Information sought on Sunset Park

By David Hotle, The JOURNAL


As the nomination for the proposed West Side Residential Historic District to the he National Register of Historic Places moves ahead, City of Washington Historic Preservation Commission chair Mary Patterson is finding herself in need of more information about Sunset Park.

Patterson said the commission had scoured city council minutes from the time that New Dawn was built and have sought park board minutes, which she said don?t seem to exist, and have even gone so far as to study the city budgets, hoping they will give some clue as to when many of the projects to shape the park had taken place. She has also asked individuals who had worked on some of the things in the park.

?We are looking for the dates some of the recent improvements to the park were done,? Patterson said. ?New Dawn; the shelter next to it; the restrooms just west of it; the things around the cabin; the gazeebo. When was the brick wall put in? The Purgula that is there, was it done at the same time or some other time? The rail fences, were they there before or were they rebuilt??

She said the commission had begun seeking the information about two years ago and had reached the end of the research process without finding many of the small details.

The information will be uised in the nomination. The district being nominated is South Avenue B on the west side, down West Main Street, West Washington Street and West Jefferson Street to, and including, Sunset Park. The commission surveyed 150 properties. Patterson said the survey took 1,500 volunteer hours over a period of 15 months. The potential historic district includes 148 properties with about 183 contributing resources and 68 non-contributing resources, plus Sunset Park. If approved, it will be the second historic district in Washington to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

?It is just the Sunset Park piece that is very difficult,? she said.

She is hoping someone will be able to tell her what year some of the improvements had been made, if not the exact date. She said the master gardeners had worked on the landscaping in the park, but doesn?t know when they started.

Research will be completed in the fall and the nomination will be developed. Patterson said the information needs to be to the state next month. The nomination will be reviewed by the State Nomination review Committee in June 2018 in Des Moines. If recommended, the nomination will be forwarded to the National Park Service for formal listing, likely in 2018.

?We know the park got more property, but we can?t tell you where it came from or when,? she said. ?That is one of our little mysteries to solve.?

Patterson stressed that if the west side is declared a historic district it would be an honor and it meant that the bulk of the properties are old and are worth taking care of. She said it does not impose any restrictions on what an owner can do.

People with information on Sunset park can call Patterson at 653-5208.