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Seattle City Light Seeks Partner To Turn Historic Steam Plant Into STEAM Center

Seattle City Light wants to transform its historicGeorgetown steam plant building into a museum and cultural center – with a twist. The search is on for a nonprofit partner to provide programming that emphasizes something called “STEAM” education.  

The better-known STEM education is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. STEAM adds “Arts” into the mix.

“We think that a steam plant would be a great place for STEAM education,” says Scott Thomson, a spokesman for Seattle City Light.

The plant first opened in 1907 to provide power for Seattle’s electric streetcars and the Seattle-Tacoma Interurban railway. The property has multiple designations as a historic landmark, including one for Mechanical Engineering.

But lately, it’s also been used as a venue for a variety of art projects, including a play and music videos. Thompson says monthly open houses the utility started offering four years ago have attracted more than 7,000 visitors.

“It’s this amazing step back in time to really big gages and big imposing equipment…'Steam punk' folks really love that vibe to it. And I think that that is what continues to fascinate people about these locations. And they want to keep coming back and taking all kinds of pictures,” Thomson says.

City Light will be accepting programming proposals through early July with hopes of selecting a partner by the end of the year. Details on the requirements are at the utility’s website.  

Bellamy Pailthorp covers the environment for KNKX with an emphasis on climate justice, human health and food sovereignty. She enjoys reporting about how we will power our future while maintaining healthy cultures and livable cities. Story tips can be sent to