Hey, We Funded That: Auburn’s Sutherland Store

Left: the Sutherland Store, near Auburn, during restoration in 2017. Right: Dolly Sutherland waves from the Sutherland Store, covered in snow, no date. Both photos courtesy of Marty Dickinson.

“We have lived a few blocks from the store for the last 15 years and have always wanted to see someone give this obvious piece of history the attention it deserves. ‘Wouldn’t it be amazing if someone fixed that up!’ we would say every time we drove by. We eventually thought that maybe that ‘someone’ could be us.”

What better start to a preservation story?

Built in 1931, Sutherland’s Grocery Store sold staples—milk from owner Victor Sutherland’s cows and penny candy—to travelers on the Military Road thoroughfare, adding a filling station in 1934 and a duplex in 1935. The Sutherland family owned and operated the store until 1953 when it was sold and renamed the Lake Geneva Grocery Store; the business sold again in 1984. Despite being designated a King County Landmark in 2002, the property, which is the last hybrid gas-and-grocery store from the early automotive years left in south King County, sat unattended since 2009.

Enter Marty Dickinson, who purchased the property in 2016 with a vision of turning the deteriorating store into a community events space. Since then, three 4Culture grants—two from Preservation Special Projects and one from Landmarks Capital—have helped fund plans for a septic tank and designs for development of the store and duplex. Marty and his family have hit obstacles in getting their septic plans approved, but haven’t let the unforeseen delays stop them from making amazing progress. They have cleared blackberry overgrowth from the site, replaced deteriorated fences, removed more than 30 tons of debris, and completed a topographical survey of the land parcel. Their work, visible from the road that is still a main thoroughfare, has attracted support from neighbors who remember the store, including Victor Sutherland’s granddaughter. Cheer the Dickinsons on and follow their progress on Facebook!