Lincoln neighborhood’s history comes alive in new book

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On June 19, the Tacoma Historical Society will be hosting a book launch for “Tacoma’s Lincoln District” by Kimberly M. Davenport. This is one of approximately 30 books within the Images of America series that focuses on the history of Tacoma, and one of 188 that takes a look at the history of an area within Washington. However, this book stands out in that it is one of the few that bring attention to Tacoma’s south side.

“I’ve been a fan of the Images of America books for a long time – a series that tells stories through pictures,” Davenport explains, “and it became apparent that there were several of them about the high-end neighborhoods and those downtown, but not so much about the more humble neighborhoods of Tacoma.”

Her first step in changing this came in 2015 when she added to the collection of books with one of her own entitled “Tacoma’s Theatre District.” This book was a product of her passion for education and history, working in conjunction with her love for music, which she currently teaches several courses on at the University of Washington-Tacoma.

Her second step and most recent book puts the Lincoln district on the map of Tacoma’s history. As the Lincoln neighborhood has been a home to her family for generations, Davenport has long wanted to put both the district and the high school at its center on the historic register.

With its aged and established business district and the grandiose Lincoln High School, the author argues that “it’s as interesting and historic as any of the other old Tacoma neighborhoods.” The high school, by comparison, has been around for nearly as long as Stadium High School and has had an impact on its neighborhood to match. Rightfully so, Kimberly adds, that “it’s just as much of a castle too.” Her upcoming book celebrates the Lincoln district’s development through the stories of its residents, its political and social change, and the construction of the district. She begins the story with the transformation of the area’s 40-acre South Park to Lincoln High School, the heart of the district and a historic landmark that has largely shaped the neighborhood over the years.

Kimberly’s research also served as a way of learning about her family and the way they lived – more specifically, learning about her grandfather. Although she never knew him, he was the first of her family’s Lincoln residents and the man to whom this book is dedicated.

Much has changed about the Lincoln district over the years, but one constant the author notes is that “at its heart it’s really a very humble working-class neighborhood. What I learned during my research is that it always has been.” She hopes this is something that will continue to hold true, but it’s especially important now to recall the area’s past considering that significant changes underway. “It’s important to understand where we’ve come from as a way to understand why things look and function the way they do, and in the case of this revitalization project, things that we could invest in that would help our neighborhoods. Having this historic context helps with that.”

In addition to the book launch, there will be two other events centered around the book’s release. The first will be a book signing at King’s Books on Saturday, June 24 at 2 p.m. In recognition of the 100th year of the Lincoln statue, the second event will be a walk-and-talk from the statue to the Lincoln Hardware store where a book signing will also be held. The latter will take place on June 30 at 11:30 a.m.

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