Most Endangered Places: Call for Nominations
December 19, 2017 | 11:00 am
from Washington Trust
The Washington Trust for Historic Preservation is seeking nominations to its 2018 list of Most Endangered Places. Nominations should be submitted by January 12 and may be submitted online.
Historic buildings and sites significantly contribute to the heritage and vitality of Washington while enhancing the quality of life in our small towns, large cities, and across rural areas. Historic resources face a variety of challenges, however, including lack of funding, deferred maintenance and neglect, incompatible development, and demolition. Our list of Most Endangered Places brings much-needed attention to historic resources under threat while we work with all stakeholders to find positive solutions that prioritize preservation and reuse. Through this program, the Washington Trust partners with local communities in developing strategies to remove the threat and generate local and statewide support for preservation.
Nominations are reviewed based on the significance of the historic resource, the level of endangerment or immediate threat, and demonstrated community support for preservation and partnership with the Washington Trust. The final list is selected by our Board of Directors and announced through a video presentation at our annual fundraiser, Vintage Washington, which is held in May in conjunction with Preservation Month. The Washington Trust accepts nominations for endangered places all year round, but nomination on or before Friday, January 12, 2018 is required for guaranteed inclusion in the official video announcement for 2018.
The Washington Trust’s Most Endangered List program has resulted in many high-profile campaigns across Washington since its establishment in 1992. The Nuclear Reactor Building on the University of Washington (UW) campus was an exceptional example of the Pacific Northwest interpretation of Brutalist Architecture. The building was listed as a Most Endangered Place twice because the university announced plans to build a new computer science building on the site in 2008 and later revived that plan in 2015. A local non-profit advocacy group for modernist architecture, Docomomo WEWA, nominated the building as a City of Seattle landmark which prompted a legal battle over whether UW is subject to local preservation ordinances. During the process, the UW was able to demolish the building in 2016, but the case went all the way to the Washington State Supreme Court this past year. The Supreme Court Justices unanimously decided that UW is subject to local landmark laws, which won’t bring back the Nuclear Reactor Building, but will help protect other university-owned properties across the state. This case has set an important precedence for any public universities who not only have historic buildings on their campuses, but also own properties in the downtowns areas that are the hearts of Washington communities small and large.
The Washington Trust’s Most Endangered Places program has also helped bring about more traditional success stories like the 1915 Beaux Arts-style Elks Building in Tacoma. This National Register-listed building looks out over Commencement Bay and is a prominent building at the northern edge of Tacoma in the Old City Hall Historic District. The Elks Building was nominated as a Most Endangered Place in 2003 after decades of neglect due to an out-of-state owner who publicly expressed unwillingness to sell the building and actively sought to demolish it. The building was finally purchased by McMenamin’s in 2009 who took immediate steps to secure the building while weathering the recession and working on other Washington development projects. After a few more delays to secure additional funding for the project, construction on the Elks Building finally began late this year and the entire Tacoma community, not to mention the statewide community, is eager to see this beautiful building brought back to life as a restaurant, hotel, brewery, and performance space.
The Washington Trust encourages communities to take action when the historic fabric of their neighborhoods, main streets, rural landscapes, and beloved parks are threatened. Through the Most Endangered Places program, the Washington Trust is eager to offer support with preservation efforts aimed at resolving these critical preservation challenges.
In order to be included as part of the official 2018 Most Endangered Places announcement, nominate a historic resource by Friday, January 12, 2018. Those interested in nominating a resource are strongly encouraged to contact Jennifer Mortensen, Preservation Services Coordinator for the Washington Trust, prior to submitting a nomination.