Sadly, Issaquah, Washington is losing the historic, architectural and artistic treasure of Providence Heights College despite a hard fought battle for its preservation by the Sammamish Heritage Society, The Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, and a collective group of individuals in the community.
The college was one of only two that were purpose-built to offer a college education to Catholic nuns immediately after Vatican II. The beautiful mid-century-modern campus was designed by a famed local architect. Most buildings are flat roofed, 2-3 story brick and concrete buildings, including a library, laboratories, a gymnasium, a cafeteria and dormitories. The campus design uses the chapel as the focal point. The chapel was designed with a thin-shell concrete form for the roof to display stained glass windows created by French glass artist Gabriel Loire
Sammamish Heritage Society submitted a Landmark Nomination for the campus in June of 2017 in accordance with the City of Issaquah municipal code, and the property was designated a historic landmark by King County Landmarks Commission under an inter-local agreement with the City of Issaquah Landmarks Commission in July 2017. Even though the owner-of-record of the campus is a for-profit corporation, the Owner appealed the Designation on the grounds that they are a church and the Designation limits their First Amendment rights. The Owner also claimed significant damages from the Designation. The City of Issaquah yesterday reached a settlement with the Owner. Based on the settlement the City will re-issue the demolition permit, which was appealed by Sammamish Heritage Society and put on hold following an Appeal Hearing. The demolition permit allows all of the buildings to be demolished, although the stained glass windows are to be removed and saved elsewhere. No final home for the windows has yet been identified.
Based on the settlement, which was agreed to by the Superior Court of the state of Washington, it does not appear that any other action can be taken to save the Providence Heights College Campus.
Issaquah-Sammamish Reporter | October 9, 2017