2 Tacoma Hilltop buildings move closer to historic landmark status

Tacoma’s Landmarks Preservation Commission will hold a public hearing in April on a nomination to place the Kellogg-Sicker Building, former home of Browne’s Star Grill, and the Pochert Building on the local register of historic places. Both the Kellogg-Sicker Building and Pochert Building date back to 1906 and 1904, respectively, and were designed by pioneer Tacoma architect Carl August Darmer. Both properties, which sit vacant today, were purchased by the City of Tacoma in 2005. Last year, Historic Tacoma, a non-profit organization that advocates for historic preservation, placed the buildings on its “Watch List” of endangered properties.

The nomination was prepared by architectural historian and former Historic Tacoma board president Caroline T. Swope and submitted to City Hall in October by Historic Tacoma. According to the nomination, the buildings are still in decent shape and can be saved. “The second floors of each building have exceptional integrity,” noted Swope. The Kellogg-Sicker Building, located at 1114-16 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, still retains its original floorplan, doors, wood flooring, light wells, double-hung windows, and hardware. Many of the bathrooms still include vintage plumbing fixtures and clawfoot tubs. The Pochert Building, located at 1110-12 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, also retains its original floor plan, wood flooring, and double-hung windows, as well as intact baseboards and picture rails. Vintage built-in cabinets and bathroom fixtures remain in several locations.

The landmarks commission determined the buildings met the preliminary standards required to be eligible for the historic register during a meeting on Feb. 13. At that time, Swope noted the significances of the architect and the buildings in Tacoma. “The best we can tell, Darmer kept quite a few records, there are about 300 known buildings that he designed in Tacoma,” Swope told the commission. “About 150 of those are left. Of those, only two are commercial structures that are on the historic register. So for someone who was so prolific and really shaped the city, we have very few of his buildings left.”

Landmarks commission chair Ken House agreed. “I think your point about the significance of the architect, the significance of the buildings as one of the few remaining examples of his commercial work and commercial buildings on this street make it an excellent choice,” he said.

The landmarks commission is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the nomination on Weds., April 10 at 5:30 p.m. at the Tacoma Municipal Building, 747 Market St., Room 248. Staff will also send notification of the nomination and upcoming public hearing to interested parties, community groups, and the general public.

The Kellogg-Sicker Building and the Pochert Building in Tacoma's Hilltop neighborhood have been nominated to Tacoma's historic register. (PHOTOS COURTESY CAROLINE T. SWOPE / HISTORIC TACOMA)

To read the Tacoma Daily Index‘s complete and comprehensive coverage of the Kellogg‐Sicker Building and Pochert Building, click on the following links: