Whoops! Facade wall of old building being demolished for new museum falls over

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Story & Photos by Scott Schaefer

Over this last weekend, as construction workers were carefully tearing down an old building on a lot that will soon be the new home for the Highline Heritage Museum, the old facade front wall – which was intended to be preserved – fell over into SW 152nd Street just west of Ambaum Blvd. SW.

Luckily, there were no injuries other than to this streetlight on the south side of SW 152nd Street just west of Ambaum Blvd. SW.

Here’s a video courtesy Crystal German showing some of the demolition shortly before the facade fell:

The old building (at 819 SW 152nd Street), was built in the late 1920s, then expanded over almost 90 years in four sections, before being renovated in the late 1980s. It once housed a Pacific Fabrics store, as well as a Bartell Drugs and Tradewell grocery store. Most recently it served as home for Crossfit Burien.

Organizers had planned to leave the front facade of the old building intact, but the decrepit old structure seemed to have other ideas.

The goal is to construct the new museum on the lot, with the hopes of opening it by the end of the year; here’s a previous rendering (a new one that does not include the “ribbon” of photos on it will be released soon):

Here are some photos showing the current state of the project, as of Tuesday, March 14, 2017 (click images to see larger versions/slideshow):

View from the northwest corner of SW 152nd and Ambaum shows the lot.

The walls of these buildings haven’t seen daylight in dozens of years!

This is the back wall of “The Antlers” home that’s located on 9th Ave SW.

The front of the mysterious house called “The Antlers,” which includes real antlers and a statue of the Virgin Mary (between the doors).

Some of the old masonry at the bottom of the front facade that basically just gave up. Was there a strong gust of wind? Or perhaps it was a push from an angry ghost?

Here are some photos taken last week as construction began (the first three provided by the Highline Historical Society):

The new 6900 square foot museum will be located in an area that teems with pedestrian and shopping activity. Drivers who are stopped at the traffic signal will be able to see into the shopping area of the building and notice several windows of changing exhibits. An overhang will cover part of the sidewalk, and a window near Armoire Chocolate (formerly the Danish Bakery) will house a museum exhibit so passersby can view it.

Want to talk about the good old days? The Highline Historical Society is preparing a 65-foot long school district timeline that will cover the years from 1870 – the present for display in the museum.

The specialists woking on this exhibit would like to hold a group discussion with alumni representing all of the Highline School District High Schools; Highline, Glacier, Evergreen, Tyee, Mt. Rainier, and Aviation.

If you graduated from one of these schools and are available for several hours on April 1, 2017, please send your name, email, graduate year and schools attended to Cyndi Upthegrove at [email protected]. We are looking for people from each decade (since the 1940s, naturally) to meet in a group with our exhibit designers and writers.

“Thanks for your consideration.”

We have a continuing need for capital funding, and can use everyone’s assistance with exhibit research and development. For example, if you have lived here for many years you might help with “proofing” our exhibits to make certain the detail in them is correct. Call Curator Nancy McKay to see if she has a project you can help with. She can be reached at 253-670-1398.

If you would like to learn about various funding and naming opportunities please contact Cyndi Upthegrove at 206-246-6354. We have opportunities at every funding level and need your help. You can join the 300+ Highline residents who have donated to this project:


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6 Responses to “Whoops! Facade wall of old building being demolished for new museum falls over”
  1. Jan Noorda says:

    “Study the past, if you would devine the future.”

  2. Crystal German says:

    I am not surprised, I have video of them doing part of the demo on Saturday. The company watched several people walk by as they were doing the demo before finally moving the fence to block the sidewalk. And when they started to demo the top of the wall near the Crossfit Burien sign the entire thing buckled and bowed – the stopped shortly after realizing that.

  3. Walter says says:

    That facade really tied the room together, did it not!

  4. Question Authority says:

    What about the alumni and associated history that Kennedy HS has added to the community for the past 51 years? I know it’s called the Highline Heritage Museum but it should represent the whole community, not just a like named school district by coincidence.

    • ShellyC says:

      Wasn’t the area named after the road that ran from downtown Seattle up what is now Ist Avenue into White Center, Burien, Des Moines and eventually on to Tacoma- back then it was called “The Hiline”?

    • Boo says:

      It’s not the Highline School district but the Highline/Burien area history.

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