NORTH OLYMPIC HISTORY CENTER TO DEMOLISH
LINCOLN SCHOOL BUILDING
Decision reached after more than three years of research, community outreach.
PORT ANGELES, Wash., November 22, 2023 — The board of the North Olympic History Center (NOHC) announced today it is moving ahead with demolishing the former Lincoln Elementary School building at 926 W. 8th Street.
"This was a very difficult decision, but it comes after more than three years of researching alternative uses, gathering cost estimates for renovation and conducting extensive community outreach to seek possible partners or purchasers for the Lincoln School," said Bill Brigden, President of the Board of Directors. "In the end, we determined that the best course for the viability and success of the NOHC was its removal. Financial realities, in the end, were more compelling than emotional ones.."
The NOHC is in the process of establishing a timeframe for the demolition process as well as exploring opportunities for recycling building components.
Despite investing a half-million dollars into stabilizing the building since purchasing the school in 1991, including constructing a new roof, internal structure enhancement, and pouring a new concrete floor, the NOHC has been unable to halt the rapid deterioration of the 107-year-old unreinforced masonry building.
The most recent estimate for restoring Lincoln School is about $12 million — a sum that vastly exceeds NOHC resources. At approximately $1,000 per square foot, this amount is also far greater than the cost of new construction, making it a commercially unattractive project for any real estate investor.
Indeed, the NOHC received no responses to a widely distributed RFP from investors, property developers, real estate agents, or businesses. The very limited proposals received from nonprofit organizations interested in the property did not support the long-term goals of the organization, nor improve our financial position.
“Our analysis showed that a historical museum in the Lincoln School building would never be financially supportable, even if restoration costs were ignored," said NOHC Executive Director David Brownell. "Expanding public access to our collection by continually digitizing and adding new material to our online catalog, enhancing our educational programing and working with community partners to create and install public displays in the busy downtown corridor and other highly trafficked areas are furthering our mission in ways the Lincoln School cannot."
The NOHC understands the community's interest in and sentiment for the Lincoln Elementary School building. Clearly, this was a difficult decision. However, it will enable the NOHC to focus on its primary mission and to rededicate our time and resources to those projects and programs that fulfill it.
We connect the future, through the present, with the past.