In the early morning hours of July 14, 2016, workers for contractor Nickel Bros Industrial begin moving Everett's historic Weyerhaeuser Building from the Port of Everett's South Marina on West Marine View Drive to a site at water's edge in the Port's Waterfront Place Central development. Although the distance traveled is a little less than a mile, the move takes 11 hours, following a route north along Marine View Drive and then west toward the site. This is the third move for the structure built in 1923 as corporate offices and product showcase at Weyerhaeuser's Mill A in Everett. Designed by Seattle architect Carl F. Gould (1873-1939), the building is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Weyerhaeuser Company and Everett
Weyerhaeuser's presence in Everett began in 1901 when the lumber giant purchased the Bell-Nelson Mill on Port Gardner Bay and renovated it, taking ample time to prepare dock facilities and to build an experimental sawmill designed to evaluate production methods and costs. That first Weyerhaeuser Everett mill, Mill A, opened in 1902, taking its place among many other industries that lined the city's bayfront in the early years of the twentieth century, including an ironworks, a flour mill, shipbuilding companies, sawmills, a cannery, and commercial fishing facilities. In 1915 Weyerhaeuser built Mill B, an electrically-powered plant at the northern tip of the Everett peninsula on the south side of the Snohomish River, followed in 1953 by Mill C, the latter closing in 1992. For decades the timber company was one of Everett's largest employers.
A major Japanese earthquake in 1923 led to an immediate demand for building materials from the Pacific Northwest. Times were good for Weyerhaeuser and that year the company chose prominent Seattle architect Carl F. Gould to design a new office building at Mill A. Gothic in design, the structure also served to showcase Weyerhaeuser's wood-products line of fir, cedar, and hemlock.
Mill A was converted to a pulp mill in 1938 and in May of that year the Weyerhaeuser Building was barged to Mill B, where it was used as an office building until that plant closed in 1979. In 1983 the building was donated to the Port of Everett, which barged it down the river to 1710 West Marine View Drive and set it up at the entrance to the Port's Marina Village. The Port sponsored a restoration project of the building's exterior and interior at that time and it was used to house the Everett Chamber of Commerce.
Despite the fact that the criteria for designation as a National Register property suggest that a qualifying historic building should be in its original location, the Weyerhaeuser structure was considered notable enough to waive that requirement due to the historic importance of the Weyerhaeuser Company, the building's association with prominent architect Carl Gould, and its significance in Everett history. Not only was Weyerhaeuser a major part of the regional economy, but also the building was one of the last remaining structures connected to Everett's early lumber and shingle trade. Moreover, the 1983 move brought the building closer to its original Mill A location and moving had become part of its history. The Weyerhaeuser Building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986.
Port of Everett Plans for the Weyerhaeuser Building
When the Everett Chamber of Commerce moved to a new location in the 1990s, the Weyerhaeuser Building remained vacant while plans were made by a private developer to relocate it to the river side of town and incorporate it into a hoped-for development near Everett's Lowell neighborhood. When the development did not materialize, the Port decided to make the Weyerhaeuser Building the centerpiece of its new two-acre Boxcar Park in the Fisherman's Harbor District. That was part of the Port's $330 million plan to create a mixed-use Waterfront Place Central development, which was projected, when completed, to generate an estimated 2,075 jobs and $8.6 million in state and local sales taxes.
Port Commissioner Troy McClelland said of the building move:
"This is a very important project and building for the community. ... Staff will be exploring ways to put the building back into productive use at Boxcar Park in the interim while preparations are made for the interior and exterior improvements to the building to create an outdoor performance venue and marina clubhouse in the 2020 timeframe. ...
"Honoring the building in a public venue infused with its lumber and shingle past will not only provide an opportunity to keep Everett's Milltown history alive for years to come, but also support the Port Commission's capital initiative of creating a waterfront community. ... Public input called for more high-quality public spaces and a performance venue in the new development and what better way to provide that to the community than by making positive use of this historic asset" ("Port of Everett Commission Awards ...").
The Third Move
A contract worth nearly $1.1 million to move the building was awarded to Nickel Bros Industrial of Everett, the largest moving company in the Pacific Northwest, which had more than 500 successful moves of historic structures to its credit. Due to both the size and weight of the Weyerhaeuser Building, the company took a year to plan the move. The 85-by-60-foot structure weighed 350 tons, with much of that weight due to a built-in 160-ton concrete-and-steel safe that once was used to store money made from lumber sales. In preparing for the move, the building was lifted 7.5 feet in June 2016, using a unified system of 42 jacks, and placed on a specially prepared 24-axle trailer.
On July 13, 2016 -- the Port of Everett's 98th birthday -- Nickel Bros employees spent six hours turning the building into position for the move. The slow journey began carefully at midnight of July 13-14. Pulled by a 1957 Mack "Bruno," the historic building followed a cleared route north along West Marine View Drive and then west toward the new site at Boxcar Park. Unlike the two previous moves by barge, this time the structure traveled entirely by land. Spectators watched the move from Everett's Grand Avenue Park on the bluff overlooking the Everett Marina. The Weyerhaeuser Building's move was successfully completed in about 11 hours. The event was filmed, with plans to feature the move on a Discovery Channel program.