Council passes measure to preserve historic Hoquiam

Ever drive through Hoquiam and marvel at City Hall? Or the Emerson Manor? Or the 7th St. Theatre?

Now Harborites for generations to come will do the same, with the Hoquiam City Council passing a measure to preserve the downtown historic district at a Monday night meeting.

Mayor Jack Durney said he’s thrilled with the decision, as he feels it will help the old logging town preserve its culture and character.

“We have a really strong historic preservation commission, and they’ve been working for years to get this put in place,” Durney said.

The Hoquiam Historic Preservation Commission began working to create a historic district in 2010, only three years after forming and creating a historic registry. Using grant money from the state, the commission hired consultant Susan Boyle, of BOLA Architecture and Planning in Seattle, to create a document listing buildings and their historic significance.

The commission then outlined boundaries for a historic district. The district’s boundary is irregular, mainly because of a 1960s urban revitalization movement that led to several old buildings being torn down, explained Polson Museum Director John Larson, also chairman of the commission.

“We lost a lot of interesting history with that movement,” Larson said.

But that’s not likely to happen again with the historic district in place. While building owners will still be able to make improvements to their facilities, they’ll be required to bring renovations significant enough to require a building permit before the commission, which will make sure changes won’t detract from the historic character of the building.

Larson was absent from the Hoquiam City Council meeting due to an illness, but fellow commission member Mickey Thurman, also a 7th St. Theatre board member, spoke in his stead.

“I think people here really appreciate the history and they appreciate the structures,” Thurman said. “I really appreciate this step in keeping these buildings in character.”