Lincoln School site to be razed

Historical society board in Port Angeles tells of ‘difficult decision’

PORT ANGELES — The former Lincoln School will be demolished, the North Olympic History Center board announced Wednesday.

The historical society had purchased the former Lincoln Elementary School building at 926 W. Eighth St. in Port Angeles in 1991 and had raised money for restoring parts of it. When it became too overwhelming, the group sought a buyer — all to no avail.

“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, 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.”

The historical society is in the process of establishing a time frame for the demolition process as well as exploring opportunities for recycling building components, it said Wednesday.

The historical society has invested a half-million dollars into stabilizing the 107-year-old, unreinforced masonry building. It has funded the construction of a new roof, internal structure enhancement, and pouring a new concrete floor.

But the most recent estimate for restoring the entire facility is $12 million.

That amount vastly exceeds the group’s resources, according to the release.

“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,” the historical society said.

The group received no responses to a widely distributed RFP from investors, property developers, real estate agents or businesses. Limited proposals received from nonprofit organizations interested in the property did not support the 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,” said David Brownell, executive director.

“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,” he continued.

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