Masonic Home of Washington
Status: Most Endangered Places
Year Listed: 2015
Location: Des Moines, King County
UPDATE (January 24, 2024): The Draft Environmental Impact Statement has been released for public comment! Visit the Advocacy Alert page to take action today.
Completed in 1926 as a retirement community for members of Washington’s Masonic Society, the Masonic Home of Washington features box beam ceilings, hand carved woodwork, stained glass, and terrazzo floors throughout. By 2004, the Masonic Grand Lodge of Washington initiated plans to market the property as a traditional retirement home, open to Masons and non-Masons alike, but the economic recession put these plans on hold. Instead, the building, its ornate facilities, and beautiful grounds, was utilized as an event center hosting weddings, film shoots, and corporate meetings.
The property was put up for sale in 2013, and event center operations ceased the following year. It has been listed as one of Washington’s Most Endangered Places since 2015, and the property finally sold in August 2019 to EPC Holdings LLC for $11.5 million and was transferred to Zenith Properties LLC in November 2019. According to The Seattle Times, “The Masons submitted an application for a demolition permit in July 2019 as part of the sale. The city is currently waiting for additional materials from the current owners after they resubmitted the demolition permit application in September 2020.” On May 3, 2022, the City of Des Moines issued a Determination of Significance (DS), meaning “this proposal is likely to have a significant adverse impact on the environment, and accordingly, an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is required” under the State Environmental Protection Act (SEPA).
Drafting the EIS started in late August 2022, and it was released to the public for comment on January 9, 2024. The draft EIS focuses on the effects of demolition and does not thoroughly explore ways to adapt and reuse the existing buildings of the Masonic Home, the Landmark on the Sound. This leaves the future of the more than 30-acre site unknown and unexamined.
The building’s architectural features and exterior remain in good condition. Renovation of the building would require substantial investment as many of the building’s systems are outdated and in need of replacement. The building sits on a large parcel of more than 30 acres of land that could allow for the coupling of rehabilitation with new construction- potentially making the project more financially feasible.
Learn more about the history of Masonic homes in Washington in Adam Alsobrook’s essay, “The Three Masonic Homes of Washington State.”