The Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board this afternooon approved historic landmark designation for the Carnegie Library. The designation comes after over 30 years of failed attempts to designate the building a historic landmark.
Larry Johnson presented the application for designation, and highlighted several reasons the library should be an official landmark. For one, most people already assumed the library was a historical landmark, as it has changed very little since it was built in the early 20th century. He covered several key designation standards, including its significant ties to the cultural heritage of the community. Johnson described Ballard’s early years, when it was primarily an immigrant town, full of Nordic culture with residents who wanted to learn English. Johnson also touched on the significance of the library’s architect and builder, Henderson Ryan, who built several notable buildings in the early 20th century. Ryan’s other work in Seattle includes the Waldorf Hotel and Neptune Theater.
Ballard Historical Society trustee Marion Hafterson said the building should be preserved because, frankly, there aren’t many old buildings around these days. “I wish that the building would never come down. I look around here, and so many beautiful buildings have disappeared,” Hafterson said. She said she’s from the East Coast, where older buildings, like the Carnegie Library, are in abundance. “I think we should keep some of these old buildings so we do have a history of the way things went.”
The Seattle Landmarks Board voted unanimously to designate the building a historic landmark. The building owner, Karoline Morrison, has been opposed to the designation, but was not present at the meeting.