3 public meetings will showcase milestone Pierce County historic survey

Individuals interested in learning more about Pierce County history are encouraged to attend three meetings in May to hear from two architectural historians who have spent nearly a year documenting heritage sites throughout the county.

Beginning last September, Katie Chase and Susan Johnson, two architectural historians at Artifacts Consulting in Tacoma, have driven to nearly every pocket of rural Pierce County — former mining settlements, ghost towns, ruins of logging mills, and even an abandoned slaughterhouse — to document historic sites and buildings. Their work is a milestone survey that is in the final phase of completion. When finished, it will give local historians, county councilmembers, urban planners, developers, and residents a better understanding of the region’s history and historically significant buildings.

In 2009, the Pierce County Landmarks and Historic Preservation Commission awarded the project to Artifacts. The results will be compiled in a database that will be available to the general public online.

“We are writing what will be the first ever comprehensive Pierce County history context,” Johnson explained to the Tacoma Daily Index last year. “We’re telling much more of the story of Pierce County. The property inventory will illustrate that context statement. So when we talk about mining or logging, we will have pictures from then and from now to show what that history looked like. We want to know how everything relates. Basically, it will show how Pierce County developed.”

Before field work began, Johnson spent two months researching property records from the county assessor’s office, annual reports, city directories, newspaper articles, and a similar survey conducted in the 1980s. Johnson and Chase have documented approximately 900 sites in Fruitland, Summit-Waller, Alderton, McMillin, Carbonado, Wilkeson, Burnett, Buckley, Sumner, Orting, South Prairie, Eatonville, Graham, Roy, Kapowsin, Purdy, Rosedale, Fox Island, Anderson Island, University Place, Fircrest, Elbe, Spanaway, and Parkland.

“At this stage of the project we have completed the field work portion in addition to the analysis and data entry,” said Johnson in an e-mail today. “We are in the process of uploading all of the information into the Washington Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation database.”

As part of the final phase of the project, Johnson and Chase, along with the Pierce County Landmarks Commission, will host a series of public meetings to present their findings. Here is the schedule for the public meetings:

I. Mon., May 3 @ 7pm at the Sumner Library, Sumner Room 1, 1116 Fryar Avenue, Sumner, WA 98390

II. Weds., May 12 @ 7pm at the Gig Harbor / Peninsula Library, Peninsula Meeting Room, 4424 Point Fosdick Dr NW, Gig Harbor, WA 98335

III. Tues., May 18 @ 7pm at the Graham Library, Graham Room 1, 9202 224th St E, Graham, WA 98338

Although no formal R.S.V.P. is required, Artifacts encourages you to e-mail Christy Johnson at cjohnson@artifacts-inc.com so they have an idea of how many people will be in attendance.

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For earlier Tacoma Daily Index coverage of the project, click here:

I. Pierce County’s History Detectives — http://tacomadailyindex.com/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=88&cat=23&id=1643122&more=0 or http://wahmee.com/tdi_pc_history_detectives.pdf

II. A Conversation with Pierce County’s History Detectives — http://tacomadailyindex.com/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=88&cat=23&id=1643972&more=0

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For earlier Tacoma Daily Index coverage of Pierce County historic preservation, click here:

I. Pierce County drops historic preservation officer (01/20/10) — http://tacomadailyindex.com/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=88&cat=23&id=1700764&more=0

II. ‘Roller coaster’ economy taps Pierce County PALS budget (11/03/09) — http://tacomadailyindex.com/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=88&cat=23&id=1654044&more=0

III. Budget amendment bitter-sweet for Pierce County historic preservation (03/20/09) — http://tacomadailyindex.com/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=88&cat=23&id=1512898&more=0

IV. Department shift for Pierce County’s historic preservation program? (03/16/09) — http://tacomadailyindex.com/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=88&cat=23&id=1509016&more=0

V. Pierce County Council Committee will discuss proposed historic preservation funding cuts (03/06/09) — http://tacomadailyindex.com/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=88&cat=23&id=1503447&more=0

VI. Will $8 million budget shortfall touch Pierce County historic preservation? (01/29/09) — http://tacomadailyindex.com/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=88&cat=23&id=1479375&more=0

VII. Behind The Times: Never mind the buildings. Can Pierce County restore its historic preservation program? (04/02/08) — http://www.wahmee.com/tdi_pierce_county_preservation.pdf .