2 Tacoma buildings slated for state, national historic registers

The Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation (DAHP) announced on Tuesday the Central Lutheran Church has been added...

The Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation (DAHP) announced on Tuesday the Central Lutheran Church has been added to the state register of historic places, and the Tacoma Self Storage building (pictured) has been nominated to the national register of historic places. Here is information on the Tacoma buildings first published on DAHP’s blog ( http://www.wadahp.wordpress.com/ ).

For related Tacoma Daily Index coverage, click on the following links:

City Council vote June 29 on historic North End church (06/23/10) — http://www.tacomadailyindex.com/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=88&cat=23&id=1794002&more=0

Tacoma City Council will vote on historic nomination for North End church (06/11/10) — http://www.tacomadailyindex.com/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=88&cat=23&id=1786316&more=0

Public hearing for North End church historic nomination (05/21/10) — http://tacomadailyindex.com/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=88&cat=23&id=1774573&more=0

North End church nominated to historic register (04/12/10) — http://tacomadailyindex.com/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=88&cat=23&id=1749528&more=0


Constructed in 1957, Central Lutheran in Tacoma is significant as an intact example of post-World War II ecclesiastical architecture representing the broad patterns of Tacoma’s historical development.

The Central Lutheran was organized in 1925 as a mission church under the Norwegian Lutheran Church. The church’s first home was an ornate 1889 wooden structure originally built for First Presbyterian. In 1954 the congregation received orders from Pierce County Commissioners to vacate the building for new County-City building on the site. On March 6, 1955 the last service was held at the old church.

The demise of the structure marked a turning point for many of Tacoma’s original urban churches. As downtown property values grew higher and Victorian era churches increasingly needed expensive maintenance, many congregations made the decision to leave the commercial core and move towards residential neighborhoods. Although it is unknown how long the congregation would have stayed in their original structure, their move away from the downtown business district was a part of the larger decentralization of the downtown caused in part by middle-class citizens moving to the suburbs post-WWII. Central Lutheran was one of the first churches to leave, but unlike many of their ecclesiastical peers, the congregation wanted to stay fairly close to the downtown. Instead of fleeing out towards the West End, where some congregations relocated, Central Lutheran specifically selected a site that was close to existing residential neighborhoods and the downtown. They also wanted a location accessible to bus lines.

They hired the architectural firm of Lea, Pearson & Richards to design their new church. Central Lutheran’s simple exterior form and lack of exterior ornamentation are products of the Modern era, where decoration- particularly elaboration that was not based on differences in materials- was avoided.

Like many post-WWII churches, Central Lutheran was designed with an attached educational wing. Its steeple features a 25′ high revolving cross.

Groundbreaking ceremonies were held on April 29th, 1956 and the building was formally dedicated on October 13, 1957.

This is the first post WWII church on the Washington Heritage Register. Closest in date is the First Christian Church in Longview built in 1930.


The Tacoma Ice Company’s Cold Storage Plant is eligible for individual listing to the National Register of Historic Places under Criteria A as a resource that was integral with the development with Tacoma’s first industrial area. Before it closed in 1988, the Tacoma Ice Company was one of the state’s oldest running companies, founded in 1887.

The building is also eligible in the architecture area of significance under Criterion C as a good example of industrial architecture as designed by nationally recognized refrigeration engineer Albert W. Sterrett. The building is the city’s last intact former ice manufacturing plant and one of few known extant ice production or storage facilities in the region.

The Tacoma Ice Company provided superior quality ice for half the cost than was available elsewhere in the state. They supplied ice and refrigeration for commercial and residential use in Tacoma, as well as around the region.

By the 1920s, the company had outgrown the original facility and in 1922, they announced plans to build a new, modern cold storage and ice-making plant to replace the old one.

The building was built in three phases and generally has a construction of steel, concrete and brick. The exterior walls of the plant were 18 inches thick and the inside walls with insulation measured about 14 inches in thickness and the floors were 17 inches thick. Each floor contained 10,000 square feet of area. An estimated one million feet of lumber was used in the plant for interior millwork. An elevator measuring 8 x 10 feet had a carrying capacity of two tons. The west side was served by double decker loading platforms next to the railroad, each 150 feet long and parallel to the building. One platform was on the second level for icing railroad cars and the other platform was on the first level for loading ice shipments.

The Tacoma Ice Company played an important role in providing most of the ice and refrigeration needs of the city and region, particularly in the days before home refrigeration and built-in railcar refrigeration. The cold storage plant had a vast capacity for the great volume of fruit, meat, vegetables, dairy products, and other perishables that came to the city.

The original cold storage plant closed in 1988 and sat vacant until the year 2001 converted to use as a storage facility. Plans are currently underway to convert the building to artist lofts.

The Tacoma Ice Company’s Cold Storage Plant is a rare property type statewide. Few examples are standing. This would be the first Cold Storage Plant listed on the national register in the state.

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