State adds Preston’s Community Clubhouse to Heritage Register

November 4, 2008

By Jim Feehan

One of the last local Depression-era public works projects has been named to the state Heritage Register.

The Preston Community Clubhouse, completed in 1939, was recently added to the state Heritage Register. King County Parks photo by Eli Brownell.

The Preston Community Clubhouse, completed in 1939, was recently added to the state Heritage Register. King County Parks photo by Eli Brownell.

The Preston Community Clubhouse, a popular wedding location and community hall, was recently named to the list.Federal Works Progress Administration crews built the clubhouse between 1938 and 1939 on land donated by the Preston Mill Co. The building features river-rock masonry walls built on a poured concrete foundation, wood-paneled interiors with a huge stone fireplace and a gabled, wood-shingle roof.

“The rustic style architecture is an excellent example of a WPA project,” said Michael Houser, state register coordinator. “The Preston Community Clubhouse is significant for its association with events that shaped local history.”

The building is one of the last vestiges of President Roosevelt’s WPA coordinated program that provided work for the unemployed during the Depression. The program was responsible for a wide range of public works — roads, bridges, parks, schools and buildings. WPA merged with the Public Works Administration in 1940 to become the Federal Works Agency. By 1941, the agency had employed more than 8 million people — a fifth of all workers in the country.

The clubhouse, also called the Preston Fieldhouse, opened in 1940. The grand opening ceremony included a performance by the Issaquah High School Band and an invocation by the Rev. J.S. Umberger, of Issaquah Community Church, Houser said.

In August, officials with the King County Historic Preservation Program applied to the state Advisory Council on Historic Preservation for recognition in the State and National Registers of Historic Places.

The clubhouse joins 425 other historic sites on the register, including Pickering Barn, Issaquah’s train depot and Seattle’s Smith Tower, Pioneer Square, Pike Place Market and Paramount Theatre. Boats, farmsteads and private homes, such as the Ray Brandes house (one of three Frank Lloyd Wright designed houses in the state) are also on the list.

Being listed on the state Heritage Register has a few perks, Houser said.

The benefits of a state and national listing include potential tax credit, property tax deductions and code waivers to protect the property. Those don’t apply, however, to the Preston Clubhouse, because it is owned by the King County Parks Department. The site is a popular site for weddings and other events. 

The listing was sent to the National Register in Washington, D.C., with a request that the Preston Clubhouse be listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

“If it’s blessed at the state level, then it’s usually accepted at the national level,” Houser said. 

That decision should be made by the end of the year.

Reach Reporter Jim Feehan at 392-6434, ext. 239, or jfeehan@isspress.com.

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