Preservation in Progress

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Our Favorite People of Preservation in 2021

What better way to end this challenging year than by celebrating the people who we’ve seen doing great work in preservation throughout 2021?

We’ve worked with many incredible people throughout the past year, but here are the standouts our staff chose as their favorite People of Preservation in 2021.

Eugenia Woo (Director of Preservation Services)
For over a year, I’ve been inspired by the residents and neighbors of the La Quinta Apartments, a Frederick Anhalt-developed, 1920s, courtyard apartment building in Capitol Hill. The long-time owner had passed away; community advocates sounded the alarm about the future of the property early enough so that Historic Seattle could help by sponsoring the landmark nomination prepared by Northwest Vernacular. This place is important not just for its architecture but also for the stories connected to the people associated with the La Quinta for many decades. The advocacy group, called ¡Viva La Quinta!, succeeded in its efforts! The Landmarks Preservation Board designated the La Quinta Apartments and placed controls on the property in 2021. Residents brought their skills to the table by creating a website, designing cool graphics used for effective messaging, tapping their networks to build support for landmarking, and sharing their passion to fight for saving this historic place. Their commitment to save the La Quinta was inspiring.  

Photo credit: Jean Sherrard for Now & Then

Jeff Murdock (Preservation Advocacy Manager)
Not knowing exactly what they were getting into, in late 2019 Justin Lemma and his wife Victoria Pinheiro purchased one of the Victorian-era (1893) vernacular houses perched in a row along the east side of the 800 block of 23rd Avenue. Historic Seattle holds a preservation easement on four of the houses, and they are also designated Seattle Landmarks. As such, Historic Seattle and the City weigh in on proposed alterations to ensure the historic character of the buildings is maintained. Justin, an alum of the U.W. College of Built Environments and a Project Designer with Build LLC, was excited to get started on making repairs to the house and only slightly intimidated by the approval process. The ensuing pandemic provided Justin plenty of time at home to do the work. He made repairs to the rotting entry porch, cleaned up the overgrown yard, installed a new paver driveway and replaced the scraggly chain link with a trim cedar fence. They converted the tiny garage at the back of the property into a living space, complete with a bar and small loft, providing space for the couple to work from home in separate spaces. Justin even installed historic windows salvaged from another old house being torn down in the neighborhood. Recently, Justin convinced two more architects from his U.W. Architecture cohort to purchase the house next door, so there is now a community of preservationist architects on this block of 23rd Ave!

Simon Wright (Facilities & Maintenance Manager)

The collective ownership and operation of the Good Arts Building. I’d long admired Cherry Street Coffee’s immaculately painted and maintained façade. Meeting Steve, Jane, Ali, Greg, and Armondo showed me that work was not done just for curb appeal and that the collective ownership has been amazingly successful in collectively restoring, operating and maintaining a historic building for a contemporary use!

Taelore Rhoden (Community Events Manager)

I give all of my flowers to Dorothy Cordova, Cynthia Mejia-Giudici, and Pio De Cano II. These three have been preserving Filipino American history for decades! It was an honor to partner with them and the Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS) to share the legacy and impact of Seattle’s Filipino American community with hundreds of people (and counting!) this year. Their leadership, camaraderie, and genuine love of people is deeply inspiring and worthy of all of the gold stars.

Cindy Hughes (Council Assistant & GSC Rental Coordinator)

Leanne Olson
is not a newcomer to historic preservation, having received Historic Seattle’s Beth Chave Award for being a “Preservation Champion” in 2018, but she has continued to work tirelessly throughout the pandemic for the preservation of Queen Anne Hill’s historic legacy.  The longtime Board member of the Queen Anne Historical Society and the chair of its Landmarks Preservation Committee, Leanne provides an example of a highly effective advocacy approach to preservation through her steady participation in meetings of the City of Seattle’s Landmarks Preservation Board. Additionally, she is my neighbor, and I enjoy running into her on the streets of Queen Anne and chatting about what’s happening on the Hill!

Jane Davies (Director of Finance & Administration)

Hats off to Beneficial State Bank, especially Cynthia Weaver and Stacey Krynsky.  They are responsive and personable and truly make banking fun.  Their creativity in solving our financial puzzles allows us to nimbly engage in preservation projects.  Additionally, they understand our mission of saving meaningful places to foster lively communities by connecting our organization with other groups, creating a preservation-minded network in Seattle.

Danielle Quenell (Office Administrator)

This spring, my partner and I bought a home in the historic Fort Ward district of Bainbridge Island. We quickly realized our new neighborhood was teeming with preservationists, including district commissioner Sarah Lee and the non-profit organization Friends of Fort Ward. Together, they managed to save the historic Fort Ward Parade Grounds in 2002 and have them dedicated as a public park, and most recently restored the 1910 bread bakery into a beautiful community hall.

Naomi West (Director of Philanthropy & Engagement)

This year, I’ve been awestruck by Stephanie Johnson-Toliver! In 2021 alone, she joined Historic Seattle’s council; became a new HS donor; attended several virtual & in-person programs, our gala, and tours of properties; was a panelist for our Central District History Collective; moderated our conversation with Candacy Taylor; and began working with us to plan a partnership with
Black Heritage Society of Washington State. Are you tired just reading that? Reflecting on this year, I recall her concern about her ability to commit enough time to being a part of our leadership. That’s because when she’s in, she’s all in. Her dedication, commitment, and generosity of spirit are remarkable. Thank you for all you are giving to the preservation community, Stephanie!

Kji Kelly (Executive Director)

I have so many favorite individuals and organizations within the preservation community. One individual who has stood out to me, frankly for his entire career, b
ut particularly over the past year is Kevin Daniels. The completion of The Lodge at St. Edward Park is an unbelievable achievement, a terrific example of creativity and sheer determination. 

The People Who Kept the Market

There are some things that are so obvious, they seem silly to state. The Pike Place Market is a Seattle icon. Yeah, we know. Yet, we truly take this for granted. In fact, Seattle’s icon was nearly flattened. It’s only because of the tireless work of community activists that you can enjoy the flower shops, bookstores, restaurants, produce stands, tchotchke vendors, and artist stands that have a home at the Market today.

This month’s VivaCity recognizes those activists who worked to “Keep The Market.” 50 years ago – on November 2, 1971 – the Pike Place Market was saved through a voter initiative. “By the early 1960s, the Market we know today had seen better days. Seattle’s mayor called it a ‘somnolent fire trap.’ Downtown business leaders and property developers were eager to use federal urban renewal fund to ‘renew’ the Market by demolishing it,” as Friends of the Market tells it.

That’s where “Keep The Market” stepped up, to fight a demolition plan and save the Market. Landmarking wouldn’t cut it. Seattle’s Landmarks Preservation Ordinance wasn’t codified until 1973.

So what did they do? “City Councilmember Wing Luke wrote a newspaper op-ed, calling for citizen action to preserve the Market. Architect Victor Steinbrueck and attorney Robert Ashley answered the call. In September 1964, they brought together sixty friends for a champagne breakfast to launch the effort in Lowell’s Café (still in the Market). Architect Fred Bassetti, unable to attend, wrote that the Market was ‘an honest place in a phony time,’” according to Friends of the Market.

The plan was to establish a 9-acre historic district that saved the Market. These days, Seattle has a number of beloved historic districts, but in its time this effort was groundbreaking. The story of the Market is captured in the film “The Market.Watch it here.

The Market was narrated and produced by Bruce Chapman, who was elected to Seattle’s City Council in 1971. The film notes that activists “ran an initiative campaign to establish a Pike Place Market Historic District. Seattle’s voters passed it by a landslide. It was the first historic district ever created by a public vote, and it was the first historic district officially pledged to retain a place for the poor. It also was one of the first historic districts in America to manage uses of buildings as well as their appearances. It was one of the first successful efforts to incorporate historic preservation into urban renewal.”

We owe a debt of gratitude to the activists who saw a threat to a place they loved and fought to save it, with a vision that has changed preservation in the decades that followed.

And, happy golden anniversary of so many firsts, Seattle! How should we celebrate? The only appropriate way: a stroll through the bustling Market, picking up flowers and having a nice dinner from its iconic small businesses, of course.

For more information:
Read this great piece by The Seattle Times.
Tune in to the re-airings of Labor of Love: Saving Pike Place Marketdates listed here
A Memory of the Future film

 

Photo credit: Friends of the Market

An exciting future for the Georgetown Steam Plant

Last month, Seattle City Light announced “a long-term lease and operating agreement with the newly formed Georgetown Steam Plant Community Development Authority (GTSPCDA), a non-profit organization dedicated to continued public use and restoration of the building. The agreement allows the GTSPCDA to assume programming and operations of the Georgetown Steam Plant, a nationally recognized and historically significant landmark in Seattle’s historic Georgetown neighborhood in the heart of the Duwamish Valley.”

In addition to being the recipient of Historic Seattle 2019 Best in Neighborhood Preservation Award, Sam Farrazaino, as described in the City Light article, “is the lead of the GTSPCDA team and is building on his past successes of redeveloping industrial properties for arts and cultural uses. As founder of Equinox Studios, Sam has championed affordable space for artists and artisans and fostered an engaged relationship with the Georgetown community and beyond.” In this month’s feature, we talked with Sam about plans for this exciting community-centric preservation project

Can you speak to the process of forming the GTSPCDA? What challenges were there in establishing the CDA?

Well, the CDA is intentionally not fully formed yet. The committee that is in place now is only meant to provide the framework for the community to come into, to form, and actually be the CDA. We haven’t formalized bylaws, or the board, or any of those pieces because we want the community to come in and be a part of that process. When we start the community engagement process, we will go through the steps of sort of distilling the large community first, into what we’re calling a Community Programming Team. This group will consist of folks that want to throw their voice into what this building will become. Next, will be the Community Advisory Team, which will consist of people with expertise in certain areas that we can call on and collaborate with for specific things. The final step of that process will be to build the board out of those layers of community. Once we build that board, and have good representation from the community, then we will leave it to the board to write the bylaws and apply for federal status.

What aspects of the GTSCDA’s proposal do you think resulted in the project’s selection during Seattle City Lights request for proposals?
I think the collaborative approach, the fact that we want to partner with City Light and the community, the comprehensive community aspect of things is what really shined and ‘won the bid,’ if you will.

What does your experience developing Equinox bring to plans for the Steam Plant?

Equinox was born and bred little by little, it’s been an organic process that has been shaped in large part by the people that have come to it. Whether its new people coming to the building, or us reaching out to the public, whether its people throwing their ideas in, their space in, or their money in, all of that engagement informs the evolution of Equinox. It’s in fact why Equinox has evolved. The Steam Plant is interesting because without the community, it is just sitting there, it’s static. Being able to partner with a lot of organizations and enabling them to come in and program there, that will bring the dynamic nature to it, that will bring the life into it. As was the case with Equinox, we first need to make the Steam Plant building safe (stabilizing, fire, seismic, etc.), and get it accessible to as many people as we can with elevators, ADA exits, etc. and then our hope is that over the next 100 years or more the community will really live into the building. It is a National Historic Landmark, and the community here will be the stewards of it, but it is really a national resource, and we really want it to live up to that expectation.

Do you feel personally connected to the Steam Plant’s history or to Georgetown’s (industrial) history in general?

I don’t have a personal history here other than the 26 years or so that I have been coming and going and playing and working in Georgetown. I’m not from here, and I didn’t grow up in a steam plant (haha), but all my life I’ve been drawn to spaces like this. I really love the sculptural, creative, elements of function — the mechanics of industry, gears, turbines, the noise. Mechanical collaboration, this idea of all of the parts and pieces coming together to create whatever you’re creating, is super inspiring to me.

I would LOVE to somehow have a window into when this plant was operating. In fact, we’ve actually been talking to Arts Corps, who is on our team, about creating VR tours where you could step into what it may have been like, maybe feel the heat, hear the noise, and smell the smells. That, to me, would be so awesome!

What are some of the big challenges this project is facing?

Getting it right. The biggest challenge is making sure that we have truly authentic community engagement and that we’re being equitable and inclusive in everything that we do — in all of the processes. From selecting contractors and consultants, right down to the day-to-day use of the plant. We are not just trying to check boxes, we are actually trying to get as deep down into the community as we can and that takes time, energy, space, and money. One of our team member’s mantras is “moving at the speed of trust.” This means getting the community to that level where they trust the organization, trust the project, and really feel like they are an authentic part of it. It’s about making sure that this is really a community-driven and community-used resource and asset. Our goal is really getting that right.

The second biggest challenge is probably the money. Getting to the $20M we need (this is our working figure) will be a huge lift financially.

The last part is figuring out the actual details of things. Like, ‘how do we incorporate seismic bracing, fire sprinklers, elevators, and life safety things into the building? How do we weave that into the structure in a way that honors its history and makes sense?’ It’s a big puzzle and a matter of figuring out how to fit the pieces together.

What are you looking forward to (in terms of the project) within the next year?

The pandemic is definitely a factor in that, how do we actually do the community engagement part in the midst of all of this. We are in the process of reaching out to the organizations we are involved with to determine how we outreach. How do we ensure we reach enough of the community? We have started seeking bids and permitting, etc., for some of the necessary physical upgrades, so that is exciting. Hopefully by February we’ll have enough of the other parts (life safety, etc.) in place so that when we launch community engagement piece, we have this vessel (the plant) and the framework ready.  The question then becomes, “what do we (the community) want to do with this?”

Historic Seattle’s mission is to save meaningful places that foster lively communities. Place and community are at the center of our work. How do you envision this project/place fostering community?

From the actual day-to-day-ness of it. What the team has envisioned is for the plant to be open to the public every day, for people to experience it in that museum sense, dig into some of its history, and be inspired by it. Another part of the vision of the plant is as a daily educational facility, where people can learn in and from an inspiring space, and where people and partner organizations can bring kids of all ages in and program there. On the event side of it, it’s about bringing the community in in different ways. Whether it’s centered around celebration – like a wedding or a nonprofit gala — or it’s a community meeting, having the community really see themselves in this space is what we want to create. It’s about that invitation to have the community own this, to really hold it, and then activate it.

 

Welcoming a New Resident at The Good Shepherd Center | Seattle Genealogical Society

Situated on a hilltop in Wallingford on a lot once surrounded by fruit orchards is the Historic Seattle-owned Good Shepherd Center (GSC). Today, the GSC is a vital multi-purpose community center housing a senior center, six live/work units for artists, a rehearsal and performance space, various schools, local and international non-profit organizations, and several small businesses that all together (in “normal” times) attract an estimated 125,000 visitors annually.

Originally built in 1906 as the Home of the Good Shepherd, the Sisters of the Good Shepherd occupied the building and grounds for over 60 years, providing shelter, education, and training to young women and printing and laundry services to local industries such as The Great Northern and Northern Pacific Railroads. After the Home of the Good Shepherd closed in the ’70s, the Wallingford community fought and defeated a proposal to turn the 11-acre site into a shopping center and the City of Seattle purchased the property in 1975. The building was then transferred to Historic Seattle for use as a community center. For over 40 years, Historic Seattle has since worked continuously to honor its past and further its legacy as a place full of vitality where community can thrive.

Of course, the story of the Good Shepherd Center continues to evolve, and this month part of that evolution is the introduction of our newest GSC tenant — the Seattle Genealogical Society! This month, we talked to Jim Secan, the genealogical society’s current president. Below are Jim’s responses to questions we asked about the work of the society and changes that are underway as they make their move into the GSC and prepare for their upcoming centennial and the next 100 years.

A graphic of a word cloud with several words associated with genealogy, such as "ancestry", "lineage", "generations", etc.

What is the Seattle Genealogical Society?

Our mission is two-fold. One, we have taken on the mission of collecting and preserving materials that are of interest historically, primarily, in a genealogical sense. Genealogy is a specialized history — it’s the history of the “little man,” so to speak. We look not just at what the Dennys, Terrys, Doc Maynards, and “so and sos” of Seattle did, but at what the ‘Bill Smiths’ and such did. An not only in the 1880s, but also for the future’s sake, in 2010.  We are in the business of preservation of community. We preserve the documents that community have made over the years documenting its history – everything from tax records, birth certificates, marriage certificates, death certificates — anything that documents someone doing something. We are preserving the paperwork and now the digital works, that a community collects over the years.

The second part of our mission is to provide education to our membership. We are in a similar kind of business (as Historic Seattle). We educate on the parts of history that we deal with, just like you deal with education on the parts of history you deal with. This is particularly important these days when it goes beyond teaching people how to do research in a musty old library. Now, the question is also, “How do you do research on the internet? How do you work with digital materials?” And “How do we best preserve these materials so that they are most accessible?”

Why move to the Good Shepherd Center? What are your plans for the next 100 years?

The Seattle Genealogical Society crest. There is an evergreen tree on a rock with a book at the base and the words Search and Prove appear on a banner at the bottom.

We’re coming up on our centennial in 2023, and so we are asking ourselves, “What do we need to look like to prepare for the next 100 years?” As part of that, we decided we would relocate. We were looking for a place that would energize our base and energize ourselves. This has been an opportunity for us to look at everything with a critical eye and ask, “Is this something that is key and core to our mission?”

And while the space is smaller than our previous home, it fits into our plans to downsize our library and move away from the books and paper genealogy of our past and to force ourselves to move into a more digitally oriented future. With this pandemic, we have really had to look at how we go about the education portion of our mission because until recently that had primarily been done in person. We are also asking ourselves where we fit in to the larger genealogy educational programs. “What holes are there, and what opportunities are there in this this time that has been so impacted by the pandemic?”

How to interest younger generations in genealogy has also been a big topic of discussion.  Many of the people we are trying to attract to genealogy are more interested in accessing things digitally and online. Of course, we are still going to have books and papers, but we are narrowing our collection to focus only on the Pacific Northwest, and items that are unique to our collection. As well, as a society we are moving away from traditional definition of a family which prompts us to ask, “What kind of a program can we set up that would provide the tools for young people wanting to get into this kind of research without imposing barriers of any kind?” We want to go there, but we want to go there with great care.

The Good Shepherd Center, you walk up to the building and think, “How could you NOT love this place!” This is a move into a building that is not only beautiful, but also has a long history. Longer than ours in fact. We are excited to connect and collaborate with Historic Seattle, as well as others both in the building and in the surrounding community. We were originally based in the main Seattle Public Library building downtown; this will be our fifth location since being in the library, and it feels like coming home.

Visit https://seagensoc.org/ to learn more or get involved with the Seattle Genealogical Society. To learn more about the GSC’s history, check out  Good Shepherd Center Garden History Tour, part of Historic Seattle’s Preservation Station video series on YouTube. Interested in experiencing the Good Shepherd Center in person and tasting this year’s heirloom apple harvest? Join us for our 7th Annual Heirloom Apple Event on Thursday, October 14, 2021!

VivaCity: Summer 2021 – A Seattle History & Preservation-Related Reading List

Last month, in celebration of summer, we asked you to share what Seattle history or preservation-related books you recommend, or have on your summer reading list. Here is a list of all of the excellent titles that were suggested. Happy reading!

Building Tradition: Pan-Asian Seattle and Life in the Residential Hotels by Marie Rose Wong

The Cayton Legacy – An African American Family by Richard S. Hobbs

Crossing Puget Sound: From Black Ball Steamer to Washington State Ferries by Steven J. Pickens

Distant Corner: Seattle Architects and the Legacy of H. H. Richardson by Jeffrey Karl Ochsner and Dennis Alan Andersen

Emerald Street – A History of Hip Hop in Seattle by Daudi J. Abe

The Forging of A Black Community Seattle’s Central District, From 1870 Through the Civil Rights Era by Quintard Taylor

The Gang of Four: Four Leaders. Four Communities. One Friendship by Bob Santos

Gay Seattle by Gary Atkins

Ghosts of Seattle Past – An Anthology curated by author/editor Jaimee Garbacik

The Good Rain by Timothy Egan

Hill with a Future – by Jacqueline B. Williams

High Voltage Women Breaking Barriers at Seattle City Light by Ellie Belew

I’m Down by Mishna Wolff

Jackson Street After Hours -The Roots of Jazz in Seattle by Paul De Barros

Lost Seattle by Rob Ketcherside

Madison House by Peter Donahue

My People Are Rising: Memoir of a Black Panther Party Captain by Aaron Dixon

My Unforgotten Seattle by Ron Chew

Native Seattle: Histories from the Crossing-Over Place by Coll Thrush

Nisei Daughter by Monica Stone

Olmsted in Seattle: Creating a Park System for a Modern City by Jennifer Ott

Overground Railroad: The Green Book and The Roots of Black Travel in America by Candacy Taylor

The River That Made Seattle A Human and Natural History of the Duwamish by BJ Cummings

Seattleness: A Cultural Atlas by Tera Hatfield, Jenny Kempson, and Natalie Ross

Seattle Prohibition: Bootleggers, Rumrunners and Graft in the Queen City by Brad Holden

Seattle’s Women Teachers of the Interwar Years: Shapers of a Livable City by Doris Hinson Pieroth

Shared Walls: Seattle Apartment Buildings 1900-1939 by Diana James

Skid Road – An Informal Portrait of Seattle  by Murray Morgan

Sons of the Profits by William C. Speidel

Too High and Too Steep by David Williams

Tradition and Change on Seattle’s First Hill: Propriety, Profanity, Pills, and Preservation by Lawrence Kreisman

Women In Pacific Northwest History edited by Karen J. Blair

 

BOOK LISTS

https://santorinidave.com/seattle-books

https://seattle.bibliocommons.com/list/share/117997230_seattlenonficlibrarians/638579298_seattle_picks_washington_state_nonfiction

https://www.thestranger.com/books/feature/2016/01/27/23481851/books-about-seattle-that-everyone-should-read

 

 

VivaCity: Preserving Culture | Friends of Mukai

Friends of Mukai (FoM) is a Vashon Island-based non-profit comprised primarily of volunteers and dedicated to the operation of the Mukai Farm & Garden. Since 2012, FoM has worked to secure and preserve the Mukai house, garden, and fruit barreling plant—all constructed nearly 100 years ago.

Founded by Japanese immigrant pioneer B.D. Mukai in 1926 as a strawberry farm, Mukai’s heritage home, Japanese garden, and historic barreling plant are today recognized as a King County landmark and are also listed on the National Register of Historic Places. These designations and the site’s present-day vitality honor the significance of Mukai Farm & Garden in Vashon Island’s Japanese American and agrarian heritage.

The story of the Mukai Family on Vashon and the Farm & Garden is rich and complex and shaped largely by racism and World War II era anti-Japanese policies imposed by the U.S. government. We encourage you to watch this Mukai Farm & Garden video — or better yet visit the farm itself — to learn more. In this feature, FoM board member Mary Rabourn shares some challenges and accomplishments the group has faced along the bumpy road to the site’s restoration and describes the vision for Mukai Farm & Gardens’ future.

EARLY LEGAL TANGLES

The early stages Mukai’s preservation efforts were plagued by a years-long legal battle for ownership rights and ultimately public access to the property. This culminated with a win in 2016, when a superior court judge finally granted ownership to Friends of Mukai (except for the barreling plant which is technically owned by King County and leased to FoM). Community support, both in the form of advocacy and funding, was key to the victory. King County, Historic Seattle, The Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, a slate of over 18 pro bono lawyers, and numerous individuals have fought tirelessly to preserve and restore the site.

HITTING ITS STRIDE

“In 2014, even before the court case was won, Artifacts Consulting was hired to do a full restoration plan for the property. The document was 250 pages long and covered everything. In 2016, once legal matters were resolved that plan was put into action,” said Mary. The restoration was carried out in phases and much of the work was done beautifully and economically by volunteers.  “It wasn’t really the ‘super sexy stuff’ — stabilizing the foundation, adding accessibility features, restoring the kitchen, updating the heating and electrical systems — but it was all necessary work,” said Mary.

According to Mukai’s website, B.D. Mukai’s wife Kuni “surrounded the house with a formal Japanese stroll garden as a way to celebrate her Japanese roots. At the time, the garden was an unusual and significant achievement for a Japanese woman.” Mukai’s website describes a blending of two cultures: Kuni was focused on preserving Japanese traditions and heritage expressed in her garden design, while in contrast B.D. embraced the American way of life as reflected in Mukai’s traditional, American-style home and in B.D.’s entrepreneurial business endeavors.

Mary continued, “Around 2018 Fuji Landscaping began the restoration of the garden, and the ponds were redone by Turnstone Construction. The garden and ponds were originally designed with incredible attention to detail with rocks were carefully placed to represent ships, and other aspects of the Japanese island landscape. The restoration was done meticulously. The placement of every little rock was recorded and replaced it exactly as Kuni had it originally. After seeing the property fenced off, tattered, and neglected for so long, just 3 to 4 years later, it was completely transformed. It was pretty amazing.”

Mukai began to really flourish again. “People began to discover it, a really good mix of people from both on-island as well Japanese Americans and other people from off-island,” Mary added. Mukai even gained international reach when a group visited as part of an exchange program through the Japanese American Friendship Society. “I have a lot of family in Japan,” said Mary “and I’ve found that many people there don’t know much about imprisonment and other experiences Japanese Americans had here during World War II. They were busy trying to survive the war and news like that wasn’t reaching them.” Mukai allows visitors an opportunity to learn about this this part of American history and provides a glimpse into Japanese American and agrarian life on Vashon during the 20th century.

Like so many businesses right before the pandemic, as Mary put it, “Mukai was on its way.” They were heavily engaged in community interaction, social justice, and cultural awareness experiences. They hosted numerous workshops and classes celebrating traditional Asian food, art, music, and more. Over 800 people turned out for their first annual Japan Festival, and 2,000 people attended following year. According to Mukai’s website, “Every February, we commemorate Executive Order 9066 as a reminder of the impact the incarceration experience has had on our families, our community, and our country. It is an opportunity to educate others on the fragility of civil liberties in times of crisis, and the importance of remaining vigilant in protecting the rights and freedoms of all.”

When the pandemic hit, Mukai adapted by pivoting to hosting virtual events and COVID-compliant outdoor activities. “This year, on February 19th, we hosted a virtual day of remembrance (of Executive Order 9066) with a screening Claudia Katayanagi’s documentary A Bitter Legacy. Last year’s Japan Festival was a month-long event that included a popular self-guided lantern walk and other engaging activities. We held a haiku contest and posted winning poems throughout the garden for visitors to experience as they explored the garden. Even during COVID, Mukai has been a wonderful place to visit. It is really peaceful and restorative,” said Mary.

LOOKING FORWARD

“Our facility is available for rent again, we have hired a part-time executive director, and we are really looking forward to completing the restoration of the barreling plant. It is a large old agricultural barn with multiple structural and stabilization needs. Once we have secured funding and that work is completed, we have an agricultural, food-based tenant identified for the space,” said Mary.

Historic Seattle is working closely with Friends of Mukai as a technical advisor assisting with architect selection, design development, bidding, construction management, budget management, and more. The vision is for the barreling plant to be a functioning production facility again with public access and an educational element so that its history as an entrepreneurial mini-industrial agricultural complex that enabled berries to be shipped across the United States can continue to be shared.

Mukai is located about a mile west of the town center. The farm and garden are currently open for self-guided tours and access is free. The house is open for private tours and scheduled open houses. Please visit {mukaifarmandgarden.org} to donate, schedule a private tour, or for information about becoming a member of Friends of Mukai. 

VivaCity: Capitol Hill Historical Society

A curiosity about his historic apartment building eventually led Tom Heuser to found the Capitol Hill Historical Society. Here, Tom shares his love of Capitol Hill and how the pandemic has changed the Capitol Hill Historical Society.

Founded in 2017, the mission of Capitol Hill Historical Society (CHHS) is “to gather, preserve, and share the history of the communities that have shaped Capitol Hill.” Events offered by CHHS include intriguing history presentations, book author presentations and Q & As, panel discussions, walking tours, and more — all related to the rich history of the Capitol Hill neighborhood. The CHHS blog features pages of interesting stories about places and people significant to the neighborhood’s story. And CHHS frequently advocates for the preservation of meaningful Capitol Hill sites by voicing support at City landmark hearings, conducting surveys, and connecting citizen advocates, local architects, researchers, and others to help further community preservation efforts. In celebration of National Preservation Month, we checked in with CHHS Board President Tom Heuser. Below, Tom shares highs and lows of the past year, tells us about what inspired the organization’s formation, and highlights what CHHS is looking forward to in the months ahead.

What were the highlights of the past year?

Some highlights include the Capitol Hill coloring book that we published, which was a lot of fun to work on. There was also a lot of growth in social media engagement with our posts, which I think many people have enjoyed. Another highlight has been expanding our scholarship into new areas that are less recognized, such as the neighborhood’s Black history and Midcentury Modern Architecture. We celebrated Black History Month at our annual members meeting with a series of short presentations on significant Black members of the Capitol Hill community throughout history and recently had a virtual event co-sponsored by DOCOMOMO WEWA, where my project partner Lana Blinderman and I shared our methodology, findings, and some interesting photos from the Midcentury Modern project that is currently underway.

 

What are you looking forward to in the next year?

A lot of that is, of course, up in the air due to the pandemic but generally speaking, I’m really looking forward to more in-person events. For example, we really want to do a walking tour featuring midcentury apartments, and who knows — maybe we’ll be able to actually do the holiday party again this year!

How has the pandemic impacted CHHS?


Many of our members have had to scale back their involvement or step down entirely to address more immediate issues, whether family, or work or both. That has definitely changed how we do things, and what we are able to do, as well. Planning for the future is a little more difficult at the moment, so we’re trying not to jump into anything too big while things remain so uncertain. I’ll add that our virtual events are getting more attendance than in-person events. This doesn’t surprise much because it’s easier to just sign on, but maybe it also allows people to participate who may not have otherwise been able to do so. It makes me think for the future it may be good to do some sort of hybrid model for events – I think that would be a good thing to explore.

Do you feel personally connected to the history of Capitol Hill? To any place in particular?

Yes, for sure! For the amount of time I have lived here, I definitely feel connected to the history of the neighborhood. And I feel particularly connected to The Capitol Building Apartments at Broadway & John, the building I have lived in for most of my the 17 or so years here. While I did actually just move out, that building will always hold a special place in my heart, and I will always think of it fondly. In fact, that’s where my interest in the neighborhood’s history got started. I began getting curious about my building, and then I got really fascinated with everything I was learning about it, and I just kept going and this is where I ended up. I was surprised that there wasn’t already a historical society for Capitol Hill, and I just had this desire to see what could be accomplished by bringing more people together.

There are many opportunities to get involved with CHHS, visit their website at capitolhillpast.org to learn more!

The Cayton-Revels House – A Newsworthy Landmark

The Cayton-Revels House in 1909, sourced from The Seattle Republican.

The Cayton-Revels house in Capitol Hill (518 14th Avenue E.) was built in 1902 for Horace Roscoe Cayton and Susie Revels Cayton. Born into enslavement by White people in Mississippi, Horace Cayton came to Seattle in 1890 and started the Seattle Republican, the first Black-owned newspaper in the city. Susie Cayton was the daughter of the first Black American U.S. Senator and joined Horace in the newspaper publishing business becoming the city’s first female associate editor of a publication.

Taha Ebrahimi, author of the Cayton-Revels House landmark nomination.

In February 2021, The Landmarks Preservation Board (LPB) voted unanimously to nominate the Cayton-Revels House for designation as a City Landmark. The nomination was written and submitted by Taha Ebrahimi with enthusiastic support from the current owners, Erie Jones and Kathleen Jo Ackerman. Taha’s well-researched nomination report details the Cayton family experience — in which their success was inversely related to increasing racism and racist policies — and describes Seattle’s connection to the broader Black American experience.

In the following, Taha shares details about what inspired this nomination and discusses the importance of recognizing cultural significance, like that of the Cayton family, in our landmarks.

“One of my favorite books about history in Seattle is called Skid Row,” said Taha. “It’s a very popular book, and in it, there’s a whole chapter about early Seattle newspapers. Yet, the Caytons’ newspaper is never even mentioned! For some time, The Seattle Republican was the second most popular newspaper in Seattle – not just amongst Black Americans – but in Seattle!  Susie Cayton becoming the first female associate editor of the newspaper in 1900 was also hugely significant.”

 

Horace and Susie Cayton, 1896. Source: Headlines and Pictures July 1945

 

According to Taha’s research, it wouldn’t be until 1940 when another woman became an editor of one of the most-read newspapers in Seattle. “It was shocking that none of this was in there, and it was this shock that inspired me to get this place, and this part of our history, recognized,” Taha said.

Cayton Family,1904. Source: Vivian G Harsh Research Collection of Afro-American History and Literature, Chicago Public Library

According to Taha’s nomination, “Because of their business and political involvements, the Caytons were one of the most well-known Black American families in Seattle at the turn of the 20th century.” Yet, despite this and despite growing up in Seattle, Taha only recently became aware of the family’s significance. “As a student, we were required to study Washington State history. We would take field trips to places like the Klondike Gold Rush Museum, places relevant to the history of Seattle, and yet I had never heard about the Caytons. I was embarrassed that I didn’t know their story, and shocked that more people didn’t know about them. That’s when I started to learn more about the family, I got more books and I started to get deeper into the research,” said Taha.

Taha first learned about the Cayton-Revels’ residence in another book called The Hill with a Future, by Jacqueline B. Williams. “In it, they off-handedly mention the address,” said Taha. “I’d been taking these long walks during the pandemic and one day I walked by it and happened to meet one of the owners working in the yard. Quite honestly, I assumed it was already landmarked. Knowing what I knew then, I could not believe it wasn’t already designated.”

The Cayton-Revels House today, courtesy of Taha Ebrahimi.

Among those unaware of the Caytons’ legacy were also the current owners of the Cayton residence. “When they were redoing their attic, they found a couple of artifacts that had Susie Cayton’s father’s name on them. One was a marriage certificate, and the other was an ongoing tab he had at a local store,” said Taha. Susie’s father, Hiram Revels, was the first African American to serve in the U.S. Congress, elected to represent Mississippi in 1870 when Jefferson Davis abandoned his seat to become president of the Confederacy. “They found this out by Googling his name! Shortly thereafter, by coincidence some of the Cayton cousins got in touch with the owners and walked them through the rest of the story,” Taha explained.

When asked for her thoughts about the larger meaning of the unanimous vote by the LPB to nominate the Cayton-Revels House, Taha said, “I think that, until recently, there’s been a tendency to value architectural significance over cultural significance. And frankly, a lot of culturally significant places may not be architecturally significant. In that case, it begs the question, ‘What is a landmark then?’ The Seattle Landmarks Ordinance is great because cultural significance is built in as one of the qualifying criteria for designation. I think, and I hope, that the Board really wants nominations based on cultural significance. They are open to it, and I think this unanimous board vote reflects the desire to have more nominations centered around cultural significance.”

Historic Seattle’s mission is to save meaningful places that foster lively communities. We asked Taha to describe how she thinks the Cayton-Revels House fosters community. She said, “I think official recognition of any culturally significant landmark fosters community because it helps connect people with places in a personal way. This helps people feel pride and shared appreciation for our communities’ heritage, especially at a time like right now when a lot of people are trying to think about what a future looks like. When you have a shared sense of your past and that kind of foundation, I think you can move forward, together, better.”

The LPB will consider designating the Cayton-Revels House at its April 7 meeting. We encourage you to support designation through written comments and/or verbal public testimony at the hearing which begins at 3:30 pm. Send comments to the Landmarks Preservation Board Coordinator Erin Doherty by Monday, April 5 (erin.doherty@seattle.gov).

People in Preservation | A Look Behind a Landmark Nomination

If you’re reading this, you’re probably somewhat familiar with the City Landmarks Preservation Ordinance. You may know that landmarking is generally a two-part process. The first step is nomination; then, if a nomination meets certain criteria and receives enough votes, it goes on to be considered for designation.

What are those “certain criteria” for landmarking? Does a place need to be super old and really fancy to qualify?
A place does not necessarily need to possess remarkable architecture to qualify as a city landmark. What it does require is to: 1) be over 25 years old, 2) possess integrity or the ability to convey its significance, and 3) meet at least one of the six criteria for designation outlined in the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Ordinance.

Ok, how are landmark nominations initiated?

Nominations come from a variety of sources, including preservation consultants, organizations like Historic Seattle, property owners and citizen advocates. They can also be a requirement triggered by a permit application. In this post, we highlight an example of a recent nomination submitted by a novice citizen advocate on behalf of the property owner.

The Considine House Nomination

The Considine House (also known as the Cohen House and the Immaculate Conception Convent) at 802 16th Ave in the Central District was unanimously nominated by the Landmarks Preservation Board on January 20. Like many of Seattle’s grand old homes, this Neoclassical style residence has lived many lives — first as the home of the Considine family, who played a part in Seattle’s early theater and vaudeville history. Later, it served as a convent for the nearby Immaculate Conception Church. Finally, it was divided into 4 apartments, one of which now serves as the home of its current owner. The nomination report noted that the property “has borne witness to almost 120 years of social and cultural evolution in the heart of Seattle’s Central District…[and] has served as a reflection of the diverse and ever-changing neighborhood.”

Sarah Greiner, who authored the Considine House nomination, grew up less than a mile away. Her partner is the granddaughter of the house’s current owner, artist Sue Perry, whose artwork often reflects the rapidly changing Central District neighborhood. Sue and her daughter Amy Hagopian currently reside in two of the four units that comprise the Considine House today. With extra time on her hands while between jobs, Sarah took on the task of preparing the landmark nomination on behalf of Sue and Amy.

Amy Hagopian arrived in Seattle in 1972 to attend UW as an undergraduate and has lived all over Seattle in the years since. In the late 1980s, her mother and stepfather decided to relocate to Seattle from Boston and enlisted Amy to help them find a house.

The first weekend I set out looking, I was shown the Considine House and I immediately told the realtor my folks would take it — sight unseen,” said Amy. “My folks were a retiring faculty member and a social worker, so they didn’t have a ton of money. The fact that it was a multiplex and could produce some necessary income, coupled with the historic nature of the house and that it would be a bit of a project, all made it the perfect place.”

The personal connections Sue, Amy, and Sarah all have to the Considine House aren’t solely what inspired them to seek landmarking for the Considine House.

“It is very much a socially significant place,” explained Sarah. “The history of the Considine House truly reflects the changing demographic of the neighborhood, and everyone I talked to when I was doing research was excited that to learn that it might get recognition that would help preserve it.”

Even a long period of vacancy at the Considine House tells an important part of the story, not just of the House, but of Seattle too. Prior to the purchase by Sue and John Perry and following the time it served as a convent, the house sat unoccupied for 6 years. Redlining — a policy imposed in 1960s by White legislators — made securing loans and buying property nearly impossible for Black people, Native Americans, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, people of Mexican ancestry, and Jews. Because of this restrictive policy, the Considine House sat unoccupied for six years between serving as a convent and finally being purchased by Sue and John Perry.

“Redlining is such an important historic factor in how this house came to be the way it is,” Amy commented.

The Buford family home in August 2018, now demolished.

“As this neighborhood changes it becomes more and more important to hold on to some of the original components of this community and what mattered here,” said Amy. “It was heartbreaking when the Buford’s home was torn down just to the north of us.” Amy continued, “They got swindled out of their house by developers, which is what’s going on all over the Central District now. For me, watching developers attempt to swoop in take over the neighborhood has a lot to do with wanting to protect this house.” You can read more about the Bufords and their ties to the Considine House and significance in Seattle’s legendary jazz history in the nomination.

Despite multi-generational ties to the neighborhood, Sarah and the Hagopian and Perry families acknowledge their part in the process of gentrification. “I definitely feel complicated in my relationship to the neighborhood,” said Sarah. “When my parents bought their house in the late ‘80s, they were the first White people on the block.  The block, and of course the neighborhood, looked very different then than it does now. The Hagopian and Perry family is also mostly White and despite their activism, social awareness, and caring for all their neighbors, they are still a White presence in the neighborhood. I think we can preserve elements of the neighborhood, such as the house, while acknowledging the damage that people including our families and our friends have done. As the nomination report describes, over time the House has been mostly a residence for working class people, and it continues to be one of the only affordable rentals within a few blocks. Not wanting to see more people displaced is a big part of why we are seeking to preserve it. I want to see it continue to be a family space, a gathering space, and a place people can afford to live in.”

The designation hearing for the Considine House will be held on March 17 at 3:30 pm. Read the nomination report to learn more. We encourage you to support designation through written comments or verbal public testimony at the meeting. Send comments to the Landmarks Preservation Board Coordinator Erin Doherty by March 15 (erin.doherty@seattle.gov). 

VivaCity: Keep Music Live

A Brief Introduction

Keep Music Live (KML)

Keep Music Live WA is a COVID-19 relief fundraising campaign established by music lovers to support our small, independently owned venues in Washington State.

Tomo Nakayama (TN)

Born in Japan and raised on Seattle’s “east side,” Tomo Nakayama is a UW alum, a singer-songwriter, and a producer who has been playing live music in Seattle for over 20 years. “I’ve played in practically every venue in town, from the smallest bars to the Moore Theatre and The Showbox, and I’ve met most of my best friends playing around town at shows.”

Leigh Bezezekoff (LB)

Born in New Mexico and raised in a suburb just south of Seattle, Leigh is a fellow UW alum and staple at the Tractor Tavern in Ballard. “I pretty much learned there was a music scene here in Seattle when I saw Pearl Jam’s Even Flow video and I was like ‘This is happening here!? In Seattle?’ And from that moment on I started going to shows, then I moved to Seattle proper, and I’ve been here ever since!”

Michael Gill (MG)

Michael Gill hails from Montana originally. When he moved to Seattle in 2013, he started working odd jobs at Chop Suey because bands that he had played in touring out of Missoula always had great experiences there. “When I moved here, I hit them up and was like ‘can I wipe tables or clean up puke or something?’ Then, after some time, I was offered a job at the Central Saloon and I started talent buying there.”

Historic Seattle’s mission is to save meaningful places that foster lively communities. How do you think live music fosters community?

TN: The music itself is just one of the elements of what goes on at shows. It brings so many people together, and the experience of live music just can’t be recreated online. I’ve been playing Zoom meetings for the past year and it’s made me realize just how much I miss the organic relationships that form from being in the same room as someone. I miss the opportunities for different collaborations, the inspiration from seeing other people and being creative and that’s really something you can only get from being in a room with other people.

A 2019 show at the Tractor Tavern from Leigh Bezezekoff’s Instagram account @everyconcertigoto.

LB: Before I started officially working at the Tractor, I managed bands that played there a lot and I was there so much that by the time I started working there I already knew everyone!  It’s the type of community where even if you go to a show alone, you know you’re probably going to know some people there. And I think this is an important part of what we are all missing, not just your immediate and closest friends, but the people you are just used to seeing all the time.

MG: You know, I see this a lot at the Central Saloon because of our geographic location. We really are at the center of so many things — in proximity to the stadiums and the waterfront, and you just get so many different communities coming together in the space purely because of music.

Pioneer Square’s Central Saloon. Image courtesy of Michael Gill.

Why do independent venues matter to you, and why is it important that they continue to exist?

TN: Independent venues aren’t driven entirely by commerce. What you get with the bigger conglomerates is sort of a built-in hierarchy of bands, and what happens in that case is you get the same type of music getting booked and getting promoted over and over again. You need these smaller venues, to foster creativity and for people to take chances with your music. And there are so many people involved in the music industry aside from the artists themselves – there are the sound engineers, lighting, the people who run the venues – they all rely on this ecosystem to keep our industry going. When people think of Seattle music and the character of the city, that’s what you’re talking about — the independent places, and the independent experiences – they differentiate it from a corporate conglomeration.

LB: Smaller venues have the ability to help artists grow their careers. From local artists building momentum to get on the road to helping touring artists build their fan bases in each market. I love that the Tractor will book an artist at The Sunset or even Conor Byrne and help them get ready for a bigger room. We’ll even help promote them at Neumos or The Showbox to help the transition.

MG: Independent venues are why many people start playing music, to have an emotional connection with the audience. The further you get from a small venue, the further you get from that direct connection. No matter how many people hold their lighters up in a stadium, you’re just not going to get that same experience that you do in a small venue. When music matters most is when it’s at a small venue. The reason it’s important for them to continue to exist is the same reason why they exist in the first place — bands need to grow from somewhere. Small venues offer the chance for discovery – for both the patron and the artist.

How has KML changed the relationship between venues, artists, and people in the industry?

LB: The Seattle music industry is pretty small when it comes down to it. We all kind of know each other and we’re all just one or two degrees away from one another in the scene, but what has been unique about this is that we have been developing relationships – strong foundational relationships of working together on behalf of everyone else and not just our own venues. I think everyone in the group kind of recognizes that if you were just out for yourself (as a venue) you might make it, but the important thing is to make sure that everyone else is coming along. That’s something I’ve not seen in Seattle before. Another thing is the coming together of people who have been ancillary in the venue scene, like Holly Hinton who curates music for Starbucks. She’s on the Keep Music Live leadership team and getting to work closely with her and other people from different facets of the industry has been amazing.

MG: To add to that, meeting and working closely with others in different marketing and financial circles of the Seattle music industry has been so beneficial. While we have spent a lot of the last year sort of struggling to figure out how to do this, on the positive side we’ve also realized ‘Wow, imagine the opportunities we will have when we all come back together as a whole!’ Relationships have been built and trust has formed, fundamental relationships between neighborhoods within Seattle, relationships that connect us state-wide, and new connections with music-loving corporate resources who are ready to get their hands dirty. What Seattle and Washington State can now do for its music fans, its artists, its venues is — well, it gets your imagination rolling!

LB: There are developers, philanthropists, business leaders — there so many people coming together over a shared love of music, and I really feel like our artist community is going to benefit greatly from all the synergy that is coming about during this year.

Do you feel personally connected to the history of a particular venue or to Seattle’s music legacy in general? If so, how?

TN: Yeah, absolutely! I grew up going to all-ages shows at the Vera Project and started playing in bars here when I turned 21. What you don’t realize is that you see the same faces booking and playing at shows here and you grow up along with the bookers and the promoters and they become your friends and we’re all growing together as a community. So now it’s a really personal mission for me, to keep this community going.

LB: I used to feel more tied to ‘the scene’ than a particular venue but now, having been through what we’ve been through over this past year, I feel much more intertwined with the history and the impact the Tractor has had, and I feel more deeply ingrained as part of that.

MG:  Yes, we book a lot of bands at Central Saloon from Brazil and places in South America where Grunge was just huge and when they get the opportunity to play here, they just lose their minds! I want to keep that emotional connection to the city and use it to continue to uphold the caliber of its music community today.

Posters inside the Central Saloon. Image courtesy of Michael Gill.

Do you consider yourself a preservationist? If so, why?

TN: I think with the issues housing and equity being what it is we need to grow and change, so I’m not saying that every old building needs to be preserved for the sake of it. But I do think there is a way to grow consciously as a community and identify the things that we value as a community and to preserve those things. I’m not opposed to growth, but it needs to be done in a way that honors those that built our city and make it what it is, and it really needs to ensure sustainability for the future. I just want us to be aware of what we are creating.

LB: I would say I started as an archivist and have moved more into the preservationist role. I have so much memorabilia that I’ve collected from shows over the years, things I dutifully care for and take with me as I move from place to place. I have an Instagram account where I started documenting every single show I go to, and to have a record of that moment happening helps tie me to it a lot more. Every time we lose a place here in Seattle that’s tied to our hearts, it’s so hard. That’s why I got involved with efforts to save The Showbox, to start to take a more active role in making sure these places don’t go away. I think that’s why a lot of us were drawn to this [KML] – not just out of concern for our own jobs — I knew I’d be ok, that I’d find something else if my particular venue went away — but I didn’t want ANY of them to go away. And that’s why so many of us are working so hard to figure this out.

MG: Yeah, it’s crazy. One of the first venues I went to in Seattle was the Funhouse. I remember trying to find it again when I moved here. All I could remember was that it was near the Space Needle. I walked around for hours trying to find it before realizing it had been right there, where there is now a giant hole in the ground because they’re building a new building.

I also think about this in terms of the Central Saloon. It has such a rich musical history and I think it’s important to honor that legacy, but we don’t want to be a museum. We have a lot of old posters up, but we mix in more recent ones too. I think it’s more productive to have pride in where you have been, but also be proud of where you’re going.

What are some of your favorite historic places in Seattle?

MG: The Showbox at the Market comes immediately to mind.

LB: (emphatically agrees) Smith Tower, too.

TN: I probably feel closest to the Tractor Tavern – it’s where I’ve played the most shows over the years. Also, the Fremont Abbey and the Triple Door. Each one has its own character and vibe, and a specific memory of where I was in life.

With so many places you love, you don’t realize how much you love them until they’re gone. For example, I used to go to Bush Garden all the time to sing karaoke before it closed – and until it was gone I didn’t realize how much it meant to me. I think there are a lot of places like that, that you take for granted and you don’t necessarily consider historic – just places that have been around for a long time. Then every time something closes it hurts on a personal level. This pandemic has really made me more aware of what we have and how we have to keep those places alive.

Click here to register for our free virtual Heart Bomb with Keep Music Live on February 9 at 5:30!

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