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Behind the Garden Walls | A Glimpse into the Allure and Surprise of the Good Shepherd Center

On October 17 Historic Seattle will hold its 5th Annual Heirloom Apple Tasting at the Good Shepherd Center (GSC). GSC lead gardener Tara Macdonald had this to say about this free event: “It captures the spirit of fall, in its simplicity and the abundance offered. It also captures the essence of the place. Like the Good Shepherd Center itself, the event has a similar element of surprise, discovery, and pride. And in the broader sense, it reflects the importance of community. This all exists because of community.”

Read on to find out what else Tara has to share from her years as the conscientious steward of the alluring Good Shepherd Center grounds.

Tell us about your connection to Seattle and how you came to be lead gardener at the GSC.

I came to Seattle for the horticultural opportunity, it’s a great place to be in the business of gardening. I had a landscaping business, but I wanted to get involved in something more plant-centric and public spaces are very important to me so when this opportunity came along it was a great fit. Here there is a great plant collection and a great backstory that adds richness to the place.

What was your earliest memory of the GSC, and what has it been like to go from that first glance to the relationship you now have with the place?

I always refer back to my first impressions because it tells me what other people’s first impressions might be. The name for Historic Seattle’s tour of the grounds is “Behind the Garden Walls,” which is fitting because there is a holly hedge that surrounds the property. Depending on what stage the hollies are in, you can see glimpses of a big historic building behind there. It has this mysterious quality to it, a quality it has had throughout history because it was a very cloistered space.

My first impression was just “wow,” and then “interesting,” as I began to walk and explore the grounds and discover the diversity of the landscape and plants. You can tell the place was created with intent, but intent from times past. You have these rich woodland settings, lawn areas, formal gardens, and even a parking lot orchard! The diversity and peacefulness is unique, and people are surprised by it. You find yourself asking, “Why was this space created, and by whom?” The place invites and encourages a lot of questions and I’ve had the opportunity to dig into those questions. In my gardening, I’d like to make those questions pop into people’s heads. The way I imagine that happening is by defining the spaces more to make the character, and therefore the history of the spaces more prominent. By doing this you wouldn’t be able to avoid the question, “Why is it like this?”

Also, my awareness of the vibrancy of the community aspect — how much goes on here, and the impact this place has on community — has grown over the years. This position comes with a lot of responsibility, to both the history and the community. It’s not about me as a gardener, or my horticultural goals or whims; it’s about the history of the place and the value of it to the community both past and present.

You developed and lead Historic Seattle’s popular “Behind the Garden Walls” tour; what have you discovered about the place through the process of developing your tour? What have tour attendees seemed surprised to learn about this place and/or its history?

That there’s more to the story than people realize. I think that’s what surprises people most, how little they know. Most people know about the place only superficially, and not very accurately. All the details are news to them…they enliven the place and explain it in ways people didn’t even think to ask.

A tour group forms a semi-circle around Tara and a sign on a tri-pod that shares information about the Good Shepherd Center grounds.


Do you feel personally connected to the GSC’s history in any way?

The more I’ve learned about the place the more I realize how much it’s a reflection of women’s history. It reflects how women were treated, how girls were treated, how they were seen. Even the nuns, the fact that they were here is part of the story. This was a home for women and girls of various ages, and what that says about the how society treated abused women, neglected children, “bad girls,” is intriguing to me. As a woman, you have to feel a connection to that.

I’ll say as well that outdoor space is obviously very important to me and the fact that this home, which the grounds were very much a part of, was built around the importance of outdoor space also resonates with me personally. Outdoor space was integral to providing a good home. They saw outdoor space not only as an important outlet for female energy, but also as an important part of a healthy environment.  There were ornamental gardens, and playfields, but they also included sustainable agriculture in that space to feed themselves.

How do you see the gardens and grounds foster community?

Being on site daily, I see a ton of people come through here. It offers a lot. While many people definitely regard it as a meeting place, I also hear people using words like peaceful and oasis to describe it.

I probably interact with dog walkers most because that’s a community that needs and uses a lot of green space regularly. The dogs interact so the people interact, and the same happens with children and their parents on the playground. Others come here to unwind and inevitably stop and catch up with neighbors along the way.

Each neighborhood has its own identity and I think the Good Shepherd Center and the Meridian Playground are a big part of that, at least for the immediate Wallingford community and perhaps for some further afield. So, it creates a sense of community, ownership, and identity. And it really goes beyond those who use the building and the grounds, we get people all the time who come through and ask, “Can we go in?” and they’re usually really surprised by what they find.

And of course, there’s the apple tasting! With the apples themselves as a very tangible resource, we’ve been able to do a lot over the past 4 years to build a sense of community with this event. Certainly, with the bakers (GSC community volunteers who contribute baked goods to the tasting using GSC-grown apples) it gives them an opportunity to use their time, energy, and passion to contribute and participate in the community, which is a lot of fun. It also helps by connecting the communities within the building to each other and to the community at large.

Tara hands an apple slice to a child from across the table at our annual apple tasting. The table is full of different apple varieties.

Sticks & Stones Photography

What is one thing you wish everyone knew about the GSC?

That this place exists because of the efforts of the community. The big take-home is that if you want places like this, be active in preservation. It takes the same amount of effort from the community now to continue to have places like this.

Save The Showbox!

Support Historic Seattle’s advocacy efforts! Contributions to our advocacy fund were essential in securing landmark status for The Showbox. Your gift also enables us to continue to fight to protect other cultural spaces in Seattle.

You can also show your support by purchasing a Showbox shirt. 100% of proceeds fund our advocacy work! PLEASE NOTE: Due to COVID-19’s impact on our operations, fulfillment of Showbox shirt orders may be delayed. Please allow 1-2 weeks for your order to ship.

WHAT’S NEW? The Showbox still needs YOU!

The Showbox is a designated City of Seattle Landmark, but it is still not saved! Like we said in the November 22 Seattle Times Open Letter* and the December 4 Stranger Open Letter**, featuring a broad cross-section of the local arts & culture community, we need YOU to help change that. Urge the Landmarks Preservation Board to place “controls” on the property. Controls are a part of the landmarking process and describe the protections to the physical elements of the building. Without controls, The Showbox can be torn down. Like designation, there are specific rules on what can be considered for this part of the process. Send your comments to Sarah Sodt, the City’s historic preservation officer, at or plan to attend the next LPB meeting (TBD) to provide your comments in person.

Don’t know what to say? Here are some ideas you can pull from (and add in your personal stories!):

“Landmarks deserve protection. Place controls on The Showbox.”

“The teardown trend is out of control – place controls on The Showbox to keep this landmark safe.”

“I read the relevant sections of the Landmarks Preservation Ordinance and believe that controls will not prevent The Showbox property from reasonable economic use. With controls, the venue can still continue to serve as an active, thriving home for music. Placing controls makes business sense, in addition to being critical to protecting this landmark for the benefit of our city’s arts & culture community. The Landmarks Preservation Board should place controls to ensure its protection.”


(*Correction: Due to an inadvertent error, Benaroya Hall is incorrectly listed and has not signed on to this advocacy effort. **Since publication, Tom Douglas has added his name in support.)

February 2020

The property owner has requested a second extension for negotiating controls and incentives with the City of Seattle. Due to the owner’s delay, the Landmarks Preservation Board (LPB) will not make a recommendation on controls and incentives at its February 19, 2020 meeting. The LPB was first scheduled to consider controls and incentives at its December 18, 2019 meeting.

We are now seven months into the controls and incentives process. We know that the property owner doesn’t want controls placed on the property, but how long will this go on? Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a limit in the Landmarks Preservation Ordinance so long as the LPB grants the owner’s requests for extension.

Historic Seattle continues to vigilantly monitor the process and is ready to make the case for placing controls on the Showbox

November 2019

On November 19, Historic Seattle announced a new partnership with Seattle Theatre Group (operators of the Moore, Neptune, and Paramount Theatres) in our efforts to save The Showbox. Together, we submitted a formal offer to purchase the property in October 2019. If accepted, the partnership would retain AEG as the operating tenant through at least 2024.

Separately, negotiations with the current property owner continue to play out with the Landmarks Preservation Board in a process known as “controls and incentives.” Controls protect the character-defining features of the landmark, in exchange for incentives for the property owner, which can include access to grants, special tax valuations, and transfer of development rights.

“We are thrilled to have such a strong partner as STG in our effort to purchase The Showbox,” said Eugenia Woo, our director of preservation services. “As we continue our due diligence and look forward to the opportunity to negotiate with the property’s owner, Historic Seattle will not back down in our fight to protect The Showbox. Landmarks deserve protection. We will advocate for ‘controls’ to be placed at the public meeting of the Landmarks Preservation Board (LPB) scheduled for December 18 and ask people who care about arts and culture to continue to fight alongside us,” Woo added.

“Seattle is not Seattle without The Showbox,” said Chad Queirolo, a 20-year Showbox employee and vice president of AEG Presents Northwest. “The rich musical history of the Northwest, that has shaped this city and the world, wouldn’t be what it is without this venue and the community around it. There are very few places like it left in the country. We fully support this partnership between Historic Seattle and STG and look forward to working with them to ensure this venue continues to thrive for years to come,” Queirolo added.

“Historic preservation is not solely about protecting a physical building, it’s about preserving the nature of what happens within it,” said Ricardo Frazer, board chair of STG. “That is why we are compelled to stand beside Historic Seattle in this effort. In an era when the redevelopment of cultural space is far too common, we fear what the loss of this iconic venue would mean to our region. Securing controls will protect the space, while our purchase and partnership will ensure it continues to be used for live performances, not only honoring its history but guaranteeing its role in our community for future generations,” Frazer added.

As we’ve always said, saving The Showbox is a marathon, not a sprint. Thank you for running with us!

October 2019

On October 8, the City announced its settlement with the owner of The Showbox regarding his lawsuit over the property’s temporary inclusion in the Pike Place Market Historic District. In a separate agreement, the City agreed to an option to purchase the property for an assignee (a third party such as Historic Seattle or a developer) if the Landmarks Preservation Board places NO controls on the The Showbox.

To be clear, the City’s agreement with the owner of The Showbox does NOT supersede the landmarks ordinance. We are continuing to fight for controls on the building’s physical elements that were designated by a unanimous vote of the Landmarks Preservation Board.

Furthermore, this agreement between the City and the owner of The Showbox does NOT prevent us from moving forward with our offer to purchase the property. For months, we have been doing our due diligence – including appraisals of the property’s value – and hope to be able to announce our plan soon.

July 2019


Thanks to the tireless dedication of a community of advocates, music lovers, and passionate preservationists over the past year, Historic Seattle is thrilled to announce that The Showbox is now the City of Seattle’s latest landmark. At the Landmarks Preservation Board’s (LPB) July 17 meeting, the LPB voted unanimously to designate The Showbox based on criteria C and D of the Landmarks Preservation Ordinance (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, and D: It embodies the distinctive visible characteristics of an architectural style, or period, or a method of construction). The elements identified for preservation include the exterior of the building as well as select interior portions.

During the LPB meeting, Historic Seattle presented a timeline of The Showbox’s rich history. The Streamline Moderne building originally opened in 1917 for Charles and Emma Frye, founders of the Frye Art Museum, to open the Central Public Market, framed as a competitor to the Pike Place Market. Over the 102 years since, it has served as an entertainment venue for 57% of that time (58 years). The Showbox has housed performances of every significant genre of modern and emerging music, including jazz, big band, blues, rock-n-roll, rock, pop, punk, new wave, grunge, and alternative musicians, in addition to serving as a comedy club and a bingo hall.

Since news broke of the threat to The Showbox, the music community has been at the forefront of Historic Seattle’s efforts to save the venue. Following the LPB’s vote, Historic Seattle’s director of preservation services Eugenia Woo said, “We are ecstatic that our city, through today’s designation by the Landmarks Preservation Board, has formally recognized what so many people have known and said all along: The Showbox is a landmark and this place matters. Over the past year, it has been Historic Seattle’s honor and privilege to work alongside the music community, Friends of The Showbox, Vanishing Seattle, and Friends of Historic Belltown to fight to protect this beloved place.”

Woo added, “While we celebrate this exciting victory, we know that our work is far from over. Although landmarking offers protections for the physical elements of the property and not its use, this is a critical step that helps to save the building that houses The Showbox. To preserve its use as a thriving home to the music community, Historic Seattle is continuing our due diligence to purchase the property through a fundraising campaign. We have decades of experience in operating, rehabilitating, and maintaining historic properties, including unreinforced masonry buildings, that make us confident we can keep The Showbox safely in use for the public benefit for generations to come.”

June 2019

Alongside our coalition of advocates (Vanishing Seattle, Friends of Historic Belltown, and Friends of The Showbox), Historic Seattle is thrilled to announce successful outcomes of two major elements in the fight to #SaveTheShowbox that happened in early June.

On Tuesday, June 4, dozens of people gathered in front of the City Council’s Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development & Arts Committee for a public hearing about a proposed 6-month extension to the temporary expansion of the Pike Place Market Historic District to include The Showbox. The original expansion was passed unanimously by the full City Council in August 2018. The Committee voted to advance this proposed extension to a full City Council vote on Monday, June 10. At this vote, the extension passed 8-1.

In speaking before the Committee, Historic Seattle noted the geographic, historic, and economic rationale behind such an expansion. There, Eugenia Woo, Historic Seattle’s director of preservation services, noted, “We researched the history of The Showbox which was originally known as the Central Public Market, built in 1917, ten years after the [Pike Place] Market was established in 1907…The City needs more time to conduct its due diligence in this process. Historic Seattle supports a six-month extension of the temporary district expansion in order for the study to occur properly.”

Continuing to speak on Historic Seattle’s behalf, Naomi West, the organization’s director of philanthropy and engagement, added, “All of the Pike Place Market directly benefits from The Showbox. Because of proximity, a thriving Showbox is inextricably linked to a thriving Market. 422 artists performed at The Showbox last year alone, and those bands love to head to the Market to explore upon arriving in Seattle. Bars, restaurants, retail spaces, hotels, and coffee shops all benefit from Showbox guests who like to go out in the neighborhood before attending a show. The Showbox brings 1,000 guests to the area approximately 200 nights each year. That’s 200,000 people spending their dollars in and around the Market annually. These data points aren’t new – there’s an 80-year history filled with local impact. The venue also provides 200 people with employment.”

West went on to deliver a statement submitted to Historic Seattle by Macklemore: “And, as a wise man named Ben Haggerty, aka Macklemore, told us in his statement regarding this issue, ‘The Showbox is also a venue that is critical in attracting many national acts to route their tours through Seattle. Losing it would mean fewer shows and lost revenue for the city…As our city continues to grow in density, it’s imperative that we protect the spaces that give Seattle its cultural identity. This is true of The Showbox, and it’s true of other important places in the city, especially in communities where displacement and gentrification are dramatically reshaping neighborhoods. If we value our musical heritage and want to leave the next generation with a piece of authentic Seattle, this is our fight.’”

Update: On June 21, the temporary expansion of the Pike Place Market Historic District to include The Showbox was struck down in King County Superior Court. Eugenia Woo, Historic Seattle’s director of preservation services, released the following statement:

Since last August, we have supported including The Showbox property in the Pike Place Market Historic District. Today’s ruling by Judge Patrick Oishi was disappointing and we did not expect there would be a decision today on the motions for summary judgment. The ruling was about land use and not about whether The Showbox is a significant music venue and cultural resource worth preserving.

We’ve always said that saving The Showbox would require a multi-prong strategy. We continue to focus on the landmark designation process and look forward to the designation hearing on July 17. We’ll continue to keep open communication channels with the property owner’s representatives and hope to discuss Historic Seattle’s serious interest in purchasing the property.

For 45 years, our organization has had a proven track record of real estate development involving the saving and rehabilitation of historic properties throughout Seattle. We currently own and operate eight historic properties that are community assets and contribute to the cultural health of Seattle neighborhoods. The Good Shepherd Center, Washington Hall, and the Cadillac Hotel are a few of our key properties.

We hope to add The Showbox property to our portfolio so that it may continue its long history as a significant music venue and cultural space—it cannot be replicated or replaced.

The Landmarks Preservation Board (LPB) considered The Showbox nomination at its Wednesday, June 5 meeting. Historic Seattle submitted the nomination in August 2018 alongside co-nominators Vanishing Seattle and Friends of Historic Belltown. At the LPB meeting, Historic Seattle stated, “No place can better represent the cultural history of music in Seattle.”

Collectively, public comment provided at the LPB meeting was overwhelmingly in support of the landmark nomination, including a statement submitted by Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready and presented by Showbox employee Misha Dumois. “There is so much history at Seattle’s Showbox and it would be a monumental loss to the city if the doors closed. I have so many great memories, not only from playing that stage with Pearl Jam and Flight to Mars, but I’ve also seen countless incredible shows over the years. To me, The Showbox is a vital landmark to Seattle’s rich music history, as well as today’s thriving community. Those doors should stay open, and those amazing employees should keep their jobs,” McCready’s statement noted.

Following public comments, the LPB voted unanimously to nominate The Showbox as a landmark. The LPB will meet on Wednesday, July 17 at a public hearing to consider designation, which, if approved, would bestow landmark status upon this iconic venue. Historic Seattle will provide additional information for the public as that date approaches.

While recognizing these victories and the ongoing effort to protect this meaningful place, on Wednesday, June 5, the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation also announced its addition of The Showbox to its “Most Endangered Places” list.

In response to that news and the outcome of this week’s events, Kji Kelly, Historic Seattle’s executive director, said, “We agree that The Showbox, despite our recent victories, is as endangered as it gets in Seattle right now. More City Council and Landmarks Board votes remain; there is a lot of work left to do. As we’ve said since the beginning of this fight, the best outcome is a preservation-friendly buyer, and that’s why we stepped up to say we’re ready, willing, and able to take ownership of the building to keep The Showbox thriving as a venue for the next 80 years. We remain eager to work with the current property owner to make a deal happen.”

What You Can Do NOW!

Send comments in support of landmark designation to Sarah Sodt by Thursday, July 11 or speak at the Landmarks Preservation Board designation hearing on Wednesday, July 17. We’ll share the agenda for that hearing once it’s published.

May 2019

Remember when we said this would be a marathon? It’s been nearly 10 months since the development plans for The Showbox first made the news…The Showbox is still under threat of demolition, and we still need YOU to help us save it. (Need more proof of why this place matters? Check out Ethan Steinman’s documentary “No Reentry: The Irreplaceable Showbox,” which premiered at The Showbox on May 22 and is sponsored in part by Seattle’s Office of Arts & Culture.)

Historic Seattle submitted a landmark nomination in conjunction with Friends of Historic Belltown and Vanishing Seattle in August 2018, following an announcement that the building housing The Showbox was being considered for redevelopment. Contrary to several reports, a sale of the property has not yet taken place.

Recently, Crosscut reported on the City of Seattle’s efforts to negotiate with the owner of The Showbox building to reach a standstill on the owner’s litigation and the City’s permanent historic district expansion. Since that report, Historic Seattle reached out to the property owner with a preliminary offer to buy The Showbox. We have not received a formal response to that offer. 

The LPB meeting is scheduled to begin at 3:30PM and is the first of two steps to successfully turn The Showbox building into a landmark. Following a successful nomination, the LPB will schedule another meeting regarding designation.

To support the nomination, you can submit written comments in advance of the meeting to LPB Coordinator Sarah Sodt by May 30 or attend the meeting at City Hall to provide your comments in person.

To be considered relevant, what you write or say must pertain to how The Showbox meets at least one (or more) of the six designation criteria of the City’s Landmarks Preservation Ordinance. The focus of our nomination is criteria C and D.

The criteria are:

  1. a) location of, or association in a significant way with, a historic event with a significant effect upon the community, City, state, or nation;
    b) association in a significant way with the life of a person important in the history of the City, state, or nation;
    c) association in a significant way with a significant aspect of the cultural, political, or economic heritage of the community, City, state or nation;
    d) embodiment of the distinctive visible characteristics of an architectural style, or period, or a method of construction;
    e) an outstanding work of a designer or builder;
    f) because of 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.

In your comments, share your personal experiences at The Showbox in ways that relate to the architecture, the neighborhood, and the cultural significance.

In addition to the newly scheduled LPB meeting date, the City of Seattle provided public notice in the Daily Journal of Commerce on May 2 for a public hearing scheduled for Tuesday, June 4 on a six-month extension of the interim expansion of the Pike Place Market Historic District to include The Showbox. Historic Seattle has advocated for this expansion since August and continues to support it as the study on permanent expansion remains underway. Comments in support of this extension may be directed in writing to Councilmember Lisa Herbold by Monday, June 3 or presented at the public hearing on June 4 at 5:30PM at the City Council Chambers in City Hall.


August 2018

On the morning of August 10, a group of more than 150 local and national artists signed onto an open letter in the centerfold of Friday’s Seattle Times urging Seattle residents to take action to #SAVETHESHOWBOX. The list is reflective of the depth and breadth of The Showbox’s history.

The group is led by Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie, Duff McKagan of Guns n’ Roses, Macklemore, and Mike McCready of Pearl Jam.

The letter notes, “For nearly 80 years, The Showbox has been home to some of Seattle’s biggest cultural moments, from Duke Ellington to Buffalo Springfield, The Police, The Ramones, James Brown, Heart, Ellen DeGeneres, Eminem, Soundgarden, Coldplay, Robin Williams, Chris Stapleton, Prince, and beyond. Despite this venue’s iconic status, it is under threat. The Onni Group, a BC-based developer, plans to tear down The Showbox, to build a 44-story luxury residential tower in its place. We cannot let this happen.”

The group is working with an advocacy coalition led by Historic Seattle to advance several policy solutions that can help protect The Showbox. In addition to designating the venue as a historic landmark, the letter urges people to take meaningful action to support the effort by contacting Seattle’s City Council and Mayor Jenny Durkan.

Update (August 29): Your calls, emails, and public comments worked! The City Council voted unanimously to temporarily expand the Pike Place Market Historic District to include The Showbox site, in effect adding protections for its use. On August 24, Mayor Durkan signed the temporary expansion into law. 

This expansion, advancing the landmark nomination we submitted, and finding a Showbox-friendly offer to present to the property owner is our comprehensive approach to this effort. We’ll need your continued support throughout the landmarks process (stay tuned), and we continue to seek ideas on alternative purchase options.


On August 9, at a press conference, Historic Seattle announced its advocate coalition – including Vanishing Seattle and Friends of Historic Belltown – submitted a landmark nomination for The Showbox. The nomination was submitted Wednesday afternoon, August 8.

“This is an exciting moment for the effort to Save The Showbox. We submitted the nomination ahead of the developer, allowing our advocates more time to demonstrate the significance of this iconic place and to make the case for why it must be protected as a landmark,” said Eugenia Woo, Historic Seattle’s Director of Preservation Services, at the press conference.

“We thank everyone who made this possible: our co-nominators, Friends of Historic Belltown and Vanishing Seattle; King County Executive Dow Constantine, a music enthusiast and preservationist; Jay Middleton, who organized the petition that now has nearly 91,000 signatures; City Councilmembers who have been working with us on this effort; Northwest Vernacular, who prepared this nomination, and last, but certainly not least, the donors who have given generously to our advocacy fund. Their support is what empowered us to hire the team that treated this as an emergency, working tirelessly to turn a research and writing process that can sometimes take months into 10 days,” Woo added.

Historic Seattle has said several times that saving The Showbox is not a sprint; it’s a marathon. There are three elements to the group’s strategy: successfully landmark The Showbox; create policy solutions that can also help save The Showbox, and places like it in the future; and identifying a Showbox-friendly buyer, investor, or donor that can help address the property owner’s concerns over finding an offer at fair market value.

The landmark nomination, while a victory in itself, is like coming to the end of the first mile. The effort to Save The Showbox still has a long way to go. In the coming weeks, we’ll be rallying the public behind the landmarks process, starting with the nomination hearing.

Historic Seattle will also continue working with the City on advancing policy solutions that can save The Showbox, as well as places like it in the future. The first proposal is the expansion of the Pike Place Market Historic District. City Council will vote on this plan on Monday, August 13. Historic Seattle encourages them to support it and asks those who care about saving The Showbox to contact their councilmembers and the Mayor to voice support for this expansion.

Beyond this, Historic Seattle asked the City to “work with us to strengthen protections for our historically significant places. People often say preservationists are stuck in the past, but we’ve been spending our time looking to the future,” Woo said at the press conference.

“As our City continues to grow, it is critical that we work together to further define the controls element of the Landmarks Preservation Ordinance to include protections for categories of use, including cultural venues,” Woo continued.

Historic Seattle also announced another policy recommendation, advising the City to proactively work with Historic Seattle to address the issue of unreinforced masonry (URM), by introducing an environmental impact fee on demolitions and new development projects that will help fund the seismic retrofitting needs of Seattle’s 1,100 URM buildings, including The Showbox.

“These are real solutions to real problems facing our City’s historic places, and we are eager to partner with the right people to see them through,” said Woo. “As we’re seeing with The Showbox, we are stronger when we come together. Seattle needs that strength now more than ever. Let’s work together to change the narrative from ‘preservation is an obstruction’ to ‘preservation is part of the solution.’”

As these policy and process elements unfold, Historic Seattle remains eager to work with interested investors, buyers, or donors to make an alternative offer to the property owner. “We are aiming to find a win-win solution that satisfies the current property owner while still saving The Showbox.”


July 2018

All of Seattle woke up on July 25, to the news that The Showbox is endangered. Onni Group, a Vancouver, BC-based developer, had filed plans to demolish the building and replace it with a 44-story residential tower. They also intend to submit a nomination to determine landmark status.

The HistoryLink essay on The Showbox describes the significance of The Showbox well. Here’s an excerpt: “Founded in 1939 as the Show Box, Seattle’s historic Showbox Ballroom (1426 1st Avenue) is one of the town’s very few extant entertainment venues that can lay claim to having provided local music fans such an astonishing breadth of music over the decades. From the Jazz Age to the hip-hop and grunge eras the storied ballroom has featured shows by touring icons like Duke Ellington, Muddy Waters, and the Ramones, and up-and-comers like Coldplay, Katy Perry, Moby, Lady Gaga, and Lorde, as well as concerts by homegrown talents ranging from the burlesque queen Gypsy Rose Lee to Merrilee Rush, the Sonics, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and Macklemore.”

On July 30, Historic Seattle met with Vanishing Seattle and Friends of Historic Belltown to discuss the demolition plan and developer effort to submit The Showbox for landmark nomination* (see more on this below).

To harness and channel all the community energy into productive action, Historic Seattle will be serving as the lead organization to SAVE THE SHOWBOX. We are the city’s largest historic preservation nonprofit and have been working to save meaningful places that foster lively communities for more than 40 years.

What does this mean for you/what can you do for now? If you aren’t on our mailing list, sign up.  We’ll be posting updates throughout the landmarks process on Facebook and this page as well.

As the landmarks process unfolds, we will ask you to submit comments, testify at hearings, and help us make the case for preserving this community icon.

Also last week, Historic Seattle connected with City Councilmember Kshama Sawant’s office regarding her rally at City Hall today and her statement indicating support for landmarking The Showbox.

Historic Seattle appreciates the intent behind CM Sawant’s statement and upcoming resolution. As the city’s leading organization in preservation, we also want to clarify a point made within the original statement.

In particular, the statement says, “Because The Showbox has so much historic value, the Landmarks Preservation Board should agree to landmark it if they hear from a large enough community of people. However, the board often preserves only the outside of buildings, and in this case we need the Board to also preserve the music venue inside.”

Historic Seattle’s Director of Preservation Services, Eugenia Woo, clarifies, “We’ve spoken with Councilmember Sawant’s office to let them know a non-binding city council resolution cannot influence the independent Landmarks Preservation Board, which is bound by the regulations of the City’s Landmarks Preservation Ordinance.  The ordinance in its current state does not afford the opportunity to protect a property’s use, as much as we wish it did.”

Woo adds, “The limitations of the landmarks ordinance are on display in this case, and the City Council and Mayor Durkan have the ability to pursue policy solutions to the problems highlighted by The Showbox’s possible demolition. We encourage them to work with us on such solutions to our city’s teardown trend. Use policy, in addition to the pulpit.”

Historic Seattle believes that CM Sawant, all other councilmembers of the City of Seattle, and Mayor Durkan can work effectively to strengthen protections and create legislation that addresses the many issues brought to light through the development plan submitted for The Showbox site. Opportunities include revising the current zoning code, expanding the Pike Place Market Historic District and other historic districts, providing protections and support for legacy businesses, and enhancing elements of the landmarks preservation ordinance related to cultural impact. Historic Seattle welcomes the opportunity to work alongside the City Council and Mayor to protect places that matter while building for our city’s future.

*It is important to understand a few things about this chess game we call preservation. 1) Developers often submit nominations to determine landmark status with the intent of controlling the process so that the nomination fails. By channeling your energy into following the process correctly, you can help counter that strategy. We will advise you on the best ways to do this, down the line. 2) Landmarking does not protect use. If the building is not landmarked, it is a certainty that The Showbox will be demolished. If it IS landmarked, it is still possible that AEG could lose its operating rights when its lease ends in a few years. We would like to connect with any Showbox-friendly investors who could put forth an offer to buy the building and keep The Showbox in place. 3) This is not a sprint; it’s a marathon. The landmarks process will take months. Please work with us to see it through to the end. It’s the best chance this important place has to remain in our community for generations to come.

Following the landmarking news, we’ve updated the list of FAQs.

In The News

Seattle’s Fight to Save The Showbox

Seattle Times

Historic Seattle and Seattle Theatre Group make offer to buy 80-year-old ShowboxSeattle’s Showbox music venue granted landmark status | Seattle to protect Showbox from redevelopment for at least 6 more months | Historic Seattle makes preliminary offer to purchase the Showbox | Showbox supporters dealt a temporary victory by Seattle City Council | Local Seattle preservation groups nominate Showbox theater for landmark status | Seattle City Council fast-tracks effort | Developer Intends to Nominate The Showbox | Speaking of Business: Showbox site ‘seems worth fighting for’

Encore Spotlight

Historic Seattle and STG Partner Up to Buy The Showbox




Historic Seattle, Theater Group Make Offer To Buy Showbox


The Showbox has new buyers, and they want to save it | Developer wants to nominate Showbox for landmark status


Potential buyers emerge for The Showbox music venue

The Stranger

City Gives the Showbox Landmark Status, Citing Stage, Dance Floor, Domed Ceiling, and Exterior | Historic Seattle Makes a Preliminary Offer to Buy The Showbox and Save It From Demolition | Durkan Temporarily Protects Showbox, But Remains Open to Eventual Demolition | Historic Seattle Files Landmark Nomination For the Showbox | Council Moves to Save the Showbox | The Uphill Fight to Save the Showbox Begins | Can the Seattle Process Save the Showbox? | The Showbox’s Greatest Hits Part 1 | The Showbox’s Greatest Hits Part 2


Offer to buy the Showbox could keep it a venue long-term | The Showbox gets its landmark designation | Two Showbox preservation efforts move forward | Bill to loop Showbox into Pike Place Market district approved by City Council | Effort to loop the Showbox into the Pike Place Market historic district continues | Coalition of preservation groups submit landmark nomination for the Showbox | Seattle City Council could stall Showbox development | Is landmarking a building all a facade? | City Council and local organizations fight to preserve the Showbox

My Northwest

Seattle nonprofit offers to buy Showbox in effort to save venue |  Duff Mackagan Wants to Save the Showbox


As deadline looms, city acts to buy more time for Showbox | As goes the Showbox, so goes Seattle

Seattle Channel
City Inside/Out: Showbox

Capitol Hill Blog

Historic Seattle and Seattle Theatre Group step up with bid for The Showbox| A lesson for Capitol Hill? What’s being saved when it comes to Seattle’s Showbox

KISW: Hear Duff McKagan Talk about His “Secret Historic Seattle Meetings”

Musicians Band Together To Save The Showbox In Open Letter

Death Cab for Cutie, Macklemore & More Join Together to Save Seattle’s Historic Showbox Theater

Pearl Jam, Death Cab for Cutie, Sleater-Kinney, Run the Jewels, More Rally to Save Seattle’s Showbox Theater

Alternative Nation
Pearl Jam & Stone Temple Pilots Unite For The First Time


Historic Seattle, STG partner to try to buy Showbox The Tom & Curley Show: Seattle’s Showbox music venue granted landmark status | City council votes 8-1 to extend temporary protections for Showbox | Seattle council votes on plan to preserve The Showbox | Push to get hundreds of Seattle buildings retrofitted before the ‘big one’ | Effort to save Showbox gains momentum | Supporters of saving the Showbox hope to move ordinance forward  | Sawant and Historic Seattle lay out plans to try to save the Showbox |  Showbox’s Grand Opening in 1939

Seattle Met
History’s Not a Facade | Council Members Move to Add the Showbox to Pike Place Market Historic District | So How Can Seattle Save the Showbox? | Seattleites Are Mourning the Showbox Site’s Reported Demise

Seattle PI
Seattle City Council votes in favor of saving the Showbox — for now | Want to save the Showbox? There’s officially a campaign to do it

Seattle Weekly
City Council Passes Temporary Historic Protection for The Showbox

Daily Journal of Commerce
Historic Seattle seeks buyer for Showbox

King 5

Historic Seattle and STG make offer to buy The Showbox music venue | The Showbox lives on: The iconic Seattle concert venue is officially a historic landmark – New Day Northwest | The Showbox music venue gets landmark status in Seattle | Showbox at the Market gains temporary protection in fight for its preservation | Over 170 artists sign letter urging Seattle to save The Showbox venue | Effort to save Showbox venue gets boost from Seattle preservation group | Petition to Save Seattle’s Showbox

What Can We Save?

Mama’s Building Designated a Landmark

fohb members_mama's_011817_blogAt its January 18 meeting, the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board voted unanimously to designate Belltown’s iconic Mama’s Mexican Kitchen building (2234 Second Avenue) as a Seattle Landmark. David Peterson of NK Architects, who prepared the landmark nomination on behalf of the property owner, gave a presentation about the building’s history and design. He stated that it was “typical” of the low-scale commercial structures in the neighborhood from the early 20th century and didn’t rise to the level of landmark status. However, the Department of Neighborhood’s (DON’s) Historic Resources Survey describes the Bell Street storefront as “one of downtown’s most intact examples of an auto repair garage.”

The owner’s consultant next addressed changes to the building’s three facades and interior spaces, arguing that when taken together, the alterations have impacted the overall physical integrity. Jack McCullough, the owner’s legal counsel, argued against designation, downplaying any significance and focusing on integrity issues. McCullough made the statement that “the bar for integrity needs to be higher” for these more utilitarian buildings.

After several questions from the Board, public comments were taken. Historic Seattle joined representatives from various community groups including Friends of Historic Belltown (FOHB), Belltown Community Council, and Project Belltown. Everyone in attendance spoke in support of designation with the overall consensus that Belltown doesn’t have a lot of high-style buildings, but more humble buildings for “the common man” that embody the neighborhood’s heritage.

Steve Hall, a community organizer and spokesman for FOHB, said that Mama’s is already an unofficial landmark, “If you say, ‘Meet me at Mama’s,’ kind of like the pig at the Market, it’s just one of those places that is known in the community, and important to the community character.” He also stated that it’s “not a contest” – for example, it doesn’t have to be the best and most intact example – and the structure needs to be looked at in its entirety.

Historic Seattle’s Eugenia Woo addressed McCullough’s assertion about a higher bar for integrity, making the point that the Landmarks Ordinance does not have different levels of integrity for high-style versus vernacular buildings and that the Mama’s building should not be held to a higher standard.

The Board then deliberated for over 30 minutes before making a motion and voting 6-0 to approve the designation, based on Criterion D and F. Board Chair Jeffrey Murdock clarified that the language in the designation standards does not require a property to be “exceptional;” Criterion D states that a property needs to embody “the distinctive visible characteristics of an architectural style, or period, or a method of construction.” Steven Treffers, a newly-appointed Board member, said that the Mama’s building “tells a story about a community, period of development,” adding that it retains a “remarkable degree of integrity” to convey the qualities and characteristics of a 1920s auto building.

FOHB said that the Board’s vote comes at a critical time for Belltown as it “faces stupefying change, as Amazon and other tech businesses continue their meteoric transformation of the South Lake Union area.” Hall wishes these types of advocacy efforts weren’t so adversarial: “I would like it if developers would see these iconic and historic buildings as an asset, too, which is great for their business, rather than a liability to be dealt with.”

The community group refers to this decision as the “Mama’s Superbowl” since its designation would represent the second landmarked building on the key block at the corner of Second and Bell. The Wayne Apartments, situated to the south, was recently designated a City landmark.

The property owner, Minglian Realty LLC of Vancouver, BC, acquired the site in 2015 with plans to construct an eight-story apartment building. We do not know if Minglian Realty has a “Plan B” since the building is now designated.

The next step is for the Board staff to negotiate a Controls and Incentives Agreement with the property owner that defines how historic features should be preserved, along with preservation incentives (i.e., special tax valuation and zoning/building code relief). The Board designated the building exterior; no interior spaces and/or features were included in the designation.

Even though Mama’s is designated as a landmark, it doesn’t guarantee that it won’t get altered and/or demolished. Although it’s a complicated process, the owner can still tear down a landmark if they can demonstrate that operating it within the constraints of the landmark designation does not deprive them of “reasonable economic use” of the property.

Photos: East and north facades of the Mama’s Mexican Kitchen Building; and happy members of Friends of Historic Belltown after the designation hearing (images courtesy of Friends of Historic Belltown)

Nuclear Reactor Bldg Demolished

NRB_It's Brutal_blog

Nuclear Reactor Building (1961 – 2016)

Brutal ending for a building once celebrated. University of Washington erases its own history by demolishing the Nuclear Reactor Building. 

On Tuesday, July 19, 2016, the Nuclear Reactor Building was unceremoniously and quietly (as quietly as one can bulldoze a structurally sound concrete building) demolished by the University of Washington. The destruction of this historically and architecturally significant building ends a years-long effort by preservation advocates to save an important piece of UW history and architecture.

What would you do if, at the age of 55, someone told you that you are going to be executed because you are no longer useful and do not contribute to society? That you are taking up space and will be replaced by something shinier and newer. Sure, you had your day in the sun during the Atomic Age. You were the latest thing in nuclear engineering technology and appreciated for your contributions to science and research. You were also unique because unlike similar structures at other university campuses, you didn’t hide underground or behind windowless walls. You stood proud and strong and seemed indestructible. You were an architectural, engineering, and artistic marvel designed by a stellar team of talented University professors and alumni. On a campus defined by its Gothic Revival style architecture and Olmsted Brothers legacy of campus planning and landscape design, you set yourself apart with your Brutalist features. But then things changed…

By the 1970s and 1980s, nuclear energy was not valued, but feared. You were decommissioned in 1988, and by 1992, your owner, the University of Washington, closed the Nuclear Engineering Program. You sat vacant and unused, but your land became valuable. Then in 2008, the attention was back on you. Your head was on the chopping block. The University applied for a demolition permit from the City of Seattle. One of those big white land use notification signs was placed in an inconspicuous spot in the back, not very visible to passersby. Except one student noticed it. An advocacy movement began. Students and some faculty and staff believed you were significant and could be adaptively reused. The University had no immediate plans for your site other than to get rid of you and replace with a landscaped plaza. This would clear the way for future development.

nrb 2_john stamets_blogPreservation advocates around the state were alerted. Docomomo WEWA, Historic Seattle, and the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation teamed up to support the efforts of the students. You were even listed on the Trust’s Most Endangered Properties list in 2008. That same student successfully got you listed on the Washington Heritage Register in 2008 and on the National Register of Historic Places in 2009. The UW objected to the listing of course. You made the press—local and national media covered your story and plight to be appreciated and used again. You welcomed adaptive reuse with open arms. And you believed there was room for a new building if it was sited and designed well. But you continued to be ignored by the very same entity that created you. You became a polarizing figure. Like some of your Brutalist siblings you were called “ugly” and “cold.” Some called for your destruction saying you were “getting in the way of progress.” Social media has made it too easy to hide behind anonymous comments. But you persevered. The vitriol directed at you was hurtful but you had thick concrete skin. These insults emboldened you and your supporters.

The recession bought you some time, an eight-year stay of execution. The University backed off on its plans for demolition in 2011 but we knew those plans were just on the backburner until the economy improved and the desire for your site trumped all other factors. Sure enough, in 2014, plans for your demolition and use of your site came back in full force. You would be replaced by the technology darling of today, computer science and engineering.

Advocates galvanized again. You were once again listed on the Washington Trust’s Most Endangered Properties list in 2015. This time around, the advocacy efforts stepped up. The Save the Reactor effort was born. Knowing full well that the University’s own environmental review process would only yield conclusions supporting your demolition, Docomomo WEWA submitted a Seattle Landmark nomination application and the University promptly filed a lawsuit against the City and Docomomo WEWA in late 2015. Historic Seattle and the Trust joined in the lawsuit.

Unfortunately, an April 2016 decision by a King County Superior Court judge ruled in the UW’s favor, clearing the way for your demise. Although you are now gone, you will not be forgotten. Your death will not be in vain. Advocacy efforts continue, focusing on the long game as we look to protect the integrity of the Landmarks Preservation Ordinance. This advocacy effort is bigger than you. There are broader implications and impacts related to the entire campus and to any property the University owns—the ultimate question to be decided is whether the University of Washington (and potentially other state institutions of higher learning) is subject to local regulations. Docomomo WEWA, Historic Seattle, and the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation have joined the City of Seattle in an appeal of the trial court’s decision to the State Court of Appeals.

And that student who sounded the alarm about your endangered status back in 2008? She graduated from the University of Washington with a Master in Architecture degree. Her master’s thesis topic was on your adaptive reuse potential. When asked for her thoughts about the demolition, Abby Inpanbutr had this to say:

To me the Nuclear Reactor Building was a special case. It was not just an important example of Northwest Modernism, an elegantly designed building by important architects from this place, but it also represented an idealistic point of view we are no longer familiar with today. The building was designed and built with such optimism for the future of the world and the potential of design and engineering. This shined through even when the building sat empty. The Nuclear Reactor Building could have been reinstated as a crown jewel on the campus, there was so much potential. I am very sorry this opportunity has been lost.

A “wake” to mourn the loss and celebrate the life of the Nuclear Reactor Building (aka More Hall Annex) will be held at the site at the University of Washington on Tuesday, August 9, 2016, at 5:30 pm. Please wear all black attire. We’ll go to a local pub afterwards. Save the Reactor advocates Docomomo WEWA, Historic Seattle, and the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation hope you join us!

In lieu of flowers, we encourage you to share stories and memories of the Nuclear Reactor Building at the wake, on the Save the Reactor Facebook page or email us at

Read Knute Berger’s obituary of the Nuclear Reactor Building in

Nuclear Reactor Building (AKA More Hall Annex)
University of Washington, Seattle
Built: 1961
Demolished: 2016

Designed by The Architect Artist Group (TAAG):
Wendell Lovett, architect
Daniel Streissguth, architect
Gene Zema, architect
Gerard Torrence, structural engineer
Spencer Moseley, artist

Photo credits: Demolition (Docomomo WEWA); “It’s Brutal” graphic (Save the Reactor); the Nuclear Reactor Building in 2008 (John Stamets for Docomomo WEWA)

UW Wins on a Technicality

From Save the Reactor:

On April 14, 2016, King County Superior Court Judge Suzanne Parisien issued an order granting the University of Washington its motion for summary judgment in its lawsuit against defendants City of Seattle and Docomomo WEWA, and intervenors Historic Seattle and the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation.

We are obviously disappointed in Judge Suzanne Parisien’s decision which did not rule on all the substantive issues of the case. Instead, her Memorandum of Opinion states that the University is not an “owner” as defined in the Landmarks Preservation Ordinance, and as such, did not bother to rule on the other issues. This “technicality” is somewhat farfetched because in what other scenario would the UW say it’s not an “owner”? The University clearly owns the Seattle campus. It voluntarily submitted a landmark nomination for Husky Stadium (which was not nominated by the Landmarks Preservation Board). The UW complies with the Landmarks Preservation Ordinance when it seeks Landmarks Preservation Board approval for work on its buildings at Sand Point Naval Air Station Historic District. And UW Tacoma is located in a designated local historic district. Is the UW not an owner in those cases?

As a public institution the University of Washington needs to be a good neighbor within the city. There are alternatives to demolishing the National Register-listed Nuclear Reactor Building and there is at least one alternative site for its proposed Computer Science and Engineering II building. Of course, this case is not just about the Nuclear Reactor Building. There are broader implications and impacts related to the entire campus and to any property the University owns.

The University need not be so afraid of external efforts to recognize and honor its heritage and legacy.

We are reviewing our options at point. Just know that our advocacy efforts will continue.

Read the judge’s Memorandum of Opinion here

Recent media coverage on this issue:

The Seattle Times


Photo: Oral arguments in King County Superior Court, April 1, 2016; source: Eugenia Woo

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)

Changing Seattle: A Recap

On Tuesday, November 17, 2015, Historic Seattle hosted its second InterUrban event at Southside Commons in Columbia City. We had an amazing turnout – especially for a windy, rainy November night – with over 75 people in attendance. One attendee summed it up succinctly, “Wow! Thank you!” and was impressed with the diversity of the presenters and audience participation.

This event would not have been possible without our dedicated volunteers and sponsors, Spinnaker Bay Brewing and Columbia City Bakery. A big thanks goes to our planning committee members: Cara Bertron, Real Estate Lab Coordinator for IDEA Space at SCIDpda, and Michael Powe, Senior Research Manager at the National Trust’s Preservation Green Lab. They worked to develop the presentation topic and format, as well as connect us with the exceptional lineup of speakers.

What really made this event a success was the collection of speakers who provided their particular perspectives to explore the intersection of place, community, and change. They included Roger Fernandes, Native American Artist and Storyteller; Cynthia Updegrave, Botanist; Florangela Davila, Forterra; Tomi Adewale, Ujima Pictures; Grace Kim, Schemata Workshop; Maiko Winkler-Chin, Seattle Chinatown International District Preservation and Development Authority (SCIDpda); Karl Hackett, Vision Hillman City and Jacob Willard Home; Ethan Phelps-Goodman, Seattle in Progress; and Michael Sullivan, Artifacts Consulting.

Each of the speakers prepared a “lightning talk” – 20 slides, with each slide shown for 15 seconds – to tackle questions such as: How is our city changing? What are they doing to change it? How does place—whether old and historic or shiny and new—play into the equation?

Highlights included Roger’s Native American storytelling and emphasis on keeping alive traditional knowledge for future generations; Cynthia’s overview of geological history over 20,000 years (in six minutes!); and Tomi’s short documentary, A Conspiracy, produced by Ujima Pictures, exposing the damaging impact of displacement in the Central District.

Some of the presenters contributed their professional perspectives on the types of change taking place – both the challenges and opportunities. Grace discussed zoning incentives intended to preserve historic character for Capitol Hill’s auto row buildings, only to leave behind remnants of the building that do little to preserve the diversity of residents or cultural heritage. Maiko described SCIDpda’s work to preserve, promote and develop the Chinatown International District as a vibrant community and unique ethnic neighborhood. Ethan brought his “data-centered” perspective on neighborhood development, based on his mobile web app Seattle in Progress, to look at what density and demolition look like in Seattle.

Others shared more personal stories. Florangela looked at place and character – through a Japanese sweet shop, some of her favorite places, and lost places. Karl talked about a neighborhood group, Vision Hillman City, formed to address fast-paced changes in a historic community, and described how his vintage and mid-century furniture business, Jacob Willard Home, has become a beloved community hub.

Preservationist and historian Michael Sullivan wrapped up the conversation by saying that Seattle is at a critical juncture, showing an image of a rake and leaf blower to depict the dramatic shift in the pace of development and what it means to our city’s built environment and sense of uniqueness.

The event provided a lot of food for thought indeed; Historic Seattle looks forward to hosting more InterUrban events in the coming year. We hope to see you there to continue the conversation!

InterUrban seeks to inspire conversations about achieving more livable communities through historic preservation. The series connects historic preservation to urban planning and policy discussions impacting our region such as affordability, equitable development, social justice, sustainability, and neighborhood density.

Preservation Professionals Directory

Click on the category to jump to that section of the directory. If you are considering joining as a business member, please note that we can add categories to accommodate businesses that do not fit one of the existing categories. For a full list of benefits and more information about joining our Supporters’ Circle as a business member click here.



Willamette Cultural Resources Associates, Ltd.
655 S. Orcas Street, Suite 220
Seattle, WA 98108
(206) 397-1487

Architects & Design Services

Architectural Resources Group
720 SW Washington Street Suite 300
Portland, OR 97205
(971) 256-5320

Bassetti Architects
71 Columbia Street Suite 500
Seattle, WA 98801
(206) 340-9500

BOLA Architecture & Planning
3800 Ashworth Avenue N
Seattle, WA 98103-8119
(206) 447-4749

159 Western Avenue W Suite 486
Seattle, WA 98119
(206) 775-8671

Clark | Barnes
1401 W Garfield Street
Seattle, WA 98119
(206) 782-8208

Graham Baba Architects
1507 Belmont Avenue, Suite 200
Seattle, WA 98119
(206) 323-9932

Novaby | Augmented and Virtual Reality Design Services
Julia Beabout | (206) 595-7213

Richaven Architecture & Preservation
9000 23rd Avenue NW
Seattle, WA 98117-2717
(206) 909-9866

Rolluda Architects
105 South Main Street, Suite 323
Seattle, Washington 98104

Ron Wright & Associates/Architects
2003 Western Avenue, Suite 610
Seattle, WA 98121
(206) 728-4248

SHKS Architects
1050 N 38th Street
Seattle, WA 98103
(206) 675-9151

SMR Architects
117 S Main Street Suite 400
Seattle, WA
(206) 623-1104

Third Place Design Co-operative
304 Alaskan Way S, Suite 301
Seattle, Wa 98104
(206) 331-3795 | 

Tonkin Architecture
2701 1st Avenue Suite 520
Seattle, WA 98121
(206) 624-7880

Weinstein A+U
2200 Western Avenue, Suite 301
Seattle, Washington 98121
(206) 443-8606

ZGF Architects 
925 Fourth Avenue, Suite 2400
Seattle, Washington 98104
(206) 623-9414

Architectural Salvage

3447 4th Avenue S Suite E
Seattle, WA 98134-1904
(206) 624-4510

Augmented and Virtual Reality Design Services

Julia Beabout | (206) 595-7213

Cultural Resource Management

Fieldwork Studio LLC
6552 37th Avenue NE
Seattle, WA 98115
(206) 240-5887 /

Willamette Cultural Resources Associates, Ltd.
655 S. Orcas Street, Suite 220
Seattle, WA 98108
(206) 397-1487

Coworking Spaces

The Cloud Room
1424 11th Avenue Suite 400
Seattle, WA 98122 
(206) 739-9004


CTA Design Builders
1101 N Northlake Way, Suite 201
Seattle, WA 98103
Phone: (206) 286-1692

J.A.S. Design Build
3540 Wallingford Avenue N
Seattle, WA 98103
(206) 547-6242

Residential Construction – Rick Sever
Architectural Historian – General Contractor
Design & Consulting – Restoration & Remodeling
3053 34th Avenue W
Seattle, WA 98199
(206) 601-7289


Daniels Real Estate
2401 Utah Avenue South, Suite 305
Seattle, WA 98134
(206) 382-4600
The Graystone
The Lodge at Saint Edward Park

Faul | Angela Faul
2212 Queen Anne Avenue N, #812
Seattle, WA 98109
(206) 981-5881

Hunters Capital
1620 Broadway, Suite 200
Seattle, WA 98122
(206) 328-3333

Meriwether Partners LLC
232 7th Avenue N., Suite 100
Seattle, WA 98109
(206) 816-1576

159 South Jackson Street, Suite 300
Seattle, WA 98104
(206) 467-0420

Trinity Real Estate
3720 Carillon Point
Kirkland, WA 98033 | (206) 900-9764


Coughlin Porter Lundeen
801 2nd Avenue, Suite 900
Seattle, WA 98104
(206) 343-0460

Swenson Say Faget
2124 Third Avenue, Suite 100
Seattle, WA  98121
(206) 443-6212

Financial Services

Beneficial State Bank
2720 Third Avenue, Suite 1
Seattle, WA 98121


General Contractors

Blue Sound Construction
10015 Lake City Way NE #301
Seattle, WA 98125
(206) 854-6042

Lydig Construction
3180 139th Avenue SE, Ste 110
Bellevue, WA 98005
(425) 885-3314

RAFN Company
1721 132nd Avenue NE
Bellevue, WA 98005
(425) 702-6612

Sellen Construction
227 Westlake Ave N
Seattle, WA 98109
(206) 682-7770

Government Organizations, Nonprofits, and Community Groups

4 Culture
101 Prefontaine Place S, Suite 200
Seattle, WA 98104
(206) 296-8682

Seattle Chinatown International District Preservation and Development Authority (SCIDpda)
409 Maynard Avenue S, Suite P2
Seattle, WA 98104
(206) 624-8929

Russian Community Center of Seattle

The Woman’s Century Club


Tru Mechanical
11232 120th Avenue NE
Kirkland, WA 98033
(425) 481-4001

History & Architecture Tours

Beneath The Streets
102 Cherry Street
Seattle, WA 98104
(206) 624-1237

Insurance Services

National Trust Insurance Services
33 South Gay Street
Baltimore, MD 21202
(866) 269-0944

Bricklin & Newman
1424 Fourth Avenue, Suite 500 
Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 264-8600

Future Unlimited Law
PO Box 2776
Yelm, WA 98597-2776
(360) 458-1720

Daniel R. Merkle, P.S.
1325 Fourth Avenue, #940
Seattle, WA  98101 | (206) 621-5802

Pacifica Law Group
1191 2nd Avenue, Suite 2000
Seattle, WA 98101-3404
(206) 245-1700


Bricklayers Local 1 Washington and Alaska
15208 52nd Ave S Suite 120
Tukwila, WA  98188
(206) 248-2456


Shearer Painting
2720 6th Place S
Seattle, WA 98134
(206) 431-3606


Otto Greule Photography
P.O. Box 61214
Seattle, WA 98141
(206) 250-3397

Preservation Consultants

Architectural Resources Group
720 SW Washington Street Suite 300
Portland, OR 97205
(971) 256-5320

BOLA Architecture & Planning
3800 Ashworth Avenue N
Seattle, WA 98103-8119
(206) 447-4749

Fieldwork Studio LLC
6552 37th Avenue NE
Seattle, WA 98115
(206) 240-5887 /

Northwest Vernacular
3377 Bethel Road SE, Suite 107 No 318
Port Orchard, WA 98366
(360) 813-0772

Richaven Architecture & Preservation
9000 23rd Avenue NW
Seattle, WA 98117-2717
(206) 909-9866

SJM Cultural Resource Services
3901 2nd Ave NE #202
Seattle, WA 98105

T.G. Heuser Company
906 E John Street, Apt 608
Seattle, WA 98102
(206) 375-8811 |

Willamette Cultural Resources Associates, Ltd.
655 S. Orcas Street, Suite 220
Seattle, WA 98108
(206) 397-1487

Professional Services


Hire a Helper:

Property Management

Bennett Properties
2914 SW Avalon Way, Ste A
Seattle, WA 98126-2375
(206) 933-1950


Heritage Realty
Lance Neely |
(206) 854-2140

Marissa Natkin Seattle Homes
(206) 321-5061 |

Windows & Glass

Chosen Wood Window Maintenance
(888) 317-7584

Doublehung Window Restoration
(206) 525-5575

(503) 284-2260 |

Modern Happenings

Egg chair and ottoman by Arne Jacobsen, designed in 1958.

Egg chair and ottoman by Arne Jacobsen, designed in 1958. Kirkland Museum of Fine and Decorative Art

Check out these Modern architecture and design-related events!

May 16 – August 31, 2014: Danish Modern Exhibit

The Nordic Heritage Museum goes “Mad Men” with the eye-catching and interactive exhibition Danish Modern: Design for Living. On view from May 16 through August 31, the exhibit highlights the unique furnishing designed and made in Denmark during the 1950s and 1960s. Learn more.

Exhibition–Related Programs at the Nordic Heritage Museum:

PechaKucha Night: Living Loving Nordic Design: Thursday, June 5, 6:00 p.m.
PechaKucha Night Seattle returns to the Museum, this time focusing on Scandinavian Design, inspired by the Danish Modern exhibit now on view. First formed in Tokyo in 2003, this 20×20 format features simple presentations of 20 images shown for 20 seconds accompanying presenters’ talks. These informal and fun gatherings have since spread around the world.

Docomomo WEWA Night: Wednesday, June 25, 7:00 p.m.
An evening of Danish design, remarks, reception, and special viewing of the exhibit Danish Modern: Design for Living. This event is co-sponsored by Docomomo WEWA, a local community of individuals who share a passion for Northwest Modernism. Their mission is to promote appreciation and awareness of Modern architecture and design in Western Washington through education and advocacy. $5 suggested donation.


June 13 and 14: Mid-century Modern Resources Workshop

The Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation (DAHP) along with the City of Everett is proud to bring a workshop to both sides of the state on Modern Resources. Everett, through a CLG grant, contracted with the National Alliance of Preservation Commissions to plan the workshop.  Wade Broadhead from Colorado and Professor Jo Ramsay Leimenstoll from the University of North Carolina will join Washington State’s Architectural Historian, Michael Houser, to explore how to recognize, identify, evaluate, and apply the Secretary of the Interior Standards to Post WWII Resources.

The workshops will be held in both Spokane and Everett.  The Spokane workshop will be held on Friday, June 13th from 9 am to 3 pm at the Spokane City Hall Council Chambers.  The Everett workshop will be held on Saturday, June 14th from 9 am to 3 pm in the Everett Performing Arts Center.

For more information and to register online, go to DAHP’s website.


Saturday, June 14: Modern Queen Anne Architectural Tour

On June 14, from 2 pm to about 6 pm, the Queen Anne Historical Society will offer Modern Queen Anne, a new tour that focuses on two mid-century structures with unrivaled views, Canlis and the Swedish Club, while stopping by five recently completed homes to learn from the architects who designed them about program goals and the place of their work in the contemporary idiom. (Interiors are not on the tour). The automobile tour starts at 2 at Canlis. The bike version begins at 1:30 at the Swedish Club.

View the poster for this Modern Tour.

Join the tour by sending an RSVP to or purchase tickets now at BrownPaperTickets. Members $15; non-members $20.

Alki Homestead: This Place Matters

This Place Matters Sign / Source: National Trust for Historic Preservation

On July 4, 2010 at 1:30 pm, many people are anticipated to gather on the sidewalk and street in front of the Alki Homestead (originally Fir Lodge) in West Seattle to declare “This Place Matters.” This grassroots campaign is meant to show broad support for the preservation of the Homestead which was damaged by fire in January 2009 and has been closed since. The event’s purpose is also to highlight the historic significance of the Homestead, a City of Seattle Landmark. Sponsored by the Southwest Seattle Historical Society with support from Historic Seattle and the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, the photo op is inspired by the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s “This Place Matters” campaign, which is a national grassroots effort to encourage communities and individuals to recognize historic places that matter to them.

The Homestead’s “This Place Matters” photo will be uploaded to the National Trust’s website and be made widely available to local media (print and online) and through social networking. The photo event is open to the public. The Homestead is located at 2717 61st Ave. S.W., half a block from Alki Beach. The West Seattle Blog has covered the Homestead saga extensively. The Homestead was placed on the Washington Trust’s 2009 Most Endangered Historic Properties List and continues to be on its Watch List in 2010. (more…)

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