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Architecture & Engineering

Emma Hinchliffeh
Emma Hinchliffe

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January 26, 2022

Talking History: Recent landmarking ensures life and legacy of Seattle's Center for Wooden Boats

The Center for Wooden Boats (CWB), at 1010 Valley Street sits (or rather floats) at the center of Seattle's South Lake Union tech hub, providing a glimpse of old Seattle amidst new construction and high-rises. In August 2021, the center, which last year celebrated its 45th anniversary, was designated a historic landmark by the City of Seattle's Landmarks Preservation Board, making it the first floating structure in the state to be granted landmark status.

Billed as a “living museum” and a place for “hands on history,” the center houses historic boats and collections relating to the maritime and industrial history of Seattle and South Lake Union. Boats are restored on site and visitors can also sail on the center's fleet. In addition, the center offers many educational opportunities and programs, especially for youth. The Center for Wooden boats consists of a main floating campus made up of a boathouse, boatshop, and oarhouse built between 1982 and 2008. On land, there is a pavilion (built in 1984) and the Olson Kundig-designed Wagner Education Center (completed in 2019), which holds part of the center's exhibits and its giftshop. The landmarking covers the entire floating campus and the interiors and exteriors of the pavilion, protecting these structures from demolition or significant alteration in the future.

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