Posted by: wadahp | July 13, 2011


Long-time Historical Architect Stephen Mathison retired from State service and the Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation on June 30, 2011. His departure after over 31 years marks the end of an era for the agency and for the field of historic preservation in Washington.

A product of the WSU architecture program and stalwart Cougar fan, Stephen joined the Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation in 1978. As Historical Architect, Stephen was responsible for interpreting and applying the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation (Standards) to development projects across the state affecting significant historic buildings and structures. In his position, he reviewed hundreds of projects seeking to take advantage of the federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) program. His review was key to making sure that proposed designs met the Standards and thus being qualified to take advantage of the tax incentives. Stephen’s reviews resulted in the qualification of millions of dollars in private investment in historic buildings whose fate otherwise may have been alteration, deterioration, or demolition.

Stephen’s career and achievements were honored and celebrated at a June 23rd reception at the Dearborn House in Seattle. Obviously, it would be a very lengthy blog post to recap  the work and accomplishments that Stephen made during his years with DAHP. However, at the June 23rd reception, the many colleagues, friends, and family who attended the gathering, recognized the legacy of his work that fostered the preservation of our historic built environment and revitalization of historic downtowns and neighborhoods. Indeed, Stephen himself acknowledged that the most satisfying aspect of his career was his role in realizing the long-term preservation of buildings in all corners of the state. Though in addition to this legacy and going beyond his technical skills in design and preservation, Stephen was also honored for his dedication to providing the best in public service to the many stakeholders with whom he had contact over the span of his career.               

As a gift to Stephen, State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) Allyson Brooks and DAHP staff engaged the assistance of Historian Jennifer Ott to create a HistoryLink essay on Mathison Park in Burien. For some background, Stephen’s father donated the family property to the City of Burien in 1999, after having lived there for nearly 60 years. Here, Ted and Bernadine Mathison raised Stephen and his four siblings imbued with a sense of stewardship, self-sufficiency, and service to the community. Ted’s donation of the land and residence to the City, sparked the creation of 5 acre park. After Ted’s passing in 2003, Stephen and his three brothers and sister have worked closely with the Parks and Recreation Department to plan and develop the parcel with trails, park furniture and playground equipment. To read the full history of Mathison Park, visit In realizing this gift, DAHP expresses its appreciation to’s Jennifer Ott and Marie McCaffrey for their commitment and support to craft the Mathison Park essay and bring it on-line to share with the community and future generations.

Allyson and DAHP staff join in wishing the best to Stephen in his retirement and future globe-trotting adventures. And, we extend our deep appreciation to him for 31 years of exemplary service to historic preservation and the people of Washington.

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