Before it ever had a city hall — or even a city government at all — Eagle had a library.
The humble, one-story structure with its wooden awning and vertical slatted facade was built in 1947 at 67 E. State St., long after the Old West era but in the middle of our never-ending infatuation with it. It became a public library in 1963.
In that cramped space met Eagle’s first City Council in the early 1970s, and so did several after that. The library made room in the back and became Eagle’s first City Hall in 1974. In 2001, after Eagle opened a new library, the City Council dedicated the old building as the Eagle Museum of History and Preservation, which has operated there since.
The city may trace its origin story to the building, but now it envisions a different future there. On July 2, the council voted to sell the museum property to the Eagle Urban Renewal Agency, which plans to tear down the 72-year-old building to make way for something new.
Janet Buschert, chair of the Eagle Urban Renewal Agency, said the commission seeks proposals to build a two- or three-story property on the narrow, 0.09-acre site, with retail and commercial space on the first floor, with office and residential space above.
The Urban Renewal Agency paid $220,000 for the property.
The purchase does not include the adjacent buildings on the block, but the urban renewal agency would take proposals for a larger development on the museum and neighboring properties at the junction of State Street and Eagle Road.
The museum property, just east of Eagle Road, is adjacent to two other properties:
- 51 E. State St., which is owned by Alamosa Group LLC and is home to Eagle Barber Shop.
- 83 E. State St., owned by Marissa and Marina Imports LLC of Everett, Washington. The building is home to the restaurant Wild West Home of Mamma Italia.
The block also features two vacant lots:
- 11 E. State St., a quarter-acre property located at the intersection of State and Eagle that was purchased by The Pacific Cos., a residential real estate development firm, this year. The urban renewal agency has previously worked with the Pacific Cos. on other projects.
- 91 E. State St., a 0.17-acre lot east of the museum, purchased by Marissa and Marina Imports LLC last year.
“Time and time again, our No. 1 request is to get those four corners developed in classic quaint Eagle style,” Buschert said. “It’s been cleaned up, but not much has happened there.”
“We’re certainly going to be open to anyone who has a proposal,” Buschert said. “There could be one for the museum lot alone, there could be one from any of the owners of the block, or there could be one from a totally different party.”
Tobie Rossi-Medina, a real estate agent with the Alamosa Group that owns the barber-shop building, said she expected the area would eventually be redeveloped.
“We knew things were going to happen on this corner,” she said in an interview.
The museum isn’t the only historic property in downtown that’s been turned over in recent years. The owner of the landmark 1932 Orville Jackson House at 127 S. Eagle Road listed her property for sale in 2017 after she failed to reach a deal with Eagle Mayor Stan Ridgeway to have Eagle buy and preserve the home.
Rossi-Medina said she’s not opposed to development but wants to preserve Eagle’s small-town feel.
“We’d love to keep businesses in downtown Eagle,” Rossi-Medina said. “I don’t see any reason it couldn’t be like a Hyde Park.”
Meanwhile, the museum will get a new home.
Earlier this year, the city bought the Landing Community Center, 175 E. Mission Drive, from The Life Christian Church. The city plans to move some departments to the 1.5-acre site. The museum will find a new home in the small church on the site.
The museum’s offices will be located in a separate building on the same site.
Pam Kelch, assistant curator at the museum, said in a phone interview that it’s not clear when they’ll be moved out of their downtown home and into the church.
“We’re looking forward to moving into a new historic building that we’ll be able to preserve,” Kelch said.