Sunday, April 16, 2006


Kalakala earns its place on U.S. historic register


The News Tribune
By Paul Sand
April 11, 2006

The rusty and once-renowned Kalakala, an art deco ferry moored in Tacoma’s Hylebos Waterway, has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places, a Washington historic preservation official said.

In a letter dated April 6, state historic preservation officer Allyson Brooks writes that the ship “is historically significant as a unique, a one of a kind, a ‘concept’ vessel created in 1935. Its distinctive characteristics of the Art Deco period captured the imagination of a Depression-weary public.”

The designation means the Kalakala, which moved 100 million passengers between Seattle and Bremerton from 1935 to 1967, is eligible for federal grants. The ship’s owner, Steve Rodrigues, bought the 276-foot vessel at auction in 2003 and has docked it in Tacoma since September 2004.

“The Kalakala may now endure into another generation, and her awesome and significant history is now honored forever,” Rodrigues said in a press release. He’s transferred ownership of the vessel to The Kalakala Alliance Foundation, a nonprofit corporation that will oversee the ship’s restoration, according to the statement.

Rodrigues has said he hopes the ferry will one day serve as a teaching tool and a venue for weddings and other events. Restoration of the ship would cost $15 million, he has said.

Last fall, Rodrigues lobbied Tacoma’s Landmarks Preservation Commission to sponsor his application to have the boat placed on the state historic register. At that time, he told The News Tribune “Tacoma is the right community” for the Kalakala, and that “Tacoma has what Seattle does not.” In January, the city’s preservation commission recommended his application and state historic preservation officials voted to place the ferry on its list of historic places.

However, the Kalakala might face an uncertain future in Tacoma. Rodrigues recently sent an e-mail to several preservation groups in Seattle asking their leaders to support bringing the Kalakala back to the city’s Colman Dock Pier 50 in the next three years.

In response to a question Monday night about the ferry’s future in Tacoma, Rodrigues wrote:

“We are home, and we have invested a lot of time master planning it. We will reveal the plans very soon. But we are focusing on the shipyard and painting her beauty first,”


The ship has left Seattle - but it´s not gone (yet) and it´s by far not forgotten.
For those, who like the memories, like to view photos, postcards, read stories and all related to the famous silver-ferry, a friend and me have created a new website

Well, it´s non-profit, we don´t get anything for it, the thing just causes us work because we are permanently seeking for more pics, stories from people who sailed on it, worked on it, have just seen it, or have simply something to say about it.
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