40 for 40: Kittitas County

By Kevin Kane, SHKS Architectsprevious story | next story | all stories

Transformation of the Northwest Improvement Company Building is the cornerstone of the Roslyn Downtown Association’s plan for the revitalization of the City’s commercial core. The NWIC Building is the largest, most visible and historically significant commercial structure in the city and the last remaining structure associated with the Roslyn Coal Field. 

Initially developed in 1886 by the Northern Pacific Coal Company as a mining camp and company town to exploit the area’s rich coal deposits, Roslyn grew rapidly into an ethnically diverse community representing over twenty nationalities. The company store, built in 1889, supplied most of the food, clothing, furniture and hardware needs of the coal miners and their families as well as the explosives used in the mining operations.

After the last of the working mines closed in 1963, Roslyn’s population had declined almost seventy five percent from a peak of 4,000, the NWIC building was vacant and faced demolition. In 1973, the NWIC Building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places followed five years later, by the Roslyn National Historic District.

The Washington Trust for Historic Preservation included Roslyn’s National Historic District on the 2010 Most Endangered list when the Roslyn Downtown Association (RDA), a non-profit Washington Main Street Community organization, initiated an ambitious program to revitalize Roslyn guided by the Main Street Program’s Four Point Approach.

Working with students and faculty from the University of Washington’s Storefront Studio, the RDA conducted community visioning workshops to identify potential projects. Redevelopment of the landmark company store emerged as an ambitious, high-priority goal. Washington State Main Street B&O tax credits helped fund a pre-design study guiding the renovation and fundraising efforts.

The RDA acquired the building in 2013 and completed the first phase of the renovation – ADA and life-safety improvements, interior renovation and repairs - the following year. Today the building is home to a visitor’s center, several locally-owned shops, galleries, and a micro-distillery. 

Recently completed masonry repairs, structural reinforcement, new electrical and mechanical systems and building insulation will help preserve Roslyn’s past to secure it’s future.

This story is part of a series celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation. This story highlights many of our programs and shows just how much need there is for strong preservation connections across the state. If you would like to support our work and spur more positive outcomes for Washington's historic resources, please consider making a special gift to the Washington Trust to support the advocacy work we do. Continuous stewardship is needed to protect that irreplaceable legacy for future generations – we appreciate and look forward to your ongoing participation and support.

The Washington Trust it current accepting submissions for its 2017 Most Endangered Historic Properties List. Please contact Jennifer Mortensen at jmortensen@preservewa.org with any questions!

Here's to 40 more years of saving places that matter across Washington! Please sign up for our special weekly e-newsletter to recieve stories like this in your inbox all year long.

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