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Finch Building

Status: Lost

Year Listed: 1992, 1999

Location: Aberdeen, Grays Harbor County

Politician, lumber magnate, real estate developer, and philanthropist Edward C. Finch opened his eponymous building at Heron and H Streets in downtown Aberdeen on April 1, 1910, about 20 years after the town’s incorporation. The Finch Building was the first in town with an elevator and the first commercial building to make use of reinforced concrete. The building’s Renaissance Revival design by the noted Seattle architect A. Warren Gould featured terra cotta details, and six storefronts which were active into the 1970s.

The Finch Building was largely unaltered on the exterior when first listed as Most Endangered in 1992 and again in 1999, but by the latter date all the storefronts were boarded up. The interior had suffered a great deal of deterioration. Other Washington Trust efforts to save the building, led by treasurer Les Tonkin, a Seattle architect, included city council testimony and the filing of an affidavit supporting preservation. The affidavit stated that the city was not paying heed to the options for preservation stated in the 1998 Final Environmental Impact Statement. Recognized city needs, such as a library and downtown affordable housing, were among the possible uses, and developers had expressed interest. However, the city of Aberdeen declined to accept any renovation proposals.

The Finch Building was demolished on April 5, 1999 at age 89 years and five days.

Read more from our “40 for 40” featured story from the Washington Trust’s 40th anniversary in 2016.

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Electric Building

Status: Most Endangered Places

Year Listed: 2013

Location: Grays Harbor County

Location: Aberdeen, Grays Harbor County

When the Electric Building opened to the public in 1913, it was the crowning jewel of its owner, the Grays Harbor Railroad and Light Company: a unique commercial building with Beaux Arts/Neoclassical terra cotta detailing and an elaborate illumination scheme that included hundreds of light bulbs gracing the outside of the structure. Along with most of the pre-depression buildings in Aberdeen’s downtown core, the upper stories of the Electric Building were largely abandoned following the depression. With decades of deferred maintenance, the Electric Building today faces critical needs: it currently does not have a weather resistive envelope; broken glass in deteriorating window frames have been left unrepaired for years; water is finding its way through numerous wall cracks and leaks in the built-up roof; and the handsome terra-cotta wall cladding is failing at an alarming rate. Despite these issues, new owners recently acquired the building specifically to relocate their business into the first floor retail space. According to the owners, purchasing the building made sense from a financial standpoint—they pay less for their current mortgage than they did to lease the prior space. Understanding the importance of a vital downtown, the owners, with strong support from City of Aberdeen officials, hope to see the Electric Building once again light up the corner.