Camp Kilworth designated as a historic site
This is the first historic site designation in Federal Way history.
Camp Kilworth at Federal Way is officially the city’s first historic site, thanks to a unanimous vote by the King County Landmarks Commission on August 25.
The camp, located at 30900 50th Avenue SW, was recently preserved after the nonprofit Forterra purchased the property with plans for the YMCA of Greater Seattle to lease the land and provide outdoor programming. With this designation, the Rotary Lodge, Timber Wolf Lodge, and Fire Bowl Amphitheater are Federal Way’s premier landmarks.
“It is so exciting to know that Camp Kilworth is saved both environmentally and historically. The camp will continue to educate and serve the community and its young people long after I am gone,” said long-time lawyer Mary Ehlis. Camp Kilworth date who played a key role in its rescue and President of the Kilworth Environmental Education Preserve (KEEP).
The nearly 30-acre camp will be restored and reopened for community use by 2024, serving youth in King and Pierce counties, according to Forterra and the YMCA.
This historic feat was also accomplished through the supportive efforts of 4Culture and the inter-local agreement between the City of Federal Way and the King County Landmarks Commission.
“It sets a precedent for how advocacy and preservation can be done,” said Suzanne Vargo of the Federal Way Historical Society. “Of course, the reason we save history and why it’s so important is to preserve what was and what may be in the future of Federal Way. With so much development and a hectic life, it’s important that we remember where we came from, how we became…and who was responsible for creating it.
The interlocal agreement between King County Historic Preservation and the city was created out of a 2017 ordinance for the preservation of historic structures on Federal Way, Vargo added. This agreement requires an ownership endorsement that allows the city and applicants to use county resources.
The strategic focus now shifts to saving the remaining aspects of the camp and returning environmental education to space, Nadiya Sheckler wrote on the Friends of Camp Kilworth and Alumni Association social media page. . Sheckler is a member of KEEP, a non-profit organization created to save the camp.
In 2018, Camp Kilworth was listed as one of the most endangered places in the state by the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation.
The County Landmarks Commission is a nine-member board established in 1980 “to ensure that the historic places, material culture and traditions that best reflect the region’s 13,000 years of human history are preserved for future generations,” according to its website.
“It’s not about freezing time, it’s about slowing change,” said Sarah Steen, landmarks coordinator for King County Historic Preservation, at an Aug. 10 community meeting about the importance of a monument designation.
Landmark structures at the site include the Timberwolf and Rotary Lodges, the lawn in front of the Rotary Lodge, and the amphitheater. Not only does a historic title protect the space, it also opens up the possibility of additional funding grants in the future.