by Carmen Ghia

Foreign Affairs Dept.

King Station in Seattle was a shabby, sad sight before it was restored to its former glory, at the cost of about $50 Million.When you see an obviously fake hairpiece, you can’t help but shake your head and chuckle. The same may be said for really odd building restorations – Restorations so blatantly tacky even a novice to the building trades could spot the errors and say, “What were they thinkin

This applies to the “modernization” that took place during the mid twentieth century at The King Street Station in Seattle, Washington.

King Station in Seattle was a shabby, sad sight before it was restored to its former glory, at the cost of about $50 Million.The original train station was built in the early 1900s. It was done in an elegant institutional style with perfectly used details, such as the shine on the terrazzo flooring, the ornate ornamental plaster ceilings and the fancy marble paneling and glass tiling accents. The most obvious feature was an old-fashioned, early 1900s style clock tower that can be seen for miles and miles.

All this beautiful work was laid waste over time. It did not help that there were some misguided attempts at taking care of the building. 

Back to the example that started this story… the fake hairpiece is not even as bad as the suspended ceiling that was installed over the King Station ornamental plaster ceilings. 

There’s an awful yet highly entertaining card game called Cards Against Humanity. This ceiling design choice should be one of those Crimes Against cards. The ornamental plaster was like a choir of heavenly angels, while the suspended ceiling was a bad Karaoke singer who can’t stay on pitch.

Anyone who walks into the building now can breathe a sigh of relief.  The angels are back in full view, no longer shrouded by a tacky drop-in ceiling.  

In a time when Apple computers is getting ready to release a watch with iphone capabilities it’s refreshing to see an old clock tower restored to it’s former glory with new frosted glass for clock faces, and wooden clock hands and numbers refurbished and repainted. There’s even a new clock system installed. 

Another important and noteworthy repair that occurred on the clock tower is one any Pacific North Westerner wouldn’t bat an eye at … (are you feeling the suspense?) … moss removal

In many places both rural and urban, moss is used as a garnish in bouquets or an accent in gardens. In Washington and Oregon moss is as prolific and ever-present as mosquitoes are in the south after a long, hard summer rain. Moss, wreaks havoc on wood, and smothers stone like a long lost and never-missed lover who needed to leave and couldn’t get the hint. 

Moss is public enemy number #1. Well, maybe that is giving the bushy invader too much. Hordes of interior decorators and designers may find it enchanting, but don’t buy it for a minute, folks. 

It’s about as cute as an ankle-biting Chihuahua yelping for dear life from inside it’s owner’s handbag.

However, I digress– moss is like a plague on stone buildings, like pigeon poo on a statue.

The current King Street restoration which began in 2008 and finished up in 2013 began with one of those awesome deals where the building changed hands for a whopping $10.  The price is a gesture of good faith. It enables the new owners to get the restoration balls rolling. Still, it reminds me of those pompous and silly white wigs that British barristers (lawyers) wear in Court. Why? Well, it just looks good on the books and the accountants are satisfied at the end of the day. 

But I am happy to report that the architects, stones masons, plumbers, electricians, builders and their amazing crews revived the soul and original beauty and craftsmanship of The King Street Station… At the slight total cost of around $50 million dollars.  You know – the chump change the likes of which you and I could wrangle up in a day or two at a kiddy version of a lemonade stand. 

But that’s another story. Be patient, good readers… the tale is to be continued.

–Reporting from the Lunatic Northwest – Carmen Ghia.