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Posts Tagged ‘carving’

Totem Lake 1

It’s time. The Totem Lake Mall in Kirkland, Washington is coming down. This curious combination of upper and lower mall divided by 120th Avenue Northeast originally opened in 1973. After years of legal wrangling, a developer is finally going forward with plans to demolish most of the lower mall and all of the upper.

If you’re passing by on I-405, just east of the freeway you can see three tall blue metal boxes at the entrance to the lower mall. The tall box, once a working clock, contains the poles that held the original Totem Lake sign created by local artist Kenton Pies. Thank you to sharp-eyed local blogger and fellow history buff Jana Robertson of Visiting Vintage for pointing this out.

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The front of the lower mall is looking mighty bare. Once upon a time, we bought our school clothes at Lamonts just inside those front doors to the right. Construction equipment is parked around the back and fences have started to go up.

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Locate marks are beginning to appear. Call 811 before you dig!

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This is what the Totem Lake Mall sign used to look like, courtesy of Jana Robertson. These are the poles you see above. A few years ago I asked around as to whether the winged sign had been preserved and it’s been lost. It sounds like it rotted. Kenton Pies, who painstakingly carved and sculpted this sign, said he would have saved it had he been given the chance. I’m hoping some vestige of this is left underneath the ’80s blue metal, like maybe the board with the dots on it.

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Here is Kenton with the sign. He created a number of Native American-themed carvings for the mall and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that someone, somewhere still has them– or that some will be uncovered before the buildings are taken down. Kenton now lives in Montana and Jana graciously connected me with him. His work is all over this area. You know the Kingsgate neighborhood signs? Yep, Kenton. Among scores of other examples.

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More great information collected by Jana. Note that the two-faced head is plastic.

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Another view of the sign. And yes, there really is a Totem Lake nearby. You can’t really see it from Totem Lake Boulevard or 120th, but a boardwalk meanders into it. The city will be redeveloping the park along with the mall. I hope the many birds and beavers stick around as it becomes more popular with humans.

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This is what the inside of the mall looked like in the ’70s. In the ’80s, those wonderful beams were covered up by a false ceiling and that side of the mall took on a creepy vibe. I hope the beams, if still present, can be repurposed.

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Another example of Kenton Pies’ art at the mall. What happened to all of this? If it still exists, we need to get it into the hands of the local historical organizations.

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While the mall’s extreme makeover will bring a boost and jobs to Kirkland’s economy– including a Whole Foods– the concept looks like it could be anywhere, sort of generic and Californian. I wish the same Northwest character that infused the original mall from ’73 could find its way into the plans of 2016. And that includes the wide-ranging talents of one Kenton Pies.

For more information on this project, see Totem Lake Mall Redevelopment.

Bonus feature: some more local references!

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History is a guide to navigation in perilous times. History is who we are and why we are the way we are. -David McCullough

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©2016 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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