Photo by Peggy Sturdivant
The Ballard Carnegie Free Library is now a historic landmark

Finally, Ballard Carnegie Library officially a landmark

It's the moment you've all been waiting for. At least, if you're a history nerd who lives in Ballard.

Nov. 7, at about 4:30 p.m., Seattle's Landmark Preservation Board unanimously designated the Ballard Carnegie Free Library as a historic landmark. Though it certainly looks like one, up until this point, it was not actually a landmark.

The designation means that extra guidelines and restrictions will apply to the building; any changes to the exterior of the building must be approved by the Landmarks Board. This helps prevent any major change, or absolute demolition, from happening to the building.

At the nomination meeting on Sept. 19, board members agreed to only nominate the exterior for landmark status. They reasoned that the inside had been too greatly altered since the tenancy of The Kangaroo and The Kiwi, an Australian-themed pub.

The building owner, Karoline Morrison, who has been vocal about her opposition to the designation, was not present at the meeting. No representatives stood up to speak, either, making the process rather quick and smooth.

In the past, Morrison said she was concerned that the restrictions would cost her money and that it would make it harder for her to attain and keep tenants.

In the nomination meeting, board members said that they understand buildings deteriorate and must be improved, and so they are willing to work with owners to make improvements while keeping the integrity of the building.

Morrison also said that she has put much work into preserving the building and thought that she should be allowed to continue that stewardship. Though Morrison was not at the meeting, Eugenia Woo, director of preservation services at Historic Seattle and others said that they were thankful for all of the work she had done.

At the Sept. 17 meeting, Cass O'Callaghan of the Ballard Historical Society said that while Morrison has done much to preserve the building, there was no telling what would happen in the future. The designation is to ensure the building's preservation in the long term, she said.

The designation has many supporters, including members of Historic Seattle and the Ballard Historical Society, who helped push the designation through.

Marion Hafterson, a trustee for the Ballard Historical Society, gave a lengthy comment at the meeting in support of the designation.

"I look around here and see so many beautiful buildings disappear. And I don’t think they should," Hafterson said.

She said back on the East Coast, where she is from, there were preserved historic buildings everywhere. She commented afterward that she loved to go back to the house of her great grandfather, which was built in 1821.

She said she thought that Ballard, as well as the rest of Seattle, should do more to preserve beautiful, old buildings such as the Ballard Carnegie Free Library.

"I think you should keep some of these old buildings, keep them up, so we have a history of the way things went," she said. "It's one of those things. It’s a very personal thing."

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