Peggy Sturdivant/ Ballard News-Tribune

Fenpro building coming down to make way for new museum

The Fenpro warehouse and studio has come down to make way for the new Nordic Heritage Museum.

Major deconstruction on of the building happened throughout last week after the groundbreaking on August 3. Mayor Ed Murray, Senator Reuven Carlyle, Washington State Rep. Gael Tarleton, and dignitaries from Scandinavian countries attended the event.

At the site last week, piles of metal were scrapped and heaps of debris were taken away in truck loads as monster backhoes and tractors knocked the once WW II munitions manufacturing factory to the ground, a place once bristling with activity from over 20 artisans and artists. The tenants have been out of the building since March. Bridge builders, machinists, glass blowers, woodworkers and artists have since moved on to studios spaces in South Park, Tacoma or Everett.

Fenpro 2

Steve Howell is owner of Ballard Forge, a black smith and ironwork shop at Fenpro. Last year Howell told the Ballard News-Tribune that he supported the museum but he didn't understand why they had to move to the Fenpro site.

“It’s ironic they’re having a museum to honor the things that are currently going on here,” said Howell.

“There’s not places like this anymore where you can get affordable shop space and its such a shame to see it happen. Ballard is definitely changing but I think this change will be a big one because there is not another place like this where you have so many different businesses that are just going to get knocked out at once. I think it would be a huge loss for Ballard.”

Currently, the museum operates out of a building at 3014 NW 67th St., which is owned by Seattle Public Schools. They have been leasing their current space on Sunset Hill for the last 40 years. SPS is reclaiming the building to make into an elementary school. NHM anticipated the City’s actions years ago and started buying property at the Fenpro site, purchasing it in segments in 2003 through 2009.

“This is a very important step for us. … It’s really a question of survival. We need to move and this was the natural space for us to move to. It provides much better visibility and a great opportunity to modernize our facility,” said Nordic Heritage Museum CEO, Eric Nelson during the groundbreaking ceremony.

NHM plans to be finished with construction by early 2018.

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