Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Chambers Prairie Grange Faces Demolition


Above: With his back turned to the former Chambers Prairie Grange, owner Tom Schrader says the building on the corner of Henderson Boulevard and Yelm Highway in Tumwater will be demolished. Schrader is in negotiations with Starbucks to create a new 4,000 square foot building with a drive-thru on the property. 

Owner in Negotiations with Starbucks for Property Use
Site Plans Still Uncertain

By Janine Gates
Little Hollywood
A Little Hollywood Land Use Investigation

The 107 year old former Chambers Prairie Grange on the corner of Henderson Boulevard and Yelm Highway in Tumwater will be demolished, says building owner Tom Schrader.

Schrader’s decision to raze the beloved grange has caught many off guard, including City of Tumwater planning staff and the city council’s citizen advisory planning commission.

Members of the city council and the city’s historic preservation commission have not been formally informed of Schrader's new intentions for the building.

After weeks of hearing rumors, members of the city’s citizen advisory planning commission were the first to hear about the change in plans firsthand by Schrader during a public comment period at their March 14 meeting.

Their reaction, similar to that expressed by some city staff and others already familiar with the news, was one of confusion and disappointment, particularly since Schrader had wooed them all with his vision of saving the building and converting it into a neighborhood café and bistro.

The planning commission had recommended that Schrader receive a comprehensive plan rezone for the property from single-family, low-density residential to community service, which was approved by city council last October.

The prospect of tearing down the building is unthinkable for many Thurston County historic preservationists and community members who have generations of memories of the grange being used for community meetings, weddings, dances and other gatherings.

Schrader met with several local coffee businesses in the area to ascertain their interest in the property, but was unsuccessful in getting any of them to make a commitment.

At some point, Starbucks offered Schrader a contract on the property at 1301 Yelm Highway. 

Schrader gets upset at the suggestion that he obtained the rezone to increase the property’s value and says the contract is not a done deal.

“I met with Batdorf & Bronson Coffee Roasters three times, Cutters Point Coffee twice, and everyone else at least once, so my effort has not wavered from that desire,” he told the city’s planning commission on March 14.

Schrader said he has also received offers from fast food restaurants such as Wendy’s, Taco Bell, and Chick fil-A, corporations that have all expressed an interest in the corner for years.

“I could have gone with any of those, but I said no to all of them. Starbucks is a coffee shop that has an area where people can meet, with a social community area, and that was my intent for the grange anyways, wasn’t it?” said Schrader. 

He has expressed considerable frustration with the City of Tumwater and sought clarification on what he could do with the property. Schrader's plans call for the building to be demolished, the basement to be imploded and filled in, and trees to be removed.

Misunderstandings continue between Schrader and the City of Tumwater about the grange’s physical position on the property and the regulatory setbacks needed for sidewalks, landscaping and public works needs. 

Above: Tom Schrader met with City of Tumwater staff at an epic, two hour site review planning meeting on March 2 to discuss Schrader’s plans to demolish the grange and determine what he can and cannot do on the property. Developers and their representatives present staff with preliminary plans at these meetings and staff review regulations that may affect those plans. These type of meetings usually last 45 minutes to an hour.

Schrader specifically mentioned in a previous interview with Little Hollywood that he did not want a Starbucks, a Texaco gas station, a 7-11, nor a Burger King.

“….I want something the neighborhood wants,” he said in an interview with Little Hollywood in November 2015.

Schrader is currently in negotiations with The Farm Homeowners Association to purchase property adjacent to the grange property, which he says would allow for a safer, better project. 

Since he purchased the property in 2015, Schrader has worked with neighbors and residents of The Farm to appease their concerns regarding potential traffic and noise.

When asked by Little Hollywood if the city or a private entity could purchase the building and save it, Schrader bristled and asserted that the building cannot stay where it is. 

Schrader said he doesn’t want to hear any “bleeding heart stories” about the loss of the grange.

“I'm really not feeling too bad about whatever I do with the old grange because nobody gives a damn! Where was everyone who cared when I needed them? I have over $15,000 invested in architectural plans - remodel plans already submitted to the city - a gas meter, electrical engineering, new electrical meters, and I bought new cedar roofing.

“The building is in City of Tumwater right of way and they will not let me remodel or keep the building where it currently is - if I move the building, I will lose the basement, and the building won't survive the move,” Schrader said angrily.

“I've had building movers and general contractors do inspections on the structure, and they will not guarantee the building would survive a move. In fact, they wouldn't touch it unless I signed a waiver saying if the building imploded or fell over, I wouldn't file a claim against them.”

Although the outside looks intact, Schrader has a carpenter inside the former grange, salvaging part of the floor, which he says is not the original fir flooring. A maple floor was put over the old fir floor, maybe in the 1960-70's.

Schrader says he is keeping a lot of the old grange materials and is working with Starbucks on a possible design.

During a March tour of the grange, Schrader said that the new building will look like a grange, and wants it to be positioned lengthwise along Yelm Highway, using the grange’s exterior wood paneling.

Inside, several new water leaks were seen dripping from roof to floor.

Schrader, who says he doesn’t like to visit the property anymore, or even call it the grange because the situation is so depressing, rushed to find containers to catch the drips.

Schrader asked Little Hollywood to not take any interior photos.

Above: On what was a forested lot last yearthe new Starbucks and its drive-thru located on Cooper Point Road in Olympia is now surrounded by impervious surface. This Starbucks design is similar in size of what could be accommodated on Schrader’s property in Tumwater. Schrader has presented several architectural designs to Tumwater city staff and the parties have wrangled over setbacks and access to the site. 

Property Use Disputes

According to Schrader, the City of Tumwater is making him move the building in 10 to 20 years, because it is three to eight feet within the city's right of way.

The city has future intentions of adding another left turn at the intersection of Henderson and Yelm Highway.

“The city won't give me a break on reducing the setbacks. Any new building will be at least 20 feet from the sidewalk, which puts the building in the middle of the lot, so you don't have room for parking and the storm pond,” said Schrader.

The city says, yes, the building is in its right of way, but they were making regulatory exceptions, and working with Schrader to allow the building to stay in its current location.

When Schrader took city staff off guard by unexpectedly presenting them with preliminary plans to demolish the grange and replace it with a new 4,000 square foot building and parking lot, the project became a typical new development that must adhere to current setback and other development regulations.

The proposed Starbucks will have a drive-thru, which was just one major sticking point at a March 2 meeting between Schrader and the City of Tumwater development review committee.

Several city staff members met with Schrader for a two hour meeting to examine Schrader’s latest architectural drawings and design requests. 

Staff’s confusion on how Schrader got from Point A, saving the grange, to Point B, demolishing the grange, was palatable, with at least one staff member blatantly saying that he wanted the grange to be saved.

Schrader says a drive-thru is a mandatory feature for Starbucks and says the corporation is willing to wait for as long as it takes to get through the land use and design process.

“I need the city to help me design a project that’s good for Tumwater,” said Schrader.

City of Tumwater Perspective

The City of Tumwater has a different perspective on the whole matter but believes Schrader was sincere in his desire to save the building during the comprehensive plan and rezone request process last year.

“Tumwater has always been and continues to be supportive of retaining the grange building if possible. That being said, there is no city requirement prohibiting demolition of the building. That is a decision for the property owner,” said Michael Matlock, community development director for the City of Tumwater, in an email to Little Hollywood last month.

“….Retaining the grange building was much discussed during the comprehensive plan and rezone request process and I believe all parties have a strong interest and desire to see that happen. 

“The city did not require him to demolish it. A portion of the structure is in the city right of way. Initially, we told Tom he would need to remove that portion from the right of way. We negotiated that point and subsequently allowed that portion to stay in the right of way. Tom told me that he had some further structural analysis done and it was just not possible to retain the building,” said Matlock.

Asked about the drive-thru element, Matlock says a drive-thru is allowed under the current zoning, but would be subject to stringent design guidelines regarding placement and screening. It will not be allowed between the building and the sidewalk.

“This is a challenging site to develop because of its size and location. While we have had many discussions with Tom, we have not yet begun the site plan review process to work through these issues,” said Matlock.

City staff say that the new Starbucks, which includes a drive-thru, on Cooper Point Road near Haggen’s grocery store is very similar in size to the preliminary plans they have discussed with Schrader.

Grange Building History

Located on the former Route #2 in Thurston County, the Chambers Prairie Grange No. 191 was built in 1910 on land donated by the Wickie Family. 

The grange served as a vital community center for the area's farmers and their agricultural, social, educational and political activities. 

The wooden, one-story, 5,668 square foot building sits on .91 acres and is remarkably sound, despite its age. It has been untouched by vandals and still features the original wavy glass windows. The basement still contains long wooden tables suitable for dining and entertaining.

The building is not listed on any historic register. 

It sat vacant for years, but continued to be owned by the Washington State Grange until Schrader and his wife Tiffany bought it in late 2015. 

Since then, Tom Schrader has worked to clear the grange property of blackberry brambles and brush, scraped moss off the roof, hauled away old appliances, and provided electricity and natural gas to the building.

The rezone to community service last October allowed 22 permitted uses but limited commercial development of the property.  

The area has built up around the grange.

Northwest of the grange is the Briggs YWCA and the 137-acre Briggs Village. 

Northeast of the grange was once the Briggs Nursery. It is now Briggs East Village and a 200-unit development for active senior adults called Silver Leaf.

East of the grange is the Tsuki Nursery, which is on the market, listed and represented by Schrader, a commercial real estate agent for ReMax/Parkside.

That latter property is currently in Thurston County with Olympia Urban Growth Area jurisdiction zoned residential 4 – 8.

Jay Eaton, director of public works for the City of Tumwater, said in a past interview that the Yelm Highway and Henderson Boulevard intersection is currently operating at an acceptable level of service.

“The projections out to 2040 show that, at some point, the intersection level of service will fall below desirable,” he said.

About 30,000 vehicles per day currently use the intersection.

Above: With a simplified, hand drawn sketch, Tom Schrader shows his vision for the future site of the grange property. He says he will use portions of the grange's exterior wood paneling for the outside of a new building. Pending the possible sale of an adjacent piece of property to Schrader, siting logistics and details for the new development is still uncertain. 

Editor’s NoteThis story chronicles just a small part of a local land use project's complicated journey from idea to reality. Since late 2015, Little Hollywood has published three stories about Tom Schrader's ideas for the former Chambers Prairie Grange site. 

Little Hollywood spent three months investigating the update for this story, meeting and checking in with Schrader on multiple occasions, attending meetings, and communicating with city staff. 

The story is not over, but it would appear that the possibility of saving the building's structural and spiritual integrity, is now lost.

For more photos, information and previous Little Hollywood articles about the Chambers Prairie Grange No. 191, Tom Schrader, the City of Tumwater rezone of the property, and current and projected traffic levels at the intersection, go to Little Hollywood’s stories:




Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Olympia’s Sea Level Rise Plan Begins with Port, LOTT


Above: At the southernmost tip of Puget Sound, Budd Inlet surrounds downtown Olympia. In the distance is the Washington State Capitol Building. At far right, the vacant nine story Capitol Center Building. Photo taken at high tide on March 10, 2016.

By Janine Gates
Little Hollywood

Collaborating for the first time on a sea level rise response plan, the City of Olympia authorized its city manager to sign an interlocal agreement with the Port of Olympia and the LOTT Clean Water Alliance at its regular Tuesday evening meeting.

The three entities will work together to focus on the development of a sea level rise plan and provide recommendations for capital projects, funding needs, implementation schedules, and emergency response protocols.

An engineering firm, AECOM, has been chosen to develop the project’s scope of work. AECOM has assisted other communities in sea level rise response planning, particularly in the San Francisco Bay area.

City staff will report back to council in mid to late May with a detailed scope of work and public outreach plan. Overall, the process is expected to take 18 months to develop.

How the collaboration and conversation will unfold at the Port of Olympia and LOTT Clean Water Alliance is uncertain.

Rachael Jamison, environmental program director for the Port of Olympia, was present at the meeting, but did not address the council. 

Jamison told Little Hollywood that the Port has tracked the city’s research and work on sea level rise issues and port commissioners have received sea level rise reports in the past.

“Independent of commission meetings, the Port is going to provide opportunities for the public to participate in a way which will be clear once we have a plan. We recognize that there are vulnerabilities and we have to work together,” she said.

No representatives of the LOTT Clean Water Alliance were present at the meeting Tuesday night.

The City of Olympia has acknowledged and responded to sea level rise concerns since 1990.

Since 2007, staff has provided city council and the community with annual updates on current climate change and sea level rise research.

Illustrating their information with Olympia specific inundation maps, city staff gave council the most sobering sea level rise report to date at a study session in February 2016.

According to the National Research Council, four and a half feet of sea level rise is expected worldwide by 2100.

Andy Haub, City of Olympia’s director of water resources, gave a sea level rise report to the community on February 8, 2017 at the Olympia Center.

As he has reported in the past, a one foot sea level rise means flooding would occur 30 times a year in downtown Olympia.

Two feet of sea level rise would flood downtown 160 times a year, and four feet of sea level rise would flood downtown 440 times a year, which is more than once a day.

The city set a policy in 2010 to protect downtown and that is reflected in the goals and policies of its Comprehensive Plan.

Above: Susan Clark, City of Olympia senior city planner, will act as project manager for the city’s sea level rise plan. She has a long professional history with planning and water related issues.

Susan Clark, a senior city planner with the City of Olympia since early January, is taking the lead as the city's sea level rise project manager for day to day issues. 

Andy Haub and Eric Christensen, City of Olympia's water resources planning and engineering manager, will continue to be involved and play a major role.

Interviewed by Little Hollywood on Tuesday, Clark discussed her background and her new job. A graduate of Timberline High School in Lacey, Clark now lives in Tacoma.

Clark is responsible for planning activities related to Olympia’s drinking water, stormwater, and wastewater utilities, and is working on the completion of the city’s storm and surface water utility plan.

Sea level rise is a new, additional responsibility to the position.

Clark started her professional career in 1990, helping to develop Pierce County’s Growth Management Act Comprehensive Plan. She later transferred to the Public Works Department, where she was responsible for drinking water issues, including participation in watershed planning.

After spending 15 years with Pierce County, Clark worked with Tacoma Water as their water resources planner. She also processed water rights at the state Department of Ecology and worked at the state Department of Health as a regional planner with the drinking water program.

Multiple downtown Olympia development projects by the city and the port are underway in precisely the area destined to be first impacted by sea level rise.

These vulnerable areas, built on fill, are well within the historic shoreline of Budd Inlet.

Asked about her interest in sea level rise issues, she said she has visited Annapolis, Maryland, and has studied their issues.

“They have an old downtown, right on Chesapeake Bay. Other communities have aspects of their plans that we can learn from….As a professional planner, I am very interested in the opportunity, and feel honored, to assist a community with this relatively new area of planning. Throughout my 25 plus year career, I have learned that a planner is a generalist, bringing organizational skills and a different way of thinking to the table,” said Clark.

Little Hollywood regularly writes about downtown Olympia sea level rise issues, shoreline management, and related development. For more information about the city’s reports, including the February 8, 2017 report and the February 2016 report, past high tide events, photos, and community concerns, go to Little Hollywood, http://www.janineslittlehollywood.blogspot.com, and type key words into the search button.

To stay up to date with the city’s sea level rise plans, go to www.olympiawa.gov/SeaLevelRise, or contact Susan Clark, senior city planner at sclark@ci.olympia.wa.us or (360) 753-8321.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Olympia Starts Sea Level Rise Planning


Above: Over 100 interested community members attended the City of Olympia's annual sea level rise report to the community, delivered by Andy Haub, the city's water resources director, at the Olympia Center on February 8. Olympia is starting a coordinated sea level rise response plan with the Port of Olympia and the LOTT Clean Water Alliance.

By Janine Gates
Little Hollywood

“This is going to go on forever…this will be our future,” said Andy Haub, City of Olympia water resources director, about the city's planning for sea level rise. 

Speaking to the city’s citizen utility advisory committee on Thursday evening, Haub provided an update on the city’s sea level rise plan and the committee's role in its implementation. 

The citizen advisory committee is charged with overseeing the city’s sea level rise planning process.

Looking at a draft plan schedule that included typical public outreach tools employed by the city, the group was quiet and seemingly a bit daunted by the responsibility. 

When a member questioned how they should go about their role, Haub admitted that there is no clear recipe.

“You’ll have to use your collective judgement,” Haub said, acknowledging that sea level science is evolving, but there are strategies the city can draw upon from around the country and the world.

They agreed that the ultimate governance for the plan, whatever that plan turns out to be, needs to be carried through the whole process, and not left to the end.

At its regular Tuesday meeting, April 11, the Olympia city council is expected to sign an interlocal agreement with the Port of Olympia and the LOTT Clean Water Alliance for the planning and assessment of sea level rise issues.

The city, Port of Olympia, and LOTT all own properties and have responsibilities in the area where sea level rise is expected to inundate downtown Olympia.

An international engineering firm, AECOM, has been chosen to help the city determine the plan’s scope of work and ensure a robust public involvement process.

The scope of work will focus on the development of a sea level rise plan and provide recommendations for capital projects, funding needs, implementation schedules, and emergency response protocols.

The plan will include a full analysis of options for responding to various sea level rise scenarios over a 100 year time frame, and look for ideas from other areas of the United States and the world.

The city, port, and LOTT will divide the costs for consulting services. The port and LOTT will pay up to $75,000 each and the city will pay at least $75,000. Total costs for consulting are not to exceed $250,000 without further negotiation and approval.

According to science based research and multiple reports, there is no doubt sea level rise will impact downtown Olympia as we know it.

Thad Curtz, former chair of the Utility Advisory Committee citizen advisory committee, was one of several community members who expressed concerns on Thursday about the plan’s scope of work.

The staff presentation said that we’re eventually going to have eight feet of sea level rise. We ought to be thinking about (a plan) with respect to earthquake risk. If we have four feet of sea water outside of whatever we build, and we have an earthquake that impacts a dike or whatever, we’re going to have very serious costs. We need to be planning to deal with that.

We’re talking about restoration of Budd Inlet at the same time we’re talking about seriously altering the shoreline from Priest Point Park to West Bay. We also have the whole Capitol Lake process going on. Those planning processes ought to be related to each other.

We [also ought] to have a conversation about setbacks. How much room do we need between buildings and the shore if we’re going to have to deal with eight feet? We can’t just talk about sea level rise as if it’s something by itself,” said Curtz, who said he intends to stay involved with the conversation.

Former city planning commission member Judy Bardin said that adaptation for sea level rise will be a huge and costly undertaking, noting that city staff estimates that sea level rise adaptation for downtown Olympia will cost in excess of $60 million, and the pumping system alone could be $37 million.

“If the public is going to be asked to pay for sea level rise mitigation in any way, they need to be brought into the conversation now, especially in the scoping of the plan…we need to involve our neighborhoods and the environmental community,” she said.

Helen Wheatley of Olympia asked staff and the utility advisory committee members to think of all people who are impacted by utility decisions and plans.

“It includes everyone from low income apartment dwellers, to treaty tribe members struggling to preserve and enhance salmon habitat in the face of over a century of catastrophic assaults on the ecosystem,” she said.

Wheatley urged that the plan take a “safety first” approach that considers the realities of who lives there, who will live there in the future, and how we live.

“Is it fair or right to drive people into the flood zone because they don’t own a house?” she asked.

“Sea level rise will not happen overnight, but its progression will be relentless. We can choose to transition ourselves into a newer city by moving uphill. How long we hang on to different parts of downtown will involve tough financial, emotional, technical, and political decisions,” said Walt Jorgensen of Tumwater.

Sea Level Rise Community Update

Above: In what has become a familiar scene, the city's public works team, with Andy Haub, City of Olympia water resources director, in yellow jacket, stationed themselves near the Oyster House restaurant on Sylvester Street in downtown Olympia on the morning of March 10, 2016, to monitor the surge from nearby Budd Inlet.

Haub gave his annual sea level rise update to the community on February 8 at the Olympia Center. Over 100 people were in attendance.

Haub described how the city is currently needing to manage four to five significant downtown flooding incidents per year. To add to that scenario, downtown Olympia appears to be sinking at the rate of one inch per decade. 

A situation of low atmospheric pressure creates exceptional high tides, turning moderate tides into high tides, and high tides into extreme tides.

“That whole dynamic is absolutely fascinating…the intensity of storms will increase. Our downtown streets are flat, not deep, so water will spread far,” said Haub, who has long reported that the city could manage one foot, or maybe two feet of water, but no more than that. 

Vertical gates, flood barriers, elevated landscapes, and the strategic placement of planter box barriers will only work up to a certain point.

“We’re planning for two feet of sea level rise by 2050, but with two feet of water flooding downtown every other day, it just won’t work for long,” he said.

Audience members were at all different levels of understanding about sea level science, and peppered Haub with questions about sea level rise projections for downtown, Budd Inlet flood dynamics, and the city’s plan in relationship to other plans, such as the multi-year, $250,000 study called the Downtown Strategy.

The Downtown Strategy has a 20 year planning horizon, leaving many to wonder why the city is encouraging downtown development, and how sea level rise fits in.

Although port commissioners and city council members were present in the audience, Haub stood alone, fielding questions while facilitating a complicated conversation during his PowerPoint presentation. Lacking support, he lost control of the meeting about 20 minutes into the program.

Frustrating some audience members, Haub unquestionably defended the city’s stance that downtown must be saved. Several audience members expressed their opinion that the best solution is to retreat to higher ground. Haub responded that a retreat is not consistent with the city’s Comprehensive Plan.

Haub did not have answers for many questions, including the impact of sea water salinity on downtown’s underground and above ground electrical systems.

“Downtown is vulnerable. We have to accept and acknowledge the risk. This plan will start addressing how we balance and manage new development. There’s a way we can do it, it’s just not cohesive at this point,” he said, adding that the city has a lot of investments in downtown Olympia, most notably the region's LOTT water and wastewater system, which is valued at $1.2 billion.

Above: During times of high tide and favorable atmospheric pressure, certain areas of downtown Olympia are inundated with storm surge from Budd Inlet, overloading storm water systems. The area on State Street in downtown Olympia near the former Les Schwab tire store building at 210 State Street experiences flooding several times a year. The vacant building lies mere feet from Budd Inlet and is now owned by developer Walker John, who proposes to turn the property into a restaurant and 40 unit housing development. Photo taken March 10, 2016.

For numerous articles about sea level rise and flooding incidents in downtown Olympia, the management of Capitol Lake, current sea level rise projections for Olympia with photos and maps, go to Little Hollywoodhttp://www.janineslittlehollywood.blogspot.com and type key words into the search button.


The city's Utility Advisory Committee meets on the first Thursday of the month, at 5:40 p.m., in Olympia City Hall, Room 207, 601 4th Avenue East. For more information, go to www.olympiawa.gov.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Olympia Temple Saves Star of David


Above: Rabbi Seth Goldstein of Temple Beth Hatfiloh in Olympia points toward a broken window pane on the Star of David, recently obtained from the congregation's original Temple, which was built in 1938. The Star will undergo a full restoration.“I had no idea what color it was – I just saw it from afar. I never realized it was green and purple. It’s beautiful,” said Goldstein.

By Janine Gates
Little Hollywood

Temple Beth Hatfiloh just accomplished a financial goal to preserve an 80 year old stained glass Star of David, recently removed from its original synagogue in downtown Olympia.

Through a brief GoFundMe effort, $1,608 was raised by 41 people in 13 days. The goal was to reach $1,500 goal by mid-June to receive a matching grant.

“The funds raised were not necessarily just from our congregation. I didn’t recognize some of the names of those who donated. Some may have been interested in historic preservation. Some I knew and some were from other faith communities,” said Temple Beth Hatfiloh’s Rabbi Seth Goldstein, in an interview with Little Hollywood on Friday.

“It was amazing. It’s not like this is just for us. This is for the whole community,” he said.

The Star of David is an important piece of Olympia and Washington State Jewish history.

It is in need of overall restoration and one window pane is broken, but that will be easy to replace, Goldstein said. After its restoration, it will be put on display in the synagogue.

Above: The original Temple Beth Hatfiloh at 802 South Jefferson in downtown Olympia as seen on Friday. The building is currently for sale and under contract with an undisclosed party, says the property’s listing agent.

Established in 1937, Temple Beth Hatfiloh serves the Jewish community of greater Olympia.

In 2004, the growing congregation sold the single story, wooden building at 802 South Jefferson to Calvin Johnson of K Records, and moved three blocks west to their more spacious, current location at 201 8th Avenue.

A clause built into the Temple’s sale of the building to K Records, and any future owner, states that if there were any major renovation to the building or a demolition, the synagogue would retain possession of the Star of David and the building’s four memorial cornerstones.

“It was bittersweet when we moved, knowing we couldn’t hold onto the building. We were glad to sell it to Calvin, who we knew wouldn’t knock it down. We obviously had no control over what people did to the building, but we could at least include this one piece into the contract, reclaim the Star, and bring it back to our community,” said Goldstein.

A few months ago, someone with K Records unexpectedly informed Rabbi Goldstein that the area around the Star of David had structural issues, causing leakage issues. The Star was removed, and the area was boarded up.

Rabbi Goldstein walked to the building, thinking he would just carry the Star back to the Temple.

“It was a lot bigger than I thought and I had to go back and get the car,” he laughed. 

The Star measures about 3 ¾ feet in diameter, and was scheduled to be picked up by professional stained glass restorers on Friday.

When it is returned, Temple staff will plan a dedication ceremony of its restoration in memory of Ben Bean, who passed away this past summer. Bean was present at the Temple’s original dedication in 1938. His father, Earl Bean, headed the Temple’s building committee, along with Jacob Goldberg and Rube Cohn.

There is no place to install the Star in the current Temple on the outside of the building, so it will be placed in an interior alcove facing the front doors of the synagogue.


Above: A close up of the Temple's stained glass Star of David with a broken window pane.

According to a Thurston County historic property inventory report, the original Temple was built in 1938 using the Centralia synagogue's architectural plans. At the time it was built, the Olympia area Jewish congregation numbered sixteen. The property was purchased for $537.12.

Above: The siding of the former Temple shows damage from a fire on the Fourth of July last year. The cornerstone memorials on the building are for Isaac and Minnie Cohn, Helen Bean, Fanny Goldberg, and Getz Neishuler.

Membership grew to about 80 families during the 1970s and 1980s, due, in part, to the establishment of The Evergreen State College. 

The congregation later affiliated itself with the Reconstructionist Movement in 2001. Reconstructionists define themselves as progressive, pluralistic, democratic, and communal, according to the Temple’s website.

The Temple’s membership now numbers about 160 families and serves other community members as well, said Rabbi Goldstein.

Acknowledging the many sweet memories associated with the original Temple, Goldstein said that the congregation once explored keeping the original Temple as an annex.

“We even thought, for about five minutes, that we could move it to our current location, similar to what the synagogue in Boise did,” Goldstein laughed. “They moved their building - it’s gorgeous - but, for us, it just wasn’t feasible.” 

The building was damaged in a Fourth of July fire in 2016, and is in need of repairs. K Records moved out, and the building is currently for sale. The listing price is $399,000 and is now under contract, said Brad Kisor, the property’s Coldwell Banker listing agent, on Friday. Kisor declined to disclose the interested buyer.

The building is listed on the City of Olympia’s inventory of historic properties, but is not on any local or national historic register.

Blintzapalooza

Temple Beth Hatfiloh has a wide variety of spiritual life and learning events and classes for its members and the community.

The Temple’s popular Blintzapalooza, an annual fundraiser for local nonprofit organizations, is on Sunday, March 26 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at 201 8th Avenue.

Temple members and community volunteers will serve blintzes and bagels with lox and cream cheese in the synagogue’s social hall. A used book sale in the synagogue’s second floor classrooms will run from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Frozen blintzes by the dozen and canvas grocery totes will also be for sale. Only cash and checks will be accepted.

The event also features a cooking/baking competition for the region’s best kugels. Awards designed by local artist Jean Mandeberg will be presented to the bakers of the winning kugels. Judges for this year's competition are Abbie Rose of Bagel Brothers, Jeremy Schwartz of San Francisco Street Bakery, and Lisa David of Nineveh Assyrian Food Truck.

The beneficiaries of the proceeds from this year's event are Cielo Project/Radio Ranch, Nisqually Land Trust, Thurston County Teen Council of Planned Parenthood, and League of Women Voters of Thurston County.

For more information about Temple Beth Hatfiloh, go to www.bethhatfiloh.com or on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/bethhatfiloh