Monday, October 12, 2009

The Changing face of Downtown Renton

The ever changing face of Renton - sometimes through updates, upgrades and a bit of spring cleaning. Other times - through demolition. The Renton Lutheran Church, a red brick building that had been erected in 1942, has seen it's last day. Though the building had been closed sometime now for services, it still seems a shame that it could not have gone on to serve the community in another way.

From this angle, one can almost remember the little white wood house, The Hut, that was on the corner of S. Second Street and Whitworth, across from Renton High School. One Rentonite, Bill Provin, recalls buying snacks and food as a kid at that very place. Memories of a past now far gone.

The entire site has been cordoned off and my shots are all taken through the gaps in the eight foot high rented wire fence. It is heartening to see that maybe the red bricks, piled to the side in the back, may be put to use again, in another place, in another enterprise.

The project on the docket for this soon to be vacant piece of land is a Compass Veteran's Center. It will provides housing and services for veterans in need, and there has been a whisper that the ground floor may be home for a bakery run by the Renton Technical College. Wouldn't that be a treat.

Elizabeth Stewart, Director of the Renton History Museum, has been documenting the loss of old buildings in the downtown Renton area, and her activity on the museum's Facebook is always chock full of information and photos. Here is what her posting on the Renton Lutheran Church had to say:

The Renton Lutheran Church broke ground for the building at 2nd and Whitworth in 1941. Built by volunteer labor during World War II, the congregation met first in the basement until the rest of the building could be finished; it was not until 1943 that the first service was held in the completed sanctuary. The church was dedicated in 1945. The church having vacated the building, in May 2009 Compass Veterans Center--Renton broke ground on a new facility of storefronts and veterans services to be completed in 2010.

Click on either of the links provided above to go directly to the museum's posting.

The plaque inscribed with the age of the building. I can't help but wonder how long the building that will be erected in it's place will stand. 67 years? Will it make it even to half of that age?

Downtown Renton and it's older buildings, while not always the prettiest when considering the historic sites that other cities have to offer, nevertheless, are OUR old buildings. A way of life that will most likely never see it's way in our town again. I can't help but be a little sad each time one of them goes to the ground. Let us be mindful and careful of how we run to the "future" - and be respectful of our unique Renton past.
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1 comment:

Elizabeth said...

Thanks for directing your fans to the Museum's Facebook page--we'll continue to document the demolition of the city's older buildings, but we're hoping this is the last one for a while!

This was a partcularly sad one; demolition foreman Jon Stuart said that several local Lutheran pastors have been by to take photos and several members of the congregation. Although the replacement project is a worthy one--veterans housing and services--we don't have many fine older buildings left. If you care about history, talk to everyone you know about how old structures contribute to Renton's character!

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