Patrick Robinson
Tom Lin has offered to sell the Alki Homestead Inn to any historic preservation organization for $2 million and from those funds will provide a $500,000 to help preserve the structure. CLICK THE IMAGE TO SEE MORE PHOTOS OF THE ALKI HOMESTEAD

Alki Homestead owner will sell to save it for $2 million

Offers to provide a $500,000 endowment

Tom Lin, owner of the historic Alki Homestead at 2717 61st Avenue Southwest is making a uniquely structured offer to area historic preservation groups. He will sell them the fire ravaged building for $2 million and in the bargain provide a $500,000 endowment to help preserve it.

The West Seattle Herald was offered an exclusive tour of the building on Friday, July 2, during which Lin pointed out specific areas of fire damage.

"My wish is to preserve the Alki Homestead Restaurant, so I'm offering it for sale and providing an endowment to make that happen," Lin said. "Ideally I"d like them to take over the project. My biggest hope is that we keep Alki Homestead Restaurant and we have the building one way or the other, almost identical, with all the safety that we need today, with access where old people with wheelchairs can go in there, without going through the kitchen," Lin explained. "Ideally I'd like to have a building that's going to last another 100 to 200 years."

Lin has owned the restaurant since July of 2005, though it took a year to close the deal, purchasing it from the estate of Doris Nelson.
His purchase was opposed by members of the Alki community who expressed their concern about granting the facility a liquor license. The license however was granted in June, 2006 which led to the purchase finally closing.

The building was severely damaged by fire on January 16, 2009. The cause was linked to electrical wiring. Six weeks after the fire the Southwest Historical Society charged that Lin was neglecting the building. An investigation by the Fire Department took place immediately following the fire. A week later the insurance company did their own investigation. According to Lin during this period he was in the process of filing an insurance claim, going through the inventory and determining the damage, a process that took months. The building damage assessment took approximately a week for the insurance company to complete. They concluded that the fire damage alone was $1.65 million.

Lin has had three building inspections done, all concluding that the building is severely damaged and suffers from many other structural defects, largely due to age. The conclusions of those inspectors have been disputed by the Southwest Historical Society, whose primary interest is in preserving the building.

"I've been talking to Historic Seattle about getting their people in there." Lin said, "I don't mind if they want to get their people in there to do a study of the place (...) I want a totally impartial verification of what my people are saying because one of the criticisms that I've heard is that I paid these people so they're going to say what I want to say, which is not fair because these are all Washington certified respectable professionals." Lin said he suggested that several names be offered for each component of the inspection. This was rejected by the Society who preferred to use only those people they chose, largely because they have specialized expertise in building restoration specifically, the Alki Loghouse Museum which was partially restored. They want to bring in the same people who worked on that project.

Lin said he has chosen this path because, "I can't win. It has gone on long enough. If I don't let people in they are going to say I'm trying to present one side of the picture only and if I let people in, it can't be impartial either because they only want to use who they want to use (...) It's taking too big a toll on my energy."

His offer, however, is only good until July 31, 2010. After that the building will be available for sale to any interested parties, and the terms will change. Lin said, "July 31 is only to show their interest by starting a negotiation. I'm not asking for money by July 31. That's what I mean by this deadline."

Our previous coverage of the Alki Homestead story is here.

On the 4th of July the Southwest Seattle Historical Society is sponsoring a community rally to save the Alki Homestead called “This Place Matters.” which is part of the Historic Trust for National Preservation. They have invited area dignitaries and elected officials to attend for the pupose of taking a photo, and video making a statement about the importance of historic preservation.

In a press release they state:
This City landmark has been endangered since it closed last year after a fire. Experience history in the making on July 4th at 1:30 pm by joining a lively group photo shoot and rally in front of the Homestead to say, “This Place Matters.” The photo will then be distributed widely online, on Facebook, and on posters. The event itself will be captured on video and posted on YouTube.

Lin provided this press release regarding his offer:

Alki Homestead/Fir Lodge is being offered for sale to Seattle’s concerned historical organizations such as:
Historic Seattle
Southwest Seattle Historical Society
The Washington Trust for Historic Preservation

Sale Price - $2,000,000 An endowment fund of $500,000 would be provided from these funds by the current owner Tom Lin.

Alki Homestead/Fir Lodge was offered to the Southwest Seattle Historical Society under the same terms in 2004 by the previous owner, Doris Nelson, according to her family.

These historical organizations claim to have more extensive resources and the expertise needed to ensure that the Alki Homestead/Fir Lodge retains its historical place in the community and would not be torn down.

Tom Lin will accept offers from interested historical organizations no later than July 31, 2010. Beyond July 31st the property will be offered to the general public at a different sale price and terms.

Contact Information: Tom Lin at

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This is a dream come true

This is a dream come true for the historical society - and a repeat chance to add this jewel to their crown of accomplishments in the Southwest Seattle community. They should be able to mobilize a giant fundraising effort at tomorrow's rally, since they are expecting hundreds or thousands of historians to rally to their cause. Now is the time to show everyone how a restoration is done on a grand scale. They have an army of experts ready to help with the effort, so this is their final opportunity to bring back the grandeur of the Bernard house with all the original logs and the original design. I must say that I will really miss the Alki Homestead Restaurant though -- but we will have 60 years of memories while we look at the restored building.