When the owner of the former Des Moines Masonic Home property filed for a permit from the City of Des Moines to demolish all structures on the property, including the stately main building, which has reigned as the most prominent landmark on Puget Sound between Seattle and Tacoma for almost a century, advocates for the building’s preservation (including the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, Historic Seattle, the Des Moines Historical Society and SoCoCulture) pointed out the following during the Environmental Impact Statement scoping period in 2022:
- the historic nature and architectural significance of the building, which is not only a significant structure in South King County, but also a unique example of this type of architecture in Washington State
- the potential for this building to serve as a museum, cultural center, or some other tourist-oriented destination
- the opportunities for repurposing the building as a city center or civic hub
- the opportunity for repurposing the building for some form of affordable or transitional housing
- the harmful environmental impacts of tearing down an existing building and replacing it with another (new construction is responsible for over 10% of of carbon emissions globally, rehabilitation of old properties is a much “greener” proposition)
- the negative impacts on the neighborhood, which includes an adjacent retirement/convalescent center and nearby elementary school, of traffic congestion, air pollution and noise pollution associated with demolition process and new construction
- the disruptive impact demolition of the buildings will have on remaining forested habitat and wildlife on the eastern portion of the Masonic Home property
Now that we’re in the summer of 2023 and awaiting the results of the EIS process, preservation advocates are engaged in sign-waving activities in front of the Des Moines Masonic Home (23660 Marine View Drive, Des Moines WA) on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of July and August (July 11, July 25, August 8, August 22) from 4-5:30 PM. Help us keep this in the public eye – bring a sign and join us!
Photo courtesy of Washington Trust for Historic Preservation.