Christie True, Director of the King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks, delivered these remarks at the John D. Spellman Preservation Awards, held last month at the historic Delta Masonic Hall in Tukwila.
This year we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the creation of the King County Landmarks Commission. Iâ€™d like to acknowledge the commissioners who are here today but before I do that Iâ€™d like to review a little history about historic preservation in King County, and the man for whom this award program is named â€“ Governor John D. Spellman.
It is not surprising that Governor Spellman cares about history â€“ heâ€™s a fourth generation Northwesterner whose great grandparents crossed the Oregon Trail in the 1840s.
His career in public life started in 1967, when he was elected a King County Commissioner. County government at that time was made up of three County Commissioners all of whom had to agree on any given issue in order to make a decision.
An interesting arrangement at best and one that Governor Spellman felt needed a change â€“ so change it he did. He was instrumental in rewriting the County Charter and shepherding its passage â€“ thereby setting up the Executive/Council structure we know today.
He was elected to the newly created office of County Executive and took office on May 1, 1969. Later he said about the position, â€œI took to it like a duck to water. I thoroughly enjoyed putting together a new government and shaping the pattern for the future.”
Under the new charter the Executive could set up the programs he deemed necessary – and preservation of the county’s history was something to which he gave high priority.
His list of accomplishments is remarkable:
- He initiated a countywide survey of historic resources which remains a key tool of the Landmarks Commission today;
- He developed the first comprehensive plan policies regarding historic sites;
- He integrated historic resource protection into agency planning; and
- He established the Office of Historic Preservation, the Landmarks ordinance, and the Landmarks Commission to protect our historic treasures.
Governor Spellmanâ€™s legacy continues, today the King County Historic Preservation Program is recognized as one of the most comprehensive programs in the country.
Not only does the Landmarks Commission work in unincorporated King County, but it also provides landmark protection services to 17 cities. Scores of properties â€“ from barns to bridges, and railroad cars to cemeteries – have been protected under the ordinance that Governor Spellman championed in 1980.
The work of the Commission also provides the foundation for heritage tourism through partnerships like that with the Countyâ€™s Roads Services Division and 4Culture to preserve our historic roads and the recent national conference of the Society for Industrial Archaeology which the Commission co-hosted.
While much has been accomplished, much remains to do. I am excited to work with the Landmarks Commission â€“ and everyone in the heritage community – to continue building on the rich legacy that Governor Spellman left us.
Iâ€™d like to introduce six long-standing members of the Landmarks Commission:
Lauren McCroskey, Chair; Brian Rich, Vice Chair; Steve Day; Chair of the Design Review Committee; Lynette Weber; Tom Hitzroth; and Rick Chouinard.
Thank you for your tremendous dedication to the commission, your contribution to preserving our history, and your commitment to making our county a better place for all of us to live and work.
And our three newly appointed commissioners [are]: Lorelea Hudson; Thaisa Way; and Kji Kelly
Welcome to all of you. I look forward to working with you as we begin the next thirty years.