Sitting a block down from one of Tacoma’s busiest intersections at Sprague and 7th Ave. sits a 105 year old building that, for the last decade, has sat vacant and largely ignored by passersby. Given its prominence and ideal location, it’s hard to believe it’s sat empty for so long. Once you get a look inside, it’s even more surprising.
This building has been a bakery of some sort since 1913 when it sat on the border of what was then Tacoma’s city limits. It was most recently operated by Hostess and known as “The Home of Wonder Bread.” It shut down in 2008 and soon after was purchased with the intention of being torn down to make way for a strip mall.
Those plans were scrapped, and late last month a GoFundMe campaign was started with the bold goal of raising enough money to purchase and rehabilitate the building. The effort is led by Josef Sellers and Kathryn Barlow along with a group of other Tacoma locals.
The building may have been constructed with a function-over-fashion mindset but the bare beams and brick walls of the interior space are the stuff of Pinterest dreams. With over 36,000 square feet of space just off 6th Ave., you’d be hard-pressed to find anything in Tacoma with more potential. The only hurdle is funding. Josef and his group have set a goal of $2.2 million to get the building up to code and suitable for business and residential tenants.
The vision for the building after rehab includes a grocery store, artist spaces, restaurant, and even apartments on the upper level. The building is not without problems but with Josef’s background in construction and remodeling, he’s confident he can wrap his mind around the project.
People in Tacoma often bemoan the loss of historic buildings, especially when they’re replaced by high-rise apartment buildings from foreign investors. There has already been one offer made on the property for this purpose and there will almost certainly be more. This is an opportunity to be part of something home-grown and beneficial to the community. It’s up to you, Tacoma.
Donate to the GoFundMe campaign here.
Color photos by Sierra Hartman
Historical photos courtesy of Tacoma Public Library