Luzon's Last Dawn

A crowd gathered at dawn Saturday to watch contractors begin to demolish the 119-year-old Luzon Building in downtown Tacoma. According to the City of Tacoma, the historically significant building was deemed a safety hazard earlier this month for fear it would collapse after decades of neglect, and a demolition order was issued.

Designed by famed Chicago architects John Wellborn Root and Daniel Hudson Burnham, the Luzon Building was one of the first high-rise towers on the West Coast, the embodiment of engineering genius — sturdy brick shell, cast iron columns, and wood construction on the upper floors — that allowed the building to top out at a soaring height for 1890s Tacoma. It was an engineering model that would be copied and opened the door to the future development of “skyscrapers.”

Monday’s print edition of the Index will feature photographs of the demolition by local photographer Kevin Freitas. For a collection of more than 100 photos of the demolition by Freitas photos, visit

Workers began to demolish the 119-year-old Luzon Building Saturday morning. (PHOTO BY KEVIN FREITAS)


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

Todd Matthews is editor of the Tacoma Daily Index and recipient of an award for Outstanding Achievement in Media from the Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation for his work covering historic preservation in Tacoma and Pierce County. He has earned four awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, including third-place honors for his feature article about the University of Washington’s Innocence Project; first-place honors for his feature article about Seattle’s bike messengers; third-place honors for his feature interview with Prison Legal News founder Paul Wright; and second-place honors for his feature article about whistle-blowers in Washington State. His work has also appeared in All About Jazz, City Arts Tacoma, Earshot Jazz, Homeland Security Today, Jazz Steps, Journal of the San Juans, Lynnwood-Mountlake Terrace Enterprise, Prison Legal News, Rain Taxi, Real Change, Seattle Business Monthly, Seattle magazine, Tablet, Washington CEO, Washington Law & Politics, and Washington Free Press. He is a graduate of the University of Washington and holds a bachelor’s degree in communications. His journalism is collected online at