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 Renovation of the building would require substantial investment as many of the building’s systems are outdated and in need of replacement.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.”

Nuclear Reactor Building

Status: Lost

Year Listed: 2015, 2008

Location: King County

Following World War II, nuclear engineering programs proliferated at universities across the country, including the University of Washington (UW). Retaining a competitive Nuclear Engineering program, however, required construction of a research reactor. Designed in 1961 by The Architect Artist Group, known as “TAAG”, the Nuclear Reactor Building was a unique collaboration between the architectural and the engineering departments of UW.

Efforts to save the building from demolition in 2008 culminated in the nomination of the building to the Washington Heritage Register that same year and the National Register of Historic Places in 2009. Though younger than the minimum of 50 years that is generally required for listing, the Nuclear Reactor Building (constructed in 1961) was placed on the National Register of Historic Places because it demonstrated exceptional importance with its association with significant historic events, embodying the characteristics of the Modern Movement and representing the work of prominent Northwest architects. The building was also placed on the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation’s 2008 Most Endangered Historic Properties List. The earlier advocacy efforts involved the Friends of the Nuclear Reactor Building (consisting mainly of University of Washington students), Docomomo WEWA, Historic Seattle, and the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation.

In the Fall of 2014, the University unveiled plans to construct a new Computer Science and Engineering II Building on the site, which would require demolition of the Nuclear Reactor Building. Because of the building’s significance and the seriousness of the threat, the Nuclear Reactor Building was re-listed on the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation’s list of 2015 Most Endangered Places. In late 2015, Docomomo WEWA submitted a landmark nomination to the City of Seattle. The University of Washington, claiming it was not subject to they City’s Landmark Preservation Ordinance because it was a state agency, filed a lawsuit against the City of Seattle and also named Docomomo WEWA in the suit. The Washington Trust and Historic Seattle also joined the lawsuit as intervenors.

Preservation advocates lost the first round of legal proceedings in King County Superior Court. On April 14, 2016, King County Superior Court Judge Suzanne Parisien issued an order granting the University of Washington its motion for summary judgment in its lawsuit against defendants City of Seattle and Docomomo WEWA, and intervenors Historic Seattle and the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation. Although advocates continued to try to slow the demolition process, UW moved forward and the Nuclear Reactor Building was demolished on July 19, 2016. Despite the loss of the building, the fight to protect other historic buildings on state-owned university campuses continued on.

The City of Seattle appealed the King County Superior Court decision and the case was elevated to the Washington State Supreme Court. The almost decade-long fight to protect historic resources at the University of Washington has culminated in a State Supreme Court ruling in favor of preservation advocates in the case—University of Washington vs. City of Seattle, Docomomo WEWA, Historic Seattle, and the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation. On July 20, 2017 the State Supreme Court of Washington issued its opinion—a precedent-setting unanimous decision—holding that the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Ordinance applies to property owned by the University of Washington. The Court ruled that the University of Washington is a state agency that must comply with local development regulations adopted pursuant to the Growth Management Act.

The Supreme Court win won’t bring back the Nuclear Reactor Building (may it rest in peace), but it can help save other properties owned by UW in the future and may serve as an important precedent for future cases regarding historic properties across the state. Universities not only manage their campuses, but they also own properties in downtowns areas in the hearts of Washington communities small and large.

Even though the building has been lost, we are honored to accept, along with our advocacy partners Docomomo WEWA and Historic Seattle, a Docomomo US Modernism Award of Excellence in Advocacy.

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.

Lincoln School

Status: Most Endangered Places

Year Listed: 2015

Location: Jefferson County

Location: Port Townsend, Jefferson County

Completed in 1892, the Lincoln School stands as a contemporary of Port Townsend’s major civic structures. Considered one of the most handsome public buildings in the state when completed, it served as a public school for 86 years. A 1936 Public Works Administration project modernized the school, changing the external appearance of the building to resemble the design of the newly built neighboring high school. In 1980, the building was deemed a “fire trap” by the local fire chief and was vacated in the middle of the school year. School district administrative offices remained on the first floor until 2012, when the doors were shuttered. Although unoccupied and facing substantial plumbing and seismic issues, the building remains solid and is currently used for storage. The Port Townsend School District would like to see the building repurposed, but unfortunately a request for proposals to rehabilitate the building issued by the school district in 2014 yielded no responses.

Longfellow School

Status: Most Endangered Places

Year Listed: 2015

Location: Everett, Snohomish County

Built in 1911, the Longfellow School has a one hundred year legacy serving as both a school and as administrative offices for the Everett School District. Following construction of a new Community Resource Center in 2013, the District effectively retired Longfellow School, leaving it to serve a non-essential storage function. The District issued a request for letters of interest for the property and indicated a preference that the exterior of the building be preserved. The district has received several proposals that have included rehabilitation of the former school building, but they have all been considered not viable. Adding to the concern is the fact that the entire site is adjacent to the district-owned Memorial Stadium, which is used for a variety of school and community events. Advocates fear the perceived need for parking could trump a plan for rehabilitating the building. The Longfellow School site is large enough to accommodate new construction, an important element as the cost to rehabilitate the historic school may require a degree of new development to make the economics feasible.

A December 2016 Herald article about the impending demise of Longfellow prompted a miraculous donation of $3 Million to the Everett Museum of History to purchase the school for use as a museum. However, after several months of negotiations the deal fell through and the museum purchased a different property. In 2017 the Everett School District called for bids to demolish the Longfellow School and construct a parking lot. In July of 2018 the bids were put to vote by the school board. The lowest bid came in at $2.1 Million, about three times what they had estimated. This caused some hesitation, but in the end two directors voted in favor of accepting the bid and two voted against. A fifth director who supported the demolition had stepped down the previous week for health reasons. Only because of this the motion failed and the school received a stay of execution.

UPDATE!

In early February of 2019, Historic Everett learned of plans by the Everett School District to bring a contractor in to the Longfellow school to salvage lights, doors, handrails, cupboards, etc. for surplus. They were concerned this move would make the building less attractive to a future buyer and saw it as an attempt at a piecemeal demolition. They decided to raise awareness of the issue by staging a “heart bombing” on Friday March 1st. A heart bombing is a public display of affection for a historic place, where balloons, flowers, and large hearts with personal love notes are attached to a building. The event garnered the attention of the press in advance of the school board’s vote on the issue, including a story in the Sunday Herald by popular writer Julie Muhlstein. In addition, Historic Everett ran a full-color half-page ad calling on people to write to the board or attend the meeting.

On Tuesday, March 5th, a large number of people showed up at the school board meeting to support Longfellow, including eight who spoke in its defense. Some of the community members promoted the idea of forming a committee of district people and citizens to study the problem of how to use the building. During the meeting two board directors made dramatic statements coming out as supporters of preserving the school, disavowing themselves of their previous votes to accept bids for demolition. When the issue finally came up three hours into the meeting, a long and tense debate was had between board members. Two directors who were on the fence were eventually persuaded that the salvage did not urgently need to be performed right away. When the vote was taken, only one director voted in favor of approving the salvage contractor, and the motion failed. Community support played a major role in defeating the school district’s plan.

In the news:

July 10, 2019 – “Everett’s old Longfellow building beats wrecking ball for now

June 15, 2018 – “Everett School District prepares to demolish 1911 Longfellow building

March 20, 2019 – “Longfellow spared gut job by school board

March 8, 2019 – “Why not use Longfellow building as a school?

March 7, 2019 – “Editorial: Longfellow decision may only put off inevitable

March 6, 2019 – “Group hoping to save doomed Longfellow Building

March 3, 2019 – “A heartfelt plea to save Longfellow School

July 5, 2018 – “Everett’s Longfellow building gets stay of execution

February 7, 2018 – “Everett School District has had offers for Longfellow School

November 1, 2017 – “Museum drops bid for historic Longfellow

October 27, 2017 – “Everett History Museum ends bid for the Longfellow building

June 29, 2017 – “Allow history museum to buy, save Longfellow School

April 19th, 2017 – “Longfellow Building may be saved by offer

March 29, 2017 – “Everett Longfellow offer helps Everett Museum

March 24, 2017 – “Donor pledges $3M for history museum to buy Longfellow building

December 28, 2016 – Editorial: Loss of landmark Longfellow School sad but inevitable

December 14, 2016 – Longfellow Elementary School destined to become parking lot

November 29, 2016 – Everett School’s Longfellow building slated for demolition

April 19, 2015 – No luck selling Everett School District’s historic Longfellow building

December 10, 2014 –
Everett District trying to sell lease century-old Longfellow building

St. Ignatius Hospital

Status: Most Endangered Places

Year Listed: 2015

Location: Colfax, Whitman County

St. Ignatius opened in 1894 as Whitman County’s first hospital. The substantial brick building underwent alterations in both 1917 and 1928, which removed portions of the Victorian trappings and left the building with a more modern, symmetrical appearance. By 1964, the hospital board decided to relocate the hospital, leaving the existing building to serve as an assisted care facility. The last residents moved out of the facility in 2000, and since that time it has sat abandoned. Despite over a decade of neglect and exposure to the elements, the building retains solid structural bones. The building is presently for sale, but redevelopment will require a complete overhaul of the entire infrastructure and building systems. City officials are supportive and welcome the potential economic impact rehabilitation could have for the area. Despite some inquiries, the owner has yet to receive any viable offers for rehabilitation.