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Seattle City (spot)Light: Julianna Ross

Julianna Ross celebrated four years at City Light in August. She’s part of the Environmental, Land & Licensing business unit where she serves as a Senior Community Program Developer. “I was hired to transition the Georgetown Steam Plant into its next chapter. City Light has owned the plant since 1951, but it’s been completely decommissioned since 1977,” Julianna explained. “It’s incredibly unique and intact, much like a museum. We’ve been offering tours to the public and I led the work with an advisory committee to determine next steps. Based on their recommendations, the plan is for City Light to maintain ownership of the building and have a non-profit take over daily operations with a focus on education, arts, and other community programming. The agreement is almost signed so this is going to take place soon!”

Originally from Colorado, Julianna and her family moved to Bellevue when she was six. She later returned to Colorado to attend the University of Colorado where she majored in journalism. “I still love journalism and believe that I use my degree every day in the work that I do,” she shared. Julianna and her husband lived in California before returning to the Seattle area in 2000 to be closer to family. 

In this week’s (spot)Light, learn about Julianna’s work, her passion for historic preservation and her involvement in the community.

“My position with City Light is half-time and at the other time, I serve as executive director of an arts non-profit called SPACE (Sand Point Arts and Cultural Exchange). The organization was formed in 1994 when the U.S. Navy transferred the former Sand Point Naval Air Station property to the City of Seattle. We now operate a low power FM radio station (Space 101.1) and the Magnuson Park Gallery. Our board of directors and I intend to save other historic buildings in the district and also activate them for the arts.”

“As an advocate for historic preservation, it’s been a dream to work with the Georgetown Steam Plant. It was built in the early 1900s to fuel Seattle’s electric streetcar system and it ended up fueling the economic growth of neighboring cities as well. It features historic equipment from the time period and became an official historic landmark in 1984. I often say that ‘you can’t care about a building you don’t know about. The Georgetown Steam Plant deserves a lot of care from the community and there is a resounding love for it, but there are also a lot of people who don’t even know about it. So, I generate awareness and access through public outreach to the community and help produce good news through our programs and media relations.”

“I credit my love of historic preservation from growing up in Bellevue. When I was a kid, Bellevue still had a lot of agricultural areas and practically nothing in terms of historic landmarks – downtown Seattle was the place to go.  I’ve always valued the craft and character of older buildings and the stories they tell.”

“One place I’d love to travel and see the historical architecture is Pittsburgh. I love Chicago and New York, but I need to travel more! I have to say that the Georgetown Steam plant is phenomenal; I have no doubt it will be an internationally recognized heritage tourism destination. I’ve also always had a soft spot for the Smith Tower and if I had all the money in the world, one of the first things I would do is buy it and make sure it’s taken care of forever!”