Maybe you’ve experienced something like this… You hear a rumor that there is something special nearby – lying neglected, hidden, almost forgotten. You find the spot, and coax the owner into letting you take a peek inside. The barn doors creak open and there, waiting patiently in the dark and covered with years of dust, is your next project.
Richard Griot’s latest “barn find” is not made of steel and rubber, but of concrete and glass. The future home of Griot’s Garage occupies a sprawling corner lot in central Tacoma. This building has been sleeping, waiting patiently for someone to blow off the dust and get to work.
There is history here. Stories revealed by the weathered brick and foggy windows and makeshift signs pinned to the walls. The original wood structure was built in 1912, and served as the city’s Contagious Hospital until its closure in 1937. Shortly thereafter, and until 1943, the local chapter of the Works Progress Administration (the largest of Roosevelt’s “New Deal” agencies) stationed its headquarters here. And in 1943, the Homes Use Service Bureau utilized the property for housing defense workers during World War II.
In 1948, Coca-Cola Enterprises purchased the facility and began using the wood structure as an office. In 1950, they constructed an expansive brick building to serve as a bottling and distribution warehouse. Coca-Cola would occupy this space until 2008, when they moved to a larger facility in Lakewood, Washington.
As with any barn find, it takes a little creative thinking to see the potential. We carefully lift the hood, walk around and contemplate the thing from every angle, and prepare to roll it out into the sun. We understand that some parts will be restorable, others will need to be removed, replaced, or re-imagined. What do you see when you look at these spaces?
We’re excited to share our vision for this place, and to keep you on the inside as we roll up our sleeves and get ready for some late nights in the garage. Follow along here and remember, it’s all about what’s under the dust.