Isn’t It Time to Landmark the Coliseum?

Supporters at the Seattle Center Coliseum
Supporters celebrating a “HeartBomb” at Seattle Center’s Coliseum last Valentine’s Day
(courtesy of the author)

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Four years ago Michael Herschensohn was published on Crosscut.com asking the same question I am asking today.

A landmark designation for the Coliseum, or KeyArena as newcomers might call it, is a certainty. But as a relative Seattle newcomer myself, I beg the question, why wasn’t it landmarked before? My guess is the recession, plus a dash of politics, had something to do with it.

Let’s hypothesize for a minute, that the Coliseum is landmarked this year – now what? Seattle Center is motivated to keep the Coliseum as an entertainment venue and ideally attract a professional basketball team and unrealistically attract a professional hockey team. Seattle Center is inclined to keep their revenue stream alive and well for themselves. I understand Seattle Center’s intentions, but I view them as solely self-serving.

Are Seattle Center’s self-serving intentions justified? As a subset of the City of Seattle shouldn’t they do what is best for the city as a whole? For those that are hell-bent on attracting professional sports teams and building an arena, one that is supposedly paid for with private funds, SODO is an obvious option. Although at a recent QAHS board meeting my fellow QAHS board member Leanne Olson also reminded Seattle Center that no action is also an option. Leanne’s “no action is an option” also holds true for the City of Seattle.

Continuing to hypothesize, if an arena is built in SODO, then what should the Coliseum become? Seattle Center has responded by stating that they would investigate other entertainment attractions to stave off loss of revenue.

For a second, I propose we ignore the driver of revenue and ask what does the city need? Does it need more classroom space? Does it need more affordable housing? Does it need temporary housing for the homeless?… Does it need another entertainment venue?

It turns out the greater Seattle community is currently discussing all of these questions, except that last question. Only private investors, who have everything to gain and nothing to lose, are asking for a new arena.

After asking myself these questions, I have come up with a proposal: landmark the Coliseum, consider an arena in SODO if you must, and discuss with the Queen Anne community (not just Uptown) what the future of the Coliseum should be.

More Infomation: 3rd Annual HeartBomb–at the Coliseum

Two new landmarks: Bressi Garage and the Coliseum

Castle at Tarascon; among France’s first landmarks; designated in 1840.

Introduction

Visiting the south of France on a lazy day in August, I rode my bike past the Tarascon Castle on my way to the European festival of basket weaving. Occupied for the first time in 1435, the castle is one of the best preserved in Europe. In 1840, it was among the first buildings in France to be designated a landmark. In 177 years of landmark protection, only its use by the German army during WWII ever put it at risk of demolition. In fact, precision bombing of the bridges on the Rhone River by American pilots in June 12, 1944, purposefully dodged French landmarks like this one. Now, thanks to the recent landmark designation of the Bressi Garage and the Seattle Coliseum, they will share a long life with the castle at Tarascon.

Bressi Garage

Known to us as Pottery Northwest, this wonderful survivor of Queen Anne’s early automobile age is now protected. The Landmarks Preservation Board identified both the exterior and the truss system supporting the roof, effectively an interior feature, as protected elements. The nomination prepared by Artifacts, a Tacoma preservation firm, did not dwell on the significance of Pottery Northwest tenancy. It also minimalized the importance of the successful suit filed by community activists at Sacred Heart Church, which lies between Bressi and the Century 21 World’s Fair site, stopped the fair’s ‘taking’ of all the land from Second to First avenues for the 1962 event. …Continue reading “Two new landmarks: Bressi Garage and the Coliseum”

Grand Preservation Victory at State Supreme Court

For people who care about preserving Seattle’s historic fabric, the State Supreme Court decision against the University of Washington is a phenomenal victory. The university can no longer disregard city laws when it comes to the historic fabric of its campuses. Eugenia Woo, the Preservation Advocate at Historic Seattle, one of the parties that sued the university, has written a helpful article explaining the decision. You can read it here.

Betty Bowen, Cultural Activist

Betty Bowen with Seattle Art Museum founder Dr. Richard Fuller

Queen Anne resident Betty Bowen (1918-1977) played a major role in Seattle cultural life — as assistant director of the Seattle Art Museum, as a civic activist on behalf of the arts and historic preservation, and a promoter of Seattle artists.

Born Betty Cornelius in Kent, Washington to a family tracing its roots to Western Washington’s early settlers, she earned an English degree from the University of Washington.  She worked briefly as a reporter for The Seattle Times, then as women’s editor for the Seattle Star. She married John Bowen, captain of ships that laid undersea cables.

During the 1950s, Bowen divided her time between volunteering and public relations work. Dr. Richard Fuller, founder of the Seattle Art Museum, hired her as publicist, then promoted her to assistant director – and she continued in that role until Fuller retired in 1973.  She came to know many of the city’s artists.

Betty Bowen played an active part in civic affairs, helping organize support for the arts and for historic preservation.  An original member of the Seattle Arts Commission (established 1971), a founding member of the Pacific Northwest Arts and Crafts Center, and a founding member and chair of the Allied Arts Historic Preservation Committee, she helped organize one of the successful efforts to preserve the Pike Place Market as a designated historic district, and served on the board of Friends of the Market. …Continue reading “Betty Bowen, Cultural Activist”