• Historic Alki Homestead purchased, to be restored

    By: Maria Guerrero


    SEATTLE - For more than six years, the historic Alki Homestead sat empty after a fire forced it to close.

    But the log cabin has finally been sold -- in a deal that's rarely seen in Seattle.

    The new owner took KIRO 7 on a tour of the damaged inside and explained what he envisions the future of the historic building.

    "It's a difficult project,” said Dennis Schilling with a smile. “It's not something someone in their right mind would do."

    The Seattle builder is about to embark on a journey to save a piece of Seattle's history: The iconic Alki Homestead.

    “I just think the sign is cool and if it's not working, I'm going to figure out a way to get it working again," said Schilling looking at the neon sign on top of the building.

    Schilling just bought the 111-year old landmark.

    It was badly damaged in a fire six years ago.

    "You can see this is where the range went," he said showing us the kitchen.

    Melted, Christmas tree lights still hang in the dining rooms.

    The chandelier is still there -- albeit charred.

    “Isn't that impressive," said Schilling, pointing his flashlight at the monstrous fireplace in the main dining room.

    The fire started right next to it.

    "There was some sort of short circuit and then it started here and went up and you can see it went up, burnt through the floor," he said.

    First known as the Fir Lodge, it became the Homestead Restaurant for 65 years.

    The restaurant became famous for its family-style chicken dinners.

    "This is a great day. It's been a long time coming," said one of the speakers at a press conference Saturday morning.

    Historic preservation activists gathered Saturday to announce the building has been sold -- but with a caveat.

    Part of the deal made was to allow Shilling to come in and transform a portion of the parking lot next to the log cabin into an apartment building with up to six units.

    Schilling says designs are still in the works and still isn’t sure if he will follow through with the plan.

    With several new apartments popping up nearby, KIRO 7 asked the Historical Society Board if the restoration could have been made without the deal.

    “I don't think so because the new buyer, Dennis has some concerns about his feasibility," said Marcy Johnsen of the Southwest Seattle Historical Society.

    "The key is going to be engineering on this thing -- so we're going to make sure that it's safe," said Schilling, inside the building.

    Shilling says he needs the ability to build an apartment next door to be able to afford what's sure to be an expensive renovation.

    So, will those chicken dinners be served again?

    "I kinda like the idea of a restaurant," he said.


    Shilling plans to go through the restoration and code enforcement process with the city and decide what the homestead will house and what kind of apartment building would go next door.

    The whole process could take years.

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