Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The historic Justice White House, a piece of the Community center puzzle

Image result for Justice White house, redmond image
Justice White House
credit Redmond Historical Society
This historic Justice White House was initially put up as the Hotel Redmond by Emma McRedmond White and Justice William White, her husband.  They also lived in the building.  Emma lost the house during the depression because of the common problem of not being able to pay the taxes.

The Society is currently interested in this building to, 1. bring it into the nonprofit or even public sphere where its long-term existence is more likely.The house is currently owned by the Town Center Shopping Center.  It is zoned as Old Town and not as a part of Town Center zoning.  The building is landmark protected at the state, county, and local levels.  The owners are respecting that landmarking.  But, as it says on the state Archaeology and Historic Preservation website, landmarking does not prevent building owners from tearing them down if they want.  It's merely a set of incentives so they are not inclined to do that.  The building has been retained in its nearly original form on the exterior but has been thoroughly remodeled, rehabilitated, and modernized for office use on the interior.  The current tenet is Jensen Fey Architects.

2nd, the Society would be thrilled if we could move our offices into the building and create a museum.  Certainly this is part of the consideration of our facilities task force as we look for alternate office and exhibit space to replace Room 106 in the Old Redmond Schoolhouse Community Center.  However any notion that the Justice White House would be a venue for our meetings or speaker programs is simply not the case. It is not a place of assembly and does not have a room large enough to hold a large audience.

As Rachel Van Winkle, Deputy Parks and Recreation Director, said in her comments about Redmond's Community Centers the Lake Washington School District is working on their educational objectives towards placing preschool classes in the Old Redmond Schoolhouse.  A report from the school district is expected in February and March  on how they will or will not use the building for that purpose and how much of the building they will retain.  The Parks Dept of course has a lease from the school district and the Redmond Historical Society has a lease from the Parks Dept for our space and the use of the auditorium.  As the Parks Dept is making broadly known, they anticipate their lease being terminated or significantly revised effective July of 2018.   Our lease also hangs in the balance.

One of the big unknowns is whether the auditorium in the old Redmond schoolhouse would continue to be available to the Society for our speaker programs if the school district takes back the entire building.  There are a few other facilities in Redmond that would accommodate audiences such as ours, up to 275 people.

--Joe Townsend, President of the Redmond Historical Society.  

Here's a YouTube video on the Society's impact to the community; as presented by Joe Townsend at their "First Annual Membership Celebration."  When asked, Joe said he was open to having a Tourist Center at the Justice White House.  

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