Monday, March 24, 2014

Third US Border Station - (part 3 of 3)

Photograph by Deborah G. Morgan, March 23, 2014
This is a contemporary view of the 3rd Sumas Border Station taken looking NE.  The front entrance faces west and is located 1 1/2 blocks S of the international boundary.  The light blue building that can just be made out behind the hedge on the extreme left side of the picture is the American Legion (Post #212).

January 1988 brought forth rumors of major change to the scenery at the border crossing at Sumas.  It was announced that the grand old Border Station was no longer adequate to house the federal offices.  There simply was not enough space to accommodate the growing traffic and activities at the Sumas crossing.  A decision was made to raze the neighboring Maple Leaf Tavern, the Elenbaas Feed Store across the street (which was, from 1914 to 1932 the 2nd Border Station and OK Garage...see post for 30 Jan, 2014 ) and Norman Jenson's Broker Office.   The City was given an opportunity to move the 3rd Border Station as it was listed on the Register of Historic Places.  

Plan was to sell the station for $1 to the city of Sumas and move it to the City Park on Third Street between Cherry Street and Sumas Avenue.   The ground floor was to be turned into the city library and the top floor would consist of meeting rooms for the City.  However, the cost for the moving and building conversion was beyond what the city could afford.   A new foundation for the building would cost $90,000 and the federal General Services Administration, who were giving away the building, by law could not spend money on non-federal property. So suddenly everything came to a standstill.  The GSA determined that the only option was to tear down the old building.

This developed into a desperate attempt to save the building.  However, a little bird saved the day.  The Vaux's Swift is an unique, local little bird that prefers hollow Douglas Fir trees and other forest snags to roost for the night.   Unfortunately much of their habitat has been lost and in response they seek out shelter in urban brick chimneys.   They roost on the vertical rough surfaces of the brickwork.  There are not many places available for the little birds and the Sumas old Border Station is one of their sites.

There was an outcry from the Audubon Society and then the Sierra Legal Defense Fund stepped in and threatened to sue if GSA continued forwards with the demolition of the old building.  There was a lot of support to save the old building and the roosting place for the little birds.

Finally Clifford Moon, of Moon Construction from Seattle stepped forward and was determined to save the building.  He was the lowest bidder for either tearing down the building or moving it.   He decided to do the right thing. 

According to the Sumas Astonisher: 
  "The move was of epic proportions!  The building was placed on eight dollies front and rear.  Each dolly had eight wheels which made a total of 128 tires.   The building weighed 714 tons.  The power to move the building came from a heavy oil-rig truck which was cabled to the building and its brace trucks via eight pulleys.
    On the journey to the building's current location, the lead 16 wheels sunk a foot or more into the soft soil at the edge of the road and ruptured the water main to the American Legion Hall.  The next morning, the movers, J.W. Dent and Co. of Seattle, saved the day by hydraulically retracting the sunken wheels and placing steel plates underneath, then re-extending the wheels."

The beautiful building stills stands in its final location and has numerous office spaces for rent. Her vintage good looks have been nicely restored. Consider visiting this wonderful historic building at 115 Harrison Street, Sumas, WA., halfway between Sumas Avenue and Cherry Street.

Photograph taken by Deborah G. Morgan, March 23, 2014
A front on photograph looking east at the 3rd Sumas Border Station.
Photograph taken by Deborah G. Morgan, March 23, 2014.
This is the buildings dedication plaque. It is visible in the above picture under the right hand window.
 Photograph taken by Deborah G. Morgan, March 23, 2014
The architectural detail on the beautiful windows on the west side of the building.
Thank you for visiting my blog today.  Tomorrow, a cool aerial view of north Sumas from July 1982!. 

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