EDMONDS — The building that houses the Edmonds Historical Museum has been nominated as a historic landmark in itself.
Under the city of Edmonds’ new historical preservation process, the building has become the first to be nominated for placement on the Edmonds Register of Historic Places.
The building was nominated by Darrell Marmion, who chairs the Edmonds Historical Commission and is also a longtime member of the Edmonds Historical Society.
The Commission, created last year by the city, determined that the building meets a set of criteria written into the city ordinance that authorized the Commission, said City Council member Michael Plunkett, also a member of the Commission. The criteria are based on state historical guidelines, Plunkett said.
Nominations first go to the Commission, then to city staff to write a summary report for the City Council, and if approved by the Council, to the property owner. In this case, the property owner is the city of Edmonds. The responsible official for the city, Mayor Gary Haakenson, said he would sign the designation.
If approved, it would afford the city an advantage with the building it doesn’t have with others, through state tax incentives and possible city code advantages, Plunkett said.
The city’s criteria for whether a building qualifies are fourfold and based on a set of established historic preservation criteria (see related story, page 6).
The building that houses the museum was built in 1910 as a library with funds donated by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, and is listed on the National Historic Register. The building has also been used as Edmonds City Hall and the city jail. It is one of 1,689 library buildings built in the United States with funds donated by Carnegie, a Scottish immigrant who became a wealthy industrialist and established numerous charities. While many of the other Carnegie libraries have been destroyed or altered over time, according to the Historical Society, the Edmonds building has maintained much of its original, second Renaissance Revival red-brick-and-concrete appearance.
The idea behind the city’s historic preservation ordinance is to use economic and other incentives to encourage owners of historic properties to keep them preserved.
Many older buildings are becoming “less and less viable,” Plunkett said. “Those buildings have to be economically viable or we’re going to lose them.”
No building is placed on the register without the owner’s permission. Once on the register, owners are eligible for state tax breaks, such as a 10-year exemption from tax on the value of any improvements made to the building, Plunkett said. The city, meanwhile, is developing a list of advantages for historic buildings, such as breaks on parking and access regulations.
Some restrictions would apply. Prior to the commencement of any work on a register property, excluding ordinary repair and maintenance and emergency measures, the owner would have to request and receive a “certificate of appropriateness” from the Commission for the proposed work. If this condition is violated the Commission could remove the property from the register. Prior to whole or partial demolition of a register property, the owner would have to request and receive a waiver of a “certificate of appropriateness.”
Plunkett said the Commission plans next year to hire a consultant to compile a comprehensive list of properties that could potentially qualify for historical status. Possible candidates for the near future are some of the city-owned buildings, he said, such as the Frances Anderson Center and the Edmonds Center for the Arts, formerly the Puget Sound Christian College.