One that often gets overlooked is the Space Needle. No, I don’t mean the famed Space Needle at Seattle Center, but rather its smaller prototype, which is located at Gold Creek Tennis & Sports Club.
Designed and constructed by Richard Mahlum of Everett, the replica was modeled to an exact scale after the original Needle, which was created for the 1962 World’s Fair.
“It’s a great piece of memorabilia,” comments Charlotte Ochoa, business manager and co-owner of the club. “When it was built, it had a revolving top deck, elevators that went up and down its 30-foot height, lighting effects and bells that could be heard throughout the area.”
The local woman explains that back in the early 60s, an out-of-state construction company temporarily housed its employees in campers on Gold Creek’s site.
They were bused into Seattle each day to work on the Seattle Center project.
At that time, the property belonged to William Tyrrell, owner of Tyrrell Dog Food Company.
Tyrrell built most of the buildings at Gold Creek that remain today, including the swimming pools and the domed facility, which once housed an ice skating rink and nearby, a dance floor.
“They used to teach ice skating and ballroom dance in there,” comments Ochoa. “Outside, there were covered picnic facilities and even a stable with horses. It was a great place for families.”
Ochoa’s father, William Dahl, bought the property in 1976 and turned it into a sports club.
The mini Space Needle, which is mounted on a large piece of concrete, was never moved from its original spot near the indoor swimming pool. “We’ve gotten a lot of comments about it over the years,” notes Ochoa. “People tell us they really like it.” She adds, “A number of years ago, a woman wanted to buy it for her husband’s birthday, but we told her it wasn’t for sale.
“Then just recently, another woman called me. She said she has driven by our place many times and has always enjoyed seeing the Space Needle peeking out of the trees. Her husband wants to buy it and she asked me if it was for sale.”
Ochoa responded to the woman that although she was not actively looking at selling the piece, she might consider doing so now.
“We haven’t been able to keep it up,” she admits, “and over the years, it’s fallen into some disrepair. It really needs to be properly restored and I think it would be better off in someone’s hands who will give it the care it needs.”
She notes that the prototype is a unique historical memento, but that it doesn’t add to Gold Creek’s business, which is all about fitness and recreation. As to its worth, Ochoa throws her hands up in the air and says, “I really have no idea. It’s hard to know the value of something like that.”