National Trust for Historic Preservation grant will fund Curran House renovation study

Historic Tacoma announced Tuesday the University Place Historical Society has received funding and support for the rehabilitation of the 1952 Curran House, which was designed by Robert B. Price (the first architect from Tacoma to be inducted to the AIA College of Fellows) and is listed on the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation’s 2009 Endangered Property List.

According to a statement released yesterday by Historic Tacoma, the Society has received a $3,500 feasibility study grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation to employ an historic preservation consultant. Artifacts Consulting, based in Tacoma, has been selected to guide the process of renovating Curran House for the benefit of the University Place community. The Curran House Investigating and Planning Study (CHIPS) committee wrote the matching grant which was approved by the National Trust’s Western Regional office in San Francisco.

The group is also due to receive $30,000 in funding from a one-time 2010 Pierce County budget proviso. Curran House is a designated Conservation Futures project and this funding will be used for roof repair and maintenance later this year.

As a result of an on-going partnership with Clover Park Technical College, CHIPS now has two interior design interns helping with committee activities.

According to the Washington Trust, the Curran House is a fine example of mid-century modern design. The house is situated within an orchard providing a unique example of early western Washington apple horticulture. In the early 1990s, Pierce County purchased the property and the existing house from the original owners with funds from the county’s Conservation Futures program for use as parkland. The guidelines of the program require that the property, as well as the house, be used for horticultural and educational purposes in perpetuity.

After incorporating as a city in 1995, University Place assumed control of the property. The city leased the Curran House for some time, but the structure has sat vacant for over a year.

In 1999, University Place developed a Master Plan for the park in order to evaluate future uses and programs at the site. Of the several scenarios included in the plan, each called for retaining the Curran House based on findings that the building could serve a useful function and was an integral part of the property as a unit. At one point, the city debated whether or not to demolish the structure, citing a variety of costs related to repairs, security, and utility bills as barriers to rehabilitation.

Curran House in University Place. (PHOTO COURTESY WASHINGTON TRUST)