The Value of Seattle’s Industrial Buildings

2004. Collins Building in Everett (originally North Coast Casket Company) / Photo: Washington Trust for Historic Preservation

A must-read this week is Lawrence Kreisman’s Pacific Northwest Magazine article, “Seattle’s historic industrial buildings serve and support,” published in yesterday’s Seattle Times. Mr. Kreisman focuses on the value of utilitarian structures and why they are significant to the fabric of our communities. Our industrial past is an important one. Historic preservation is not always about pretty buildings. History is all-encompassing. Often times, industrial buildings are seen as white elephants if they are longer used. But the adaptive re-use of historic properties is a creative way to put life back into structures that were built for another purpose. Entire industrial neighborhoods have been revitalized through renovation. Rather than razing these monuments to our industrial past, let’s repurpose them and celebrate them.

The poster child for what not to do is the Collins Building in Everett, shown above in 2004 and below during demolition (or what the Port of Everett euphemistically calls “deconstruction”). Historic Everett and the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation fought valiantly for years to save the old casket factory building, but lost to the Port of Everett. BTW, if you’ve got a big ol’ building and are looking for massive windows, columns and beams, the Port is salvaging the parts and offering them to qualifying entities.


2010. Collins Building Demolition by the Port of Everett / Photo: Historic Everett