St. Ignatius Hospital
In April, 1892 two sisters from the Sisters of Charity traveled to the Palouse, selecting Colfax as the location to build Whitman County’s first hospital. The substantial brick hospital opened in 1894. Alterations to the building in both 1917 and 1928 removed portions of the Victorian trappings, leaving the building with a more modern, symmetrical appearance. By 1964 St. Ignatius Hospital faced losing its license unless the building was remodeled. The hospital board decided to relocate the hospital, leaving the existing building to serve as an assisted care facility. The last residents were removed from the facility in 2000 due to a broken water main. Since that time, it has sat abandoned.
Despite over a decade of neglect and exposure to the elements, the building retains solid structural bones. But redevelopment will require a complete overhaul of the entire infrastructure and building systems. The building is presently for sale and the current owner, based out-of-state, is open to ideas enabling the former hospital to be restored. City officials have also taken an interest, with Colfax Mayor Gary Vanek discussing the economic impact rehabilitation could have for the area in a recent ‘State of the City’ address. The owner has received inquiries regarding the property, yet no viable offers have been received to date.
See photos of St. Ignatius on Flickr.
Built in 1911, the Longfellow School has a one hundred year legacy serving as a school and as administrative offices for the Everett School District. Architect Wesley Hastings restrained yet handsome design for Longfellow School makes it eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. The building pays tribute to Everett’s history, signifying an important community resource throughout the 20th century.
Following construction of a new Community Resource Center, the Everett School District effectively retired Longfellow School, leaving it to serve a non-essential storage function for the district. In January of this year, the school district issued a Request for Letters of Interest from third parties with a desire to purchase or lease a portion of the property on which the school sits. While preservation of the Longfellow School was not required as part of the submittal process, the district did indicate a preference that the exterior of the building be preserved, if financially feasible. The district received one proposal. Although the concept included rehabilitation of the former school building, the proposal was not considered viable. As school district officials determine next steps, local advocates fear preservation of the building will become even less of a priority. Adding to the concern is the need for parking in the area: the entire site is adjacent to the district-owned Memorial Stadium, home to Everett’s minor-league baseball team and used for a variety of school and community events. The Longfellow School site is large enough to accommodate new construction, an important element as the cost to rehabilitate the historic school may require a degree of new development to make the economics feasible. Advocates for the Longfellow School, however, fear the perceived need for parking could trump a plan for rehabilitate the building.
See photos of the Longfellow Building on Flickr."
Robert Morris Earthwork
Created in 1979, SeaTac’s Robert Morris Earthwork is a 4-acre sculpture and public artwork featured in numerous books, magazines, and publications. Its significance as a pioneering example of land reclamation as art has garnered an international audience of scholars, students, urban planners, curators and art enthusiasts. The Earthwork is one of the first publicly-funded artforms of this unique type in the United States and serves as a remarkable example of the ecological art movement created by one of America's most recognized contemporary artists. As part of King County's Public Art Collection, Robert Morris Earthwork is open to the public from dawn to dusk on a daily basis, providing a contemplative open space and an extraordinary view to the Kent Valley below.
Since its creation, the physical context of the Earthwork has changed dramatically as nearby urban development continues to expand. Encroaching development has also lead to more abuse of the sight, including vandalism and illegal dumping. 4Culture, King County’s cultural development entity is the designated steward of the Earthwork and would like to see it continue to benefit the community. Current funding provides for daily management of the site, but is insufficient for cleaning up vandalism, restoring the site from erosion, decomposition of natural features, or new interpretative signage. 4Culture is organizing a campaign to reach out nationally for funding toward site restoration and interpretation improvements to help local residents understand the importance of the Earthwork site. Efforts are also underway toward securing King County Landmark designation as well as listing in the National Register of Historic Places to help raise awareness and preserve the resource
See photos of the Robert Morris Earthwork on Flickr.
Completed in 1892, the Lincoln School stands as a contemporary of Port Townsend’s major civic structures. At a cost of $73,000 and featuring a Chuckanut stone foundation, the palatial building served as tangible evidence of the community's commitment to education. Considered one of the most handsome public buildings in the state when completed, it served as a public school for 86 years.
A 1936 Public Works Administration project sought to modernize the Lincoln School. The well-conceived overhaul changed the external appearance of the building to resemble the design of the new neighboring high school, which was under construction at the same time. The original roof structure and top floor were removed and replaced with a flat roof and raised parapets. On the north side, the base of the tower, the main entry and the flanking turrets were removed
In 1980, the building was deemed a "fire trap" by the local fire chief and was vacated in the middle of the school year. School district administrative offices remained on the first floor until three years ago, when the doors were shuttered. Although unoccupied, the building remains solid and is currently used for storage. Yet it is scarred by broken and boarded up windows, faces substantial electrical and plumbing issues, and requires seismic retrofitting. The Port Townsend School District would like to see the building repurposed, with school officials envisioning a tech-based company taking up residence, possibly providing apprentice-based learning opportunities for students at the adjacent high school campus. Unfortunately, a Request for Proposals to rehabilitate the building issued by the school district in 2014 yielded no responses. School officials remain hopeful that an investor with ideas for a new use can be found, but must consider the cost and liability of maintaining and securing a vacant structure given the district’s other needs and priorities.
See photos of the Lincoln School on Flickr.
Nuclear Reactor Building (More Hall Annex)
Following World War II, nuclear engineering programs proliferated at universities across the country, including the University of Washington. By 1958, the UW granted its first master’s degree in the field. Retaining a competitive Nuclear Engineering program, however, required construction of a research reactor.
Despite a policy that discouraged hiring university employees for campus design projects, University of Washington officials turned to The Architect Artist Group, known as “TAAG”, to design a building to house the new reactor: every member of the group, save one, was a UW professor at the time. Completed in 1961, the Nuclear Reactor Building, officially named More Hall Annex, stands as the only building project completed by TAAG and represents a unique collaboration between the architectural and the engineering departments. The building is also significant because it put nuclear technology on display so transparently: the glass-walled structure sits in an open plaza and before being de-commissioned allowed students to observe the activity taking place within.
In the Fall of 2014, the University unveiled plans to construct a new Computer Science and Engineering Building on the site, which would require demolition of the Nuclear Reactor Building. University officials are moving ahead with plans to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed new structure, but to date have not considered the Nuclear Reactor Building’s inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places as reason enough to find an alternate location for the project. Advocates would like to see additional sites more thoroughly studied for construction of the new building. If no other sites can be found, advocates at very least want to see the Nuclear Reactor Building incorporated into the new development in a way that respects its unique architecture and historic significance.
See photos of the Nuclear Reactor Building on Flickr.
Masonic Home of Washington
Completed in 1926 as a retirement community for members of Washington’s Masonic Society, the Masonic Home of Washington in Des Moines serves as a showcase for Masonry in Washington State. Designed by the architectural firm of Heath, Gove, and Bell, the building features box beam ceilings, hand carved woodwork, stained glass, and terrazzo floors throughout. The same architectural firm designed Stadium High School in Tacoma and Paradise Inn at Mt. Rainier, both of which are listed on the National Historic Register of Historic Places.
By 2004, the Masonic Grand Lodge of Washington, the sole owner, initiated plans to market the property as a traditional retirement home, open to Masons and non-Masons alike. But the economic recession put these plans on hold, leaving the building and its ornate facilities and beautiful grounds to instead be utilized as an event center hosting weddings, film shoots, and corporate meetings.
Given the high operating costs, the property was put up for sale in 2013 and event center operations ceased the following year. While there has been interest in the property, its future remains uncertain. The Masons have been exemplary stewards and the building’s architectural features and exterior remain in good condition. But many of the building’s systems are outdated, and modern code requirements, paired with the need to seismically retrofit the structure, will require substantial investment. The building does sit on a large parcel of land that could allow for in-fill development. A program of new construction coupled with rehabilitation could make the project financially feasible.
See photos of the Masonic Home of Washington on Flickr.