2008 Stories & Pictures — Historic Preservationists

Beginning today and continuing through Dec. 30, the Index will feature a four-part series looking back at some of the...

EDITOR’S NOTE: Beginning today and continuing through Dec. 30, the Index will feature a four-part series looking back at some of the significant people, stories and photographs featured in these pages in 2008. For additional photos, pick up a print edition of the Index.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

1. North Slope Historic Preservationist Marshall McClintock

Working out of his home in Tacoma’s North Slope Historic District, preservationist Marshall McClintock (right) is key to saving and honoring Tacoma’s history. Like most preservationists, he’s interested in saving old buildings. His home — the 1901 Rhodes Mansion in Tacoma’s North Slope Historic District — is one example.

But what’s remarkable about McClintock is his ability to think outside the box when it comes to preservation.

How about nominating a greasy burger stand, barely old enough to pass the city’s age criteria for landmarks, to the city’s register of historic places? McClintock, along with the owner of Tacoma’s iconic Frisko Freeze, did just that earlier this year.

And then there’s the small, unassuming Craftsman-style church across the street from Wright Park and home to the Center for Spiritual Living. The church was where famed historian and Tacoma native Murray Morgan was married, and his father, Victor, delivered sermons for 45 years.

For both projects, McClintock volunteered to research and complete the nominations on behalf of the property owners.

Finally, have you ever heard of historic trees?

McClintock has. He’s pushing for City Hall to follow the lead of other cities and create a register of heritage trees. “It sounds kind of odd when you first mention it,” McClintock told the Index earlier this year. “But Tacoma is the home of a number of Champion Trees — these are the trees that are the largest of their species. I would like to make sure they are protected, and they remain as long as they are viable trees. I just think these trees become icons in the neighborhood.”

In 2008, stories about McClintock appeared in the following editions of the Index:

— Preserving Tacoma’s Heritage Trees: An interview with Marshall McClintock (08/27/08) http://tacomadailyindex.com/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=88&cat=23&id=1303991&more=0

— Saving Tacoma’s Urban Arbor: Will the city create a register of heritage trees? (08/26/08) http://tacomadailyindex.com/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=88&cat=23&id=1296206&more=0

— Tacoma’s landmarks commission recommends adding Frisko Freeze to historic register (07/25/08) http://tacomadailyindex.com/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=88&cat=23&id=1271575&more=0

— Landmarks Commission will decide Frisko Freeze nomination today (07/23/08) http://tacomadailyindex.com/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=88&cat=23&id=1268586&more=0

— Public hearing planned for Frisko Freeze historic register nomination (06/26/08) http://tacomadailyindex.com/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=88&cat=23&id=1250797&more=0

— Public hearing June 25 for Murray Morgan church nomination (06/20/08) http://tacomadailyindex.com/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=88&cat=23&id=1246561&more=0

— Streetlight LID for North Slope Historic District? (05/20/08) http://tacomadailyindex.com/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=88&cat=23&id=1220974&more=0

— A Holy Home of History: An interview with Rev. Frances Lorenz (05/16/08)

— Murray Morgan link could put North End church on city’s historic register (05/15/08) http://tacomadailyindex.com/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=88&cat=23&id=1218396&more=0

— Historic landmark status for Frisko Freeze? (04/17/08) http://tacomadailyindex.com/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=88&cat=23&id=1196488&more=0

2. City of Tacoma historic preservation officer Reuben McKnight

This year was one of the busiest for the City of Tacoma’s Landmarks Preservation Commission. For starters, more than a half-dozen properties were reviewed and added to the city’s register of historic places. The properties included the Auditorium Dance Hall (1308-1310 Fawcett Ave. — 1922); Johnson-Gehri Residence (1416 So. 5th St. — 1909); Manley-Thompson Ford Agency (1302-1306 Fawcett Ave. — 1918); — Frisko Freeze (1201 N. Division Ave. — 1950), Dorothy (301 N. Tacoma Ave. — 1928) and Ansonia (215 N. Tacoma Ave. — 1914) Apartments, Center for Spiritual Living (206 N. J St. — 1909), and the Blue Mouse Theatre (2611 N. Proctor St. — 1923).

And the commission also started to review a request to designate Tacoma’s Wedge neighborhood as a historic district. Similar requests are expected from residents in Old Town, Whitman, and West Slope neighborhoods.

Facilitating it all is historic preservation officer Reuben McKnight (left), who serves as the liaison between the landmarks commission and City Hall.

Next year looks to be just as busy for McKnight and the commission.

The City is expected to take an overall assessment of its historic preservation program and develop a historic preservation plan. Areas of focus include a revision to the streets and public places naming policy; development of a citywide monument and commemorative marker policy; a review of demolition permit applications; development of procedures to “de-list” historic properties; development of code enforcement procedures for historic properties and districts; and a revision to review procedures for historic district designation.

“There are a lot of policy areas that we can always improve,” McKnight told the Index in November. “Certain things we don’t have in our code presently that we have been asked to look at.

“This doesn’t happen often,” he added. “I think it shows a heightened level of interest in historic preservation.”

In 2008, stories about McKnight appeared in the following editions of the Index:

— City will review historic preservation program in 2009 (11/26/08) http://tacomadailyindex.com/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=88&cat=23&id=1430336&more=0

— Survey could help preserve Tacoma’s oldest public schools (10/28/08) http://tacomadailyindex.com/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=88&cat=23&id=1403527&more=0

— Will Tacoma’s Wedge neighborhood go historic? (09/05/08) http://tacomadailyindex.com/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=88&cat=23&id=1318920&more=0

— Saving Tacoma’s Urban Arbor: Will the city create a register of heritage trees? (08/26/08) http://tacomadailyindex.com/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=88&cat=23&id=1296206&more=0

— Historic landmark status for Frisko Freeze? (04/17/08) http://tacomadailyindex.com/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=88&cat=23&id=1196488&more=0

— Behind The Times (04/02/08) http://tacomadailyindex.com/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=88&cat=23&id=1186267&more=0

— City considers revisions to historic preservation code (02/05/08) http://tacomadailyindex.com/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=88&cat=23&id=1151003&more=0

3. Preservation consultant Caroline T. Swope

When local property owners embark on a process to put their heritage properties on the City of Tacoma’s register of historic places, many call upon preservationist and design consultant Dr. Caroline T. Swope (above) to provide expertise in completing a nomination application and guiding homeowners through the process.

Swope holds a masters degree in historic preservation, a doctorate in architectural history, and serves on the city’s landmarks preservation commission and Historic Tacoma’s board of directors. She is also author of Classic Houses of Seattle: High Style to Vernacular, 1870-1950 (Timber Press, 2005).

“It is really about this mystery,” Swope told the Index in September, referring to the process of digging into a home’s history. “The mystery is you have this place, and you have to figure out the unknown. Who lived here? What did they do? Who built it? Is this house like other houses in Tacoma? It’s your job to start pulling all these strings that weave into something that hopefully makes sense. At the end of the day, you are documenting local history.”

Swope doesn’t just consult others — last summer her 100-year-old Colonial Revival home in the city’s North End was added to Tacoma’s historic register (the home is also included on state and national registers). The story behind her home started to reveal itself when Swope came across a simple, black-and-white photocopy of a photograph published in the Sept. 30, 1906 edition of the Tacoma Daily Ledger. The photograph depicted her two-story home with big windows and a wrap-around porch much in the way it appears today. It was accompanied by a simple headline — “Pretty North End Home.”

It was an understatement.

The home was designed by Sherman L. Blair, a prominent contractor who had a hand in the construction and design of some of the most significant heritage buildings in Tacoma — buildings with the names of city fathers like Rowland, Bullard, and Lord attached to them. Between 1910 and 1935, Swope’s home was residence to May Heusten, widow of notable attorney Benjamin Heusten. It was here that May raised her two sons, Emory and Alfred, alone, and laid the groundwork for Tacoma’s Pure Food Laws — a grassroots movement nationwide that led to the formation of the Federal Food and Drug Administration. According to Swope, the boys’ initials are carved in wood and glass throughout the house. During our interview, Swope pointed out three initials — A-L-F — scratched into a window pane in the kitchen. Swope assumes Alfred was in the middle of carving his initials, but was thwarted by his mother.

Swope has handled the nominations of many heritage homes: the Osgood-Anderson House — a large Shingle-Style residence in the Stadium National Historic District — was added to city and state historic registers as a result of her work; she also worked on a nomination of the Johnson Residence — a large Craftsman in Tacoma’s Wedge neighborhood — to the city’s historic register; earlier this year, she’s working on a historic structures report for a ranch in northern California dating back to 1870.

In 2008, stories about Swope appeared in the following editions of the Index:

— Landmarks Preservation Commission announces 2008 Preservation Award winners (10/22/08) http://tacomadailyindex.com/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=88&cat=23&id=1400271&more=0

— Reaching The Register: An interview with historic preservationist Caroline T. Swope (09/09/08) http://tacomadailyindex.com/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=88&cat=23&id=1324472&more=0

4. Brett Santhuff and historic MLK

Most people who follow historic preservation efforts in Tacoma are familiar with Brett Santhuff (right). Santhuff is vice president of Historic Tacoma’s board of directors and an architectural intern with Belay Architecture in Tacoma. He also serves on the Wright Park Steering Committee and New Tacoma Neighborhood Council. In August, he was appointed to the Pierce County Landmarks Commission.

One of Santhuff’s biggest projects this year was a walking tour of the Hilltop neighborhood near Martin Luther King Jr. Way.

Through his work, the area has taken another step toward shaking off a reputation for crime and embracing itself as a “historic neighborhood.” On the 700 block of South J Street, a row of 1889 Victorian homes recall San Francisco’s Pacific Heights and Alamo Square neighborhoods. A large building at the corner of South 8th Street and MLK was first an auto dealership, and later, during the 1940s, renovated into Olympic Dairy — a giant replica milk bottle once playfully served as the company’s signage. It was there that Irvine Robbins learned the ice cream business and later helped create the Baskin-Robbins chain. During the 1890s, a cable car ran up South 11th Street, through the heart of what is today the MLK Business District, and back downtown along South 13th Street. And the neighborhood, spurred by immigrant laborers during the 1880s, is studded with Foursquares, churches, and apartment buildings dating back to that period.

“The primary aim is to get people up here to see these buildings and be aware of them,” Santhuff told the Index in July. “Maybe we’ll find people who want to put their own properties on the city’s historic register.”

In 2008, stories about Santhuff appeared in the following editions of the Index:

— Tacoma resident may join Pierce County’s landmarks commission (08/07/08) http://tacomadailyindex.com/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=88&cat=23&id=1280429&more=0

— Putting history in the Hilltop’s future (07/18/08) http://tacomadailyindex.com/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=88&cat=23&id=1266859&more=0

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Related Stories