New roof, landmark designation approved for historic Tacoma Municipal Barn

Tacoma City Hall is directing money and attention toward the historic municipal barn building downtown.

Tacoma City Council has approved a project to replace the roof on the 104-year-old structure, which is listed on the Washington State Heritage Barn Register.

According to a legal notice published earlier this year in the Tacoma Daily Index, the City of Tacoma planned to hire a contractor to install a new roof, overhangs, and gutters for the sprawling, City-owned building that occupies a full city block near the corner of South Holgate Street and South 24th Street. The bid process began on Tues., May 13. Three contractors submitted bids before the deadline expired on June 3. A $516,000 contract was awarded to Lakewood, Wash.-based Stetz Construction on Tuesday.

Also on Tuesday, Tacoma City Council formally added the building to Tacoma’s Register of Historic Places.

The former Tacoma Municipal Barn was built in 1910 at a cost of approximately $30,000, according to the nomination prepared by Caroline T. Swope, a preservation consultant at Kingstree Studios, on behalf of Historic Tacoma. “The Municipal Barn embodies the transitional period between horse-dominated transportation and automobiles, and is a rare example of a Craftsman style concrete building,” wrote Swope in the nomination.

Tacoma’s Landmarks Preservation Commission initially reviewed the nomination in March, and held a public hearing on the nomination in April.

City of Tacoma Historic Preservation Officer Reuben McKnight told councilmembers his office and the landmarks commission are aware of the new roof planned for the historic building. “That project actually did start prior to this nomination process,” said McKnight on Tuesday. “It will look essentially like it is now, except for better, in some regards, it will be in better condition.”

To read the Tacoma Daily Index’s complete and comprehensive coverage of the Tacoma Municipal Barn, 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 first-place honors for his feature article about Seattle’s bike messengerssecond-place honors for his feature article about whistle-blowers in Washington State; third-place honors for his feature article about the University of Washington’s Innocence Project; and third-place honors for his feature interview with Prison Legal News founder Paul Wright. His work has 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