Saturday, May 17, 2008

Most Endangerd Properties List

WASHINGTON TRUST FOR HISTORIC PRESERVATION

NOMINATION TO 2007 MOST ENDANGERED PROPERTIES LIST

THE HEWITT AVENUE RAILROAD BRIDGE AND UNDERLYING STREET

EVERETT, WASHINGTON

Describe the current use and condition of the site.

Our nomination involves two aspects of an interconnected site: a bridge and the street below.

The railroad bridge is on a main Amtrak Line and BNSF freight line where Hewitt Avenue meets the waterfront as it crosses under the bridge. It most likely replaced a wooden bridge built in 1902 that marked the western terminus of the Great Northern Railroad. The bridge is virtually unchanged since its construction in 1910. It is structurally sound, but in need graffiti removal, cleaning and a coat of paint.

The street portion is a City owned approximately one-half acre of right-of-way that has been crudely fenced off since 2001 as part of past policies and concerted efforts by the Port and BNSF to close the docks to the public while eliminating traffic conflicts with the trains. Currently, the area is an unsightly mess complete with chain link fencing, broken pavement, tall weeds and windblown garbage.

The setting provides a panoramic view of the commercial activity that has been and continues to be one of the hallmarks of Everett.

What is the historical significance of the property? Has it been placed on a national, state or local register? If not, has it been determined eligible for the National Register?

The bridge is an increasingly rare steel girder bridge and in fact may be the last surviving one in Everett, a town known as the place where rail meets sail.

For hundreds of years native people spent summers at this site since fresh water flowed down nearby Forgotten Creek and in an unnamed stream that flowed down Everett Avenue. About 1861, the first non-native settler in Everett, Dennis Brigham, built a cabin very near and possibly on the site.

Originally paved in locally manufactured red brick, Hewitt Avenue has been “Main Street” for Everett since its incorporation in 1893. Historically, Hewitt Avenue marked the entrance to the Port and crossing under the bridge provided the link for people between downtown and The City Dock where many goods, services and passengers arrived and departed to and from Everett. The west end of Hewitt Avenue and a half block to the south on Bond Street was the heart of commerce and activity when Everett was young. The surrounding property included many no longer surviving significant structures: The Bayview Hotel on Bond Street which also acted as the rail depot until a proper one was constructed across the street to the west. Directly adjacent to the bridge is Mulligan Saloon built in 1906. Renamed the Anchor Tavern when prohibition was repealed, it has survived as one of a handful of continuously operating saloons in a city known as a hard drinking, hard working logging and mill town. Although some people in Everett are trying to obliterate history by ignoring the Everett Massacre of 1916, the labor conflict which took place only a few hundred feet from the site, inspires inquiries to this day about the struggles that workers and business owners encountered in the early 20th century. In the Historical Survey Report of November, 1973 prepared by David Dilgard and Margaret Riddle of the Northwest Room of the Everett Public Library, the suggestion was made that this site ought to be placed on the National and State Historic Register. The recommendation was never acted on.

Give a brief history of the property and tell us why it continues to be important to your community.

For all of the reasons mentioned above, this site reminds people of the City’s connection to the waterfront, and their own relationships to the people who lived before. Of what it must have been like to be a new person in the last of the American Frontier. Considering its blue collar origins - what an exciting place Everett must have been.

Why do you consider the property to be endangered? Please be specific about impending threats to the property.

No reason has ever been given for the need for replacement, but on October 2, 2006 BNSF made application to the City of Everett to demolish the bridge and replace it with a 45 foot wide earth berm. The City has issued a Final Mitigated Determination of Non-Significance allowing

construction of the berm and demolition of the bridge. Mitigation was minimal and allowed only for landscaping of the berm, a vaguely described pedestrian walkway in the berm and a viewing stand to be placed alongside the tracks. In their environmental review, BNSF attached no historic value to the site or the structure.

What is currently being done currently to save the property? Who is involved and what resources, financial or otherwise have been directed toward this effort.

We have filed an appeal with the City challenging the Final MDNS. A group has formed consisting of prominent citizens, business people, The Pt. Gardner and Bayside Neighborhood Associations, property owners in the immediate vicinity and Historic Everett. The neighborhoods have agreed to adopt the site and will apply for Office of Neighborhoods matching grants funds to help with restoration and maintenance. We have participated in meetings with City Planning Staff. We are working with Parks and Recreation Staff. And they have assured us they will help with the design, construction and maintenance of the site as a park. Both local newspapers, The Daily Herald and The Everett Tribune, have written supportive articles about preserving the site and the attendant history as recently as December 2006.

What is your long term goal for this property?

Immediate preservation of the steel plate bridge along with continued maintenance. Preservation of the turn of the 20th Century brick street. To create a more visually pleasing setting on the publicly owned property. Honor the place with historical markers that educate the public about the early railroad, the Everett Massacre and the original industrial waterfront and its connection to Downtown. Create open space for the people who live and work in the increasingly dense downtown core. Ensure visual and physical public access to the waterfront and related shorelines of statewide significance.

1 comment:

Jay Lindberg said...

Being from a historical city myself, Charleston, South Carolina, I understand the importance of protecting landmarks.

One needs to have an understnding of our place in history. Historical landmarks play a critical part in that mission. They need to be protected.

Jay Lindberg