Hilltop's Browne's Star Grill building nominated to Tacoma's historic register

Historic Tacoma, a non-profit organization that advocates for historic preservation, announced Wednesday it has prepared a nomination to place the former Browne’s Star Grill building in Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood on the city’s register of historic places.

The building, which dates back to 1906 and is also known as the Kellogg-Sicker Building, was designed by pioneer Tacoma architect Carl August Darmer and is currently owned by the City of Tacoma. Earlier this year, Historic Tacoma placed the building on its “Watch List” of endangered properties. According to the organization, the City of Tacoma purchased half a city block that includes the Kellogg-Sicker Building and the Pochert Building in 2005. The organization has also nominated the Pochert Building to the local historic register. That building dates back to 1904 and was also designed by Darmer and is also on Historic Tacoma’s “Watch List.”

“The Kellogg-Sicker and Pochert buildings have been vacant and in decay since the City obtained ownership of the property,” according to a message on Historic Tacoma’s Web site. “These buildings are in the heart of what once was a thriving commercial district. Historic Tacoma encourages the City of Tacoma to lead by example and place these unique historic structures on the Tacoma Register of Historic Places and restore them to their historic use as mixed-use residential and retail centers.”

In an e-mail to the Tacoma Daily Index Wednesday, Historic Tacoma officials added, “Working with the neighborhood, we’ve decided to take further action to protect these buildings. The New Tacoma Neighborhood Council and the MLK Sub-Area Planning Steering Committee, in direct response to resident’s appeals to maintain remaining historic and cultural relevance for the neighborhood, have partnered with Historic Tacoma to nominate both of these buildings to the Tacoma Register of Historic Places.”

The nominations were prepared by architectural historic and former Historic Tacoma board president Caroline T. Swope and submitted to City Hall last month. Tacoma’s Landmarks Preservation Commission is expected to review the nomination in January.

“Historic Tacoma board member Jeff Williams had the opportunity to see the interior of the buildings yesterday and reports structural integrity, a significant amount of architectural detail remaining in the second floor apartments, and great potential for rehabilitation of both structures,” added Historic Tacoma officials in its e-mail Wednesday. “Historic Tacoma is currently working with the Tacoma Housing Authority and a private developer, both of whom are exploring possible rehabilitation and re-use of the structures.”

Historic Tacoma will share more details about the nominations during its annual membership meeting and reception on Thurs., Nov. 15 at 7 p.m. at the Old Post Office building, located at 1102 A St., in downtown Tacoma.

More information is available online at historictacoma.org.

Historic Tacoma has nominated the Browne's Star Grill (left) and Pochert (right) buildings in Tacoma's Hilltop neighborhood to Tacoma's Register of Historic Places. (PHOTO COURTESY HISTORIC TACOMA)