Heidelberg, Trecento Block added to city’s landmark registry

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Tacoma is edging closer to the 200 mark on its Register of Historic Places, with the recent addition of the former Heidelberg Brewing Co. Warehouse and Shipping Depot that is currently the home of 7 Seas Brewing, and the collection of connected storefronts along Puyallup Avenue that make up the Trecento Block.

The listing of both historic places brings the city’s registry to 179 historic places, although more additions won’t likely come for a while since the nomination process can often take months to work their way through the review process.

“We don’t just take properties and put them on the list,” said Assistant Historic Preservation Officer Lauren Hoogkamer, noting that the department doesn’t have any properties currently being formally considered.

That could change, however, after the city’s Historic Preservation Office just unveiled a guide for residents and property owners looking into whether nominating a building or site makes sense for them. Workshops are also in the works for this fall that will help people learn more about researching individual property or even neighborhood histories. The idea of hosting those workshops strung from the interest people had in their homes and neighborhoods following the historical inventory work University of Washington students did earlier this year for the McKinley and South Tacoma neighborhoods. That work concluded both those neighborhoods fit the criteria to become historic districts because most of the buildings in those neighborhoods date back more than 50 years, largely retain their architectural features, illustrate a specific period in the city’s history or have ties to notable historical people.

The former Heidelberg Brewing Co., for example, dates back to 1949 and served as a warehouse and shipping depot for the former brewery. Designed by architects George Wellington Stoddard and Associates of Seattle the 80,000-square-foot building reflects the boom years of brewing in Tacoma in the late 1940s through the 1960s. It later served as a repository for glass art created by artist Dale Chihuly and is now the home of Seven Seas Brewing Co., which renovated the facility into a brewery, tap room and event space. The brewery’s first kegs went into fermentation in 2016, marking the return of beermaking on the site for the first time since Heidelberg closed in 1979. It was a victim of national consolidation of breweries during that time after G. Heileman Brewing Co. bought the site only to close it shortly thereafter because it had also owned Rainier Brewing in Seattle. Closing the Tacoma facility avoided antitrust concerns. The closure, however, ended commercial beer making in Tacoma for generations that is only now on the upswing.

“I really want to celebrate this project,” City Councilmember Ryan Mello said when voting on the nomination earlier this month. “They just have done a really great job.”

The Trecento Block comprises four buildings on the north side of the 300 block of Puyallup Avenue and represent the commercial and light industrial businesses that were found in the Dome district between the two World Wars, particularly shops and automotive repair facilities in a time before Interstate 5.

“The pattern of these businesses over the 20th Century, and now into the 21st, reflects the broad pattern of development of low rise, low density retail businesses and light industry across the country,” according to the historical designation. “This block stands as an increasingly rare example of the small automotive and industrial businesses that helped fuel Tacoma’s post-WWI economic boom. It is indicative of the growing importance of the automobile in Tacoma and the Northwest as well as the importance of Puyallup Avenue and the Dome District as a commercial and industrial center for the city.”

The most distinct building on the block sits at 301 Puyallup Ave. and was built in 1924. The two-story structure was designed by Charles Frederick W. Lundburg for Samuel E. Allen to house an automobile repair and service station with a “sleek, modern look with smooth stucco and flat roofs.”

“We wanted to begin to acknowledge the historic fabric of the ‘dome district’, which heretofore has had nothing recognized; not Nalley’s Pickle Headquarters, not Brown and Haley, not Freighthouse Square,” property owner and Treasurer of Historic Tacoma Ric Semple said. “But we also wanted to make whatever future development comes to this block have to recognize and deal with its provenance and its history – make it a little more difficult to tear down and replace with a big, view-blocking monolith.”

The Trecento Block, sits across the street from the site of what is planned to be a six-story, 150-unit apartment complex by next summer that is currently under construction by Snohomish-based developer Koz Development.

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