TDI -- Reporter's Blog

Oct. 19, 2009 at 9:40am

Pierce County's History Detectives

Earlier this month, I spent some time with Susan Johnson and Katie Chase, two architectural historians at Tacoma-based Artifacts Consulting -- a firm commissioned by the county this year to survey historic sites in Pierce County.

The results will be compiled in a database that will be available to historians, educators, researchers, and the general public online via the Pierce County Library System by next year. More than simply a list of old buildings, Artifacts is creating a sort of Pierce County biography.

"We're telling much more of the story of Pierce County," Johnson told me. "So when we talk about mining or logging, we will have pictures from then and from now to show what that history looked like. We want to know how everything relates. Ideally, our report will show the interconnection, the relationships, between communities and land uses, and who settled here along with Native Americans. Basically, it will show how Pierce County developed."

For the past two months, Johnson and Chase have headed out into the field four days a week to conduct their work -- they shoot photographs and compile data on old barns, buildings, farms, and mining settlements, and speak with long-time locals and historians about the areas they survey. Two weeks ago, Johnson and Chase allowed me to tag along with them as they did survey work in Alderton, Electron, Graham, Kapowsin, McMillin, and Orting.

An article I wrote about the experience was published in Thursday's edition of the Tacoma Daily Index. If you are interested in reading it, click here (Web) and here (PDF).

Here are some photos from the experience . . .

Architectural historians Katie Chase and Susan Johnson

Susan photographs an old farmhouse just outside Sumner

The team meets Pierce County Landmarks and Historic Preservation Commissioner Bob Peters to discuss historic sites in Orting

Bob, Susan and Katie walk along the Puyallup River levee in search of old flood drift barriers

Graham resident and historian Lawrence D. "Andy" Anderson describes Kapowsin's early years to Chase and Johnson

comments [2]  |  posted under Historic Preservation, Pierce County, Tacoma


by NineInchNachos on 10/19/2009 @ 10:08am
thanks todd!

by morgan on 10/19/2009 @ 11:20am
What a cool story! I wish the TNT could do more stuff like this.


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