Letter: Don’t destroy Bainbridge Island’s historic homes

The city has given final approval for the demolition of the historic home at 216 Ericksen Avenue. A group of islanders submitted a letter to the Sun calling on the newly empowered City Council to ensure buildings of historic value do not meet the same fate. The letter is below.

On the July 1, the City of Bainbridge Island officially approved the demolition of a building designated as one of the “Most Endangered Historic Properties” by the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation.

The house, at 216 Ericksen Avenue, is one of seven historic homes still standing on that street where shipyard workers once lived in the early 1900s. The distinctive architecture of this contiguous row of houses, along with its history, has been a source of enjoyment and education for both residents and tourists. The demolition of this historic house portends the eventual demolition of several others.

The city’s approval of the application for demolition was apparently based primarily on an opinion they’d obtained from an attorney on how to interpret language in our island’s Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Ordinance concerning the protection of these homes from demolition. Unfortunately, while this language in our Comprehensive Plan was never more explicitly detailed in our code, past council members and a senior planner for the city stated that the intent of that language was clearly to preserve these homes from demolition. Prior to this recent city approval, these laws had been upheld with respect to two other homes. Property owners are granted other benefits under the present law when these historic homes are left standing.

Two years ago, the city Historic Preservation Commission submitted proposed law changes that would have provided better protection for the historic homes on Ericksen. Unfortunately the city did not respond. The city also failed to codify Comprehensive Plan policy in the Winslow Master Plan that prohibits increasing the mass of buildings in the historic district. The new building at 216 Ericksen will be larger than is typically allowed. Once again the city’s failure to be proactive in trying to preserve our historic places, as required by our Comprehensive Plan, has allowed them not only to approve this demolition, but also to include a larger building in its place.

Sadly, it may be too late for this historic home on Ericksen. But now that the council is in charge, we need to ask them to make development of clearly written ordinances a priority in order to save what is most valuable of our Island’s historic built environment.

-Charles Schmid

-Jon Quitslund

-Barbara Winther

-Annette Stollman

-Liz Murray

-Sally Adams

-Jim McNett

-Jane Allan

4 thoughts on “Letter: Don’t destroy Bainbridge Island’s historic homes

  1. If these properties are so “historic” and essential to life as we know it, let those who demand action, Schmid et al.(see signed letter, open their wallets/purses and buy the property now and in the future. Actions speaks louder than words.

  2. the owners would be delighted to sell you the house for a $1
    just get it off their property soon!!!

  3. Dear letter writers,

    I hate to agree with Olsen, but this time I do. Pool your money, buy the houses, put them on some land and get Jerry Elfendahl to make a “Historical Bainbridge” exhibit. Think Williamsburg. You could wear cool historic costumes and everything.

    Dombrowshi will love it — it fits his tourism industry theory for funding Bainbridge Tomorrow. I think this is a definite winner!

    If you don’t want to buy the houses or the land, then hush.

  4. I wonder what the Natives who lived here before those ‘workers’ would think of this fight to save ‘historic’ houses? I also wonder if in a hundred years or so, there will be a fight to save the ‘historic’ McMansions, condos, crackerbox townhouses and the row houses up in Fort Ward that the current ‘workers’ live in?

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