As many people know, Leavenworth experienced a rebirth because of a few spirited individuals that refuse to throw in the towel and give up. Realizing the beauty of the area and the potential for travelers to visit and enjoy the area, they began to plan a tourist theme for the town. A committee was formed called LIFE. (Leavenworth Improvement for Everyone) With help from researchers from the University of Washington, a group of business owners and concerned citizens adopted the Bavarian theme to the town.
This planning would change the course of history forever for Leavenworth. But the change didn't happen overnight and it wasn't cheap to accomplish. There was no local, state or government funding for this endeavor. It came from the pockets of the business owners and not without great risk. Many put everything they owned on the line to proceed with the remodel of their business.
One thing to remember, it wasn't just about the remodel. There was a massive effort to clean the town up which included hauling away 400 junk cars that were scattered throughout town. Shag Coffin was appointed head of the Beautification Committee. He involved the kids at the high school and it became a contest as to which class can bring in the most trash. This included junk such as old refrigerators, mattresses etc. The community cleanup was a huge success and it inspired cleanups each Spring in the future.
The Chamber of Commerce formed a committee called Project Alpine and in the mid sixties Leavenworth began it's transformation to the Bavarain theme renovating one business at a time, concentrating on the downtown corridor first. Two key designers came to town around the same time. Earl Petersen who designed most of the Dutch community Solvang California and Heinz Ulbricht who helped design most of the Leavenworth buildings. Both of these men donated much of their design work to see this project completed and Leavenworth owes them much gratitude. It was their attention to authentic detail that made Project Alpine the success that it has been.
|The Tannenbaum Building owned by Ted Price & Bob Rodgers was the first building to be transformed to the Bavarian theme also adding a new roof and the Glockenspiel.|
The first 6 buildings to be remodeled were...
> Chikamin Hotel (Later known as the Edelweiss Hotel and now where The Loft is)
> Cascade Drug Store Building (Now where Der Sportsman is located)
> PUD Building (Now Hotel Europa Building)
> Watson Electric Building (Now Alpen Haus Gifts)
> Bakery Building
> Tannenbaum Building
The next six buildings were...
> The Barber Shop Building (owned by Chuck & Vera Bergman)
> Larsen Drug Store (owned by Enoch and Evelyn Larsen)
> The Seafirst National Bank Building (New Manager, Ray Alvarez's direction)
> The Corner Supply Building (owned by Dale and Barbara Seaman)
> City Hall (repainted)
> The Bandstand (which is now known as The Gazebo completed in 1966)
Many of the original building mural paintings were done by local artists Herb Schraml and Al Wierich. The original Wilkommen zu Leavenworth sign (that still stands today) was designed by Cliff Heeden of Bothell WA who continued to design other signs for Leavenworth merchants for many years.
There is now a Design Review Board and the City of Leavenworth has adopted building codes that uphold the Bavarian theme to do business in Leavenworth. In an effort to maintain the "Old Bavaria" look, a strict sign ordinance was implemented making ALL neon signs illegal in Leavenworth. All signs in Leavenworth are wood with indirect lighting. Even the golden arches of McDonald's are not allowed and McDonald's readily complies with all building codes.
What you see today is the culmination of a lot of hard work by a group of determined people with a vision. Was it easy? Of course not! Did everyone always agree? No!!! Even when the funds weren't there by some business owners, others would pitch in with labor or whatever they could. Each one genuinely cared about the future of Leavenworth and this is the glue that held them together and kept them moving forward. What a dream they had!!!!!
Last Updated: 12/27/17