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.