Historical Suquamish structure to be demolished

SUQUAMISH — The Suquamish Church — one of the more recent incarnations of a white building with faded blue trim located by the “slab” — has served a long and proud tenure during its legacy in the North End. After studies and a complete investigation, the Suquamish Tribe has decided the building is beyond constructional help and will raze it sometime next week.

There was a tribal member hearing held recently, and those residents in attendance determined it would be a better use of funds to raze the building — not to be confused with St. Peter’s Catholic Church — and reuse the land rather than to try to refurbish the aged structure, said Suquamish Tribal Chairman Leonard Forsman. He said he wasn’t sure when exactly it was constructed, but the building did serve as the Suquamish terminal while the Mosquito Fleet was running from the 1850s to late 1930s. An exact date for the building's construction is unknown, but Forsman said it is more than 70 years old, and was moved to its present location by the “slab” in the 1950s.

“We’ve talked, and we had a public hearing, a tribal member hearing, to let the people know we were considering it,” he said. “Essentially the building has got some serious issues, it’s got some major concerns. It’s an old building that’s pretty severely dilapidated, and right now we are pretty sure there are some serious issues with the foundation.”

Demolishing the interior began this week, and Forsman said the building itself will come down sometime next week. Over the course of many years, items of all varieties have been stored in the structure. Once crews began work on the interior, relics from the different ways the building served the community came pouring out of nooks and crannies.

The building has served as a church, a food bank and a meeting area for councils, groups and ceremonies, Forsman said. It has strong significance to the tribe, but the space and property it will provide is important as well.

“The building has a history as it was used for a tribal hall, councils and meetings,” he said. “Yeah, it was a building of the ferry terminal. The building was getting unsafe for use, however, and rehabilitation just wasn’t feasible. So we decided to make room. So that seems to be the direction the tribe is going right now.”

The Suquamish Tribe hasn’t announced any plans for the site yet, as it is still discussing the best use for the property. It could be utilized as a part of the tribe’s cultural resurgence projects, which include construction of a new Traditional Community House, a new museum and arts center, a new dock and other improvements in Suquamish.

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