The Landmarks Preservation Board is set to consider whether the Liberty Bank building at 2320 E. Union merits landmark status. The meeting will take place in February.
Now Key Bank, the application cites the building as the “first banking institution for African Americans in the Pacific Northwest region.”
The application lists other, related reasons why the building should receive the designation:
This building is a worthy historical landmark in Seattle for a number of reasons, notably:
1. It opened as the FIRST and ONLY African American bank in the Pacific Northwest region of the United Sates;
2. Its founders included a number of people of historic note, and it was designed by one of America’s few well known African American architects, Mel Streeter (1931– 2006);
3. Its design is reflective of the culture that characterized Seattle’s predominantly African American Central Area in the 1960s, and is one of the few remaining high quality examples of this type of utilitarian urban blue-collar architecture left in the neighborhood and
4. The changing demographics of Seattle’s Central District, without protection of the neighborhood’s historical landmarks, portends an erasure of a rich cultural past and heritage created by Seattle’s African American community.
The nomination will be considered at a public meeting on Wednesday, February 5 at 3:30 p.m. in the Seattle Municipal Tower, 700 5th Avenue, 17th Floor in Room 1756. The public is invited to attend the meeting and make comments. Written comments should be received by the Landmarks Preservation Board by 5:00 p.m. on February 4 at the following address: Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board, Seattle Department of Neighborhoods, P.O. Box 94649, Seattle WA, 98124-4649.
Too bad it’s such an ugly building. Otherwise you could want to get behind the action. Politically reasonable approach, but not relevant or helpful to the new CD.
I’d agree with the previous comment. What’s the upside here? We’re talking about an outdated bank building vs. affordable housing. This seems like a no-brainer.
Isn’t there a better solution? Can’t the site be developed as a modern building with housing and retail spaces, that ALSO creates a suitable memorial for the site’s history? Maybe with a commemorative park space or an inside display? Maybe the name of the building could even reflect the importance of the architect or the bank. It’s hard to say how simply retaining a not-particularly-useful building benefits the community.
Several of us suggested this in recent months. I still think it’s a good idea, but I haven’t seen any response from anyone involved in moving this forward. It all seems to be caught up in a legal tangle, as so often happens in this area.