Board members with the North Olympic History Center (NOHC) announced last week the organization will demolish the former Lincoln Elementary School building at 926 W. Eighth St. in Port Angeles.
NOHC board president Bill Brigden said the decision comes after more than three years of researching alternative uses, gathering cost estimates for renovation and conducting community outreach to seek possible partners or purchasers.
”This was a very difficult decision,” Brigden said in a press release.
“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.”
Center staff are establishing a time-frame for the demolition process as well as looking for opportunities for recycling building components, NOHC representatives said.
Since buying the school in 1991, NOHC has invested about a half-million dollars into stabilizing the building, including a new roof, internal structural enhancements and a new concrete floor. However, NOHC representatives said, they’ve been unable to halt deterioration of the 107-year-old unreinforced masonry building.
NOHC officials say their most recent estimate for restoring Lincoln School is about $12 million, which easily exceeds the organization’s resources. At about $1,000 per square foot, this total is also greater than the cost of new construction, “making it a commercially unattractive project for any real estate investor,” they said.
According to NOHC, the organization didn’t receive any responses to a request for proposal from investors, property developers, real estate agents or businesses, and the limited proposals received from nonprofit organizations interested in the property did not support long-term goals of the organization, nor improve its 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,” NOHC executive director David Brownell said.
“Expanding public access to our collection by continually digitizing and adding new material to our online catalog, enhancing our educational programming 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.”
For more about the North Olympic History Center, visit clallamhistoricalsociety.com.