The Skykomish Hotel went a decade without being used, with weather damaging the exterior. Resident Marilyn Martin, who is excited for the renovation, recalls nearly being hit by falling roof shingles that had rotted away.
The Skykomish Hotel went a decade without being used, with weather damaging the exterior. Resident Marilyn Martin, who is excited for the renovation, recalls nearly being hit by falling roof shingles that had rotted away.
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Skykomish is a small town with a rich heritage rooted in timber harvesting and the Great Northern Railway, and includes a variety of local architectural sites that have been preserved throughout its history.

Among the numerous buildings the old boomtown has maintained is the Skykomish Hotel. Constructed in 1904, this four-story building still stands but has seen a long period of vacancy. The historic Skykomish Hotel has had several owners throughout the years, functioning as a hotel, café and retail location for local vendors.

After roughly 10 years of neglect, exposure to the elements has resulted in a slow yet substantial deterioration of the building. Degenerating from the inside out, the property has been in significant need of restoration.

Skykomish Mayor Tony Grider said the condition of the hotel was the primary reason why he chose to serve the community. With moss taking over the carpet and rotting shingles becoming projectiles threatening adjacent properties, the need for action became apparent.

“The hotel’s condition represents a hazard and nuisance to the community,” Grider said. “Furthermore, the preservation and restoration of this building is integral to the identity of Skykomish.”

Skykomish resident Marilyn Martin moved to town in 1994. Driving by Skykomish as a small child, she recalls gazing at the fascinating old hotel, straining her neck just to admire its beauty for as long as she could. Later in life, she found a house for sale near the hotel that she had been drawn to so long ago. Having purchased the home and lived there for more than 20 years, she still loves looking at it every day. Although the early years she spent living near the Skykomish Hotel were pleasant, she has since experienced the unfortunate outcome of the building’s decaying state. While windstorms are naturally unpleasant, Martin has experienced rotted shingles forcefully thrashing onto her house and, with one flying within inches of her head on one occasion.

“It feels as though a dark cloud has been lifted with this renovation,” Martin said. She looks forward to witnessing the next chapter in the Skykomish Hotel’s history.

Skykomish assumed the title of the Skykomish Hotel’s new owner following a King County Sheriff’s sale in early 2015. The town issued a request for proposals and accepted a lease/purchase agreement from Revive-Historic Skykomish LLC, managed by Keith Maehlum, vice president of Hal Real Estate. Maehlum has been investing in and renovating properties around the state for more than 20 years.

Together with 4Culture, an arts, heritage and culture organization based in King County, work has finally begun on the historic property.

Grider said 4Culture offers “a range of grants and funding opportunities to support and preserve King County’s shared heritage.” In particular, 4Culture’s Landmarks Capital program provides funding for “bricks and mortar” projects that preserve designated landmarks. Funding ranging from $3,000 to $30,000 can be used for design, materials and labor for rehabilitation projects.

Every attempt was made to hire locally as the roof and shingles were replaced and a fresh coat of paint was applied to the exterior. Maehlum intends to preserve the unique historic architecture and integrity of the building by remodeling the bottom floor first for food and retail space. In time, the higher floors will be remodeled in order to reopen as a hotel.

While the plans are promising, the remodel costs are rather daunting. According to Maehlum, the cost of the basic renovation could be as much as $2.5 million.

“During the BNSF Railway’s environmental cleanup, the hotel was picked up and temporarily moved,” Grider said. “When it was returned, the building received a new 240/V/400 three-phase underground electrical service connection, new poured concrete foundation, and was connected to the new municipal sewer system. Despite these improvements, the condition of the building continued to decline.”

Spring 2016 is expected to mark the beginning of a new era for the Skykomish Hotel. The next phase of work will focus on the stabilization of the overall structure and removal of hazardous materials, to ensure a safe and sanitary work place for construction crews for the internal work.

Breathing new life into the Skykomish Hotel, community members are hopeful to see the return of the once regal building in operation once again.

Follow the progress of the Skykomish Hotel renovation on the Town of Skykomish Facebook page.