In 1931, during the great depression, A.E. Larson built the Yakima landmark, The Larson Building. The 188 feet high building, built in the Art-Deco style, houses 225 offices and is one of the tallest buildings in Yakima.
The spacious main lobby features walls of black and red Italian Marble, cast ornamented plastered ceiling. Floor inlay designs of marble and brass-dividing strips embedded into the terrazzo, marble walls and special cast bronze elevator fronts.
Larson wrote upon completion of the building:* "The decision to erect this building was based upon a deep-seated faith in the further development and continued future prosperity of Yakima and of the Yakima Valley."
"Perhaps present conditions do not warrant, from a return or earning standpoint, in investment of three-quarters of a million dollars in this building, but that phase of the project has been over-shadowed by an earnest desire to do something in a substantial and a serviceable way for Yakima and it’s people."
In 2011, this same spirit and deep-seated faith exists in the City of Yakima, Committee for Downtown Yakima, New Vision:Yakima County Development Association, Yakima Visitor and Convention Bureau and the people of Yakima. The only difference being, instead of one man’s desire for Yakima now an entire community believes in the future prosperity of Yakima and the Yakima Valley. What could explain the extraordinary cooperation between different businessmen, service groups, tourism professionals, Yakima residents, crafting the Downtown Futures Initiative and the driving force to convince Washington State representatives that Yakima needs to be ready for its future?
*Since 2006, the Washington State has devoted more than $8 million dollars to help with the renovation and revitalization of Downtown Yakima. The funding has helped repair and widen sidewalks to encourage outside dining, added street lights and improve walking areas and curb appeal with trees, decorative lighting, planters and hanging baskets.
In response, by 2010, business and property owners have invested nearly $50 million for additional renovations to downtown Yakima. New businesses, such as the Hilton Garden Inn, Ummelina's world class spa, Stems Gift Shop, 2nd Street Grill, SportsCenter, The Seasons Performance Hall, Garden Dance,The Little Soapmaker, Kana Winery, Gilbert Cellars, The Lofts condo style living, Tony's Steak House, new Holiday Inn have moved into downtown. Art installations now exist on 2nd Street, Front Street Historic District and at the new 2nd Street performance park. Buildings are being renovated for new businesses to come, occupy and add to the community by those who have caught site of this vision. Like A.E. Larson, who built when times were very tough, these business professionals, and community members have “an earnest desire to do something in a substantial and a serviceable way for Yakima and it’s people."
In 1931 A. E. Larson’s building met his goals and dreams and instantly became a landmark in the city of Yakima.
In 2010 the downtown revitalization has met the goals and dreams of many and Yakima is the beautiful gathering place envisioned.
Come visit, let us share our community with you.
Yakima Valley Museum Yakima Memories page: http://www.governor.wa.gov/news/news-view.asp?pressRelease=921&newsType=1