Don’t forget to check out the rest of our 2013 Most Endangered List!
Every year, many historic properties across the state of Washington are threatened by demolition or neglect. Collectively, these properties contribute to the quality of life we enjoy and shape the daily experiences of living in small towns, large cities and rural countryside across the state. It is an understatement to say that our historic resources help to paint a distinct Washington portrait, and it is certainly no overstatement to conclude that their loss would leave large gaps in that canvas.
When the Electric Building opened to the public in 1913 it was the crowning jewel of its owner, the Grays Harbor Railroad and Light Company: a unique commercial building with Beaux Arts/Neoclassical terra cotta detailing and an elaborate illumination scheme that included hundreds of light bulbs gracing the outside of the structure. Enamored with the outcome, the architect, C.E. Troutman, moved his practice into an upper level suite upon completion of the building, eventually forming the firm of Troutman & Haynes. Along with most of the pre-depression buildings in Aberdeen’s downtown core, the upper stories of the Electric Building were largely abandoned following the depression. With decades of deferred maintenance, the Electric building today faces critical needs: it currently does not have a weather resistive envelope; broken glass in deteriorating window frames has been left unrepaired for years; water is finding its way through numerous wall cracks and leaks in the built-up roof; and the handsome terra-cotta wall cladding is failing at an alarming rate. Despite these issues, new owners recently acquired the building specifically to relocate their business into the first floor retail space. According to the owners, purchasing the building made sense from a financial standpoint — they pay less for their current mortgage than they did to lease the prior space. Understanding the importance of a vital downtown, the owners, with strong support from City of Aberdeen officials, hope to see the Electric Building once again light up the corner.