Preservation in Progress

Historic Seattle’s Blog

Fire Station No. 25

Historic Seattle’s Role:

After being declared surplus by the City of Seattle, the Fire Station was transferred to Historic Seattle in 1977, which in turn sold it to Commonwealth Pacific (in 1979) with a protective easement. The fire station was decommissioned as a fire house in 1970. At the time of the 1979 sale, the structure was in poor condition. The roof leaked and an interior load bearing wall had been removed. After complete renovation of the exterior and adaptive remodeling of the interior into 16 townhouse apartments, the building reopened in December 1980.

Current and Future Uses:

Fire Station No. 25 continues to stand as another example of the successful union of historic rehabilitation and adaptive reuse. It was designated a Seattle Landmark in 1976 (Ord. #106054) and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Garden House

Also known as the Turner-Koepf House / Jefferson Park Ladies’ Improvement Club

About the Property:

The Garden House, originally known as the Turner-Koepf House, served the Jefferson Park Ladies’ Improvement Club and Washington State Federation of Garden Clubs for decades. It is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is a City of Seattle landmark.

Historic Seattle’s Role:

A longstanding covenant that had guaranteed the property’s use for community purposes was deemed invalid in a 2016 lawsuit, and the property was listed for sale in 2018. Despite making the higher offer to purchase the property in 2018, Historic Seattle was unsuccessful in that bid, and a private party took ownership instead.

After a three-year community advocacy effort which included landmarking and work to secure funding to acquire the property, Historic Seattle took ownership on December 23, 2021.

The $2M deal was made possible through grants from the King County Conservation Futures program, contributions from more than 100 private donors, and City of Seattle seed funding, which was championed in 2018 by then-president of the City Council Bruce Harrell. Historic Seattle will retain ownership of the property, and Seattle Parks and Recreation will hold an easement to permanently protect public green space in the Beacon Hill neighborhood.

Current and Future Uses:

Under its ownership of the property, Historic Seattle will restore and repair the house and grounds and will work with community partners to reactivate the space for community use.

Image: Cowan Photo from National Register of Historic Places listing, 1925

Good Arts Building

About the Property:

Historically known as the Scheuerman Block, the Good Arts Building was designed by Elmer Fisher in 1889 for Christian Scheuerman and completed in 1890. Throughout the years, the building has been a hub of entrepreneurial, creative, and colorful endeavors.

The name “Good Arts” pays homage to “Good Eats,” a two-story diner once housed in its walls.  The building has also been home to department stores, a cigar shop, jazz club, boxing gym, brothels, speakeasies, and the original office of Washington Mutual Savings Bank.

In the 1970s, the basement housed the first gay and lesbian community center in Seattle, followed by the Skid Road Theatre, in which such local theatrical stalwarts as Kurt Beattie, R. Hamilton Wright, and Linda Hartzell produced original shows during the company’s 10 successful years.

In 2011, the building took on its current role as a hub for the arts, when a dozen artists, evicted from the nearby 619 Western Building, established ’57 Biscayne studios on the second floor.

In 2015, Good Arts LLC — an unlikely collaboration of developer Greg Smith, artist Jane Richlovsky, theatre veteran Steve Coulter, and Cherry Street Coffee founder Ali Ghambari — purchased the building with the mission of preserving its artistic heritage and affordability to creative enterprises.

Historic Seattle’s Role:

On June 10, 2022, Historic Seattle finalized a deal to become managing partners in Pioneer Square’s Good Arts Building, ensuring the long-term preservation of the building and its continued mission as a hub for arts, culture, and creative enterprises in perpetuity. Historic Seattle will assume building management responsibilities as part of the partnership agreement.

Current and Future Uses:

The Good Arts Building currently houses ’57 Biscayne Artist Studios, Bad Bishop Bar, Saké Nomi, Beneath the Streets Tours, Lolo’s Hair, Cherry Street Coffee House, and Open Books Poem Emporium.

Jane Richlovsky and Steve Coulter will continue to drive the building’s arts programming in the new partnership arrangement. To ensure this home for the arts will endure as a legacy, they plan to bequeath their ownership interest to Historic Seattle.


Image: Good Arts Building, courtesy of Urban Visions

Good Shepherd Center

Historic Seattle’s Role:

After providing over 60 years of service to young women seeking shelter, education, and training, declining numbers of residents forced the Home of the Good Shepherd to close in 1973. After the Wallingford community defeated a proposal to turn the 11-acre site into a shopping center, the City of Seattle bought the property in 1975 with Forward Thrust and Federal Revenue Sharing funds and then transferred the buildings to Historic Seattle for use as a multi-purpose community center. The property is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and was designated a Seattle Landmark in 1984.

Current and Future Uses:

The property is owned and operated by Historic Seattle and the center currently houses nonprofit organizations and schools including the Meridian School, Neo Art School, the Wallingford Senior Center, the Alliance Française, and Seattle Tilth.

Historic Seattle added six live/work units for artists in early 2002. Ranging in size from 580 to 650 sq. feet, the artist studios are located in a space once used for the school’s dance classes and costume storage. The artist residents are a diverse group and bring much creativity and enthusiasm to the Good Shepherd Center community.

Historic Seattle also completed a small performance and rehearsal space (The Chapel Space) with a seating capacity of 100-150 in the former fourth floor chapel. Accessible by elevator, this beautiful, two-story space features wooden floors, columns, and stained glass.

Historic Seattle partnered with NonSequitur, a music production non-profit, who not only stages twelve of their own performances per month, but serves as booking agent for other community events and performances in the Chapel.

Seismic Retrofit:

The Good Shepherd Center is unreinforced masonry (URM) and was deemed “Critical Risk” in Seattle’s URM assessment because of its many uses. The property is also listed by the City of Seattle as an earthquake communications hub, the only place in the city that is both a URM & emergency hub in the event of an earthquake. Historic Seattle is conducting a seismic retrofit of this important property. In our first phase of work, phase 1A, our organization conducted exploratory demolition to verify seismic status and load-test attachment points and created a preliminary design for the retrofit. With the knowledge obtained from that phase, we moved forward with phase 1B to develop the final design (completed in 2020) and begin work on the most critical elements, the floor-to-wall connections (to begin in 2022). Approximately 70% of the building’s floor-to-wall connections will be completed in phase 1B, the highest priority work identified by our architect and structural engineer.

Photo: Chris Robinson


Main Street School Annex

Historic Seattle’s Role:

This early frame school building was built as an annex to the original 1873 Main Street School at the corner of Sixth Ave S and S Main St. The building originally contained a two-room floor plan. The City’s first kindergarten met in the Main Street School Annex building which was donated by Mrs. Bailey Gatzert. The school played an important role in the cultural development of the Asian community serving as the education center for the majority of Seattle’s first generation Americans of Japanese and Chinese descent. The property, threatened to be demolished, was bought by Historic Seattle in May 1974 from H. T. Kubota, making it the organization’s first property transaction. Once the property was stabilized and a suitable owner was found, the building was sold in December, 1975 with protective easements in place to protect the building from future demolition or alteration.

Current and Future Uses:

Fully restored, the former school building is currently used for professional offices. Easements continue to protect property.


Photo: Marissa Natkin, copyright 2005

Morrison Hotel

Historic Seattle’s Role:

The Morrison Hotel originally housed the Arctic Club, a social organization for veterans of the Klondike Gold Rush. The September 14, 1912 issue of Pacific Builder and Engineer described the building as the “richest and most commodious home of any social organization west of Chicago.”

In 2004, while renovating both the interior and exterior of the building, Morrison Hotel LLC gave Historic Seattle an exterior preservation easement of the facade for the purpose of preserving the building’s exterior appearance and materials. The property is a also contributing building to the Pioneer Square Preservation District.

Current and Future Uses:

The Morrison Hotel has played a vital role in providing emergency shelter and services to disabled homeless adults in Seattle. This 190-unit apartment building provides a range of support services to men and women with mental disorders, addictive illnesses, and physical disabilities.

Historic Seattle continues to hold a preservation easement of the exterior.


Image: Vintage postcard view of the Hotel Morrison, 1942

Mutual Life Building

Historic Seattle’s Role:

Originally built in 1890 in the Romanesque Revival style popular in Seattle after the 1889 fire, the Mutual Life Insurance Company purchased the building in 1916 and added five floors. In 1983, Historic Seattle acquired the building and provided financing assistance for the rehabilitation of what was a very deteriorated building located on a prominent corner in Pioneer Square.

The property is also a contributing building to the Pioneer Square Preservation District.

Current and Future Uses:

The Mutual Life Building houses a mix of offices on the upper floors and retail spaces on the first floor and basement.


Photo: Jennifer Tucker

Phillips House

Historic Seattle’s Role:

This unusual double house was constructed in 1902 as a personal residence for businessman William B. Phillips and his parents. A local craftsman, John M. Hester, built the house using regional materials. Purchased by Historic Seattle in 1992, a complete renovation created 11 units of affordable housing in 1993. The property is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Current and Future Uses:

Historic Seattle maintains ownership of the Phillips House which continues to provide affordable rental units.

This property is managed by United Marketing Inc.  Please contact United Marketing Inc. at (425) 562-1200 or for more information regarding this property.


Pioneer Houses

Historic Seattle’s Role:

In 1975, two of the city’s oldest houses were threatened with demolition. They were small, carpenter-built, vertical plank, wooden houses, typical of the late 1800s. (For more information on vertical plank construction, download Of Small Means: Vertical Plank Dwellings around Puget Sound and King County, a report by Katheryn Krafft.) The houses sat on land in the International District that was coveted by the management of an adjacent bank. The bank offered to donate the houses and help cover the cost of moving the structures if Historic Seattle could manage their relocation. After a search for an appropriate site in their original neighborhood was unsuccessful, Historic Seattle moved the houses to the newly created Ballard Avenue Landmark District in 1976, where they were compatible with early Ballard dwellings. After relocation, the exteriors were restored and the interiors remodeled for adaptive reuse as professional offices.

Current and Future Uses:

The property was sold with a preservation easement requiring the owner to maintain the exterior appearance of the houses. The houses are now brought to life by San Fermo, an Italian trattoria.


Queen Anne High School

Historic Seattle’s Role:

The stately English Renaissance Revival Queen Anne High School was built in 1909, with additions in 1929 and 1955. Declining enrollments forced this high school to close in 1981. Restoration and adaptive reuse of the property were goals of Historic Seattle. The building was converted in 1985 into 139 apartment units with Lorig Associates as developer and Historic Seattle providing packaging and financial assistance. The building is a designated Seattle Landmark and listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Current and Future Uses:

This project is an example of adaptive reuse of a historic structure providing a livable, high density community near the city’s center.In 2006, the apartments were converted to condos.


Photo: Jennifer Tucker