Year In Review: Brown & Haley Warehouse Demolition

It’s hard to imagine it today, but the sprawling, abandoned and boarded up warehouse near the corner of East 11th Street and Thorne Road on the Port of Tacoma tide flats was once a hub of economic activity and headquarters for one of Tacoma’s most prominent businesses.

In 1965, Brown & Haley, the Tacoma candy-maker that produces Almond Roca and dates back to 1912, moved into the 116,000-square-foot building and remained there for more than 40 years. Seven years ago, the Port of Tacoma purchased the property, located at 1940 East 11th Street, for $3 million and continued to lease the warehouse, which was built in 1948, to the candy maker until August of 2007, when a city building inspector “red tagged” the structure, citing two broken trusses and extensive roof leaks.

The Tacoma Daily Index has been following the fate of the former Brown & Haley warehouse for nearly two years.

Last year, the Port of Tacoma began to make plans to demolish the building. One Port staffer told commissioners the building had reached the end of its useful life. Another staff member told commissioners any historic significance had been stripped away and the structure was basically a shell of a building.

Last month, commissioners directed additional funds toward the demolition. The Port is expected to raze the building next summer in order to expand its operations.

Evidence of the candy maker’s presence still exists in some places. The building’s trim is painted the familiar pink color of Almond Roca tins. And a faded sign that once directed delivery drivers to the receiving department still stands. Today, visitors will find windows boarded over and the entire 5.6-acre property ringed by a chain-link fence.

This vacant warehouse on the Port of Tacoma tide flats was home to Brown & Haley for more than 40 years. The Port is expected to raze the building next summer in order to expand its operations. (FILE PHOTO BY TODD MATTHEWS)

This vacant warehouse on the Port of Tacoma tide flats was home to Brown & Haley for more than 40 years. The Port is expected to raze the building next summer in order to expand its operations. (FILE PHOTO BY TODD MATTHEWS)

To read the Tacoma Daily Index‘s complete and comprehensive coverage of the proposed demolition of the former Brown & Haley warehouse, click on the following links:

Todd Matthews is editor of the Tacoma Daily Index and recipient of an award for Outstanding Achievement in Media from the Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation for his work covering historic preservation in Tacoma and Pierce County. He has earned four awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, including third-place honors for his feature article about the University of Washington’s Innocence Project; first-place honors for his feature article about Seattle’s bike messengers; third-place honors for his feature interview with Prison Legal News founder Paul Wright; and second-place honors for his feature article about whistle-blowers in Washington State. His work has also appeared in All About Jazz, City Arts Tacoma, Earshot Jazz, Homeland Security Today, Jazz Steps, Journal of the San Juans, Lynnwood-Mountlake Terrace Enterprise, Prison Legal News, Rain Taxi, Real Change, Seattle Business Monthly, Seattle magazine, Tablet, Washington CEO, Washington Law & Politics, and Washington Free Press. He is a graduate of the University of Washington and holds a bachelor’s degree in communications. His journalism is collected online at wahmee.com.