2014 MOST ENDANGERED PROPERTIES

The following properties, nominated by concerned citizens and organizations throughout Washington, form the Trust’s Most Endangered Historic Properties List for 2014. In addition, unfortunately many sites from our past lists are still threatened and remain on our watch list

Fire Hall
Port Angeles
  Downtown
Sprague
  Thayer Barn
Duvall
  Oysterville Historic
District
  Enchanted Valley Chalet
Olympic National Park

As our official announcement, the Washington Trust presented the following video, featuring all five properties, at our This Place Matters Reception, an affinity event at RevitalizeWA (our annual historic preservation and downtown revitalization conference) on May 6, 2014 in Wenatchee:





Fire Hall - Port Angeles


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The Port Angeles Fire Hall stands as a reminder that not all visions are implemented as planned. Designed by Seattle architect William Aitken and completed in 1931, the Art Deco Fire Hall was the first of three contiguous buildings that were to serve collectively as a city-government campus. Budget realities during the Depression, however, forced city leaders to scrap plans for the additional buildings, leaving the Fire Hall to serve triple-duty as the permanent home for the Fire Department, the City Council Chambers and the city jail. The Fire Department used the building until the 1950's, at which point new equipment and firefighting technologies required the department to relocate to a larger facility nearby. But the Fire Hall remained in active use, serving as a juvenile home, Port Angeles’ first YMCA, the city Sanitation Department, a Senior Center and, until closing in 2006, a popular café.

The Fire Hall is located on soft and moisture sensitive soils, creating a concern of foundation settling and possible erosion and seismic related problems. In addition, the building’s envelope is no longer weatherproof, contributing to interior deterioration. Recent assessments place the cost for core and shell upgrades at over $1 million dollars, with full restoration likely to cost double that. Undaunted, city and county officials continue to champion rehabilitation and reuse of the structure. Together with the former Carnegie Library (now the Clallam County Historical Museum) and the historic Clallam County Courthouse, in 2011 the Fire Hall was added to the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Port Angeles Civic Historic District, the only National Register-listed historic district within the city’s core. Returning the Fire Hall to active use would not only restore the vision city leaders had nearly a century ago, it would complement the positive effect the Port Angeles Downtown Association has had in its efforts to revitalize and enhance the city’s Main Street business core.






Downtown Sprague


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Originally called Hoodooville, the town of Sprague began as a sheep camp in the 1870s. Officially incorporated in 1883, the town changed its name to Sprague, in honor of Civil War Union General John Wilson Sprague, an executive with Northern Pacific Railroad which had a presence in town. In its infancy, the town had nearly 1,800 residents. But in 1895, a fire virtually erased downtown, prompting the construction of modern fireproof masonry buildings following the blaze. Yet, even fireproof buildings need upkeep, and decades of deferred maintenance have taken a toll. On September 6, 2013, the easternmost building on the main block of downtown collapsed, forcing city officials to close down the street and condemn the entire block of adjacent structures. At the time of the collapse there were four businesses on that side of the street. Though the road has been re-opened with improvements made to the sidewalk, and property owners have been allowed to re-occupy their buildings, only one business has returned.

The effect of the prolonged street closure has been felt throughout downtown: the grocery store and other operations have suffered a decline in business and last month, the bar & grill located across the street shut its doors as well. Debris from the collapsed building has been contained, but remains piled high at the site. Fearful of additional building failures, one property owner refuses to reopen, despite recently making significant capital improvements to his mid-block building. City officials and business owners have not given up, but recognize the challenges associated with structurally stabilizing the buildings and securing potential reinvestment. The block of buildings that do remain constitute the historic core of downtown Sprague. For the town to realize its hopes of economic revitalization, it is imperative for these buildings to be put back into active service.





Thayer Barn - Duvall


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Built during the Depression of the 1930's from a Sears & Roebuck barn catalogue and featuring a popular gothic style roof, the Thayer Barn is one of the last remaining dairy barns standing within the City of Duvall in the Snoqualmie River Valley. Situated immediately adjacent to State Route 203, the barn serves as a reference point for the community’s agricultural heritage. Yet, the barn has not been actively used for years, and sits dilapidated along the roadside. Efforts to preserve the barn are not new. A decade ago, notice went out that the property would be sold for redevelopment. Local advocates from the Duvall Foundation for the Arts rallied to save the barn, raising a sizeable portion of funds needed to realize the vision of converting the barn to a community arts center. But the deal fell through, and the barn continued to sit, untended.

Earlier this year, the property did indeed sell and plans for a housing development are moving forward. Thankfully, the project sponsors have shown a willingness to incorporate the barn into the new development, provided advocates can come up with the needed funds. Local support is present, and advocates from the DFA and The Thayer Barn Project are working on plans to rehabilitate the barn for a community purpose. In the meantime, however, the biggest threat is time. Once permitting for the new housing project is complete, it will go forward with or without the barn. And given the barn’s level of deterioration, the structure is unlikely to survive another rainy winter season.






Oysterville Historic District


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Founded in 1854, Oysterville is located in southwest Washington on the western shore of Willapa Bay, where an abundant source of oysters supported a booming shellfish industry. Oysterville's population peaked at about 900 residents in the 1870s and consisted of several hotels, churches, numerous businesses, 30 residences, Pacific County's first public school, a college, and the seat of Pacific County government. A fine collection of mostly painted-wood, clapboard and shiplap sided structures with distinctive period architectural details remains, including two excellent examples of carpenter gothic farmhouses. Collectively, the historic structures dating from as early as the 1850s comprise a National Register Historic District.

The success of the historic district has created challenges, however, as the idyllic setting and small town feel has drawn a comparatively high volume of new construction within the district. And though a local Design Review Board is in place to ensure new buildings are compatible with the surrounding historic character, some integrity has been lost. Tension on the Design Review Board has risen at times, with one property owner suggesting the community would be better off without historic designation. Complicating matters, Pacific County, which has jurisdiction over the district, has been unable to intervene in instances where property owners have simply ignored the required review process. County officials recognize the district’s important role in attracting heritage tourists, but have neither the budget nor the staff needed to address the violations. The most concerning example is the recent demolition of a contributing historic structure within the district. Responding to claims of irreparable damage, the county approved demolition of the structure without input from the local Design Review Board. Those concerned with the long term integrity of the district hope to see the county play a larger role in helping to support historic preservation in Oysterville.




Enchanted Valley Chalet - Olympic National Park


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The Enchanted Valley Chalet, located in the heart of Olympic National Park, is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The 2-1/2 story, hand hewn, dovetail-notched log structure is significant for its association with the recreational development of the wild and remote interior of the Olympic Mountains. The Olympic Recreation Company completed the chalet in 1931, operating it as a seasonal wilderness hostel for the company’s guide services to backcountry destinations throughout the Quinault River valley. Purchased by the National Park Service in 1953, it continues to serve as a ranger station and is the last structure of its type within the park’s interior.

Yet the Enchanted Valley Chalet’s future remains uncertain. Due to flooding events over the past winter, The East Fork of the Quinault River, which runs through the valley, shifted course, flowing at times within several feet of the historic chalet. The resulting erosion has left one side of the building cantilevered over the riverbank. Advocates hope the building can be safely relocated within the valley away from the river, noting that if the chalet were removed from the Enchanted Valley all together, it would lose much of its historic significance. Officials from Olympic National Park are conducting an expedited environmental assessment to consider moving the chalet a short distance from the riverbank to prevent the structure from falling into the river. A second assessment would follow, intended to identify a more long-term solution. Park officials must consider the fact that the Enchanted Valley Chalet sits within a designated Wilderness Area. While such designation does not prohibit proper care and stewardship for historic resources, past litigation has park officials wary of taking action that could be misconstrued as violating the Wilderness Act. In the meantime, chalet supporters simply want to ensure future generations can experience the chalet in its original context.