Historic Preservation

The Nordic Heritage Museum announces the launch of a new and ambitious effort to record the life histories of Nordic immigrants and their descendants in the Pacific Northwest.

The Nordic American Voices project will be a multi-year effort to collect, preserve, and share history “from the ground up.” Eric Nelson, the museum’s executive director, invites broad community participation in this initiative.
A 15-member Steering Committee chaired by Gordon Strand will guide the project, with the professional guidance of the museum’s chief curator Janet Rauscher. The steering committee is composed of representatives from each of the five major Nordic immigrant groups. Volunteer interviewers will play a crucial role in the project’s success.


The Southwest Seattle Historical Society (SWSHS) invites residents to bike into history as the second annual SWSHS Bike Tour returns to West Seattle Sunday, June 7, from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. The Bike Tour accompanies SWSHS’ popular Walking Tour series, showcasing some of West Seattle’s most influential landmarks.

Beginning at the Log House Museum on Alki Beach, the Bike Tour is a casual 5-mile bike ride around the Duwamish Peninsula via Alki and Harbor Avenues and West Marginal Way. Featured sites on the route include the Log House Museum, the newly reconstructed Alki Statue of Liberty Plaza, Alki Beach, Anchor Park (formerly Luna Park) and the new Duwamish Longhouse on West Marginal Way.

Bike Tour creator and Museum Assistant Sarah Frederick and Museum Director Andrea Mercado are excited about the Bike Tour’s unique format in reminding Seattleites of West Seattle’s central influence on the city’s history.


(Editor's note: The following is a letter to the community that was also sent to this newspaper from the Southwest Seattle Historical Society.)

Dear Editor,

Because of community uncertainty over the fate of the Fir Lodge/Alki Homestead Restaurant after an early-morning fire damaged the building on Jan. 16, 2009, the Executive Board of the Southwest Seattle Historical Society states the following:

The Southwest Seattle Historical Society advocates protection and preservation of significant historic structures on the Duwamish Peninsula. We nominated the Alki Homestead Restaurant building for city landmark status and the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board designated it a Seattle landmark on Oct. 18, 1995. Then and today, the building needs preservation.

Tom Lin updates the community about his plans for the historic building

Owner of the Alki Homestead Restaurant, a city landmark that was damaged and closed by a Jan. 16 fire, said he plans to re-open the historic building as it was, but in the meantime will likely open a new restaurant in the North Admiral District to ensure the Homestead employees still have jobs.

"It's mainly for them (the employees), it's not for me," said Homestead owner of three years Tom Lin. I don't look at it from a business perspective."

The January fire at the Homestead left at least 10 people without work since the restaurant closed due to the damage to the dining area and roof. Lin said he does not expect it to re-open within the next year and starting a new restaurant was the best solution he could think of to retain his employees.

"It's not a done deal, but there's a good chance we are going to do it," said Lin, who would not reveal the exact location of the new restaurant space. "It's sort of a work in progress."

Recently, the Southwest Seattle Historical Society Board, which operates the Log House Museum in Alki, released a statement urging the protection and restoration of more than 100-year-old Homestead building, formerly Fir Lodge.

HomesteadPic, Tarp.jpg
Photo credit: 
Steve Shay

Here is the damaged roof of the Alki Homestead today, March 25. Owner Tom Lin says he plans to replace the tarp covering the hole from a Jan. 16 fire.

A statement from the Southwest Seattle Historical Society Board released this week urges the owner of the Homestead Restaurant, a Seattle city landmark, to restore the fire damaged building and protect it in its damaged state, but owner Tom Lin said he is disappointed the board did not come to him first before making a public announcement.

"I'm very disappointed," said Lin. "When there's an important statement to be made, the party involved should be notified and confirmed."

Lin said he feels the statement from the historical board in support of the building's preservation, which calls the future of the building "uncertain" and urges it be better protected in adverse weather since the damage and that the yard and landscaping be maintained among other things, implies that he has not been taking care of the structure or working to preserve and restore it.

Lin said he has every intention of restoring the landmarked building.

As proof, Lin said he has been in discussion with Mark Fritch, owner of Log Homes based in Sandy, Ore., about making improvements to the 100-year-old building even before the Jan. 16 fire damaged its roof and dining area.

Photo credit: 
File photo by Steve Shay

This is a photo of the Homestead before the Jan. 16 fire that damaged the roof and dining area.

The Southwest Seattle Historical Society, which runs the Log House Museum in Alki, is urging the preservation of the land-marked 100-year-old Alki Homestead Restaurant, previously Fir Lodge, since the January fire that damaged the building has made its future uncertain, according to a press release from the society.

"The Southwest Seattle Historical Society advocates protection and preservation of significant historic structures on the Duwamish Peninsula," read the release. "We nominated the Alki Homestead Restaurant building for city landmark status and the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board designated it a Seattle landmark on Oct. 18, 1995.  Then and today, the building needs preservation."

An early morning fire Jan. 16 damaged several parts of the structure including the dinging area and roof.

The Executive Board of the Southwest Seattle Historical Society states the following:

Photo credit: 
File photo by Steve Shay

The Southwest Seattle Historical Society is urging that the Seattle landmark, the Alki Homestead, be restored after it was damaged in a Jan. 16 fire.

(Editor's note; This story has been corrected from an earlier version.)

The Seattle City Council voted today to amend an existing ordinance to create an exception to a requirement that museums in general industrial areas can only occupy buildings that existed as of Oct. 5 1987.

The council's planning and land use committee approved the change last week.

The vote allows the Nordic Heritage Museum to build a new facility at the site of the old Fenpro building on Northwest Market Street, west of 24th Avenue Northwest.

The museum has already completed a $5.1 million deal to purchase the 75,000 square foot building, located in the Ballard Hub Urban Village.

Eric Nelson, executive director of the Nordic Heritage Museum, has said he expects the museum to move to the new location by 2014. A new facility will be built, being designed now by Mithun Partners.

At a public hearing last week, Nelson told the committee that without the amendment, the museum would not be able to realize its vision of creating a "world-class" center for Nordic heritage for the community and city.

Photo credit: 
Michael Harthorne

The Nordic Heritage Museum will build its new facility here on Northwest Market Street at the site of the Fenpro building. The city council approved today a zoning amendment to allow museums in new buildings in an industrial area.

The Northwest Design Review Board is still unsatisfied with how the design of a new condo treats an iconic corner in Ballard.

Kirkland-based developers Rhapsody Partners plan to build Market Street Landing, a five to eight story building at the corner of Northwest Market Street and 15th Avenue Northwest, where the once historic Manning's/Denny's building stood.

This corner is seen by many in the community as the "gateway to Ballard," so the board, all Ballard residents, is paying special attention to what is developed there.

The News-Tribune recently reported that the project was on hold due to lack of funding. But Arthur Chang, the architect for the project, said the financing situation has been "blown out of proportion," and that not having funding is typical at this point in the development process, before master-use and construction permits have been obtained.

"I think people are just nervous and they want to see something at that corner, and so do we," said Chang, with Freiheit and Ho Architects. "We are moving forward with this project."

It had been about a year since the project had been before the design review board.


Sadly, the century-old Alki Homestead burns. Easy Street Records turns 20. Another West Seattle mainstay also deserves attention this month.

On Thursday, Jan. 29, it will be "twenty years ago today" that the Southwest Seattle Historical Society picketed on the night Cineplex Odeon closed the Admiral Theater. The event attracted several dozen participants, including all our state and county office-holders, along with live TV news coverage.

The historic Alki Homestead restaurant could soon be sold, owners said last week.

Co-owner Tom Lin said if the sale goes through, the new owners, husband and wife chefs, will take over the restaurant early next year and possibly close it down for remodeling for several months. But, said Lin, the name and the tradition of the Homestead will not change.

"It has been very challenging for me the past few years as I am not a restaurateur," Lin said.

Photo credit: 
Photo by Steve Shay

MAY BE SOLD. Business partners Patrick Henley and Tom Lin may sell the Homestead Restaurant business to a local husband and wife chef team but they will retain ownership of the Alki building and land.

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