Historic Theaters Across Washington State

Status: Most Endangered Places

Year Listed: 2021

Travel the Main Street of any American town and a theater will likely be there, anchoring the street and beckoning residents and visitors alike to lose themselves for a time in another world. Whether they are architectural masterpieces or modest storefronts with a marquee, they are essential to economic development and maintaining community character. As businesses, they contribute to local economies by purchasing goods and products, employing people, and paying taxes. As venues for performances and film, they support an arts economy that ripples far beyond individual artists to include construction workers, graphic designers, electricians, and many other trades and services. Additionally, historic theaters are indispensable assets in developing cultural tourism—the fastest growing segment of the tourism market.

Theaters are a critical piece of our cultural landscape that have been especially hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Historic theaters across the state have been forced to shutter, lay off staff, and defer important capital improvements. As we know from a survey of nearly 50 theaters conducted in April 2021, 72% of theaters reported being closed completely for the past year. Historic theater owners reported a total of about $3.2 million in lost income due to COVID-19—an average of $240,000 in losses per theater. With such unprecedented losses, theater owners were forced to lay off full- and part-time employees, resulting in an 83% reduction in employees overall across respondents. And with no revenue, theater operators were unable to implement critical capital projects, leading to deferred maintenance and endangering the long-term preservation of these important historic structures.

The creation of a new Historic Theater Grant Program by the state legislature in April 2021, to be implemented by the Washington State Department of Archaeology & Historic Preservation, is one step towards supporting these cultural resources. But much more funding and public backing will be needed to support their full post-pandemic recovery, which is why the Washington Trust has chosen to add historic theaters across Washington State as a thematic listing to our Most Endangered Places list for 2021.

St. Elmo’s

Status: Most Endangered Places

Year Listed: 2020

Location: Palouse, Whitman County

Originally built in 1888 as the railroad-boom Palouse Hotel, St. Elmo’s is a major component and visual anchor of the Palouse Main Street Historic District which was established in 1986. With its mansard roof and metal shingles, it is one of the few existing buildings in rural eastern Washington in the Second Empire style. The current owners purchased the building in 2018 with plans to rehabilitate, but after discovering more structural issues than anticipated, decided to demolish. Luckily, community members have convinced the owners to put the building back on the market to give someone else the chance to save one of Palouse’s most iconic buildings. A core group has formed the Friends of St. Elmo’s, which nominated it to our Most Endangered Places list and is working to raise awareness of the need to save St. Elmo’s.

The Chancery

Status: Most Endangered Places

Year Listed: 2020

Location: Spokane, Spokane County

The Chancery holds a position of prominence in downtown Spokane as an anchor structure in the National Register Riverside Historic District on what has been described as “Spokane’s most beautiful street.” Originally built in 1910 as the Western Union Life Insurance Building, the property was designed by famed architect Kirtland Cutter, also responsible for other noted Spokane buildings such as the Davenport Hotel, Patsy Clark Mansion, Spokane Club, and the Monroe Street Bridge—not to mention the Washington Trust’s very own Stimson-Green in Seattle. In 1924, the building underwent a significant expansion and redesign by another renowned Washington architect, Gustav Pehrson.

The building was home to a number of life insurance companies until 1966, when it was sold to Spokane’s Roman Catholic Diocese, serving as the diocese headquarters for over 40 years. In 2006, the Diocese sold the property, remaining as tenants in the building until last year. The current owner, which controls the entire block on which the Chancery Building is located, is presently evaluating redevelopment scenarios. No determination has been made regarding the future of the Chancery Building, but Spokane Preservation Advocates (SPA), our local advocacy partner, are hopeful the building can serve as a prominent feature of the redeveloped block, keeping the street one of the Spokane’s most beautiful. The Washington Trust is looking forward to collaborating with SPA, the owners, and other friends in Spokane to help work toward a positive preservation outcome.

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!

The Showbox

Status: Most Endangered Places

Year Listed: 2019

Location: Seattle, King County

Completed in 1917, the building now known as the Showbox was originally built as the Central Public Market, a competitor to the nearby Pike Place Public Market. In 1939, the building underwent a substantial Art Moderne remodel and opened as a performance venue, “The Show Box.” For the next 80 years, the building continued mainly as a performance venue, with brief stints as other ventures and a few periods of vacancy.

The period of Showbox history many people will remember began with new management in the late 1970s. During this time, the Showbox featured Punk Rock and New Wave-era bands, eventually becoming the premier rock venue in the city. In the 1990s, the Showbox also held comedy shows in addition to continuing to nurture Seattle’s growing rock scene. The Showbox has changed management several times in the recent past, but it continues to be a pioneering music venue and a key feature of Seattle’s identity as a music city.

When it was announced in 2018 that a developer is making plans for a 44-story tower on the site of the iconic Showbox theater, the Seattle community exploded in opposition to the project with the campaign to #SavetheShowbox garnering attention from nationally-known musicians in support of preserving this icon of Seattle’s musical culture.

Due to Seattle’s landmark ordinance and environmental review processes, the developer was compelled to nominate the Showbox for landmark status with no intention of preserving it or incorporating the building into their development. Historic Seattle, a local partner of the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, commissioned and submitted a landmark nomination ahead of the developer to ensure it would be well researched and take a nuanced approach to the layered history of the building.

The Showbox was unanimously designated a landmark last year in July 2020, but the campaign to #SavetheShowbox is far from over. The best way to save a building is through a good owner, and that’s why we are hopeful that the pending joint purchase offer from Historic Seattle and Seattle Theatre Group will be accepted.

Marine Supply Block

Status: Most Endangered Places

Year Listed: 2019

Location: Skagit County

Location: Anacortes, Skagit County

Marine Supply & Hardware, originally founded as the Anacortes Junk Company in 1916 by Mike Demopoulos, once occupied all three buildings of the 200-block of Commercial Avenue in Anacortes. Starting in a former livery stable, the business expanded next door into the building now known as Marine Supply & Hardware in 1924. Demopoulos also purchased the next building down the block in 1937, the handsome, turn-of-the-century Olson Building. Housed in these three buildings for decades, the business was an integral part of the marine economy of Anacortes. Recently, the Olson Building’s ground floor has been retail space for local businesses, and the Marine Supply & Hardware Building, which contains a variety of marine paraphernalia and antiques, has become a de facto museum of sorts and a visitor attraction in Anacortes.

The Port of Anacortes purchased the entire Marine Supply Block in 2014. With plans to develop, the Port demolished two small houses along 3rd Street and the former Anacortes Junk Company building (livery stable) earlier this year. Responding to public comment in favor of saving the remaining buildings, the Port recently transferred the Olson Building to the Anacortes Housing Authority (AHA), which intends to rehabilitate the structure for affordable housing while maintaining ground-floor commercial use. The future is still uncertain for both buildings—rehabilitation costs will be high for the Olson Building and a long-term solution has yet to be reached for the Marine Supply Hardware Building. Advocates in Anacortes are excited about the prospect of the Washington Trust shining a statewide light on these buildings and working with the Port, AHA, and other stakeholders to preserve these icons of Anacortes.

Camp Kilworth

Status: Most Endangered Places

Year Listed: 2018

Location: Federal Way, King County

In 1934, William Kilworth purchased 25 acres in the South Sound and immediately deeded the property to the Tacoma Area Council of Boy Scouts. World War I veterans, who were members of the Tacoma Rotary Club, built the centerpiece of the camp in 1935: the Rustic-style Rotary Lodge. Over the decades, several other supporting structures were built, including an outdoor amphitheater that looks out over a dramatic view of south Puget Sound. Today, the property and its shoreline are one of only two places in rapidly growing Federal Way regarded as a highly sensitive environmental area; the high bank coastal forest on the site also serves as a wildlife corridor.

The Boy Scouts owned and operated the camp for over 80 years, but due to declining membership, their operations at Camp Kilworth ceased in 2016. In accordance with a stipulation in William Kilworth’s original 1934 deed, ownership of the property reverts to the Kilworth Family Foundations if the property is not used for scouting. The buildings sit vacant, unheated, and unmaintained, raising fears of demolition by neglect.

A group of local advocates formed the nonprofit Kilworth Environmental Education Preserve, or KEEP, to continue advocating for the property, raising money, and assisting with the preservation of historic structures. Now, Forterra is now in the midst of negotiations to buy Camp Kilworth, with a plan to hold the property in perpetuity with a long-term lease to the Seattle YMCA. While we can’t call this one a “save” just yet, we are hopeful that the current negotiations will result in a reason to celebrate soon!

East Seattle School

Status: Most Endangered Places

Year Listed: 2018

Location: King County

Location: Mercer Island, King County

Built in 1914, East Seattle School is the oldest public building left on Mercer Island. The school’s Mission-style architectural details remain intact, including a terra cotta roof, a curvilinear parapet, and decorative brackets. Once located at the town center, the school was the heart of the Island’s community life for nearly 70 years. Construction of the I-90 floating bridge, however, brought a population boom to the Island in the 1950s, and the commercial center of Mercer Island gradually shifted to its current location.

East Seattle School was declared a surplus building in 1982 but continued its role as a community gathering space for nearly 30 more years as the home to the Mercer Island Boys & Girls Club and various childcare centers. In 2007, private interests acquired the 3-acre property. While many objected to the transaction, others supported it because proceeds from the sale were used to construct a new Boys & Girls Club. As part of the deal, the new owner agreed to make no changes to the property for ten years. Now that those ten years have passed, the owner has applied for a demolition permit, and will likely build single family housing on the site. Community members hoping to see the school preserved are working to find a solution that will satisfy the owner’s investment goals while keeping the legacy of East Seattle School alive through adaptive reuse.

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.

Arlington High School

Status: Most Endangered Places

Year Listed: 2018

Location: Arlington, Snohomish County

Built in 1936, the old Arlington High School has been loved by generations of students. With its grand front entrances, streamlined architectural details, balconied auditorium, and original iron and glass skylights, it is a beautifully intact example of Art Deco architecture. In addition to its clear architectural value, the building features two murals from Washington artist Richard Correll, funded by the Works Progress Administration in 1940.

Until the completion of a new high school in 2007, this building was the hub of the Arlington community. Over the past decade, the school housed community organizations, but now sits mostly vacant. There is an active need for a community center in Arlington. With the school’s proximity to downtown and public transit, local advocates see the school as a perfect candidate for just such an adaptive use. Still in its historic configuration, the former school could easily accommodate Arlington’s non-profit and arts communities with studio and makers spaces, meeting and office spaces, educational and training spaces, and even a large performance venue.

Bruggemann Ranch

Status: Most Endangered Places

Year Listed: 2018

Location: Benton County

Location: Manhattan Project National Historical Park

After immigrating to the United States from Germany in 1926, Paul and Mary Bruggemann purchased a large ranch along the Columbia River in 1937. The Bruggemanns became one of the most successful farming families in the region but were evicted by the US Government in 1943 to make way for plutonium production. The copious supply of water from the Columbia combined with cheap, reliable power made the area an ideal location for the development of the Manhattan Project.

The pre-Manhattan Project history of the Hanford Reach area was nearly erased over the ensuing decades, but with the recent establishment of the Hanford Unit of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, a new interest in uncovering the layered history of the site has developed. Only four structures remain from the pre-Manhattan era: Hanford High School, the White Bluffs Bank, the Allard Pumphouse, and the only privately built structure remaining: the Bruggemann cook house.

The Bruggemann site was once a substantial ranch with multiple structures and around 2000 acres of orchards. Today, only the cook house remains. The building is constructed of river cobble and is the last surviving example of this once common architectural technique in the area. The cook house is currently unsheltered from the elements with no clear plan for preservation, and advocates are seeking to bring more attention to the importance of preserving the little physical history that remains. The nearby White Bluffs Bank was recently restored, and advocates would like to see the cook house also restored and used to interpret the pre-Manhattan Project history.

Because of its proximity to the Vernita Bridge, the northernmost access point to park, a restored cook house could logically serve as an entry point and interpretative space that could communicate the significance of the pre-Manhattan Project history to park visitors.

P-I Globe

Status: Most Endangered Places, In the works!

Year Listed: 2009

Location: King County

Location: Seattle, King County

Built by Pacific Car and Foundry and Electrical Products Consolidated (still in business today as PACCAR), the Globe is a visual representation for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer newspaper and remains a post-war tribute to the significant role trade signs and the graphic arts hold in commercial advertising. With the P-I now only an on-line presence, the globe does double duty as a tangible reminder of the challenges currently facing the newspaper industry in a community increasingly reliant on digital media formats. With concerns swirling about how those same challenges might impact the future of the globe, local elected officials have engaged in efforts to recognize the structure as an official historic resource. While no plans indicating the globe’s removal have been publicized, office space within the P-I building is for lease and maintenance needs for the structure could play a role in coming years. These facts have sparked discussion about an appropriate site for the Globe if its relocation ever becomes imminent.

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.

Jensen-Byrd Building

Status: Most Endangered Places, In the works!

Year Listed: 2012

Location: Spokane County

Location: Spokane, Spokane County

Returning to the Endangered List for a second time is Spokane’s Jensen-Byrd Building, a visible downtown icon representing the significance of Spokane’s early twentieth century prosperity. At 200,000 square feet and six stories in height, the formidable brick structure stands as the county’s second largest historic warehouse and one of the largest historic buildings in downtown Spokane. Located on the Riverpoint Campus, the base for Washington State University’s operations in Spokane, the building initially faced uncertainty in 2006 as the university prepared to more fully develop the site. Fearing demolition, locally-based Spokane Preservation Advocates (SPA) sought to raise awareness by nominating the Jensen-Byrd Building to that year’s Most Endangered List. Following the inclusion of the structure in the 2006 List, advocates worked with WSU on scenarios designed to retain the Jensen-Byrd Building in the overall redevelopment scheme. After the failure of several redevelopment projects that included an option for rehabilitation, in the fall of 2011 WSU sold the building to Campus Advantage, a Texas-based developer with plans to demolish the Jensen-Byrd Building and construct a new dormitory for the WSU-Spokane campus. This decision was made despite a comparable offer from a local Spokane developer who promised to adaptively re-use the Jensen-Byrd as a dormitory. This action prompted SPA to once again seek Most Endangered status for the structure. While the Jensen-Byrd Building has remained on the Washington Trust’s Watch List since 2006, the organization strongly felt the need to highlight the building once again given the current course of demolition. Recent reports indicate demolition will be delayed until 2013, but overall plans for the site remain unchanged.

First Hill Apartments

Status: Most Endangered Places

Year Listed: 2012

Location: King County

Location: Seattle, King County

The Baroness, the Cassel Crag, the Chasselton and the Rhododendron comprise a cluster of historic apartment buildings along Boren Street near Madison Avenue significant for their architectural styles and their association with multi-family residential development in Seattle. Collectively, by their proximity to one another, their similar scale and building materials, and their varied ornamental vocabularies that reflect design trends in the 1920s and the 1930s, these buildings provide the historic context for understanding the development of apartments/hotels for the middle class on First Hill. Virginia Mason Medical Center, owner of all four buildings, is creating a new master plan for its campus and has been working with a Citizens Advisory Committee and the City of Seattle to gather input. Early proposals show the demolition of two buildings, while the retention of only two facades is planned for a third.

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.

Battelle/Talaris Campus

Status: Most Endangered Places

Year Listed: 2013

Location: Seattle, King County

Developed in the late 1960s, the Battelle/Talaris property is architecturally significant to the region as an example of Pacific Northwest modern architecture that represents the move toward environmentally responsive design. David Hoedemaker of NBBJ was the project architect. He attributes the influence of Eero Saarinen with whom he previously worked, as well as Paul Kirk and Al Bumgardner on his own work. Richard Haag, the award-winning designer of Gas Works Park, designed the landscape. By 2001, Battelle Research outgrew the location, which subsequently served as home to the Talaris Institute, an organization dedicated to early childhood development.

Concerned with losing the site’s delicate balance of the built and natural environment to development, a group of  neighbors formed Friends of Battelle/Talaris. The Friends, who have closely partnered with Historic Seattle, successfully nominated the property as a City of Seattle Landmark in 2013. Various redevelopment plans have been proposed to the Landmarks Preservation Board, but none have moved forward.

Enchanted Valley Chalet

Status: Most Endangered Places

Year Listed: 2014

Location: Olympic National Park

Located in the heart of Olympic National Park, the 2 1/2-story, hand-hewn, dovetail-notched log structure is listed in the National Register of Historic Places for its association with the recreational development of the wild and remote interior of the Olympic Mountains. The Olympic Recreation Company completed the chalet in 1931, operating it as seasonal wilderness lodging. Purchased by the National Park Service in 1953, it was open to the public and served as a ranger station until it was closed in 2013 due to limited maintenance and vandalism.

The Chalet is the last structure of its type within the park’s interior. Flooding events and changes in the flow of the Quinault River caused bank erosion, leaving a portion of the chalet cantilevered over the riverbank. The Chalet was nominated as a Most Endangered Place in 2014 and in September of that year, the building was successfully moved 100 feet from the bank of the river. The Chalet was not given a permanent foundation and is currently still sitting on the steel beams used to move it back in 2014.

Unfortunately, the Quinault River has continued to move in the valley and as of March 2019, the river bank has once again eroded to within approximately 5 feet of the Chalet.


Update

In May 2020, National Park Service released an environmental assessment about the future of the Enchanted Valley Chalet which recommends that the building be dismantled and removed from the Valley. Olympic National Park staff hosted a virtual public meeting on July 15 and shared what they are planning, answered questions, and provided information about the process. They accepted further public comment on the assessment until August 31. Additional documents and a link to comment, can be found on the project planning website.

If you want a quick primer on the situation, Olympic National Park has released a Frequently Asked Questions document about their assessment. If you want a deep dive, you can read the entire environmental assessment document.

We will continue to keep you updated on this important and unique piece of Washington history!

Masonic Home of Washington

Status: Most Endangered Places

Year Listed: 2015

Location: Des Moines, King County

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.”

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 does sit on a large parcel of land that could allow the coupling of rehabilitation with new construction to potentially make 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.”

Robert Morris Earthwork

Status: Most Endangered Places

Year Listed: 2015

Location: Seatac, King County

Created in 1979, the Robert Morris Earthwork is a 4-acre sculpture and public artwork, with significance as a pioneering example of land reclamation as art. It has garnered an international audience of scholars, students, urban planners, curators, and art enthusiasts. As part of King County’s Public Art Collection, Robert Morris Earthwork is open to the public from dawn to dusk on a daily basis, providing a contemplative open space and an extraordinary view to the Kent Valley below. Since its creation, the physical context of the Earthwork has changed dramatically as nearby urban development continues to expand. Encroaching development has also led to more abuse of the site, including vandalism and illegal dumping. Current funding from 4Culture, King County’s cultural development entity, provides for daily management of the site, but is insufficient for cleaning up vandalism, restoring the site from erosion, replacement of decomposing natural features, or new interpretative signage. 4Culture is organizing a campaign for funding toward site restoration, interpretation improvements, and to raise awareness for this important cultural resource.