Advocates for the preservation of the venerable old Alki Homestead / Fir Lodge were encouraged by a fresh new direction for the project, made public on Friday.
Alloy Design Group, newest member of the building owner’s project team, gave a briefing to the Seattle Landmark Preservation Board’s Architectural Review Committee. The presentation outlined broad concepts for restoring the original log structure, retaining the existing parking and landscaped open space, removing 1960s and ‘80s additions, and adding a new commercial kitchen to the rear (west side) of the building.
The future of the property has been precarious since the building was damaged by fire and the restaurant closed two years ago. In November of 2009, the owner announced his intentions to essentially redevelop the site, infilling the open space with a multi-storied inn, and constructing a new restaurant and banquet facility using some of the Homestead’s logs to suggest the character of the 1904 landmark structure.
Preservationists from around the city voiced their concern, pointing out that creating a log replica was not the same as preserving the real Alki Homestead. This past Fourth of July, nearly 200 supporters gathered in front of the building with buttons and banners proclaiming “This Place Matters.” Sponsored by a coalition that includes the Southwest Seattle Historical Society, Historic Seattle, 4Culture and the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, the mass photo shoot brought wide attention to the issue and opened up a dialogue about the meaning that special places have in our lives. That very day, the property was offered up for sale, and over the summer and fall Historic Seattle worked in partnership with some private investors to negotiate a purchase.
Although they were unable to strike a deal, something has inspired the owner to reconsider his approach to the property. Fans of the Homestead will be encouraged to learn that the owner’s project team have dropped their intention to demolish and replicate, and have now expressed their commitment to preserving and restoring. There will be more clarity on what “preservation” entails in the months to come, but for now, things look pretty hopeful for this beloved old Alki landmark.
Image: This Place Matters, Alki Homestead poster © 2010, photo by Jean Sherrard.