Excellence on Main Award

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Polson Building

Award: Bricks & Mortar Rehabilitation

Year: 2018

City: Mount Vernon

The Polson Building was built in 1927 for the Golden Rule Department Store, but had recently fallen victim to neglect and several unfortunate alterations before Steve Broman and Vern Curtis purchased it in 2016.

Steve and Vern immediately commenced work on the building, including painstakingly exposing much of the original brickwork and windows, sectioning the commercial space into multiple bays, adding a residential apartment in the underutilized mezzanine level, and remodeling the upstairs office.

Steve and Vern are not only the owners but also the general contractors. They arranged their own financing, handled building design and floorplans, negotiated leases, and were on site through the entire process from demolition to helping new tenants move in. They were at the building every day for a full year, stating that as they discovered more hidden details of the building, they found themselves adding to the budget, justifying it by saying the “building was worth it”.

The Polson Building is the fourth rehabilitation project Steve and Vern have completed together in the last two decades. Three of their four buildings are in downtown Mount Vernon. Their commitment to quality rehabilitation, ownership and property management make them what Ellen Gamson of the Downtown Mount Vernon Association “the kind of property owners that organizations like ours wish for.”

The building was fully leased before the work was completed and the project has served as a positive example of the city’s recently adopted design standards and has inspired additional renovations in nearby properties.

The Polson Building stands as tangible proof of how respectful rehabilitation of an historic building can enliven an entire district. Built as an anchor retail establishment, the building now has a renewed purpose and place in the community.

Excellence on Main Award

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Belmont Building

Awardee: Kirk Nesbeitt, Marya Sessions, and Enrique Ferreyros

Award: Bricks & Mortar Rehabilitation

Year: 2020

City: Port Townsend

On the nomination for Port Townsend’s National Register district designation, the 1889 Sterming Block was noted for its prime example of High Victorian Italianate architecture in a smaller commercial building thanks to its corbeled frieze, straight cornice and projecting bay windows.

The Belmont Building, as it is now known, was a hard-working saloon up until Prohibition. Next it served as a real estate and insurance office, shoe store, confectionery and tobacco shop. Most recently it’s been home to hotel rooms and a restaurant featuring local seafood and a bar that was a gathering place for locals. It came to exemplify a busy, multi-faceted waterfront property, but lately this Victorian pearl had lost its luster.

The building name letters had fallen off the front façade, a dark entrance made the building appear closed even when it was open to welcome customers, and the brickwork was failing. The renaissance of The Belmont began with its purchase in December 2017 by new owners who began looking for ways to restore it to its former glory.

Owners Kirk Nesbeitt, Marya Sessions, and Enrique Ferreyros found that path forward through private funding and a Port Townsend Main Street HUD Revolving Loan for the front façade. Restoring a Victorian building from the ground up is a huge challenge, with all the headaches and joys you can imagine – from wind blowing through the crumbling brick walls to pulling up old carpet to reveal beautiful hardwood floors. Rehabilitation work included re-pointing the brick exterior, copper roofs on the bay window to replace shingles, rebuilt parapets, roof repair, and extensive woodwork on the windows including saving the rope & pulley system. The crew updated everything from the basement up, including completely refreshed hotel rooms and a beautiful new deck overlooking the waterfront to replace the storm-worn one.

Kirk, Marya, and Enrique rallied their resources and local experts like Studio STL for design work and general contractor G. Little to bring the shine back to The Belmont. Their rehabilitation restored its elegance and style–the historic Belmont is an architectural gem in Port Townsend.

Excellence on Main Award

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Dobbs Building

Awardee: Ray and Kathy Dobbs

Award: Bricks & Mortar Rehabilitation

Year: 2020

City: Chelan

Eyesore to inspiration, the Dobbs Building on East Woodin Avenue in the heart of historic Chelan shows how much impact a small storefront can have on both the built heritage environment and façade improvement ethic of a community. Its transformation from cautionary example of façade fails to poster child of historic rehabilitation is well worth celebrating.

When opened as Smith Hardware in 1912, the building matched the brick masonry of its neighbors, but underwent a significant remodel in the 1950s. When Ray and Kathy Dobbs purchased it in 2004 the façade was dominated by a huge shingle awning. From over the roofline to just above the display windows it was shingles all the way down!

This building and its odd-duck-out awning earned local notoriety when it was included in Chelan’s 2010 Downtown Master Plan as a “before” example. In other words, this little shop was called out. Lucky for the building, Ray Dobbs was on the planning commission and had every intention of answering that call.

The owners hired local architect and former Historic Downtown Chelan Association Board Member, Larry Hibbard, to design the Dobbs Building reconstruction. Larry was exactly the man for the job – aside from being a past Main Street board member, he had served on the Design Committee for many years and had previously designed several other downtown preservation projects. Ron McGauhy, General Manager of the Lake Chelan Historical Society, was also consulted. He brought in as many photos of the original building as possible to provide the reconstruction with accuracy. Improvements were made to the façade, as well as the back approach to the building, which had previously presented as a large garage door.

While the building is small in footprint and stature, the notoriety its “What Not To Do” reference in the Downtown Master Plan made this the improvement project to watch. Since work started on the Dobbs Building in Fall 2019, three additional buildings have façade improvement projects underway. Today, you can walk along East Woodin Avenue and see the transformation from ugly awning duckling to brick and mortar swan.

Excellence on Main Award

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Sayers Building

Award: Bricks & Mortar Rehabilitation

Year: 2019

City: Walla Walla

Located in the heart of downtown, the historic Sayers Building is a Walla Walla landmark. Not only has the building long been a cornerstone of downtown Walla Walla’s built environment and economic prosperity, it is in itself a living reminder of local craftsmanship, from its time of construction in 1890 to 2018 when the exterior was meticulously restored.

The Sayers Building is also known as the Beehive Building, referring to the Beehive Department Store that occupied the space from 1898 until 1977. It is currently home to Starbucks and Coffee Perk.

When Michael Corliss acquired the building in 2015, the roof was leaking, the masonry deteriorating, second story windows were broken, and the parapet was unstable and in danger of falling from the building. Michael and his son Eben set to work on plans to construct a water tight building envelope and restore the building’s structural integrity while preserving its historic character. Their design team included Tarragon Northwest, RadarTangen, DeMambro Architecture, Swenson Say Faget, and CDH Drafting and Consulting, as well as the Downtown Walla Walla Foundation, Whitman College Penrose Library, and Joe Drazan as historical resources. The building’s community significance and distinctive Late Victorian Italianate characteristics were given top priority in the rehabilitation design.

The $350,000 project, which utilized Special Valuation, commenced in April 2017. A team of specialty tradespeople was engaged to complete the work with meticulous attention to detail and celebration of the original design. Some of the contractors were multi-generational tradespeople who recalled having worked on the Sayers Building as young apprentices. That team included PBS Engineering and Environmental Inc., Jackson Contractor Group, Modern Masonry, All-Safe Abatement Services, Gillespie Roofing, Jeff Moeller Construction, Meticulous Touch (for painting and metal finishes), Integrity Metal, Ken Adams Plumbing, and Walla Walla Refrigeration – all local companies.

The owners’ investment and the combined efforts of their many partners restored a spectacular building that highlights the history and local talents of Walla Walla. The project has also served as a catalyst for historic preservation investment throughout the downtown district.