Century-old Point Defiance Pagoda nominated to Tacoma’s historic register

Metro Parks Tacoma has nominated the former Point Defiance Streetcar Station to the City of Tacoma’s Register of Historic Places.

The building, located at 5801 Trolley Lane, dates back to 1913, when the Board of Park Commissioners voted to construct a stately, Japanese-inspired streetcar station in Point Defiance Park. The station opened on June 14, 1914, to much fanfare. As streetcars were displaced over the years, however, the building transitioned to a bus station in 1938.

It was officially renamed the “Pagoda” in 1960, and was restored by Metro Parks Tacoma in 1988.

In April 2011, an arsonist set fire to the building. It re-opened to the public following a 21-month restoration project that respected its historic integrity.

Last year, the Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation presented Metro Parks Tacoma with a Special Achievement award for the restoration work. The Pagoda was recently added to the National Register of Historic Places and the Washington Heritage Register. The Pagoda is also a gathering place for garden shows, weddings, and other special events. More than three-million people visit the Pagoda annually, according to Metro Parks Tacoma officials.

In May, Metro Parks Tacoma hosted a centennial celebration to honor the former streetcar station.

The nomination was prepared by Metro Parks Tacoma Historic and Cultural Asset Manager Melissa S. McGinnis.

“[The Point Defiance Streetcar Station] is associated with events that have made a significant contribute to the broad patterns of our history,” wrote McGinnis in an Aug. 27 letter to Tacoma’s Landmarks Preservation Commission. “Metro Parks Tacoma welcomes your review of our application and hopes that you agree that the Point Defiance Streetcar Station is worthy of listing on the Tacoma Register of Historic Places.”

Tacoma’s Landmarks Preservation Commission is scheduled to review the nomination during a public meeting on Weds., Sept. 24, at 5:30 p.m., at the Tacoma Municipal Building, located at 747 Market St., Room 248, in downtown Tacoma. Copies of the agenda and meeting materials are available online here.

To read the Tacoma Daily Index’s complete and comprehensive coverage of the historic Pagoda in Point Defiance Park, click on the following links: