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2024 Annual Historic Preservation Awards

Updated: Jun 7

-By Yashpriya Gupta


National Historic Preservation Month was established in 1973 by the National Trust for Historic Preservation advocates for the preservation of heritage sites of local importance. Every May, the City of Tacoma celebrates this month with a variety of events and activities. One such event is the City of Tacoma Annual Historic Preservation Awards which took place on May 23rd. The event honors outstanding achievements in historic preservation in categories such as sustainability, community engagement, innovation in preservation and outreach, landmark nomination, leadership in preservation and partnerships in preservation.


The awards night was held in a building that is itself a testament to resilience and has been in continuous operation for over a hundred years since its opening on November 13, 1923. Located in Tacoma’s Proctor District, John Hamrick’s Blue Mouse Theatre is the oldest continuously running theater in Washington State. The Tacoma News Tribune once described it as the “finest suburban theater in the Northwest” following its first picture show.


Early arrivals enjoyed social interactions with various professionals and tasty refreshments. Seated in the front rows were poets and the award winners. The event commenced with a welcome address by Kevin Bartoy, who shared some of the theater’s history and his personal memories of visiting it as a child. This was followed by recognition of Tacoma’s Public Library at the Northwest Room for their contributions to preserving Tacoma’s history. The Northwest Room Librarians presented a preview of a movie capturing the essence of historic Tacoma, leading to recital by poets from ‘Voices of Tacoma.’


The program concluded with the distribution of awards in eleven categories. The Outstanding Achievement in Partnerships in Preservation was awarded to Tacoma Evergreen for their Black History visioning work. All stakeholders, including those involved in the Black Historic Sites Project, Caballeros Club members, and college staff, were invited on stage. This moment honored not only their contributions but also the sacrifices made by Black individuals throughout history.


On a personal note, the ceremony was particularly enlightening as I discovered hidden gems of Tacoma, such as the Radio Club of Tacoma, founded in 1916 and one of the oldest amateur radio clubs in the United States. The event also highlighted community involvement exemplified by the effort to save the Historic Parkland School, a building constructed in 1908. Community members successfully advocated for its adaptive reuse, protecting it from demolition.


In summary, the evening was filled with architectural discussions and heartfelt reflections on Tacoma’s history, fostering a wave of encouragement among the attendees to continue their preservation efforts.


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