This year’s recipients of the John D. Spellman Awards include a city that transformed an historic post office into an arts and culture center, and a parks district that rehabilitated an abandoned farmstead into an agricultural hub for local producers and educational programming.
King County Executive Dow Constantine announced the five recipients of the 22nd John D. Spellman Awards for Exemplary Achievement in Historic Preservation, honoring people and organizations that protect King County’s unique history.
This year’s award recipients include the City of Auburn for transforming an historic post office into an arts and culture center, the Si View Parks District that rehabilitated an abandoned farmstead into an agricultural hub for local producers and educational programming, and the owners of Carmichael’s Hardware and Variety Store, which has contributed to Snoqualmie’s vibrant downtown for the past century.
“This year’s John D. Spellman Award winners have done much more than protect old and cherished structures. Each of them has made historic spaces more accessible to new generations, and created new futures for places that tell the story of our region,” said Executive Constantine.
The awards are named in honor of John D. Spellman, the first King County Executive and 18th Washington Governor who established the County’s Historic Preservation Program 43 years ago. King County Councilmember Sarah Perry led the awards celebration organized by Jennifer Meisner, King County’s Historic Preservation Officer.
"It is an honor to have the opportunity to recognize our wonderful individuals, organizations and businesses that are stellar examples of the rich heritage and history of our region at this year's John D. Spellman Awards for Achievement in Historic Preservation,” said Councilmember Perry. “Our thanks to this year's awardees for their remarkable contributions to King County and the entire region."
The 2023 recipients of Spellman Awards for historic preservation are:
- City of Auburn for rehabilitating the 1937 Auburn Post Office into the Postmark Center for the Arts. This building served as Auburn’s main post office until the early 1960s when it was sold to King County and extensively remodeled for use as a public health clinic. Auburn acquired the building in 2016 and transformed it into a vibrant space for public music and dance programs, visual arts exhibits and classes, and other cultural gatherings.
- Padraic Slattery for reinvigorating overlooked historic structures and contributing to the economic vitality of King County’s commercial centers. The Burco Building was a neglected mid-century modern strip-mall building in downtown Burien that is now leased to The Painted Pooch, an artisan dog salon. The Lumber Yard Bar is an all-inclusive LGBTQ bar and restaurant whose original location across the street was destroyed by an arson fire in 2021. Its new home is now a 1944 bank building rehabilitated by Padraic in White Center’s commercial district.
- Carmichael’s Hardware and Variety Store for the vital role this 100-year-old business has played in making downtown Snoqualmie a vibrant and welcoming place for locals and visitors alike. Wendy Thomas and Brian Woolsey, owners of the business and building for the past two decades, were honored for maintaining the local traditions that define this business and the community it serves.
- Dennis Lewarch for his nearly 50 years of work to advocate, educate, and protect archaeological, historic, and Native American traditional places in the Puget Sound region. Dennis was honored for his remarkable career, including work as an archaeologist with the University of Washington, as an archaeological consultant on numerous projects for King County – many of which resulted in significant archaeological discoveries – and as the Suquamish Tribe’s Historic Preservation Officer for the past 16 years.
- Si View Parks District for completing a decade-long plan to reinvigorate the Tollgate Farm as a public agricultural hub featuring a fully rehabilitated historic farmhouse, new barn, recreational trails and an educational kitchen garden. One of the earliest and most successful dairy operations in the Snoqualmie Valley, however the farmstead buildings stood vacant and deteriorating after dairy farming ceased in 1948, and the land was leased for pasture. The City of North Bend acquired the 410-acre farm site and surrounding area in 2001 to protect it from suburban development. The Si View Parks District manages the property.
A set of Certificates of Designation was also presented to owners of recently landmarked properties by Cristy Lake, Chair of the King County Landmarks Commission:
- King County Parks for recognizing the Preston Mill Drying Kiln as a rare surviving structure associated with the early 20th century heyday of lumbering in King County. The historic Preston Mill is being redeveloped as part of the Jim Ellis Memorial Regional Park and the site’s drying kiln is now a designated King County Landmark.
- Neely Mansion Association for revising the Neely Mansion King County Landmark designation form to tell a more complete and inclusive history. The updated nomination includes structures built in the 1930s and ’40s associated with the property’s Japanese American and Filipino American tenant farming history.
- Vashon-Maury Island Heritage Museum for nominating the Vashon Lutheran Church and Parsonage for designation as a King County Landmark. The church and parsonage were built in 1909 and served the founding Norwegian immigrant families and broader community until 1962. Since 1998, the Vashon-Maury Island Heritage Museum has served as stewards of this important marker of Vashon history.
- Louise Luce, original owner and nominator of the Johan and Louise Wenberg House for designation as a City of Issaquah landmark. Completed in 1963, this remarkably intact mid-century modern house was designed by architect Omer Mithun and features key characteristics of the Northwest Regional Style, including a post-and-beam structure and large expanses of south-facing windows placed for views, light, and passive energy efficiency.
The King County Historic Preservation Program was established in 1978 to identify, document, and protect King County’s significant historic resources. The program staffs a nine-person Landmarks Commission, conducts environmental reviews in cooperation with other agencies and jurisdictions, manages a regional preservation program in partnership with numerous suburban cities, maintains an inventory of historic resources, and develops and implements incentives to support and encourage restoration and rehabilitation of historic properties.
This year’s John D. Spellman Award winners have done much more than protect old and cherished structures. Each of them has made historic spaces more accessible to new generations, and created new futures for places that tell the story of our region
Doug Williams, Department of Natural Resources and Parks, 206-477-4543