You have read recently in this paper about the city of Puyallup’s efforts to produce a Historic Preservation Plan, something to guide our efforts in the future.
I applaud this action, but we, as a community, need to do more than sponsor planning efforts.
Historic Preservation, and adaptive reuse (using a historic property in a meaningful economic way), is a means of commemorating and recognizing past historic properties whether we still have them or not. In the latter category, I would list the much-loved Carnegie Library, the Opera House and the former Hotel Puyallup.
The Opera House, built in 1890, later served as City Hall until it was so severely damaged by the 1949 earthquake that it had to be razed. Today, Trackside Pizza occupies the ground floor of what had been the multi-story Hotel Puyallup.
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Some communities post a small sign with a photo and brief explanation of a building that no longer exists. Signage of this nature would add depth and character to our town.
A group of like-minded preservationists has formed an informal consortium to consider how to recognize and celebrate Puyallup’s historic properties.
Representatives from the historical society, Puyallup Main Street, the Chamber of Commerce, the city’s Planning Department and a small number of interested citizens meet for an informal lunch the second Tuesday of every month, currently in a City Hall conference room, until we outgrow it. We have developed a working list of about 25 properties we wish to remember, and are currently considering how we can celebrate them as a community during May, National Historic Preservation Month.
As a community, we must be vigilant.
During the process of developing our list of properties we learned that a demolition permit was being processed for the original portion of Good Sam Hospital, originally the Masonic Home and later the Lutheran Home. We are currently seeking permission to document this building before it is gone.
Several other close calls come to mind, one being John Valentine Meeker’s home across from the Episcopal Church. A group of physicians wanted to tear it down or give it to the historical society to have it moved elsewhere, an impractical proposition. For unknown reasons, the proposal died aborning.
If you have ideas, wish to have a copy of our current list, or would like to attend our next meeting, please let me know. We will be pleased to have you. If we need to reschedule these meetings to accommodate those not available for lunch, we will attempt to do so.
Andy Anderson is the historian of the Puyallup Historical Society at Meeker Mansion. He can be reached through the Meeker Mansion at 253-848-1770, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.