continue to be preserved in the future.

The Capitol Hill Seattle Blog covered the story in the following posts:

“Board votes unanimously to move 111-year old Capitol Hill B & B forward in landmarks process”

“15th Ave’s Gaslight Inn makes first appearance before landmarks board Wednesday”

“15th Ave’s Gaslight Inn to be considered as a landmark” (includes link to the download the landmark nomination form)

Gaslight Inn building / credit: BOLA
Smiles after the Landmarks Preservation Board meeting (l to r: Stephen Bennett, John Fox, Susan Boyle and Meagan Scott) / credit: Eugenia Woo

The Panama Hotel

The National Trust for Historic Preservation recently named the Panama Hotel in Seattle’s International District, a National Treasure. The National Trust recognizes the national historic and cultural significance of the Panama Hotel and the important stories it can help tell. The building is also a designated National Historic Landmark. Through the National Treasures program, a growing portfolio of more than 55 threatened buildings, neighborhoods, communities, and landscapes that stand at risk across the country, the National Trust will take direct action to protect the Panama Hotel and promote its rich history and significance. jan johnson_natl treasures announcement small

Along with Historic Seattle and current owner Jan Johnson, the National Trust is committing to long-term preservation and interpretation of the building and its collections. As owner of the hotel for the past 30 years, Ms. Johnson is preparing for the property’s next phase and with this National Treasure designation, the National Trust will collaborate with her and Historic Seattle to find a new steward and owner, while honoring the legacies of Johnson and previous owner Takashi Hori.

The National Treasure announcement was made at a special event on April 9 attended by over 160 people held at the Nisei Veterans Committee (NVC) building in Seattle. Speakers included NVC President Bruce Inaba, National Trust President Stephanie Meeks, Congressman Jim McDermott, Deputy Mayor Hyeok Kim who declared April 9 as “Panama Hotel Day” through a Mayoral Proclamation, Eugenia Woo of Historic Seattle, and Jan Johnson. A screening of The Panama Hotel Legacy short film was featured, highlighting the remarkable legacy of the 105 year-old property, particularly the continuous stewardship to preserve its history and educate current and future generations. A full length documentary film is in the works. The evening wrapped up with a powerful performance by Seattle Kokon Taiko, a performing group based in the local Japanese American community.

Learn more about the Panama Hotel as a National Treasure.

View recent media coverage of the Panama Hotel and National Treasure announcement:

National Trust for Historic Preservation Blog
KPLU: Preservation Group Names Seattle’s Panama Hotel a National Treasure
KING 5: Seattle’s Panama Hotel Named a National Treasure
KIRO TV: Seattle’s Panama Hotel Designated as a National Treasure
Northwest Asian Weekly: Much Love for the Panama Hotel–Seattle has its National Treasure
Puget Sound Business Journal: Seattle International District’s Panama Hotel Deemed a ‘National Treasure’ Seattle’s Panama Hotel is a National Treasure that Needs a New Owner

Photos: Panama Hotel sign; owner Jan Johnson at the National Treasures announcement event; Source: Eugenia Woo

Taco Time Landmark Eligible?

taco time_blog2The local grassroots advocacy group, Save Our Fast Food Icons (SOFFI), announced today, April 1, that they are preparing a landmark nomination form for the Taco Time building at 2212 N 45th Street in Wallingford. The City of Seattle’s threshold age criterion for landmarking is only twenty-five years and the building retains high physical integrity.

Built in 1990, the Taco Time building sets itself apart from the usual corporate fast food restaurant chain architecture. Its style is more akin to late 1980s to 1990s small, commercial, suburban design characterized by its cube-like form, grid of glass walls, drive-thru window, and the tall, cactus-shape sign that calls out to drivers traveling along a major arterial.

Many recall the Taco Time nostalgically, “I was a frequent patron of Dick’s Drive-in in Wallingford during my years as an Art student at the UW,” says Seattle native and designer Alex Faker, “I watched the building being erected and thought it was another dental office. Then I saw the drive-thru and wondered if it would be a place to get tacos and dental work done!”

Founded in 1962, the same year of the Seattle World’s Fair, Taco Time is a Northwest institution. The company’s full impact on the region’s built environment is explored in the landmark nomination. SOFFI hopes to raise awareness and appreciation of our fast food heritage—many of these small one-story buildings on large urban lots are fast disappearing, a victim of Seattle’s density-at-all-costs mentality and development pressure.

One detractor (who wishes to remain anonymous) asks, “Really? Seriously? Is this an April fool’s joke? If the Taco Time building is a landmark then I can’t wait to get my Magnolia McMansion landmarked in a few years. I think Taco Time should fight this nomination. I know some good land use lawyers in town who will charge a lot of money to argue for their property rights. What if the building gets designated? Can Taco Time change out the windows and replace with vinyl? What’s next? Pizza Hut?”

SOFFI realizes they’ve got an uphill battle and will be seeking support for landmark status and hopes all you Taco Time fans out there come out to support this fast food icon. It’s about time!

Photos: Joe Mabel (GNU Free Document License granted by photographer)

Alki Homestead to be Restored

An Advocacy Win for “Homestead Coalition”

advocacy_homestead_jean sherrardThe preservation of the Alki Homestead in West Seattle has been a sustained advocacy effort for Historic Seattle since 2009. Originally known as the Fir Lodge, the Homestead is one of West Seattle’s most beloved landmarks. The 1904 log building has been vacant for over six years, after a 2009 fire caused significant damage and forced the closure of the Alki Homestead Restaurant.

A coalition including Historic Seattle, Southwest Seattle Historical Society, 4Culture, and the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation has persistently advocated to save the building.

On Friday, March 13, the landmark property changed hands. Tom Lin, owner since 2005, sold the property to Mercer Island builder/investor Dennis Schilling, who plans to rehabilitate the landmark structure and construct a new six-unit apartment building on the adjacent parking lot. Mr. Schilling forged an agreement with the Southwest Seattle Historical Society, which holds an easement on the Alki Homestead parking lot and operates the Log House Museum one-half block to the south.

On Saturday, March 14, the Southwest Seattle Historical Society and Schilling put on a press conference to formally announce the news of the Homestead’s future. For details about the press conference and links to local and national media coverage, check out the Society’s post on its website.

Photos: Alki Homestead (2012), Historic Seattle; “This Place Matters” photo event (2010), Jean Sherrard

Preserving a National Historic Landmark in Seattle’s Japantown: The Panama Hotel

Historic Seattle, in collaboration with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, is working with Panama Hotel owner and steward, Jan Johnson, to develop a long-term plan that preserves this rare National Historic Landmark (NHL) for the future and improves community access and interpretation. In addition to being a National Historic Landmark, the Panama Hotel is a contributing resource to the International Special Review District and Seattle-Chinatown National Register Historic District.

Located on the southeast corner of Sixth Ave S. and S. Main St. in Seattle’s Japantown (Nihonmachi) within the International District, the Panama Hotel is nationally significant for its association with the historical theme, “Japanese immigration to the United States,” and also significant as a building type that is exceptionally valuable for the study of the earliest generation of Japanese immigrants in the United States. Built in 1910, the Panama Hotel was designed by Sabro Ozasa, the first Japanese architect to practice in Seattle. Along with hotel rooms, the Panama Hotel also contained the traditional Japanese bathhouse or sento (located in the basement). The bathhouse in the Panama Hotel is the most outstanding representative example of an urban bathhouse in the country (only two remain) and possesses an extraordinarily high degree of integrity.

When owner Jan Johnson purchased the property in 1986 from Takashi Hori, owner of the building from 1938 to 1986, she also became the caretaker of Japanese American artifacts that had been left in the basement of the Panama since World War II. In 1942, many Nikkei were forced to evacuate their homes for World War II internment camps. They packed their personal belongings in large trunks and stashed them in the basement of the hotel. Many of these items remain in place as part of the building’s history and legacy to the city and the nation.

We are engaged in preserving the Panama Hotel through short-term and long-term activities. We began preparing a Historic Structures Report (HSR) and as-built drawings for the building in summer 2013, retaining the services of Artifacts Consulting, Inc. of Tacoma for the HSR and architect Brian Baker, a Historic Seattle volunteer, for the drawings. The HSR was completed in April 2014 and provides the foundation for our efforts to preserve the building, its spaces and collections. As the primary work plan and guide on treatment, the HSR prioritizes work to address immediate conservation needs, as well as mid and long-term needs to allow the owner to effectively plan for capital projects. Historic Seattle secured grant funds for the HSR project from 4Culture’s Preservation Special Projects Fund and the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Eldridge Campbell Stockton Memorial Fund for Washington. We are grateful to these two organizations for their support.


Historic Fir Lodge/Alki Homestead For Sale

Alki Homestead, West Seattle (2009 Most Endangered Properties List) / Photo: Eugenia Woo

Fir Lodge / Alki Homestead, West Seattle / Photo: Eugenia Woo

January 16, 2014 will be the five-year anniversary of a fire that partially damaged the Fir Lodge/Alki Homestead building in West Seattle. Built in 1904, this designated Seattle landmark building has been vacant and closed since, deteriorating with each passing month.

The Fir Lodge / Alki Homestead is for sale again at a listing price of $1.85 M. Download the marketing flyer listing the property for more information. The current owner is seeking a preservation-friendly buyer.

Preservation News of Note: Newest Seattle Landmark

Ad for US Cor-ten steel roof featuring Battelle Memorial Institute Seattle Research Center buildings / Source: Collection of the Friends of Battelle/Talaris

Ad for US Cor-ten steel roof featuring Battelle Memorial Institute Seattle Research Center buildings / Source: Collection of the Friends of Battelle/Talaris

November has been a newsworthy month for historic preservation so far. Here’s some news of interest:

-Newest Seattle Landmark! The Battelle Memorial Institute Seattle Research Center / Talaris was designated a Seattle Landmark by the Landmarks Preservation Board at its November 6, 2013 meeting. The vote was unanimous. The property met four of the six designation standards (C, D, E and F):

C) It is associated in a significant way with a significant aspect of the cultural, political, or economic heritage of the community, City, state or nation;
D) It embodies the distinctive visible characteristics of an architectural style, or period, or a method of construction;
E) It is an outstanding work of a designer or builder;
F) Because of its prominence of spatial location, contrasts of siting, age, or scale, it is an easily identifiable visual feature of its neighborhood or the city and contributes to the distinctive quality or identity of such neighborhood or the City.

The Friends of Battelle/Talaris worked for over a year on this effort to prepare the nomination for the property, with assistance from Historic Seattle. Dozens of letters of support (mostly from the Laurelhurst community) were sent to the Board before the September 18 nomination meeting and November 6 designation hearing. At the November 6 meeting, public comments supporting designation were given by the Laurelhurst Community Club and Washington Trust for Historic Preservation. Original project architect for NBBJ, David Hoedemaker, was present for the meeting; he spoke about his experience with the project and design intent for the site. Rich Haag, landscape architect for the site, presented at the September 18 meeting. The Board appreciated hearing from the original designers.

Next steps in this process is the controls and incentives stage in which the City and property owner engage in negotiations. MAin2 will keep readers posted on that progress.

Comment on the Draft State Historic Preservation Plan, 2014-2019: Getting the Future Right. The Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation are seeking public comments on the draft plan. Comments are due by November 22. For details and to download a copy of the plan, go to DAHP’s website.

Must Read“Roots of Tomorrow: Urbanism in our Blood,” a series of articles by Knute Berger that have been appearing on Crosscut. He delves into lesser known topics in Seattle’s history that help inform how the city was shaped, exploring urbanism and deep roots.

Seattle Center Historic Landmark Study

seattle center landmark study

Seattle Center recently released the Seattle Center Historic Landmark Study, prepared by the joint consultant team of Artifacts Consulting, Inc. of Tacoma and This report is important because: a) it provides a comprehensive evaluation of historic resources at Seattle Center within the context of the site’s World’s Fair history and its history since the Fair; and b) serves as a solid planning tool for Seattle Center moving forward. The study clearly states which buildings, structures, features, etc. are significant and and which resources are eligible for Seattle Landmark nomination.

Download a pdf of the Seattle Center Historic Landmark Study. (7.1MB)

The study calls out two clusters of resources based on “small historic concentration areas encompassing a concentration of properties designed by a single architecture firm.” According to the report, “The Paul Thiry (Thiry) concentration area around KeyArena and the Kirk, Wallace, & McKinley (Kirk) concentration area around the Playhouse and the Exhibition Hall present the most uniform groupings of properties.”

Landmark nominations for each cluster is a possibility and may be more beneficial for Seattle Center’s planning purposes. The study also discusses historic district nomination and individual nominations. In MAin2’s opinion, given the Seattle Center’s association with the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair and the number of resources that would be considered “contributing” to a historic district, it makes more sense to have a historic district rather than individual landmarks dotted throughout the site. If the existing designated landmarks (Space Needle, Pacific Science Center, Horiuchi Mural, Monorail and Kobe Bell) are incorporated into a potential district, then a stronger case can be made. In a designated historic district, changes to the site (including new construction) and not just the buildings would be reviewed by the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board (LPB). Individual landmarks are reviewed in isolation.

Seattle Center will be presenting the study and findings to the LPB on Wednesday, May 1, 2013, during a regular Board meeting. The meeting is open to the public and begins at 3:30 pm. It is held in the Seattle Municipal Building, 700 Fifth Avenue, 40th Floor, Room 4060. The item is far down on the agenda. Download the LPB agenda.

For further reading, Knute Berger wrote about the study in his Crosscut article, “Seattle Center–Is Historic District Designation Ahead?”

Here’s the Seattle Center Historic Landmark Study Press Release.

Neptune Theatre Designated a Seattle Landmark!

Neptune Theatre decorative detail / Photo: Historic Seattle

In a close vote (6:2:1), the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board designated the Neptune Theatre as the newest Seattle Landmark on November 14. MAin2 reported on the nomination in an earlier post.

The Board also voted to nominate the Chiarelli-Dore House, a modernist residential gem in the Maple Leaf neighborhood designed by architect James Chiarelli.

Preservation News – Landmarks Old, New and Future

Neptune Theatre, 2012 / Photo: Historic Seattle

Seattle Landmarks 

Landmarks Preservation Board Meeting, Wednesday, November 14, 2012:

This meeting is open to the public and takes place on Wednesday, November 14 at 3:30 pm, Seattle Municipal Tower, 700 Fifth Ave, 40th Floor, Suite 4050/60. Download the agenda (LPB52512.)

Neptune Theatre: The LPB will decide whether to designate the Neptune Theatre in the University District. The Board voted to nominate the building at its October 3 meeting so that its members could take a closer look at the structure in person to assess the level of physical integrity. At the October 3 meeting, the owner brought an attorney and an architect to argue against nomination claiming the building lacks integrity and how it does not meet any one of the six designation standards. The nomination was submitted by Larry Johnson of The Johnson Partnership who prepared it pro bono as an advocacy effort–he believes the Neptune should be recognized and protected as a Seattle Landmark. Read more about his thoughts on the theatre in his firm’s blog.  Historic Seattle offered public testimony at the October 3rd meeting supporting the nomination of the Neptune Theatre, citing the building’s significance as a community landmark in a city where few historic theatres (built as theatres) remain in neighborhoods. The building has sufficient integrity to convey its significance.

You may download the landmark nomination on the Seattle Historic Preservation Program’s website under “Current Nominations.” It includes an excellent section on the development of theatres in Seattle.

If you support the designation of the Neptune Theatre as a landmark we urge you to attend the meeting to speak in favor of the nomination. You may also email your public comments to Erin Doherty, Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board Coordinator, at (more…)

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