Word on the Street

The latest news in and around Tacoma, Pierce County and South Puget Sound

NOTICE: Word on the Street has moved.

With the launch of our new website, we've moved Word on the Street.
Visit the new section.

Two Tacoma restoration projects – Point Defiance Pagoda and Murray Morgan Bridge – win awards from State Historic Preservation office

Post by Peter Callaghan / The News Tribune on May 29, 2013 at 4:24 pm with No Comments »
May 29, 2013 4:27 pm

The annual awards presented by state Historic Preservation Officer Allyson Brooks coincide with National Preservation Month.

Two of the awards for 2013 recognized significant restoration projects in Tacoma, one by the city and the other by the Metropolitan Park District.

One of two Valerie Sivinski Awards for Outstanding Rehabilitation went to the city’s renovation and reopening of the Murray Morgan Bridge across the Foss Waterway. The century old steel draw bridge reopened in February. Here’s what the state office said about that project:

Tacoma's Murray Morgan Bridge (Peter Haley-TNT, 2013)
Tacoma’s Murray Morgan Bridge (Peter Haley-TNT, 2013)

… after years of delayed maintenance and repairs, the Washington State Department of Transportation announced plans to demolish the 100-year old structure. That’s when a group of dedicated local leaders sought to gain control of the bridge and find a preservation alternative. A coalition of local preservationists, elected officials, and civic boosters overcame a myriad of obstacles to obtain the bridge from the State along with partial funding for rehabilitation. With funding in-hand and widespread public support, the City of Tacoma spent three years retrofitting the bridge to meet current safety standards; create bicycle and pedestrian access; and restore the center bridge span lift mechanism.

This award has special significance in Tacoma because it is named for former city preservation officer Valerie Sivinski who died in an accident in 2000. The other winner was for the restoration of the former Navy Reserve Building on Seattle’s Lake Union. It is the new home for the Museum of History and Industry.

One of two awards for special achievement went to Metro Parks for what the state calls the Point Defiance Streetcar Station but everyone else calls the Pagoda. Here’s how the state office described that project and the reasons for the award:

Point Defiance Pagoda (Dean Koepfler-TNT, 2012)
Point Defiance Pagoda (Dean Koepfler-TNT, 2012)

The significance of this achievement is heightened by the fact that the Pagoda’s restoration comes two years after it narrowly averted total destruction at the hands of an arsonist in 2011. After the fire, Metro Parks Tacoma sprang into action to repair the damage. The agency also decided to take the opportunity to return original architectural details to the Pagoda that had been lost or removed over the years. Other preservation tasks included restoration of landscape features in front of the rebuilt Pagoda that hearken to years when visitors traveled by streetcar to reach Point Defiance Park. This award recognizes the vision and commitment of Metro Parks Tacoma to historic preservation by turning what could have been a tragic loss into a victory for the state’s heritage and future generations of park visitors. This award also honors the Tacoma firefighters whose rapid response and sensitivity to the building’s historic character clearly averted disaster.

Here is the list of 2013 recipients:

SHPO Award Recipients


Naval Reserve Armory – Seattle
Murray Morgan Bridge – Tacoma


Friends of the Cedar Creek Grist Mill – Woodland
Whitman County Historical Society – Colfax


Carl Lind – Olympia
Pete Heide – Olympia


2012 National Trust for Historic Preservation Conference Committee – Spokane
Metro Parks for Point Definance Streetcar Station – Tacoma


Fort Vancouver Mobile App Project – Vancouver


Myke Woodwell – City of Roslyn
Island County, the Town of Coupeville & Ebey’s Landing Trust Board


Admiralty Head Lighthouse Lantern Replica Team – Whidbey Island

Leave a comment Comments
We welcome comments. Please keep them civil, short and to the point. ALL CAPS, spam, obscene, profane, abusive and off topic comments will be deleted. Repeat offenders will be blocked. Thanks for taking part and abiding by these simple rules.

JavaScript is required to post comments.

Follow the comments on this post with RSS 2.0