Elks Temple, Old City Hall Historic District - Tacoma, Washington
Posted by: Hikenutty
N 47° 15.484 W 122° 26.483
10T E 542264 N 5233994
Quick Description: This beautiful beaux arts structure has been vacant for years and is in great disrepair. The city recently pushed the owners to sell the property to a Portland, Oregon developer who plans on renovating the structure.
Location: Washington, United States
Date Posted: 9/7/2007 5:13:16 PM
Waymark Code: WM25C9
The Elks Temple was built in the day when fraternal organizations were an important part of the community and had the money to build beautiful buildings such as this one. It was designed by E. Frere Champney, a graduate of the Ecole des Beaux Arts in the second Renaissance Revival style. The historic narrative describes it as follows:
The first story is rusticated and has its principal approach through the south wall of the terrace level of the Spanish Stairs, midway between Broadway and Commerce. Immediately above and facing on Broadway is the main building entrance. The entrance façade is divided into three bays, each with a round arched window opening at street level (one serves as the entry portal) surmounted by a tall rectangular opening at the second story level. Each second story window is provided with a small iron railed balcony supported by a scrolled bracket or keystone.
Adjacent to the building is a beautiful stairway called the "Spanish Steps" that wind up the hillside adjacent to they building. Back in the building's heyday this area was beautifully landscaped and you walked down the steps surrounded by roses and gorgeous blooms. Now it is full of weeds and potential.
The city of Tacoma has done a great job in enticing developers to invest in the city's historic structures and because of this urban revitalization has spread from the downtown area into other parts of the city, also.
Recently the city sued the owners of the Elks Temple and the courts sided with the city. They would buy the building for a fair market value and resell it to developers. The owner found an developer before this happened and the city agreed to the sale. The building was sold to the developers Williams and Dame who are based in Portland, however rumors are flying that Mike McMenimins may be working with Williams and Dame to turn the structure into one of the McMenimin company's magical restaurant/hotel/movie theaters. McMenimin has toured the structure but no one is saying much. Reporters from the Tacoma News Tribune have urged people to start an email campaign to entice the two parties to work together on the development. In the meantime we sit and wait, dreaming of McMenimins micro-brews and juicy bleu cheese burgers.
The Elks Temple is one of the three core buildings of the Old City Hall Historic District. The district was the original downtown core and was full of luxury hotels, and office buildings. The district is comprised of 7 city blocks with with about 25-30 buildings within the area being pointed to as significantly contributing to the character of the district.