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Globe to keep spinning

We marked a major milestone this week in the longer-than-anticipated road to making the P-I Globe an official city landmark. Wednesday Councilmember Jean Godden, Councilmember Tim Burgess, Museum of History and Industry Executive Director Leonard Garfield and I stood before assorted media and historic preservation advocates to announce that the Hearst Corporation will donate the giant metal and neon globe with letters around the circumference (or equator in this case) to the Museum of History and Industry. Yesterday’s announcement was timed to coincide with the afternoon meeting of the City’s Landmark Preservation Board where the Globe was officially nominated for landmark status.

My colleagues and I put out the idea of making the Globe an official landmark many months ago, before we knew how much work really goes into both a landmarks nomination and planning for the long-term life of an object like 19-ton globe topped by an 18-foot eagle. We were moved to save the Globe when it seemed Hearst might leave town completely and as we all realized that the Globe represents important Seattle and journalism history – and it looks cool. If you missed the television coverage of the announcement, you missed Councilmember Godden speaking eloquently and from the heart about what it meant to work at the P-I with luminaries of journalism and literature.

In the past many months we’ve worked with the great Mimi Sheridan to build the landmark nomination, and hatched (and re-hatched) plans with Leonard and representatives of Hearst and the P-I Globe Building to make sure we not only make the Globe a landmark, but that it survives as a well-cared-for icon. I thought the landmark nomination packet was difficult to build, but it was nothing compared to discussions about intellectual property, contract provisions, logistics and costs for transport and storage, memorandums of understanding, public benefits, endowments, property access privileges, historic preservation grant opportunities, and certificates of approval.

Currently the Globe sits atop the PI Globe Building on Elliott by Myrtle Edwards Park (having moved there in 1986 from its home at 6th and Wall in the Regrade). The Post-Intelligencer ceased print operations 2009 becoming seattlepi.com. Recently the remaining staff moved out of the building. It’s likely that before the end of the year the current owner of the building will ask that the Globe find a new home. At that point MOHAI and the City will determine a temporary home for the Globe where restoration work can happen. There’s no City money going into the project, but we may be able to provide storage and restoration space in a former military hangar at Magnuson Park. Finding a permanent home for the Globe will be a little tougher. We’ll need help vetting ideas and you’ll see opportunities to suggest and work through possibilities when we get to that point.

For now, people can share their ideas (and support) with the MOHAI via MOHAI’s website, Facebook page and Twitter account. They’ve even created a #lightuptheglobe hashtag for the project. Hmmmm. Maybe the Globe needs its own twitter account…

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