JANUARY 27, 1997
Demolition of the historic Walters Feed Mill in Bothell began last Friday. The project is expected to take a week to complete.
Mesmerized by the crashing timbers, local children on an impromptu field trip see the track-hoe as a "dinosaur eating wood." From left are Helen Kehoe, 8, Jake Huddle, 5, Conor Kehoe, 5, and Sarah Huddle, 4.
Photos by Jeff Switzer/Northwest News.
by Jeff Switzer
BOTHELL--The enormous timbers which held up Walters Feed Mill for 62 years finally gave way under the precise pressure of demolition equipment last Friday, succeeding where mother nature had failed.
While it didn't go in the dramatic fashion of a single thunderous crash on its own, as most area residents expected after years of sagging and rot, bystanders still were awed by the razing.
"We've been watching this building slowly die for years and years," said Claudia Kehoe, a seven-year resident of the area who turned the demolition into an impromptu field trip for her children and friends.
"It's like a dinosaur is eating some wood," agreed Jake Huddle and Conor Kehoe, the two 5-year-olds on the field trip, describing the track-hoe as it worked.
Amazement painted the children's faces as they watched walls and floors come thundering down.
"It's exactly like Bothell's history being destroyed. Poof!" said 8-year-old Helen Kehoe.
Four-year-old Sarah Huddle joined her brother and his friend in their analogy. "It has dinosaur teeth and it's gonna bite that building," she said.
As many as 20 bystanders at a time were present to witness the demolition, watching as Woodinville-based Wolford Salvage and Trucking razed the feed mill, bringing walls crashing down and removing salvageable wood with a surgeon's precision.
The floor of the mill was supported by 10-foot-long 3-by-12s, each set 12 inches apart. They in turn were supported by enormous 12-inch-by-12-inch beams as much as 20 feet in length, lumber rarely seen these days.
The second floor, completely exposed to the elements, housed several bowling ball returns, which fell to the ground along with sections of the floor. City staff mentioned a large stone planter that was unrecoverable due to the building's advanced state of collapse.
"I think it's really sad," said Beth Huddle, the other mom on the field trip. "They don't," she gestured to the children. "They think it's cool. But look at how hard it was for them to take it apart," she added, in a testament to the tenacity of the building.
Peggy Williams, a 16-year resident of the area, had heard about the planned demolition on the radio that morning and took advantage of her day off to come take pictures.
"My daughter and I would ride our bikes along the trail and stop by, thinking, 'Maybe it'll fall right now,'" she said.
According to the city, the building was constructed as part of a 1935 feed mill business expansion, serving also as a location for the local egg packing plant. A fire destroyed most of the mill in the early 1960s, and a portion of the mill was torn down in 1964.
Since then, the building had been used for storage or has been vacant.
At the request of the Landmark Preservation Board, several window panes and a printing press were safely removed before the demolition
"It's unfortunate that it didn't last long enough that some commercial enterprise couldn't take advantage of its uniqueness," said Jerry Pyle, Bothell Planning Commission chair, who was at the site, video camera in hand, to witness the start of the project.
The recent winter storm proved the last straw for the feed mill, causing portions of the structure to collapse from heavy snow loads. Then the entire facade fell away, making the building an official hazard to public safety.
The site is zoned R-15/OP, allowing a mixed use of 15 units per acre with office and professional uses. Given the proximity of the Northshore Senior Center and the pending zoning code alterations for a senior housing overlay, it is more likely the site will redevelop as senior housing.
The demolition and salvage project is expected to take one week to complete.