2013 MOST ENDANGERED PROPERTIES

The following properties, nominated by concerned citizens and organizations throughout Washington, form the Trust’s Most Endangered Historic Properties List for 2013. In addition, unfortunately many sites from our past lists are still threatened and remain on our watch list

Battelle/Talaris Campus
Seattle, King County

Colville Indian Agency
Chewelah, Stevens County

Digester Building
Bellingham, Whatcom County

Electric Building
Aberdeen, Grays Harbor County
 
Haller House
Coupeville, Island County

Mukai Farm & Garden
Vashon Island, King County

St. Nicholas Church
Gig Harbor, Pierce County





As our official announcement, the Washington Trust presented the following video, featuring all seven properties, at RevitalizeWA (our annual historic preservation and downtown revitalization conference) on May 15, 2013 in Vancouver:





This year, we were able to create an individual video for each of our endangered properties to help each community better promote advocacy and raise awareness for their property. The videos below are extended versions of the segments from the video of the full list and include more historic details and longer interviews. Thanks to all those who contributed!



Battelle/Talaris Campus, Seattle

Developed in the late 1960s, the Battelle/Talaris property is architecturally significant to the region as a fine example of modern architecture. The Battelle campus concept, landscape and building design represents an important example of a mid-century move toward environmentally responsive design. David Hoedemaker of NBBJ was the project architect. He attributes the influence of Eero Saarinen with whom he previously worked, as well as Paul Kirk and AI Bumgardner on his own work. Richard Haag, the award-winning designer of Gas Works Park, designed the landscape. The property is also significant in that it served as the Seattle campus of Battelle Memorial Institute, a science and technology development company headquartered in Columbus, Ohio. By 2001, Battelle outgrew the location, which subsequently served as home to the Talaris Institute, an organization dedicated to early childhood development. In 2012, the property changed hands once again and the new owner presented plans for redevelopment. The preferred development scenario retains many features of the designed landscape, but indicates several key buildings are being considered for demolition, leaving only the foundations. Concerned with losing the site’s delicate balance of the built and natural environment, a group of concerned neighbors formed Friends of Battelle/Talaris. The Friends have engaged with the owners and other neighborhood stakeholders to support a plan for the site that meets the owner’s development needs while retaining the historic integrity of the resource.

For more photos, check out our Battelle/Talaris set on flickr.

For more information or to get involved, please visit the Friends of Battelle/Talaris website or the Friends of Battelle/Talaris facebook page.



Colville Indian Agency, Chewelah

 
In the 1860s, Major John Sims, Acting Indian Agent, oversaw the construction of a log cabin to serve as the Colville Indian Agency. The cabin maintained this role until 1885, when Agency operations were relocated to Fort Spokane. Sims and his wife, Lucy, continued to live in the cabin, staying on to homestead the site. In 1902, Dr. S.P. McPherson purchased the cabin as his personal residence. With the addition of a granary and other rooms, the cabin continued to meet the needs of the family, with the last descendants remaining until 2010. Concerned about the long-term stewardship of the cabin, the family donated the property to the Stevens County Historical Society. With the goal of using the cabin to interpret the Indian Agency period, the SCHS has worked to clean out the cabin and make needed repairs. But with the discovery of additional deterioration, the main focus is preserving the structure. The resource was documented through the Historic American Building Survey program in the 1930s, one of a very few resources in the state documented at the time as part of the Works Progress Administration program.

The Stevens County Historical Society recently recived a grant to go toward rehabilitation from the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in Washington State. Congratulations to all---one step closer to being saved!

For more photos, check out our Colville Indian Agency set on flickr.

For more information or to get involved, please contact the Stevens County Historical Society.







Digester Building, Bellingham

 
The Digester Building is one of only four brick structures remaining at the former Georgia-Pacific pulp mill along Bellingham’s waterfront. Constructed in 1937, it is the tallest, most imposing building on site, with double-wythe exterior brick walls set within a five-story steel frame. Georgia-Pacific ceased all mill operations last decade, leaving the Digester Building as the most recognizable of the remaining historic industrial structures paying tribute to the original Puget Sound Pulp & Timber Company. The Port of Bellingham recently acquired the former mill with the vision of creating a mixed use waterfront development. A 2008 Port-commissioned study resulted in a determination that ten of the historic mill buildings on site were eligible as a National Register historic district. Yet the same study concluded most of the structures to be incompatible with the new vision and questioned the economic feasibility of integrating the former mill buildings within the proposed redevelopment. Since this time, the majority of buildings have been demolished. Despite the unfortunate loss of other mill buildings at the site, the Digester Building remains individually eligible for listing in the National Register. Presently, the Port is completing documentation of the Digester and the remaining structures required as mitigation for their removal. While future demolition plans have not been announced, the Port has not committed to retaining any of the remaining structures.

For more photos, check out our Digester Building set on flickr.








Electric Building, Aberdeen

 
When the Electric Building opened to the public in 1913, it was the crowning jewel of its owner, the Grays Harbor Railroad and Light Company: a unique commercial building with Beaux Arts/Neoclassical terra cotta detailing and an elaborate illumination scheme that included hundreds of light bulbs gracing the outside of the structure. Enamored with the outcome, the architect, C.E. Troutman, moved his practice into an upper level suite upon completion of the building, eventually forming the firm of Troutman & Haynes. Along with most of the pre-depression buildings in Aberdeen's downtown core, the upper stories of the Electric Building were largely abandoned following the depression. With decades of deferred maintenance, the Electric Building today faces critical needs: it currently does not have a weather resistive envelope; broken glass in deteriorating window frames has been left unrepaired for years; water is finding its way through numerous wall cracks and leaks in the built-up roof; and the handsome terra-cotta wall cladding is failing at an alarming rate. Despite these issues, new owners recently acquired the building specifically to relocate their business into the first floor retail space. According to the owners, purchasing the building made sense from a financial standpoint – they pay less for their current mortgage than they did to lease the prior space. Understanding the importance of a vital downtown, the owners, with strong support from City of Aberdeen officials, hope to see the Electric Building once again light up the corner.

For more photos, check out our Electric Building set on flickr.









Haller House, Coupeville

 
Unlike most of Coupeville’s early settlers, Colonel Granville Haller was neither a farmer nor involved in maritime commerce. He was a career military man who fought in the second Seminole War in Florida, the Mexican-American War, the Indian Wars on Puget Sound of the 1850s, the “Pig War” on San Juan Island, and in the Civil War. Relieved of duty following the Battle of Gettysburg (allegedly for making dismissive comments of Lincoln’s handling of the war effort) Haller returned to Puget Sound, settling on Whidbey Island. In 1866, he moved to downtown Coupeville and constructed the Haller House: a two-story Georgian structure connected to an existing one-story house of plank construction already present on the site. Haller sold the house in 1879, opting to relocate once again, this time to Seattle. For the next 125 years, the house served as a private residence but witnessed very few alterations. The plan is primarily intact, as are many of the finishes, providing a rare glimpse into mid-19th century domestic life. The last residents left in 2006 and the house is currently on the real estate market. Though designation as a landmark within the Central Whidbey Island Historic District may offer protection for the exterior appearance of the Haller House, occupancy codes will compel any buyer to make significant alterations to the interior. Fearing a loss of historic integrity, residents of Whidbey Island formed the Friends of the Haller House. Their goal is to acquire the house and ultimately help tell the story of the Civil War’s impact on the northwest.

For more photos, check out our Haller House set on flickr.









Mukai Farm & Garden

 
 
The Mukai House and Garden is a significant example of the Japanese American presence on Vashon Island and in the Puget Sound Region. As a young man, B.D. Mukai immigrated to the United States from Japan. Built in 1927, he designed the structure to emulate a typical American rural farmhouse. His wife Kuni designed the surrounding garden as a traditional Japanese stroll garden - it is the only known Japanese Garden of this era designed by a woman. Together, the house and garden represent the blending of two cultures and the aspirations of Japanese American immigrants to realize the American Dream. B.D. and his son, Masahiro, also pioneered a cold barreling process that revolutionized the strawberry industry. The Cold Process Barreling Plant, located adjacent to the house and garden (but owned separately), became a location for strawberry farmers on Vashon to process their fruit for shipment all across the country. The house and garden were sold in the late 1940s after the family’s return from Idaho following WWII. With funding from federal, state and local sources, a non-profit formed to acquire the Mukai House and Garden in 2001. The organization’s mission included restoration of the house and garden, with public tours intended to interpret the Mukai Family and their role in the community. Recently, due to concern over the future stewardship of the resource, a group of Vashon residents formed Friends of Mukai to work toward the long-term preservation of the site.

For more photos, check out our Mukai Farmstead & Garden set on flickr.

For more information on how to get involved, please visit the
Friends of Mukai website.

On June 1, 2013 the Friends of Mukai hosted a "This Place Matters photo event at the site, which resulted in a fantastic turn out and an even more fantastic photo! You can see images of the, including the This Place Matters photo, in our event album on Facebook.

As a result of the This Place Matters event, the Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber, published an opinion piece on June 4 titled, "Many now support action at the Mukai farmhouse" by Natalie Johnson. (Click the title to download a PDF.)





St. Nicholas Church, Gig Harbor

 
The first settlers of Gig Harbor were predominantly of Croatian origin, were fishermen, and were Catholic, thus construction of a Roman Catholic Church was an early and important goal of the community. In late 1913, ½ acre of land was purchased for $300. The money to build the church was raised through donations collected from the canneries and fishermen’s supply houses. By Easter Sunday 1914, the first Mass was celebrated. Situated on the hillside overlooking the harbor, the old church building has a prominent architectural presence that signifies faith for the town. It is the only intact historic church left in the city, and it has a strong association with area residents. In 1958, the parish expanded significantly in order to accommodate the growing community, adding a new church building, administrative offices, and other parish facilities. Presently, plans are under consideration to expand and/or upgrade the 1958 complex and it is anticipated additional parking on site will be required. With the 1914 church building boarded up due to health concerns stemming from mold, parishioners and community members have expressed a deep concern for its future. In the absence of clear communication about the fate of the historic church, there is fear that demolition is being considered as a possible course of action.

For more photos, check out our St. Nicholas Church set on flickr.