Washington Trust includes UP's Curran House on endangered properties list

The Washington Trust for Historic Preservation announced today it has included the Curran House in University Place on its annual list of the state’s most endangered historic properties.

The list, which has included more than 100 properties since its inception in 1992, aims to bring attention to sites nominated by citizens and organizations across the state.

“The Washington Trust assists advocates for these resources in developing strategies aimed at removing these threats and taking advantage of opportunities where they exist,” said Washington Trust Field Director Chris Moore in a statement released today. “By working to find positive preservation solutions, the Washington Trust seeks to preserve the irreplaceable heritage of the state.”

According to the Trust, the building was designed in 1952 by Robert B. Price, the first architect from Tacoma to be inducted to the AIA College of Fellows. Pierce County purchased the property and the existing house in the early-1990s with funds from the county’s Conservation Futures program for use as parkland and horticultural and educational purposes. In 1995, University Place was incorporated and assumed control of the property. Over the years, University Place has leased the Curran House. However, it has sat vacant for more than one year.

A master plan developed in 1999 included several scenarios for retaining the Curran House, according to the Trust. However, University Place is debating whether or not to demolish the structure. It points to costs related to repairs, security, and utility bills as barriers to rehabilitation.

Of the Curran House, Moore said it is a fine example of mid-century modern design. “[T]he property is eligible for listing in the Washington Heritage Register, and if listed, would be the first Price-designed resource to achieve such designation,” said Moore.

The remaining most endangered historic properties this year include Alki Homestead Restaurant (Seattle); BF Tabbott House (Bainbridge Island); Bush House (Index); George Carmack House (Seattle); Day Block (Dayton); Old Ellensburg Hospital (Ellensburg); Libbey House (Coupeville); Post-Intelligencer Globe (Seattle); Sand Point Naval Station (Seattle); St. Edward’s Catholic Church (Shelton); Surrey Downs (Bellevue); Vashon Elementary Gymnasium (Vashon Island).

It’s not the first time a property in Pierce County or Tacoma has made the Trust’s list.
In 1992, the Pacific National Bank Building (known locally as the “Luzon Building”) and the Japanese Language School received the designation (the school was demolished in 2004). In 2003, the Elk’s Temple received the designation; after years of on-again-off-again development rumors, the building is currently for sale. First United Methodist Church received the label in 2006 (it was demolished the following year). And the Murray Morgan Bridge was included last year.

On the county level, the Trust has designated Kelley Farm in Bonney Lake; Fort Steilacoom in Lakewood; Balch House and Nathaniel Orr House in Steilacoom; and Fleischmann’s Yeast Plant in Sumner.

The ‘endangered’ designation doesn’t necessarily mean the heritage property will be saved. A review of Washington Trust’s lists through 2007 (available online at http://www.wa-trust.org/mostendangered/past_lists.htm ) indicates 98 buildings received the designation — 35 were saved or in the process of being saved; 22 were demolished; and 21 were moved from the endangered list to an ongoing “watch list.”

For more information, visit http://www.wa-trust.org .

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For earlier Index coverage of the Washington Trust, click on the following links:

1. In an old hilltop mansion, a strong voice for preservation (04/14/09) — http://www.tacomadailyindex.com/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=88&cat=23&id=1528102&more=0 or http://www.wahmee.com/tdi_wa_trust.pdf .

2. Long list of concerns for Washington State preservationists (05/29/08) — http://www.tacomadailyindex.com/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=88&cat=23&id=1228444&more=0 or http://www.wahmee.com/tdi_jennifer_meisner_qa.pdf .