Opinion: Golf clubhouse should be preserved

The Jefferson Park Golf Clubhouse looked cozy in last month's snow. Photo by Joel Lee in the Beacon Hill Blog photo pool on Flickr.
By George Robertson

The decision to demolish the Jefferson Park Golf Clubhouse to make way for a low-budget two-story driving range should consider a lot more than money. If money was the only issue of import, there would be no Pike Place Market. The Jefferson Park Golf Clubhouse is made out of very attractive 80-year-old probably locally-made fired red brick, and its wood components are traditionally-built assemblies, with actual tree wood in solid profiles we used to call lumber and mill work. Such things are still made, but only the very rich can afford them. Why would we throw something so valuable away?

Just because some fool painted it and did a bunch of sloppy remodeling is no reason to throw it away. If we fix it and turn back the remodeling clock to 1936 in the process, we will have an architectural treasure: standing in the park largely made of the original materials which we could not hope to replace at any reasonable cost, looking wonderful, and reminding us that America was once a great nation populated with carpenters and masons who were skilled and principled craftsmen of a high order.

We will walk through it and remember that it was in those rooms that Americans of every race met and socialized and shared a love of golf more than they valued the segregation that separated them everywhere else. We will be reminded of the power of our American social contract to create the WPA, to restore the American economy, and lift Americans out of the ditch that greed and unregulated capitalism had thrown us into. And we will be reminded of the care that was taken to invest beauty and quality into our public investments in the commons. If you seriously think today’s Parks department is up to matching that in new construction in 2012, please send me some of whatever you are smoking.

Anything they build new and cheaper would be made out of glued-together wood flakes and cheesy cladding products made out of vinyl-skinned foamed plastic and sawdust cement slurry. The enclosure detailing would undoubtedly be the usual leaky hollow section, nail-on flange windows and pseudo-rainscreens we see being tented and repaired all over town. I see so much of that all over everywhere; do we have to go out of our way to wipe out all remaining vestiges of well-built buildings that remain? That clubhouse has stood there for barely 75 years—it is just getting warmed up! All it needs is a little respect and responsible maintenance, and it will outlast and outperform whatever they build new.

George Robertson is a Beacon Hill resident of more than twenty years, an architect, an artist, an occasional writer of often incendiary rants that annoy the neighbors, and a daily user of Jefferson Park.

14 thoughts on “Opinion: Golf clubhouse should be preserved”

  1. WTF is it with people on Beacon Hill? Forever this area has been passed over and now some momentum begins to form and all the NIMBY’S need to come out of their caves to overly criticize every aspect of every goddamn plan that’s put forward?

    Yesterday I read in laughter the backlog of Beacon hill list serve responses about the new “Live Oak” (?) restaurant going in up across from the Gas Station on Beacon Ave.

    It’s pretty obvious to me from checking that list occasionally that there are people in this community who want certain businesses to thrive while outright dismissing others from their tired popularity index.

    don’t get too hung up on your notalgia

  2. I totally agree with George ! Again the old saying “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it applies ! Any changes should be made to restore the building to it’s former condition, by stripping the paint , and redoing the interior to it’s former style. In my view this would cost less than a new building. and save one of our precious memories.
    LENNY, North Beacon Hill
    PS: Apparently we haven’t learned yet to preserve things like this building that is our heritage. Many old theaters and landmarks have already been destroyed in the past. Let’s not add this one to the list.

    LENNY,North Beacon Hill

  3. UH HUH , I see JABA WTF message would like everything new on Beacon Hill ? There’s no NIMBY involved in the Club House it isn’t moving. Moving to Lake Union might be a good move, JABA, I bet the majority would rather go for a restoration instead of making it a yuppie haven. LOL!

  4. I’m with George! Couldn’t have said it better myself. And Lenny, I’m with you, as usual, and (almost) everyone else on this thread. I would be just shy of devastated to see this building go the way of so many of our beloved architectural works of art. I’m all for breathing new life into our neighborhood, but not at the expense of our treasures.

  5. @JABA – I might add that six out of six comments on the thread under the latest post about the “Mighty Oak” we keep hearing about, are all positive. I’d say I’d like some of what you’re smoking, but…

    I don’t understand where you’re coming from at all.

  6. I think JABA is a Troll and a malcontent and just trying to stir up trouble. If they insist on tearing it down (which I agree with George they shouldn’t)they should contact Second Use so at least all that wonderful old stuff can be reused by someone who will love it.

  7. Dear Beacon Hillers :
    As along ago bars owner, unless it is a lounge/restaurant ,”bar food” used to be minimal snack foods that might help you stay sober after .”one too many”.
    Again , a Geraldines as in Columbia city would be wonderful, but I wonder if it would be sustainable on Beacon Hill, considering the Hugh costs involved, and the time to receive favorable recognition to make it profitable.

    As a last note on the golf Club House, it will be cheaper to do any necessary repairs and restoration than build new.

  8. I’d be glad to join the march on city hall over this with my club–but I don’t know which club is most appropriate. Is it the driver that knocks in the most common sense?

  9. Hey, folks, if you are posting here on the blog, please use a consistent username. Someone here posted with two different usernames and that is not cool. This is a warning.

  10. I would like to see this building get responsibly remodeled and preserved. Renew, don’t replace. I agree with George on this one!

  11. Great comments and photo, George! I agree, Beacon Hill has a fascinating history that has long been overlooked and it’s important to begin standing up for more historical preservation here before we lose our flavor altogether.

  12. Criticism without constructive feedback and suggestions is in fact not only useless, but it really just makes you look pretty pathetic in the process. Doing it publicly just makes you look like a self-important blowhard. Turning this into some sort of anti-capitalism manifesto in the process is simply insulting to the very market that has employed and sustained your lifestyle.

    Either offer your services to help adapt the building to meed changing/growing need or get out of the way. The building may be old, but that doesn’t necessarily make it historically significant or important as a piece of heritage.

    Change happens whether you want it to or not. You can either help shape it, you can rant against it, and you can block it temporarily, but it will change eventually. If you help shape it, the change might actually be positive in nature. Anything else and you just have to live with whatever you end up with.

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