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    Heritage Turkeys of the Year

    Envelope, please: Politicians played heavy hands in the destruction of history across the Northwest, particularly in Seattle and Washington state, during 2012.

    (Page 2 of 4)

    Last Dance at Parker's
    Winner: Parker's Ballroom Demolition, Shoreline, WA

    Ask heritage advocates for a Turkey nomination and the one that set off a collective groan was the demolition of Parker's Ballroom on Aurora Way in Shoreline. Music historian Peter Blecha says it was the area's last standing 1930s roadhouse. Opened in 1930, Parker's was a venue that served local needs from the Jazz Age through Punk Rock and beyond. Located in the 'burbs away from stricter city Blue Laws, Parker's was a major nightlife attraction from Prohibition era to the classic days of Northwest rock. Who played there? According to Historylink, the roster includes Guy Lombardo, Tommy Dorsey, Stevie Wonder, Jerry Lee Lewis, Paul Revere and the Raiders, B.B. King, Heart, Joan Jett, Warren Zevon, Ray Charles, Tina Turner, The Byrds, The Ventures, The Sonics, The Wailers, The Dynamics ... the list goes on. Concert venue, dance hall, roller rink, casino, supper club, Parker's survived decades in many incarnations and was a coming-of-age place for many of Puget Sound's youth as well as an incubator of Northwest music. After more than 80 years of service, it was flattened in November to make room for —what else? — a car lot. Citing other demolitions like the Music Hall, the Spanish Castle, and the Jolly Roger, Blecha says, "A young city like Seattle really ought to know better by now than to let yet another historic entertainment edifice fall to wrecking balls and bulldozers — but apparently not."

    Sorrow in Sourdough Country
    Winner: Disappearing frontier roadhouses, Alaska

    Parker's isn't the only roadhouse to bite the dust. Historic roadhouses of another sort in Alaska are rapidly vanishing. These aren't dance halls, but old supply depots, trading posts, saloons, and shelters that could be reached in a day by dog sled in winter or by wagon in summer in Alaska's pre-statehood era. In Alaska's early days roadhouses formed a lifeline for trappers, prospectors and travelers along remote trails, roads and, later, highways. Many of these have gone to ruin with time, some have been saved and turned into lodges or restaurants. This year saw the destruction of two important historic roadhouses, both by fire. In April, the Forks Roadhouse near Peterville burned. Established during the Gold Rush and rebuilt, this 1930s roadhouse was said to be the oldest in Alaska still used for its original purpose as a supply depot. And in May, fire destroyed the Copper Center Lodge outside of Anchorage. The National Historic Register structure was originally built for goldminers in the Copper River Valley in 1896, and was rebuilt in the late 1920s. In more recent times, it has housed pipeline workers, tourists, National Park Service employees and served as a community gathering place. One victim of the fire: the lodge's famous 150-year-old sourdough pancake starter. Concern over the vulnerability of the frontier roadhouses is enough that the Alaska Association for Historic Preservation put them on its most-endangered list for 2012.

    Winner: Jantzen Beach Carousel closure, Portland, OR

    Since the late 1920s, the historic Jantzen Beach carousel had been turning, delighting generations of Portlanders first in an amusement park, later in the center of a mall that replaced the park. The restored 72-horse merry-go-round was, until 2008, on the National Register of Historic Places, but was de-listed in anticipation of a move. This year, facing a $50 million mall makeover in an area that will also be greatly impacted by the Columbia River Crossing project, the carousel has been dismantled, put in storage, and is now listed only on the Historic Preservation League of Oregon's "most endangered list" for the year. The concern: its future is unclear. The building that housed it has been demolished and plans to re-incorporate the carousel into the new mall are vague. Local heritage advocates are worried that it will be lost in the re-development shuffle and want assurances that it will be kept in Jantzen Beach.

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    Posted Tue, Jan 8, 6:57 a.m. Inappropriate

    It seems there's some irony in the Thiry family demolishing the office building and selling away a piece of the family's history.

    This area really is in need of open space, so I don't think it's a bad decision. Unfortunately, I have little faith the Key will be adapted for future use.


    Posted Tue, Jan 8, 9:23 a.m. Inappropriate

    On September 5, 2012, the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board voted unanimously to designate the Cedar Park Elementary School building, designed by Paul Thiry, as a Seattle Landmark. This building is an example of a less-known Thiry work that has, perhaps surprisingly, been protected.

    The Seattle School District wanted to destroy the building so it could use the site for a new school. The Cedar Park Elementary School building has not been used as a school for over 30 years; since 1981 it has housed the Artwood Studios, live-work spaces artists. Some current residents have lived in the building for more than 30 years.

    Although Landmark designation protects the Thiry-designed Cedar Park School building, its current use as artist live-work housing is not protected. The latest School District proposal is to use the Cedar Park school building as temporary school space while another school (likely Olympic Hills) is demolished and rebuilt. This will mean evicting the artist tenants of the last 30 years and may require destroying a Seattle city park located on the former school parking lot and playground--the only city park in this northeast Seattle neighborhood.

    The School District has so far announced no plan for the building and site after the need for temporary space comes to an end.

    Posted Tue, Jan 8, 9:40 a.m. Inappropriate

    The Parkers demolition was shameful, but not surprising as the City of Shoreline has not supported any efforts to save historic structures.

    However, the most egregious example of failed historic preservation in Shoreline is the Ronald School. This building was long-protected by the Shoreline Historical Museum. The original school board who deeded the building to the Museum 25 years or so ago, intending its use as a museum to be perpetual, but was outfoxed by the current Shoreline School Board who underhandedly obtained the building after expressing its dismay that the structure had been landmarked. Now the once-stately Ronald School has been gutted, left open to the elements, had its carefully preserved original woodwork left to deteriorate and is over-powered by a modern structure to the rear. This is a case where the powerful Shoreline School District simply exercised its might against the City of Shoreline and its inhabitants for their own perceived benefit. Although the Ronald School was "protected" I do not consider this to be historic preservation in any sense of the word.


    Posted Tue, Jan 8, 11:44 a.m. Inappropriate

    The loss of the Coliseum would truly be tragic. I can't help but think that if the permanent seating was removed, and the floor restored to grade (enabling the re-burying of one of the roof support pillars) it could have a long future as an exhibit and convention facility.


    Posted Tue, Jan 8, 12:36 p.m. Inappropriate

    A failure on the part of the legislature to fund Washington’s State Parks system would be shameful. Not only would it put at risk a treasure trove of our state’s natural and cultural history, zeroing out the parks budget would potentially result in denying access to recreational opportunities across the state. And this at a time when the national conversation is all about exploring and enjoying the outdoors for our physical and mental health. Tough to do that without parks.

    To their credit, staff at State Parks, along with the Parks and Recreation Commission, has proven creative and open to trying new things. While the Discovery Pass has not generated the amount of revenue as hoped, a fee system was overdue and will be part of the long-term solution. New fees are understandably unpopular, but consider this: Washington was the last state in the nation to adopt a fee system for its parks – a pretty commendable track record of providing recreational access.

    And state parks are actively engaging in innovative partnerships. Just last month, the Parks and Recreation Commission voted to begin negotiations with the Port Townsend Public Development Authority (PDA) to co-manage Fort Worden State Park – a National Historic Landmark site with over 100 buildings and structures. The willingness of State Parks to partner with private, nonprofit entities demonstrates their understanding that the solution to the challenges facing our state parks is not going to be solely legislative in nature.

    Posted Wed, Jan 9, 12:01 p.m. Inappropriate

    Comment from Junius Rochester:

    Thanks for the update on squandering our heritage.

    I identified and described Thiry-designed homes in my book, "The Last Electric Trolley." And your comments about Kennewick Man were helpful. With guests who join me in visiting Palouse Falls from our small cruise ship anchored on the Snake River, I tell about K-Man and point out that his remains should probably be returned to the local Natives, especially Yakamas, for re-burial (at least that's what the 1970s Antiquities Act seems to endorse?).


    Posted Wed, Jan 9, 11:56 p.m. Inappropriate

    Including Douglas Owsley's presentation on the latest findings on Kennewick Man in your "examples of the worst in Northwest heritage and historic preservation during the last year" is either an uninformed cheap shot or a clever parody on the vapid reportage of the event, beginning with Linda Mapes' incoherent piece in the Seattle Times, and continued by John Stang writing in assassin-mode in Crosscut. You have identified perhaps the one characteristic of scientific reporting that changes from one report to the other with little explanation -- K-man's reconstructed appearance.

    But wait! The most recent "revisionist" portrait shares a visage remarkably similar to ... Knute Berger. Shave off all the hair and whaddya got? A face like Patrick Stewart.


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