Old Minglement structure comes down

Mike Cunningham surveys the scene while Lewis Roggenbuck works the backhoe. - Leslie Brown/staff photo
Mike Cunningham surveys the scene while Lewis Roggenbuck works the backhoe.
— image credit: Leslie Brown/staff photo

A piece of history quietly vanished from Vashon last week.

Wednesday morning, the new owners of the property where Sound Food and The Minglement once stood demolished the old Minglement portion of the building to make way for a new structure that will house their business, Performance Reps Northwest.

It was careful work. Lewis Roggenbuck, who drove the backhoe, took the old building apart like he was dismantling an oversized model, piece by piece, ensuring he didn’t damage the Sound Food’s portion of the structure and even saving a wisteria that grew on an arbor adjacent to the building.

The new owners of the property, who purchased it last December, say they had little choice but to remove the aging structure.

“The building was going to fall down,” said Mike Cunningham, one of four owners of Performance Reps Northwest.

The company plans to build a new structure, which, like the previous one, will be attached to the restaurant side of the building. According to Nadia D’Aoust of Three Olive Catering, one of two caterers who leases the restaurant space, the new structure will be congruous with the existing one, with similar windows, lines and siding.

“It’ll all be matching for once in its life,” she said.

The squat wooden structure on the corner of Vashon Highway and 204th Avenue S.W. has stood there since 1947, according to county records, and has gone through many incarnations over the years. According to those who know the building well, it was once a gas station and garage before turning into a smoke-filled coffee house with pillows on the floor sometime in the 60s — “sort of a pre-hippy dive,” said Lotus, one of the original owners of Sound Food.

It then became the Vashon Island School District’s administration building for several years until its final incarnation — when Sound Food opened on one side and Michael Meade, the original owner of The Minglement, brought his natural foods and crafts store from downtown Vashon to the site.

Minglement was a groundbreaker at the time, Meade said, the first outlet to sell natural foods as well as locally made crafts. It was named The Minglement, he added, because “it was a mingling of things.”

Always the philosopher, Meade added that the concept of mingling went beyond the store’s products.

“It was a time when the Island was being newly mixed,” he said. “You had what some people saw as the hippy invasion and the long-term families and the newer professional class of people.”

The Minglement also acted as a kind of “alternative community center,” he said, offering workshops, books on alternative healing and concerts.

When they remodeled it from the warren of offices into a store, Meade and his coworkers helped to give the place its charming look by collecting beach logs and using them to support the structure.

“It had a lot of charm and was very warm and welcoming and old,” said Jeri Jo Carstairs, who owned The Minglement after Meade.

But neither Meade nor Carstairs expressed much remorse about its demise. It was a difficult building, with a septic system that didn’t always work, lots of leaks and doors that weren’t very secure, Carstairs recalled

“Even back then, it had lots of problems,” she said.

The two caterers who now lease the space where Sound Food once stood, however, said they wanted to keep a piece of the old Minglement on the property. So before Roggenbuck showed up with his backhoe, they managed to salvage some of the bleached logs that Meade and others had used to hold up the place.

The caterers — D’Aoust and Mardi Ljubich of SheFidgets Catering — have spruced up the flowerbeds and yard behind the structure, creating a space that could be used for wedding receptions.

They’ve also built a flagstone pathway that extends about 10 feet into the woods and shrubbery at the back of the property; with the bleached logs, they now plan to build a small altar.

“It’s a way to keep a piece of The Minglement history, so people can have a bit of our past to remember,” Ljubich said.

Despite the structure’s deteriorated state, some were sad to see the old building go, and many gathered on the sidewalk to watch it fall.

“This has been here all my life,” said Tressa Azpiri.

John Browne, who was driving by and stopped to “pay my respects” to the structure, said he was disappointed no notice was given to the community.

“It’s a shame somebody would take a building down basically in the dead of night,” he said.

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