Archive for the 'Landmarks' Category

Preserving a National Historic Landmark in Seattle’s Japantown: The Panama Hotel

Panama Hotel HSR cover image blog

Historic Seattle, in collaboration with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, is working with Panama Hotel owner and steward, Jan Johnson, to develop a long-term plan that preserves this rare National Historic Landmark (NHL) for the future and improves community access and interpretation. In addition to being a National Historic Landmark, the Panama Hotel is a contributing resource to the International Special Review District and Seattle-Chinatown National Register Historic District.

Located on the southeast corner of Sixth Ave S. and S. Main St. in Seattle’s Japantown (Nihonmachi) within the International District, the Panama Hotel is nationally significant for its association with the historical theme, “Japanese immigration to the United States,” and also significant as a building type that is exceptionally valuable for the study of the earliest generation of Japanese immigrants in the United States. Built in 1910, the Panama Hotel was designed by Sabro Ozasa, the first Japanese architect to practice in Seattle. Along with hotel rooms, the Panama Hotel also contained the traditional Japanese bathhouse or sento (located in the basement). The bathhouse in the Panama Hotel is the most outstanding representative example of an urban bathhouse in the country (only two remain) and possesses an extraordinarily high degree of integrity.

When owner Jan Johnson purchased the property in 1986 from Takashi Hori, owner of the building from 1938 to 1986, she also became the caretaker of Japanese American artifacts that had been left in the basement of the Panama since World War II. In 1942, many Nikkei were forced to evacuate their homes for World War II internment camps. They packed their personal belongings in large trunks and stashed them in the basement of the hotel. Many of these items remain in place as part of the building’s history and legacy to the city and the nation.

We are engaged in preserving the Panama Hotel through short-term and long-term activities. We began preparing a Historic Structures Report (HSR) and as-built drawings for the building in summer 2013, retaining the services of Artifacts Consulting, Inc. of Tacoma for the HSR and architect Brian Baker, a Historic Seattle volunteer, for the drawings. The HSR was completed in April 2014 and provides the foundation for our efforts to preserve the building, its spaces and collections. As the primary work plan and guide on treatment, the HSR prioritizes work to address immediate conservation needs, as well as mid and long-term needs to allow the owner to effectively plan for capital projects. Historic Seattle secured grant funds for the HSR project from 4Culture’s Preservation Special Projects Fund and the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Eldridge Campbell Stockton Memorial Fund for Washington. We are grateful to these two organizations for their support. Continue reading ‘Preserving a National Historic Landmark in Seattle’s Japantown: The Panama Hotel’


Historic Fir Lodge/Alki Homestead For Sale

Alki Homestead, West Seattle (2009 Most Endangered Properties List) / Photo: Eugenia Woo

Fir Lodge / Alki Homestead, West Seattle / Photo: Eugenia Woo

January 16, 2014 will be the five-year anniversary of a fire that partially damaged the Fir Lodge/Alki Homestead building in West Seattle. Built in 1904, this designated Seattle landmark building has been vacant and closed since, deteriorating with each passing month.

The Fir Lodge / Alki Homestead is for sale again at a listing price of $1.85 M. Download the marketing flyer listing the property for more information. The current owner is seeking a preservation-friendly buyer.

Preservation News of Note: Newest Seattle Landmark

Ad for US Cor-ten steel roof featuring Battelle Memorial Institute Seattle Research Center buildings / Source: Collection of the Friends of Battelle/Talaris

Ad for US Cor-ten steel roof featuring Battelle Memorial Institute Seattle Research Center buildings / Source: Collection of the Friends of Battelle/Talaris

November has been a newsworthy month for historic preservation so far. Here’s some news of interest:

-Newest Seattle Landmark! The Battelle Memorial Institute Seattle Research Center / Talaris was designated a Seattle Landmark by the Landmarks Preservation Board at its November 6, 2013 meeting. The vote was unanimous. The property met four of the six designation standards (C, D, E and F):

C) It is associated in a significant way with a significant aspect of the cultural, political, or economic heritage of the community, City, state or nation;
D) It embodies the distinctive visible characteristics of an architectural style, or period, or a method of construction;
E) It is an outstanding work of a designer or builder;
F) Because of its prominence of spatial location, contrasts of siting, age, or scale, it is an easily identifiable visual feature of its neighborhood or the city and contributes to the distinctive quality or identity of such neighborhood or the City.

The Friends of Battelle/Talaris worked for over a year on this effort to prepare the nomination for the property, with assistance from Historic Seattle. Dozens of letters of support (mostly from the Laurelhurst community) were sent to the Board before the September 18 nomination meeting and November 6 designation hearing. At the November 6 meeting, public comments supporting designation were given by the Laurelhurst Community Club and Washington Trust for Historic Preservation. Original project architect for NBBJ, David Hoedemaker, was present for the meeting; he spoke about his experience with the project and design intent for the site. Rich Haag, landscape architect for the site, presented at the September 18 meeting. The Board appreciated hearing from the original designers.

Next steps in this process is the controls and incentives stage in which the City and property owner engage in negotiations. MAin2 will keep readers posted on that progress.

Comment on the Draft State Historic Preservation Plan, 2014-2019: Getting the Future Right. The Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation are seeking public comments on the draft plan. Comments are due by November 22. For details and to download a copy of the plan, go to DAHP’s website.

Must Read“Roots of Tomorrow: Urbanism in our Blood,” a series of articles by Knute Berger that have been appearing on Crosscut. He delves into lesser known topics in Seattle’s history that help inform how the city was shaped, exploring urbanism and deep roots.

Seattle Center Historic Landmark Study

seattle center landmark study

Seattle Center recently released the Seattle Center Historic Landmark Study, prepared by the joint consultant team of Artifacts Consulting, Inc. of Tacoma and This report is important because: a) it provides a comprehensive evaluation of historic resources at Seattle Center within the context of the site’s World’s Fair history and its history since the Fair; and b) serves as a solid planning tool for Seattle Center moving forward. The study clearly states which buildings, structures, features, etc. are significant and and which resources are eligible for Seattle Landmark nomination.

Download a pdf of the Seattle Center Historic Landmark Study. (7.1MB)

The study calls out two clusters of resources based on “small historic concentration areas encompassing a concentration of properties designed by a single architecture firm.” According to the report, “The Paul Thiry (Thiry) concentration area around KeyArena and the Kirk, Wallace, & McKinley (Kirk) concentration area around the Playhouse and the Exhibition Hall present the most uniform groupings of properties.”

Landmark nominations for each cluster is a possibility and may be more beneficial for Seattle Center’s planning purposes. The study also discusses historic district nomination and individual nominations. In MAin2’s opinion, given the Seattle Center’s association with the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair and the number of resources that would be considered “contributing” to a historic district, it makes more sense to have a historic district rather than individual landmarks dotted throughout the site. If the existing designated landmarks (Space Needle, Pacific Science Center, Horiuchi Mural, Monorail and Kobe Bell) are incorporated into a potential district, then a stronger case can be made. In a designated historic district, changes to the site (including new construction) and not just the buildings would be reviewed by the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board (LPB). Individual landmarks are reviewed in isolation.

Seattle Center will be presenting the study and findings to the LPB on Wednesday, May 1, 2013, during a regular Board meeting. The meeting is open to the public and begins at 3:30 pm. It is held in the Seattle Municipal Building, 700 Fifth Avenue, 40th Floor, Room 4060. The item is far down on the agenda. Download the LPB agenda.

For further reading, Knute Berger wrote about the study in his Crosscut article, “Seattle Center–Is Historic District Designation Ahead?”

Here’s the Seattle Center Historic Landmark Study Press Release.

Neptune Theatre Designated a Seattle Landmark!

Neptune Theatre decorative detail / Photo: Historic Seattle

In a close vote (6:2:1), the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board designated the Neptune Theatre as the newest Seattle Landmark on November 14. MAin2 reported on the nomination in an earlier post.

The Board also voted to nominate the Chiarelli-Dore House, a modernist residential gem in the Maple Leaf neighborhood designed by architect James Chiarelli.

Preservation News – Landmarks Old, New and Future

Neptune Theatre, 2012 / Photo: Historic Seattle

Seattle Landmarks 

Landmarks Preservation Board Meeting, Wednesday, November 14, 2012:

This meeting is open to the public and takes place on Wednesday, November 14 at 3:30 pm, Seattle Municipal Tower, 700 Fifth Ave, 40th Floor, Suite 4050/60. Download the agenda (LPB52512.)

Neptune Theatre: The LPB will decide whether to designate the Neptune Theatre in the University District. The Board voted to nominate the building at its October 3 meeting so that its members could take a closer look at the structure in person to assess the level of physical integrity. At the October 3 meeting, the owner brought an attorney and an architect to argue against nomination claiming the building lacks integrity and how it does not meet any one of the six designation standards. The nomination was submitted by Larry Johnson of The Johnson Partnership who prepared it pro bono as an advocacy effort–he believes the Neptune should be recognized and protected as a Seattle Landmark. Read more about his thoughts on the theatre in his firm’s blog.  Historic Seattle offered public testimony at the October 3rd meeting supporting the nomination of the Neptune Theatre, citing the building’s significance as a community landmark in a city where few historic theatres (built as theatres) remain in neighborhoods. The building has sufficient integrity to convey its significance.

You may download the landmark nomination on the Seattle Historic Preservation Program’s website under “Current Nominations.” It includes an excellent section on the development of theatres in Seattle.

If you support the designation of the Neptune Theatre as a landmark we urge you to attend the meeting to speak in favor of the nomination. You may also email your public comments to Erin Doherty, Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board Coordinator, at Continue reading ‘Preservation News – Landmarks Old, New and Future’

Fashioncraft Building Designated a Seattle Landmark

Fashioncraft Building, Seattle / Photo: Karin Link, Seattle Landmark Nomination Form

At its meeting on Wednesday, January 4, 2012, the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board designated the Fashioncraft Building (2022 Boren Avenue) as the newest Seattle Landmark in a unanimous 9-0 vote. The landmark nomination was prepared by cultural resource consultant Karin Link for the Seattle Historic Preservation Program. The nomination was prepared as part of the 2007 Downtown Historic Resources Survey which identified the property as potentially eligible for landmark listing. Download the nomination here (look for 2022 Boren Avenue).

The building owner, Recovery Cafe, acquired the property in early 2010. Recovery Cafe staff and board members enthusiastically supported the nomination and designation. The organization retained the services of David Peterson of Nicholson Kovalchick Architects to present additional information about the significance of the building as it relates to the economic heritge of the city. The Schoenfeld Brothers, the original building owners, are often described as founders of Seattle’s modern clothing industry. The building (constructed in 1929) was used to house a business that manufactured neckties. Presentations by Ms. Link and Mr. Peterson made the case for designating the building under three designation standards–C, D and F. Continue reading ‘Fashioncraft Building Designated a Seattle Landmark’

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The writers who post entries on MAin2 represent various views and opinions. The blog posts do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Historic Seattle.