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Save Historic Sprague Bakery Tacoma

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For as long as I can remember, a beautiful two story brick bakery of over 100 years has been left to rot on a major Tacoma thru-way, Sprague Ave.

For decades in this landmarks early life, it was the continental bread co. where locals could experience the then rare pleasure of having an international plethora of breads to choose from. This bakery amazingly survived through the depression and for many years after.

Around the mid 20th century, the building started to produce Wonderbread! They built a massive warehouse add-on, using the location as a production and distribution center, and opened a bread thrift shop where one could get bread that perhaps wasn't visually up to standard for a reduced price. The memories of this facility are still resting fondly in the minds of many Tacoma residents as it remained in operation until the 90's.

After learning all of this, it was difficult to understand why no one had attempted to restore it. After doing some deeper research, and getting a tour from the current owner, I realized what stood in their way. There is still asbestos in the walls, in the floor tile and covering the original cast iron furnace from the buildings birth in 1913. Lead paint is chipping off some of the walls and in some places the floor and ceiling has been ruined by roof leaks, of which there are a few. Some of the original plumbing and the electrical needs to be replaced. And thanks to a single window that has been left open over the years, the local pigeons have made homestead in the second story. And all of the windows need to be replaced. This landmark used to be known as "The plant of a hundred windows". Many also know it as “The Home of Wonderbread!"

Ultimately, if a private investor decided to take on this massive project, they wouldn't see a return on their investment for many years. It would be nearly a million dollar project not including the purchase price, just to get the building to a "workable and safe" condition.

But this provides Tacoma a great opportunity! If we can come together to save and restore this pre-depression era brick bakery, I'm sure we could see many more productive and beautiful years from this 36,450 square foot facility. This building is decaying and in the years ahead may be demolished. We can't let it happen! That's not what Tacoma’s known for. We save beautiful landmarks and we do what's best for our community.

A group of born-n-raised Tacoma locals including myself have come together to try and save this beautiful structure from decay and delapedation. Our current plan is to:

Fix the roof leaks

Clear the building of hazardous materials and properly dispose of them

Replacing them with environmentally responsible materials wherever possible

Install new windows throughout

Repair and replace plumping and electrical systems

Prepare the lower level to be leasable for businesses and upper level to be leasable to residents as well as some of the interior.

Luckily the property is already zoned for business and residential purposes.

Ideally, the restored facility could also be energy neutral. The large flat roofs with no tree cover are perfect for a small solar farm! We are open to ideas from the community for the buildings intended purposes/businesses the 6th ave area is missing or is in need of. The main ideas so far are:

1. A space to honor the buildings history.

2. A locally sourced grocer, something the locals are certainly in need of.

3. A art-based community center, gallery and all ages lounge with studios for painting, making music, pottery and whatever else Tacoma wants. I'm game! I think it would be a good idea to put in a stage as well, for the local artists to perform and get started doing what they love.

4. Apartments, apartments, apartments. Being a couple who were priced out of our apartment on sixth ave just last year, we have personal experience with the worst side-effect of being in such an awesome place, property inflation. But, with the grocer, a community art center/all-ages lounge and multiple other units available to lease to businesses, we’ll be able to keep prices low for the sake of keeping locals, well...local!

We can do this! Please help Tacoma save this beautiful historic landmark from destruction.

Follow us on Instagram @savethebakery

If you would like to donate your time and/or talents, please contact us at [email redacted]


Josef Sellers
Tacoma, WA

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