An application for the Providence Heights campus to be recognized as a city of Issaquah historic landmark is being withdrawn.
The Sammamish Heritage Society Board of Directors stated on Thursday that it has decided to withdraw its application from the King County Landmarks Commission due to “unresolved legal questions about whether the property can legally be designated as a historic landmark.”
The legal questions, the board explained, center around the fact that the property’s current owner, The City Church of Kirkland, is not in favor of nominating the campus for historic recognition.
The board stated that it plans to re-submit the application after receiving legal counsel, noting that “the Sammamish Heritage Society is committed to seeing this through.”
The society submitted the application earlier this year in order to preserve the campus, which was originally opened by the Sisters of Providence as a college for nuns in 1961. In particular, the society wants to save the chapel’s one-of-a-kind stained glass windows, created by late, world-renowned artist Gabriel Loire, from possible demolition.
In July 2016, the Issaquah School District Board of Directors voted to move forward with condemnation of the campus as a site for a new high school and elementary school, but made no decision on the fate of the 14 stained glass windows.
Loire created the 30-foot windows especially for the Sisters of Providence. He used his signature dalle de verre style, setting thick pieces of glass in concrete rather than lead.
Loire hailed from Chartres, France, a city famous for its medieval, stained glass-filled cathedral, and designed over 800 stained glass windows in his lifetime. His artwork has been used in prominent places of worship on every inhabited continent, including the Salisbury Cathedral in Salisbury, England, the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in Berlin, Germany and St. George’s Cathedral in Cape Town, South Africa.
Jake Kuper, the district’s finance manager, told the Reporter that he did not know if the windows could be kept on the site, as having windows depicting biblical images on a public school campus “could be tricky.”
Jennifer Mortensen, preservation services coordinator at the the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, said that the Issaquah Landmarks Commission is still scheduled to hold a public hearing on naming the campus a city of Issaquah landmark on Thursday, Feb. 23 at 5:00 p.m. Although the commission will no longer be making a decision about the application, it still plans to use the hearing as a way to hear official public comment on the campus.
“We definitely encourage anyone who finds this resource valuable to the community to be at the meeting,” Mortensen said.