Old buildings are the heart and soul of Tacoma

By Morf Morford
Tacoma Daily Index

Tacoma has more than its share of cool, historic, massive and, in many cases, abandoned buildings. Some, like Stadium High School, have been restored and are even more glorious and memorable than before. Others, like the Luzon Building, were neglected to the point of being (far) beyond the possibility of restoration.

Most are, or at least have been, somewhere between.

But no matter where any given building might fall on the neglect/restoration scale, every major building (or its absence) is a statement about who and what Tacoma has been and where it is going.

This view from the alley behind the old Federal Building downtown on A Street reveals an architectural intricacy rarely seen in modern buildings. Photo: Morf Morford

This view from the alley behind the old Federal Building downtown on A Street reveals an architectural intricacy rarely seen in modern buildings. Photo: Morf Morford

You might find, or drive by, some of these once magnificent buildings in almost every neighborhood. Some of these buildings are in use, some still lie neglected occupied only by the occasional rodent or pigeon.

Some, like the historic Elks Building are transforming into a working landmark that will soon be added to the McMenamins roster of restored architectural masterpieces.

For some buildings, their glory days are long gone, while for others, a new beginning – and new-found respect, use and appreciation – is just beginning.

Some, like Old City Hall, are impossible to miss in their scale and grandeur. (1*)

While others, like the old Hostess/ Wonder Bread bakery building on Sprague, near South 7th, are easy to miss as we rush by.

It might look bland, if not bleak, on the outside, but take a look at this profile of this building which once stood on the edge of what was once known as “the city” – https://gritcitymag.com/2018/03/23/a-rare-look-inside-the-coolest-vacant-tacoma-building-youve-never-noticed/

Stadium High School is, of course, a local landmark. Thanks to a few Hollywood movies, second to the (collapse of) original Narrows Bridge, it is probably Tacoma’s most recognizable landmark in the eyes of most of the world.

You can see a few snippets of Stadium High School’s multi-storied history here – https://gritcitymag.com/2018/08/03/the-lesser-known-history-of-stadium-bowl/.

A building many of have driven by and only recently have been able to see is the Armory on 11th and Yakima. Thanks to a partnership with The Broadway Center, a variety of events have been scheduled here, but don’t miss an opportunity to appreciate a building that has held kings, presidents and rock and roll bands.

Between its uses as a military facility, it was also a popular dance hall in the 1930s and early ’40s. You can see more about it here – https://gritcitymag.com/2018/04/05/an-inside-look-at-tacomas-historic-armory/.

Other cities might have skylines that can be admired from a distance. As always with Tacoma, a closer look is required to see what we are made of.

 

(1*)   More details on Old City Hall here – https://www.thenewstribune.com/news/local/article54285290.html