The Saint Edward Seminary project is progressing, despite minor setbacks. Ashley Hiruko/staff photo

The Saint Edward Seminary project is progressing, despite minor setbacks. Ashley Hiruko/staff photo

Saint Edward Seminary restoration effort in full force

Icy conditions posed minor challenges for construction crews.

The process of saving the old seminary building at Saint Edward State Park in Kenmore continues smoothly, with minor delays created by snowfall and icy conditions.

Construction crews tasked with redoing the roofing were held back for a short time because of safety hazards the ice posed. But overall, the restoration effort remains on track, said Trevina Wang, Daniels Real Estate project manager for The Lodge.

“They’re doing a great job out there despite the cold spells,” Wang said.

She added that any delays in meeting the “hopeful” spring 2020 completion date could be remedied with longer hours and weekend work.

Bob Heggenes, Lydig senior project manager on the restoration, explained that brick and stone facade repairs have been ongoing for about two months, restoring the building back to its original condition and fixing the water-damaged areas. Masonry headers across windows will be addressed as they have some deterioration. And when it comes to fixing up historic buildings, caution is applied.

“We’re bringing them back to a useful life and keeping them from deteriorating to point of failure,” Heggenes said. “If something is not done, ultimately brick and stone would be falling off the building.”

When it comes to historic buildings, Heggenes said it’s hard to know what will crop up. The seminary building was built in the 1930s and was once described as falling apart.

“It’s always a challenge going into an old, historic building,” he said. There could be structural changes, and sometimes modifications are made to plans.

Big things are outlined for the old seminary structure. Once an institute for flourishing Catholic priests, the five-story building has sat mostly vacant for 40 years. After project completion, the hope is the boutique getaway — with about 82 rooms— will be occupied by visitors.

Also to be created onsite, Daniels will develop space for an environmental education-and-research center, a wellness spa and a restaurant dedicated to dishes created from locally sourced foods. Amenities will be available to park visitors.

“The Lodge will be designed to provide a quintessential Pacific Northwest experience. It will offer an intimate and relaxed atmosphere with former dormitory rooms reconfigured into guest rooms with a décor that embraces the peaceful setting,” the Daniels website states.

The restoration and modern repurposing decision comes after Washington State Parks for years sought out ways to preserve the historic building. They agency agreed to a 62-year lease held by Daniels Real Estate for the seminary’s development in January 2017.

The project groundbreaking was held last December and now the process has shifted. Scaffolding has been erected and is in plain sight for visitors at the park to see. Repairs on the brick-and-cast stones are part of the “meticulous” restoration process, information on the project details. And federal preservation standards must be met.

Inside, crew members — halfway through the demolition process— utilize small Bobcats on the floors to remove the asbestos in the building, while minimizing vibrations to ensure no deterioration happens. And onsite, there is a project management staff of six, full-time employees overseeing the process.

“It takes a lot to put it together,” Heggenes said.

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