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$3m offer for Longfellow could resurrect nonprofit museum

EVERETT — Could a $3 million pledge to save the old Longfellow school also give a home to the long-wayward Everett Museum of History?
The announcement that somebody offered a bundle to buy
the Longfellow from the Everett School District went public at a museum gala last week. The donor is being kept anonymous.
The school district confirmed that a $2 million offer was on the table from an anonymous buyer, but the offer’s details have some spots to fill out.
Time is of the essence for the museum to clinch the deal.
The disused building at 3715 Oakes Ave. is 106 years old, but is destined to face the wrecking ball this spring. A demolition permit was filed with the city March 7.
The school district board plans to look to hire a demolition contractor in April, district facilities director Mike Gunn told the Herald.
The museum’s leadership is ecstatic by the prospect of finding a home. Social media among supporters lit up after the announcement.
There hasn’t been an official museum for Everett or Snohomish County since the Snohomish County Museum of History closed on Hewitt Avenue in the early 2000s.
Thousands of artifacts are being stashed around town, including in a part of the Everett Mall as of 2013. The 40,000-piece collection was essentially evicted in 2012 from its low-cost storage space in the Carnegie Building owned by Snohomish County when the $1 a year rent went up to market price. A fire in 2007 in the building also was a sore point. While the fire didn’t damage anything, the water used to put out the fire soaked old papers such as old newspapers, the Herald reported at the time.
Meanwhile, a state historical preservation agency says more legwork needs to be done before demolition could start.
The district received a letter Monday, March 20 from the state Department of Archaeology & Historic Preservation saying that the building’s historic nature would trigger requiring a separate, more intensive environmental review.
“Proposed demolition of a historic property considered eligible for a historic designation at the national, state, and/or local level is considered as having a significant negative environmental impact” that would trigger such an Environmental Impact Statement that includes discussing alternatives to demolition, the state agency’s director Gregory Griffith wrote.
The Longfellow is not on any local or national historic registers, but even so, the registers lack significant teeth to prevent demolition.
For years, the building was an elementary school. It later was converted into school district offices before the district consolidated its office space in 2013 at its new administration building nearby.
The district plans to have the Longfellow and a second building next door make way for a 64-space parking lot to serve Everett Veterans Memorial Stadium off of Broadway.
It’s been trying to sell the building for the past three years, but one of the stopping points in negotiations has been that the district held firm that the surrounding parking lot remain with the district to park fleet vehicles. That was enough to turn off some buyers.
And even if the building is saved, it’s not readily usable.
The Longfellow needs extensive restoration work that, by the district’s estimates, would cost $8.5 million as a starting point.
The anonymous donor would match additional capital campaign donations toward restoring the Longfellow if the museum gets the building, museum director Barbara George told the Herald.

 

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