Washington Trust Announces Most Endangered Properties for 2012

Washington State Parks Historic Structures – Endangered. St Edward Seminary Building, St. Edward State Park, Kenmore, WA / Photo: Historic Seattle

The Washington Trust for Historic Preservation announced its 2012 Most Endangered Properties List on May 22 during the opening reception of its annual RevitalizeWA Conference in Chelan. 

Here’s this year’s list (from a news release):

Headlining this year’s roster is a thematic listing including the Historic Resources of Washington’s State Park System. With over 600 historic buildings and structures, Washington State Parks is the single largest owner of historic buildings in the state. The inventory of historic buildings, structures, and sites under the jurisdiction of State Parks includes territorial forts, coastal military fortifications, lighthouses, artillery installments, CCC picnic shelters, a seminary, and numerous other historic resources listed in local registers of historic places, in the National Register, and as National Historic Landmark Districts.
Recent economic woes have made it increasingly challenging for the agency to sustain the needed level of maintenance at parks statewide, let alone address mounting capital needs. In the current biennium, the capital budget for buildings and structures is less than one-third of funding levels provided just a few years ago in the 2007-09 biennium. Moving forward, the State Parks operating budget will rely entirely on the success of the Discover Pass, a visitor fee-for-use program. To date, revenues from the Discover Pass have fallen short of projections. Without adequate funding for capital projects, mounting deferred maintenance could lead to more serious building deterioration in the near term. Park Rangers, who already do double duty in performing a variety of maintenance tasks on buildings, will be going to seasonal employment, leaving dozens of structures unattended for periods of time. To date, all State Parks remain open, but the ability to care for the incredibly important collection of historic resources under the state stewardship has diminished.
The remaining historic properties being named to the Most Endangered List are described as follows:
In 1908, the United States Reclamation Service (USRS) constructed the SunnysideHeadquarters Building to serve the Sunnyside Division of the Yakima Irrigation Project. Presently, the building stands as the most intact remaining Reclamation structure associated with early twentieth century efforts to irrigate the Yakima Valley. The Sunnyside Canal irrigation system was purchased by the USRS in 1906 and the Sunnyside Division became the first division of the nearly 500,000 acre Yakima Project. Currently owned by the Sunnyside Community Hospital, the building faced demolition in order to clear the way for construction of a new student health center. Responding to community concerns over the proposed demolition, the hospital, working with the school district, identified a new site for the health center. But the reprieve may only be temporary, as other proposals for the site may soon be considered. The Sunnyside Historical Museum is currently working with the hospital on plans to relocate the Reclamation Building to a nearby site in the downtown area.
The first train pulled up to the Blaine Depot in 1909. Located near the city’s main wharf in proximity to numerous mills and canneries, the depot played an important role in exporting the region’s resources and aiding in its economic growth. Vacant for the past 6 years, the Blaine Depot has been declared surplus property by the BNSF Railway. In late 2011, the railway company considered demolishing the depot, which has been determined eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. Responding to community concern, BNSF has shelved demo plans for now, allowing time to assess alternative scenarios. Local advocates and officials from cities on both sides of the border have been working to return passenger rail service to Blaine, a scenario calling for the depot’s rehabilitation. Failing that, plans have also been discussed to relocate the depot to serve as an anchor attraction at a nearby waterfront park.
The Baroness, the Cassel Crag, the Chasselton and the Rhododendron comprise a cluster of historic apartment buildings in Seattle’s First Hill neighborhood significant for their architectural styles and their association with multi-family residential development. Collectively, by their proximity to one another, their similar scale and building materials, and their varied ornamental vocabularies that reflect design trends in the 1920s and the 1930s, these buildings provide the historic context for understanding the development of apartments/hotels for the middle class on First Hill. Virginia Mason Medical Center, owner of all four buildings, is creating a new master plan for its campus. Virginia Mason has been working with a Citizens Advisory Committee and the City of Seattle to gather input on its plans for the campus redevelopment and expansion, which involves zoning changes for more height, an alley vacation, skybridges, and urban design issues among other things. Early proposals show the demolition of two buildings, while the retention of only two facades is planned for a third. Local residents and advocates hope to work with Virginia Mason to develop a master plan that is more sensitive to the existing historic infrastructure present at the Medical Center campus.
With Ellensburg’s school population increasing in the late 1920s, the school district selected pre-eminent school architect Floyd Naramore to design a dedicated junior high school for the city. Completed in 1929 for approximately $145,000, Morgan Middle School had all the trappings of a modern educational facility. Citing structural deficiencies and other shortcomings at Morgan, the present school district administration seeks to construct a new school at a different site and relocate Morgan’s students, despite bond measures to raise the necessary funds failing several times at the ballot box. A local group going by the moniker Modernize Our Morgan raised $15,000 in private contributions and commissioned an independent study to assess the feasibility of rehabilitating Morgan Middle School for continued use. The results of the study indicate that rehabilitation can be more cost effective than new construction. In response, the school district has convened a citizen commission to review both scenarios. It is anticipated the commission will deliver its recommendations this summer.
The Post Hospital at the Fort Vancouver National Historic Reserve is significant as a fine example of military architecture from the early twentieth century. Built to the specifications of plans produced by the Surgeon General’s Office, the Post Hospital’s design reflected innovation in medical practices and philosophies, particularly concerned with the treatment of tuberculosis. The Post Hospital included an X-ray room and was one of the first hospitals in the country to utilize this new technology. Several environmental factors contribute to various issues that threaten the existence, structural integrity, and sustainability of the Post Hospital, which sits unoccupied. Most notably its proximity to I-5 and the associated air and noise pollution, exposure to acid rain resulting from traffic pollution mixing with rain, and direct sun exposure on the west side of the building. The most significant pending threat to the Post Hospital, however, is the construction of the Columbia River Crossing slated to begin in 2014.This important national infrastructure project will widen I-5 and place the interstate wall within 4 to 6 feet of the northwest corner of the Post Hospital Building.
Eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places, Harborview Hall stands as a fine example of the Art Deco style in Seattle and a notable work of architect Harlan Thomas. But perhaps more important is the role Harborview Hall played in training multiple generations of nurses, serving as the base for the University of Washington’s School of Nursing from 1931 to 1961. Despite this, the master plan in place for the Harborview Medical Center Campus calls for the Hall to be demolished, replaced with an open plaza. Complicating matters is the fact that King County owns the buildings on the medical campus, but responsibility for facilities management falls to the Harborview Medical Center Board of Trustees. Under the leadership of County Executive Dow Constantine King County intervened, asking the Trustees to allow the county time to assess the economic feasibility of redeveloping Harborview Hall. With the Trustees cooperation, a Request for Proposals seeking redevelopment scenarios for the building was issued in late 2012. While the present consideration of development scenarios is a positive step, the future of Harborview Hall remains uncertain.
Built in 1909 for the Marshall Wells Hardware Co. of Duluth, MN, the Jensen-Byrd Building is a visible downtown icon representing the significance of Spokane’s early twentieth century prosperity. At 200,000 square feet and six stories in height, the formidable brick structure stands as the county’s second largest historic warehouse and one of the largest historic buildings in downtown Spokane. In the fall of 2011, Washington State University sold the building to Campus Advantage, a Texas-based developer with plans to demolish the structure and construct a new dormitory building for the WSU-Spokane campus. This decision was made despite a comparable offer from a local Spokane developer who promised to adaptively re-use the Jensen Byrd, redeveloping the building as a dormitory. While recent reports indicate demolition will be delayed until 2013, overall plans for the site remain unchanged.
Since 1992, the independent, nonprofit Washington Trust for Historic Preservation has used its Most Endangered Historic Properties List to bring attention to over 100 threatened sites nominated by concerned citizens and organizations across the state. The Washington Trust assists advocates for these resources in developing strategies aimed at removing these threats and taking advantage of opportunities where they exist. By working to find positive preservation solutions, the Washington Trust seeks to preserve the irreplaceable heritage of the state.
NOTE: Digital images are available for each site on the 2012 Most Endangered Historic Properties List. Please contact Chris Moore at 206-930-5067 or via email at cmoore@preservewa.org.