Sunrise Lodge

Status: SAVED!

Year Listed: 1992

Location: Mount Rainier National Park, Pierce County

Completed in 1931 in just six weeks, Sunrise Lodge at Mount Rainier is a stunning example of rustic architecture, often called “Parkitecture.” Despite its popularity today, the National Park Service had sought to demolish the Lodge in the past, actively planning for its removal in the late 1980s. These actions prompted the Washington Trust to include Sunrise Lodge on our Most Endangered List in 1992, the inaugural year of our Most Endangered Program. Over the next four years, the Washington Trust, working with the Washington State Historic Preservation Office, opposed demolition while supporting efforts to require state review of any proposed action.  In 1996, a letter of understanding was signed between the NPS, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and the SHPO to allow “review of demolition.” This effectively prevented the NPS from carrying out its demolition plans. Sunrise Lodge still stands today.

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

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!

Steilacoom Train Depot

Status: Most Endangered Places

Year Listed: 2018

Location: Pierce County

Location: Steilacoom, Pierce County

Built of clay tile with stucco and brick veneer, the 1914 Steilacoom Depot was designed by noted local architect, Arthur Potter Merrill. The construction of the railroad connected Steilacoom to Olympia and Portland to the south, and Tacoma and Seattle to the north, making it a travel destination. The depot closed to passenger service in the 1960s, and freight service to the depot ended in 1972. The property was purchased by the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railroad in 1970, after which it was mainly used for storage. In recent years, the building has been unused and unmaintained but remains in relatively good condition.

Due to the addition of a second track along the waterfront and modern regulations, the depot is currently too close to the railroad tracks to be safely utilized. Local advocates would like to see the depot moved approximately 80 feet to the southeast onto a parcel currently owned by the Town of Steilacoom. The Town is supportive of the plan, if the local partners can generate enough funding and support for the move and rehabilitation. The leading voice for the project, the Steilacoom Historical Museum, successfully rehabilitated the Nathaniel Orr House in 2002 and manages several other historic buildings in town.

The relocation of the depot would keep the building within its historic context while giving enough clearance from the railroad tracks to allow for rehabilitation and ultimately public access. Due to its proximity to the waterfront, the adaptive use potential for the depot is high. Local advocates envision the rehabilitation of the depot as the first step toward a larger reclamation and beautification of the Steilacoom waterfront.

Kelley Farm

Year Listed: 2006

Location: Pierce County

The Kelley Farm sits on the site of one of the earliest Donation Land Claims in eastern Pierce County: 160 acres given to Reuben Ashford Finnell in 1853. Finell abandoned this claim, which William Barton Kelley purchased in 1864 along with 40 additional acres. The Kelley Farm also has pre-pioneer significance as the site is located along the historic Naches Trail. The configuration of the present farm includes a c. 1910 farmhouse, a smaller residence, a barn and six additional outbuildings spread over a 50-acre parcel.

Local advocates nominated the farm to the Most Endangered list over fear of inappropriate development plans proposed for the site. Recognizing the historic value of the location, however, the owners opted to highlight the site’s significance and market its historic importance. Today, the Kelley Farm serves as a spectacular events venue, featuring a restored barn, main house, and several outbuildings. Learn more about the Kelley Farm.

Fort Steilacoom

Status: Still Standing

Year Listed: 2006

Location: Pierce County

Established in 1848, Fort Steilacoom is one of the earliest sites with an official US presence in Washington Territory. By 1860, over a dozen structures were present at Fort Steilacoom. Four of these buildings survive: cottages constructed from 1858-59 and used as hospital wards and living quarters for medical staff.

First United Methodist Church

Status: Lost

Year Listed: 2006

Location: Pierce County

Frederick Heath, a prominent architect in Tacoma, was involved in designing First United Methodist to accommodate 1,150 people, making it one of the largest sanctuaries in the Northwest at the time of its completion in 1916. In addition to holding worship services, the church served as a hospital during a flu epidemic and as a community meeting hall, hosting speakers such as William Jennings Bryan and Clarence Darrow. First United is one of a cluster of historic churches in Tacoma’s Hilltop Neighborhood that, collectively, provide a richly layered narrative about the social and economic development of Tacoma.

Fleischmann’s Yeast Plant

Status: Lost

Year Listed: 2007

Location: Pierce County

Designed by noted Seattle architect John Graham, Sr. and constructed in 1912 by contractor Aldrich and Hunt, the Fleischmann’s Yeast Plant stands as the first such plant built in the Northwest.  Graham designed many significant commercial buildings in the early 20th century, including the Fredrick and Nelson building, the Bon Marche, the Dexter Horton Building and the Exchange Building, all in Seattle.  Graham also designed buildings as far away as Boston and Shanghai, China.  The Fleischmann’s Yeast Plant is a wonderfully intact example of Graham’s industrial design.

Historical Commercial Fishing Net Sheds

Status: SAVED!

Year Listed: 2008

Location: Pierce County

Next to the fishing vessels themselves, net sheds represent the most important architectural by-product of the commercial fishing industry for Gig Harbor.  Croatian immigrants began to settle in the area around 1900, establishing Millville, one of the harbor’s first towns, along the western shore.  With commercial fishing as the predominant industry, easy access to land for loading and unloading gear was essential.  Modest docks built on wood piles developed along the waterfront with, in many cases, the family home constructed behind these net sheds.  In addition to workplaces, these simple wood piers and covered structures served as gathering places for skippers, crews and their families.

Murray Morgan Bridge

Status: SAVED!

Year Listed: 2008

Location: Pierce County

Dominating the Tacoma skyline when it was built in 1913, the Murray Morgan Bridge, known then as the 11th Street Bridge, played a key role in the city’s urban development by linking downtown to the waterfront and the industrial tide flats.  Designed by renowned bridge engineers Waddell and Harrington, the bridge is remarkable for the height of the deck, the overhead span designed for carrying a water pipe, and its construction on a grade.  In addition, the bridge plays a prominent role in Tacoma’s social history, serving as the setting for gatherings and labor disputes, including a violent strike in 1916, just three years after completion.  In 1997, the bridge was renamed after Murray Morgan, a noted Washington historian.

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!

Curran House

Status: SAVED!

Year Listed: 2009

Location: Pierce County

In the early 1990s, Pierce County purchased the property and the existing house for use as parkland.After incorporating
as a city in 1995,University Place assumed control of the property and in 1999 developed a Master Plan for the park in order to evaluate future uses and programs at the site. Of the several scenarios included in the plan, each called for retaining the Curran House based on findings that the building could serve a useful function and was an integral part of the property as a unit. Despite this planning document, the city is currently debating whether or not to demolish the structure, citing a variety of costs related to repairs, security, and utility bills as barriers to rehabilitation. Given the lack of funds, the responsibility has fallen on the community to provide money for needed improvements and ongoing maintenance.

Coke Oven Park

Status: SAVED!

Year Listed: 2010

Location: Pierce County

The coke ovens are the only evidence left to tell Pierce County’s coal industry story of the boom time in “uptown” Wilkeson. Production began in 1885 when the Tacoma Coal & Coke Co. built the first 25 beehive coke ovens at Wilkeson and peaked in 1916 when it reached a maximum of 125,872 tons with shipments to ports as far as San Francisco and Alaska. After production terminated in 1937 following years of steady declines, mine shafts were sealed, and other buildings were removed. Listed in the local, state and national registers, the remaining coke ovens are threatened with lack of protection from vandalism, neglect and vegetation overgrowth.

McNeil Island

Status: Still Standing

Year Listed: 2011

Location: Pierce County

Ezra Meeker first settled on McNeil Island in 1853, establishing an agricultural and logging community. The land claim was sold and exchanged hands several times over the next couple of decades when, in 1870, 27 acres were donated to allow for the establishment of a territorial prison, which opened in 1875. Officially becoming a federal prison in the early 1900s, the facility became a Washington State prison in 1981 under the jurisdiction of the State Department of Corrections (DOC). Facing tremendous budget shortfalls, the state has closed the general prison facility on the island. The multi-agency jurisdictional responsibilities include DOC, the Department of Fish & Wildlife (whose interests include retaining the island as a wildlife preserve), and the Department of Social & Health Services (which currently operates the Special Commitment Center constructed in the 1990s). Complicating matters are deed restrictions put in place when the federal government turned the property over to the state in the 1980s. In the meantime, over fifty structures related to the operation of the prison facility remain on site, their future uncertain (a handful of residences are already slated for demolition).

Old City Hall

Status: Most Endangered Places, In the works!

Year Listed: 2011

Location: Pierce County

Location: Tacoma, Pierce County

Constructed in 1893 by the San Francisco-based firm of Hatherton & McIntosh in the Renaissance Revival style, Old City Hall represents Tacoma’s aspirations to be the Northwest’s focal point for commerce and culture. Originally occupied by the Tacoma Chamber of Commerce, the building eventually served as City Hall until the late 1950s. Following a period of vacancy, several attempts over the years to adaptively reuse the structure for a variety of purposes have met with mixed success. The latest plan, conversion of the building to condominium units, has been sidelined due to the economic downturn. In November of 2010, broken pipes released thousands of gallons of water throughout the building, raising fears that structural systems could be compromised. With Old City Hall currently vacant, the hope is that the ownership group will be able to move forward with redevelopment plans. In the meantime, issues of deferred maintenance remain a concern.

McMillin Bridge

Status: SAVED!

Year Listed: 2011

Location: Pierce County

Spanning the Puyallup River in Pierce County as part of State Route 162, the McMillin Bridge may be the only known concrete through truss structure of its type in the United States. Inspired by Homer Hadley, Washington’s most innovative bridge engineer, the McMillin Bridge is unique, featuring heavy steel-reinforced through trusses strong enough to eliminate the need for overhead lateral sway braces. When completed in the fall of 1935, the resulting bridge was hailed as the longest concrete truss or beam span in the country. Hadley is credited with numerous bridge designs, including the first floating concrete pontoon bridge in the world, now known as the Lacey V. Murrow Bridge over Lake Washington in Seattle. The Washington State Department of Transportation recently announced plans to demolish the McMillin Bridge once a new parallel bridge has been completed and traffic re-routed. Federal regulations require WSDOT to analyze alternatives to demolition. Once this analysis is released, interested parties will have the opportunity to comment. If the bridge is unable to be retrofitted for continued use, the goal will be to retain it for foot and/or bicycle traffic.

St. Nicholas Church

Status: SAVED!

Year Listed: 2013

Location: Gig Harbor, Pierce County

Early settlers of Gig Harbor were predominantly Croatian Catholics, working as fishermen; thus, the construction of a Roman Catholic Church was an early and important goal of the community. In late 1913, a half acre of land was purchased for $300. The money to build the church was raised through donations collected from the canneries and fishermen’s supply houses. By Easter Sunday 1914, the first Mass was celebrated. Situated on the hillside overlooking the harbor, the old church building has a prominent architectural presence that signifies faith for the town. It is the only intact historic church left in the city, and it has a strong association with area residents.

In 1958, the parish added a new church building to accommodate the growing community. The historic church was threatened with demolition to add parking space in the 1970s and again in 2012 when it was closed abruptly due to mold found in a closet beneath the front cement stairs. In the absence of clear communication about the fate of the historic church, there was fear that demolition was being considered as a possible course of action.

After being listed as a Most Endangered Place in 2013 and a change of leadership at the parish, support grew for reopening the church for parish use, youth groups, classes, and other community meetings. In 2019, church rehabilitation began with the window boards removed, exterior painting, mold abatement, repairs to stop water intrusion, a new furnace and water heater, interior painting, and new flooring. The official reopening was held on January 26, 2020, with a public open house and blessing by Father Mark Guzman. Youth group education in the main hall began that very evening, and the parish St. Vincent DePaul food bank ministry has moved into a basement room. St. Nicholas School has started using the building as well. In 2020, a new roof was installed. There are further plans to restore historic elements to the church building, including the original metal bell tower cross now on display in a glassed case and photos of original fishermen who first donated funds to make the church a reality.

Puyallup Fish Hatchery

Status: SAVED!

Year Listed: 2016

Location: Pierce County

In 1946, the Washington State Department of Game, known today as the Department of Fish and Wildlife, acquired 160 acres of the Maplewood Springs Watershed in Puyallup. The goal: access to an abundant supply of clear spring water for the production of game fish. The ensuing hatchery complex, built in 1948, consists of a natural, gravity-fed water supply, various raceways, sixteen round ponds, an incubation building, a shop building, and residences for operators. The design of the main building is hybrid in nature as it takes cues from public structures built during the late 1930s and more modern, post-WWII era construction methods and materials. The facility continues to remain in active use, but is slated to be converted to meet a need for more salmon production. Local advocates are concerned the National Register listed complex will be adversely impacted by the changes needed for the impending conversion. The project offers a unique adaptive re-use opportunity, however, and the opportunity for much needed improvements: the facility overall needs substantial repair and efficiency upgrades. The Department of Fish & Wildlife has expressed optimism that a thoughtful rehabilitation will result in an updated facility that retains its historic character while meeting agency needs for salmon production. Agency officials understand the educational and historic importance of the hatchery and are engaging with the community and other concerned parties in order to ensure positive outcomes for the historic complex.

Scottish Rite

Status: Lost

Year Listed: 2017

Location: Pierce County

The Scottish Rite was a rare and early example of poured concrete architecture in Tacoma that dated from 1922. Designed by the acclaimed Tacoma architecture firm Sutton, Whitney and Dugan, the building’s style defied easy categorization. It anchored a prominent corner lot across from Wright Park in Tacoma’s historic Stadium District and served as a fraternal hall, an events venue, and a church.

Unfortunately because churches are not subject to landmark laws in Washington State, the demolition of the Scottish Rite could not be prevented, and the building came down in October 2017. Through negotiations with the City of Tacoma Historic Preservation Officer, the church agreed to some mitigation steps, including DAHP level II documentation, salvage, onsite interpretive measures in the new building, and to help fund preservation planning efforts through Historic Tacoma. The new structure will also require design review by the Landmarks Commission per code.

The Scottish Rite represents a larger issue of concern witnessed in urban areas across the country. The congregation was unable to maintain the building and due to the high land value, a prospective developer tore it down in the name of increased density.