Politics & Government

Secretary of State shows off reasons the state needs a new building for its archives

Secretary Wyman gives Archives building tour to highlight issues with current longtime location

Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman leads a Jan. 29th tour of the Library-Archives Building on the east Capitol campus in an effort to gain support for a new location in Tumwater.
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Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman leads a Jan. 29th tour of the Library-Archives Building on the east Capitol campus in an effort to gain support for a new location in Tumwater.

Secretary of State Kim Wyman offered a media tour of the State Archives building on Tuesday, but it wasn’t because she was proud of it.

Wyman is working to convince the state Legislature to fund a new building for the State Archives and State Library. On Tuesday, she led media through the underground storage areas and point out areas where flooding, leaky pipes, and other destructive events have occurred.

The Archives Building at 1129 Washington St. on the east Capitol Campus was constructed in 1962 as a records center that doubled as a bomb shelter. The facility does not meet modern environmental and atmospheric requirements for storing archival documents, according to Wyman’s office.

Since 1997, three major floods have occurred inside the Archives building. The building also has no fire suppression system for most collections.

In addition, the volume of archival records is too large for the building’s 49,500-square-foot storage capacity. Archives houses records that date back to 1853 and include the original territorial and state laws, the 1889 State Constitution, territorial tribal and local census documents, Supreme Court case files, legally-required retention of state agency and legislative records, and much more, according to Wyman.

“Why people should care about that is we are talking about the state’s history,” she said.

The 2018 Legislature provided $5 million for architectural design work and project management. Wyman is lobbying for money for the next phase.

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