Preservation in Progress

Historic Seattle’s Blog

Archive for the ‘Preservation in the News’ Category

Preservation in the News

January and February have been filled with news in the preservation world. The following articles look at some controversial projects and issues–the good, the bad and the ugly.

Save Our Square – Pioneer Square

The big news from yesterday was the City Hearing Examiner’s ruling that overturns the Department of Neighborhoods Director’s decision to issue a Certificate of Approval for the proposed 11-story project at 316 Alaskan Way S in Pioneer Square. Save Our Square, advocates from the neighborhood, appealed the Director’s decision last fall, asserting that the project was out-of-scale with its surroundings and not in character with the historic district. Historic Seattle has been supporting SOS’s efforts and provided expert testimony at the hearing. The City Hearing Examiner ruled that the DON Director’s decision was “arbitrary and capricious and must be reversed.”

Seattle’s approval of 12-story Pioneer Square building overturned,” Seattle Times, February 24, 2016.

An earlier article covered the hearing in January. “‘Miami Beach on Elliott Bay?’ Opponents decry proposed 12-story Pioneer Square building,” Seattle Times, January 21, 2016.

The City Hearing Examiner’s decision can be appealed to King County Superior Court. An appeal must be filed within 21 days of the decision.

Note the project is actually 11 stories, not 12 stories as reported in the media.

Save the Reactor – Nuclear Reactor Building, University of Washington

In December 2015, Docomomo WEWA filed a Seattle Landmark nomination application for the Nuclear Reactor Building (aka More Hall Annex), and shortly thereafter the university filed a lawsuit against Docomomo WEWA and the City of Seattle in King County Superior Court. With approval from the Council of Historic Seattle and the Board of Directors of the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, both those organizations officially signed on as co-nominators with Docomomo WEWA when the final, revised landmark nomination was submitted just last week. Historic Seattle and the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation will also be added as intervenors in the lawsuit soon. The UW Board of Regents voted to demolish Nuclear Reactor Building on February 11. The preservation organizations have retained Dave Bricklin of Bricklin & Newman as their attorney.

Read Knute Berger’s article about the the lawsuit and its broader implications beyond this one building. “UW launches attack on city’s historic preservation powers,”, February 14, 2016.

Here’s Save the Reactor’s latest update on the issue.

Another SOS – Save Our Seminary, Saint Edward Seminary Building, Kenmore

State Parks held a public meeting on February 9 to gather comments on the proposal by Daniels Real Estate to rehabilitate the historic Saint Edward Seminary building at Saint Edward State Park in Kenmore. Plans are to convert the building into a hotel, modeled after the great lodges in national parks. Historic Seattle supports this proposal and offered public testimony in support at the February 9th meeting. Opponents at the public meeting voiced concern about turning over public property to private hands. They don’t feel a hotel/spa is appropriate for the park. Some would actually prefer to see the historic building deteriorate to the point of becoming a “ruin.”

Read more about the issue and the controversy surrounding the proposal. “Struggle over Saint Edward: Renovate it or tear it down?” Seattle Times, January 31, 2016.

Added 2/27/16: Blame the Victim – Landmark Seattle Times Block to be Mostly Demolished

The Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (DCI) is allowing the owner of the old Seattle Times Block in South Lake Union (1120 John St) to demolish most of the building (there are actually three buildings). The owner, Onni Group of Vancouver, BC, purchased the property in 2013 and has not managed to properly secure the buildings, making it a target for vandals and squatters. The building’s condition has deteriorated since the Seattle Times vacated the property. DCI is invoking a part of the Landmarks Preservation Ordinance that is rarely used–the Director of DCI can approve the demolition of a Seattle landmark for public safety reasons. The Landmarks Preservation Board (LPB) has no say in the decision. Part of the main facades will probably be “saved” and incorporated into the new development (tall apartment towers). Approval for the preservation of the facades and the design for the new project will go through the LPB. Read more about this issue in this Seattle Times article.

All these advocacy efforts are ongoing. We’ll keep you up to date on the latest. Look for future calls to action for advocacy.

Photo: Rendering of proposed project at 316 Alaskan Way S, Pioneer Square / Gerding Edlen (from Department of Neighborhoods files)

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

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

Louisa Hotel Update: After the Fire

View of the north and west facades of the historic Louisa Building in the Chinatown-International District. A Christmas Eve 2013 fire burned the western half of the building.

View of the north and west facades of the historic Louisa Building in the Chinatown-International District. A Christmas Eve 2013 fire burned the western half of the building.

MAin2 has been following the Louisa Hotel’s status after the western half of the building burned in a fire on December 24, 2013. This historic Chinatown-International District building, built in 1909, housed some of the neighborhood’s longest operating businesses including Mon Hei Bakery and Sea Garden Restaurant. All businesses have remained closed since the fire.

Here’s a Louisa Building FAQ from the property owner.

The Seattle Weekly’s current issue (March 19-25, 2014) features a an excellent cover story on the building and the neighborhood.

Here’s a building update from the City of Seattle (sent to community members on March 7, 2014):

We write to you today to provide an update on the status of the fire-damaged Louisa Hotel building located at 669 South King Street.  There has been some information in the news as of late, which we wanted to clarify.  As of March 5, the Department of Planning and Development (DPD) and the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods (DON) began reviewing a permit application to stabilize the existing building to remove safety concerns for neighboring tenants and the public.  The proposal requires removal of the west wall on Maynard Alley, which was most severely damaged by the fire.  The remaining portions of the building will be braced and stabilized until future renovations can occur.  There are no plans to demolish the entire building at this time.

Both the City and the property owners are motivated to act quickly and preserve as much of the existing building as possible.  A permit will be issued shortly, which could allow work to begin by late-March.  Once the building is fully stabilized, it will allow private engineers to further evaluate the structure and help us determine the appropriate next steps regarding future redevelopment.  Attached is a fact sheet prepared by the owners of the building which provides answers to common questions and contact information for the community.

If you have questions about the status of the permit, please feel free to contact Bryan Stevens of the Department of Planning and Development. He can be reached at or 206-684-5045.

Preservation News and Events in the New Year – January 2014

Before-Party-poster blog

2014 is starting off with lots of news in the preservation world already. Here are some highlights (or lowlights in some cases):

-Christmas Eve 2013 Building Fire in Chinatown/International District: The Louisa Building (southwest corner of 7th Ave S and S King St), one of the historic district’s key structures, was ablaze on December 24. The 1909 building houses some of the neighborhood’s longest operating businesses including Mon Hei Bakery and Sea Garden Restaurant. All businesses are closed. The building is unsafe for entry, as determined by the City. The cause of the fire (which started on the vacant top floor) is undetermined at this point. For more info on the fire and its effect on the owner and businesses, go to the Seattle Times and NW Asian Weekly. It is unknown at this point whether the building will be demolished or if it can be saved.

-2013 Heritage Turkeys List: Once again, Knute Berger comes out with his annual Heritage Turkeys list of heritage and preservation disasters and bad projects/policies/actions. Read his Crosscut article for the full list.

-EVENT: The Before Party, Campaign to Restore Washington Hall: Historic Seattle and Washington Hall anchor groups 206Zulu, Hidmo and Voices Rising are hosting a party at the historic landmark on Saturday, January 18, 2014. Join the fun and festivities. Enjoy food, drinks and music! Learn more about the Capital Campaign for the Hall. Free and open to the public! Location: Washington Hall, 153 14th Ave, Seattle (Central District); Time: 5:00 – 9:00 pm, all ages / 9:00 pm – Midnight, 21 and up. More details on the Washington Hall Facebook page.

-EVENT: Historic Seattle Annual Members Meeting, Frye Art Museum: Please join us as we welcome in our 40th year of education, advocacy, and preservation of historic structures in the lovely surroundings of First Hill’s leading cultural institution, the Frye Art Museum. Museum Deputy Director Jill Rullkoetter will discuss the museum’s history and its programs, and lead tours. WHEN: Thursday, January 23, 2014; 5:30 to 7:00 pm; WHERE: Frye Art Museum, 704 Terry Ave, Seattle. More details here.

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.

Preservation News & Events – October 2013

Meeker Mansion, Puyallup / Photos: Washington Trust for Historic Preservation and Ezra Meeker Historical Society

Meeker Mansion, Puyallup; Washington Preserves Fund recipient, 2013 / Photos: Washington Trust for Historic Preservation and Ezra Meeker Historical Society

Fall is a busy time of year for historic preservation. Here are some news and events of note:

Battelle Memorial Institute Site Nominated: This 18-acre modernist masterpiece in Seattle’s Laurelhurst neighborhood was built in the late 1960s-1970. The property was unanimously nominated by the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board at its September 18 meeting. MAin2 wrote about the Rich Haag and NBBJ-designed campus here. The designation hearing is scheduled for November 6, 2013. The Seattle Times wrote an article about the property and landmark efforts by the Friends of Battelle/Talaris.

Valerie Sivinski Washington Preserves Fund: The Washington Trust for Historic Preservation is seeking applications for this grant fund which provides up to $2,000 to organizations involved in preservation throughout the state. Deadline to apply is October 16, 2013. For more information, go to the Trust’s website.

Women’s University Club Celebrates 100th Anniversary: Explore the organization’s first century through its new, 112-page, coffee-table book, The First 100 Years: Women’s University Club of Seattle, 1914-2014. Available to the general public for under $40 at several area bookstores. Call the club for details: 206-623-0402. For other information about the club, see

Tour a Mid-century Modern Gem: Join Docomomo WEWA as it celebrates Tour Day 2013 along with other Docomomo US chapters and partners throughout the country. Tour the Whittaker Residence, Saturday, October 5, 2013. The mid-century modern residence in Seattle’s Lakewood neighborhood (near Seward Park) was designed by Seattle architect Arnold Gangnes and built in 1956. For event details, go to Docomomo WEWA’s website. (more…)

Preservation News – Theft at Queen Anne Landmark

Seattle Church of Christ (2555 8th Ave W) in Queen Anne. Left photo: door with original metalwork intact; right photo: historic metalwork stolen / Source: Seattle Church of Christ

Seattle Church of Christ (2555 8th Ave W) in Queen Anne. Left photo: door with original metalwork intact; right photo: historic metalwork stolen / Source: Seattle Church of Christ

Recent preservation news of note:

Architectural Theft at Queen Anne Landmark

Last week, thieves stole original metalwork from the courtyard doors at Seattle Church of Christ (originally Seventh Church of Christ Scientist), a designated Landmark in Queen Anne (2555 8th Ave W). The photo above shows the doors before and after the theft. If you have any information, please contact the minister, Jay Kelly, at 206-914-2659

Read more about the history of this church on the Queen Anne Historical Society’s website.

Lawsuit Filed Against City of Seattle for Landmark Designation

On February 6, 2013, the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board designated an Art Deco style building at 777 Thomas St in South Lake Union (SLU). Rather than trying to work with this designation and incorporate the landmark into a new development project, the developer has chosen to take legal action against the City and Board. Knute Berger’s March 11 article for Crosscut describes the issue in more detail.

This small Art Deco gem in the neighborhood is one of a long line of threatened buildings in South Lake Union, an area that has seen and will continue to see considerable transformation due to redevelopment. In an earlier article, Berger writes about the bulldozing of history in South Lake Union. Seattle City Council is currently reviewing legislation to rezone SLU. Historic Seattle, the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation and neighborhood preservationists have been advocating for more meaningful and effective preservation incentives and mitigation in SLU. Stay tuned for more on this issue…

Spring time is for Preservation and Heritage Awards

The following preservation and heritage organizations/agencies will be honoring outstanding achievements in the field:

April 23, 2013AKCHO Annual Awards. The ceremony will take place at MOHAI. Details will be posted on the AKCHO website.

May 14, 2013 – Historic Seattle presents its Fifth Annual Preservation Awards in a ceremony at the Good Shepherd Center, 5:30 pm to 8:00 pm. Award recipients will be announced later in March. The event is sponsored by KeyBank with support from 4Culture. Tickets available now for purchase on Historic Seattle’s website.

May 14, 2013 – Yes, you read this correctly–two awards events on the same day! The Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation (DAHP) is seeking nominations for its Annual Awards for Outstanding Achievements in Historic Preservation. The State Historic Preservation Officer will present the awards at a ceremony on Tuesday, May 14, 2013 at Fort Vancouver Reserve in Vancouver, WA. The deadline to submit nominations is March 15, 2013. Download the nomination form on DAHP’s website.

John D. Spellman AwardsKing County Historic Preservation Program’s annual awards ceremony (we’ll post details and the date when they become available).

Tacoma’s Murray Morgan Bridge Rededication Ceremony – February 15

murray morgan bridge

Our friends and colleagues in Tacoma are celebrating the reopening of the historic Murray Morgan Bridge on Friday, February 15 at 10 am. The event is open to the public. Meet at 11th and A St in downtown Tacoma. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the bridge. The newly rehabilitated bridge is a preservation success story.

Read all about the preservation efforts on Historic Tacoma’s website. The bridge was listed on the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation’s Most Endangered Properties List in 2008–the structure was closed by WSDOT in 2007 due to structural issues. A coalition of partners and advocates worked together to save the bridge and successfully found funding to rehabilitate the Tacoma Register and National Register listed structure. Learn more about the history of the Murray Morgan bridge here.

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…)

Want updates on everything Historic Seattle?Sign up for our monthly e-newsletter