The Washington State Parks Department plans to move forward with a public meeting next week to discuss the future of the Seminary Building at Saint Edward State Park in Kenmore.
The meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 14, at the Northshore Utility District, 6830 N.E. 185th St., Kenmore. The meeting originally was to include discussion of a potential lease by a private company. Interest in a lease agreement was withdrawn Wednesday, however the Commission is proceeding with the public meeting because of the discussion it wants to have with the public about how to preserve the unique historic building.
Saint Edward Seminary stands as an iconic feature of the 316-acre park on Lake Washington in Kenmore. Constructed in 1931 as a Catholic Seminary, the building is brick and cast stone and features Late Romanesque Revival Style architecture. It has 80,000 square feet and includes a bell tower, study hall, library, chapel, classrooms, dormitories and kitchen. A grand hall is rented out for events, but most of the building is currently unused. The building and its surrounding landscape are on the National Register of Historic Places.
Status of the building has long been of interest to the public and to historic preservation, political and community leaders. This past summer, a diverse group of interested parties met with the State Parks director and Commission members to reinvigorate the discussion about finding financial support to preserve the structure. In November, the Commission adopted a resolution directing staff to explore partnerships that could help with that goal.
Recently, a broker representing a private firm approached State Parks with an interest in a short-term use of the building while a longer term lease could be explored. The discussion had included potential private investment in building improvements.
“The potential opportunity that was being discussed is no longer active, but that does not mean we stop talking about a solution for this significant historic building,” said Don Hoch, director. “We had intended to start a process with the public to explore the future of the structure, and we intend to continue in that process with the public. We have a stewardship responsibility here, and we’re committed to exploring any partnership proposals that may help us preserve this building as part of our state’s historic legacy.”
Hoch said that any partnership or long-term lease agreement proposals that may surface will go through appropriate planning, permitting, environmental review and public involvement before a Commission decision.
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The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission manages a diverse system of more than 100 state parks and recreation programs, including long-distance trails, boating safety and winter recreation. Washington State Parks turned 100 years old on March 19, 2013. For information about events and activities, visit www.parks.wa.gov/events/.
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