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Old Parkland School

Status: Most Endangered Places

Year Listed: 2022

Location: Tacoma, Pierce County

Constructed circa 1908, the Parkland School building at 214 121St Street S, in unincorporated Tacoma, Pierce County has retained its integrity of location, setting, design, material, workmanship, and feeling, as much of the building is intact, and the 1920 and 1937 additions have gained significance of their own. When the current owners Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) sought to delist the building from the Pierce County Register of Historic Places and ultimately apply for its demolition permit as a part of a sale agreement to developers in 2022, community members began to mobilize to show that not only does the building matter for its century-long record as an educational institution but that in its current conditions still yields major adaptive reuse potential including a community space if not retail, offices, and housing.

As the de-listing and demolition were recommended against by Pierce County Landmark and Historic Preservation Commission, PLU also recognized the community’s needs and efforts towards giving Parkland School a chance at preservation by renegotiating the sale agreement to exclude the parcel with the building and providing “up to twelve months [from August 2022] for the community to develop a viable option and purchase the east parcel, including the school building, from PLU” for a minimum purchase price of $2.85 million.

At this time, the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation is amplifying the efforts of the Save Parkland School community group, a committee of the Parkland Community Association, to raise funds towards acquiring a conditions assessment and preservation plan from which they can provide to potential partners in the purchase and redevelopment of the beloved Old Parkland School. Follow Save Parkland School at SaveParklandSchool.org and Facebook.


214 121st Street South Tacoma, WA 98444


Holy Rosary

Status: Most Endangered Places

Year Listed: 2020

Location: Tacoma, Pierce County

Holy Rosary, built by German Catholic immigrants who wanted to hear sermons in their own language, was originally established in 1891 with the construction of a simple wooden church built by largely volunteer labor. With the growth of the congregation and rising concerns about the safety of the original church, services were shifted to the adjacent school auditorium in 1912 for almost nine years to make way for planning, fund-raising, and construction of the present church. The cornerstone was laid on May 30, 1920 with the formal dedication following the next year on November 13, 1921. Designed by C. Frank Mahon of Lundberg & Mahon of Tacoma, Holy Rosary is in the Gothic revival style and in the form of a Latin cross. Until recently, the church remained in continuous use as a worship space thanks to many renovation projects undertaken and funded by the parish.

In addition to its architectural merit, Holy Rosary’s significance is also due in part to its prominent place in the Tacoma skyline, thanks to its location at the terminus of Tacoma Avenue, a major north/south corridor in Tacoma, and its visibility from I-5. The church was also one of the earliest City of Tacoma Landmarks when it was designated in 1975.

In the fall of 2018, a chunk of plaster fell from the ceiling into the choir loft. Due to safety concerns, services were moved to the adjacent school building auditorium and the church building was shuttered and fenced off. The Seattle Archdiocese undertook an assessment of the building announcing in August of 2019 that the church would be demolished due to the high cost of rehabilitation. The Archdiocese’s assessment determined that $2.5 million was needed to reoccupy the church, an additional $7 million would address all structural issues, and another $8 million—bringing the total to about $18 million—would complete a full seismic retrofit and upgrade all building systems.

Meanwhile, earlier in 2019, community members concerned about the future of the church formed the non-profit group, Save Tacoma’s Landmark Church (STLC) to raise awareness and funds to repair and restore Holy Rosary. Since the demolition was announced, the local community in Tacoma has exploded with support for saving the church. STLC has capitalized on this energy and raised funding through awareness campaigns and a wide variety of events from a classic film series at the Blue Mouse to spaghetti dinners.

It was at the most recent event in support of Holy Rosary—a gala dinner and auction on January 18, 2020—that the Washington Trust was proud to stand with STLC and announce that the church would be listed as one of Washington’s Most Endangered Places. Tacoma has rallied and as of  that fundraiser in January, Save Tacoma’s Landmark Church has raised the first million dollars toward restoring the church.

In August 2020, the Archdiocese delegated the final decision regarding the building to the Pierce County Deanery (Pierce County subset of the Archdiocese of Seattle) who could choose to consolidate several smaller parishes into Holy Rosary Church, or have the church relegated to another use rather than be demolished.

Save Tacoma’s Landmark Church and the Washington Trust, however, remain dedicated to saving and finding a new creative use for Holy Rosary. It’s a big project but there is a strong community in Tacoma behind it, and we will be standing with them every step of the way.

Read more in the Winter 2020 issue of our quarterly magazine, This Place!

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Elks Building

Status: Saved!

Year Listed: 2003

Location: Tacoma, Pierce County

The 1916 Beaux Arts-style Elks Building, which looms over Commencement Bay at the northern edge of Tacoma, is a contributing primary building in the Old City Hall Historic District and was built was when fraternal organizations were integral to the community. The Elks building sat empty and deteriorating for decades and in 2003 it was nominated as a Most Endangered Place because the owner threatened demolition. The public’s response was swift and the City of Tacoma prevailed in court, which ended the immediate threat. But the building remained empty, continuing to deteriorate.

In October 2009, McMenamins purchased the building and after some delays, construction finally began in 2017. The reimagined building weaves together art, local history, and their signature interior style and includes 45 guest rooms, multiple bars and restaurants (including al fresco dining on Tacoma’s iconic Spanish Steps), a music and events venue, and much more. The project cost totaled $34.5 million and utilized both federal and state historic tax credits. The McMenamins Elks Temple opened to great fanfare on April 24, 2019, and after sixteen years on our list, we can finally call one of Tacoma’s architectural treasures officially saved!