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Museum drops bid for historic Longfellow

EVERETT — The nonprofit wanting to resurrect an Everett Museum of History dropped its bid for the Longfellow Building, a century-old edifice owned by the Everett School District.
The decision has the museum seeking a home again.
“We still have a donor and we’re looking madly for another building that can be a permanent home to our museum,” group executive director Barbara George said. A historic building would be preferred, she said.
The group’s offer this spring could have been a sure-shot way to save the disused Longfellow Building at 3715 Oakes Ave.
The group had made a purchase and sale offer for $2 million, with an additional $1 million promised for renovations. An anonymous donor was putting up $3 million for the building.
The posthumous donor was recently revealed as Elizabeth Ruth Wallace, who died in December after reportedly making a real estate fortune in California.
The group gave its notice to rescind on Oct. 17, said school district spokeswoman Diane Bradford.
“With the news of the museum rescinding its offer, district leadership hasn’t yet had time to discuss the next steps,” Bradford wrote in an email Oct. 24. “There are higher-priority projects that are keeping district staff plenty busy, so it is on hold. We are not aware of any other offers.”
District facilities director Mike Gunn was unavailable for comment by press time.
Last year, the district announced plans to demolish the Longfellow and a second building next door to make way for a 64-space parking lot to serve the Veterans Memorial stadium where the Everett AquaSox baseball team plays.
The district sought a demolition permit this spring, but halted its plans when the museum’s offer came forward.
The museum has moved locations since 1954 but hasn’t had a permanent home in years. The museum’s 40,000-piece collection is being stored at the Everett Mall and the city’s Culmback Building as an interim measure.
The Longfellow would require extensive work, and it would need to be brought up to code. These are stumbling blocks for many buyers.
Gunn previously estimated that renovations would cost $8.5 million as a starting point.
The Longfellow’s history includes almost seven decades as a school and three more as an auxiliary administration building for the district.
This building and the district’s 1960s-era headquarters on Colby Avenue became obsolete when the district’s new Community Resource Center opened in 2013.
In long-range district plans, the Longfellow was always listed to either be sold, leased out or demolished.
The district was able to sell the Colby property to the YMCA last summer.
The Longfellow Building is not on any local or national historic registers, but even so, the registers lack significant teeth to prevent demolition.

 

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