Kiggins Theater has been named a heritage site by the Washington Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation.
The designation, which lists the site in the Washington Heritage Register, brings the theater a step closer to acknowledgement by the National Register of Historic Places, said owner Bill Leigh.
Designations on either list include some tax benefits and code waivers to keep historic sites intact. But those benefits are nominal for sites that cost less than $1 million to restore, Leigh said.
“My motivation for doing it was not for the tax benefits but just to preserve it,” Leigh said. “It’s a cool building.”
The theater originally opened in 1936 and was built by prominent Vancouver Mayor J.P. Kiggins, who wanted it to be one of the most modern theaters of its time.
It was designed by architect Day Hilborn, who helped create several other well-known buildings in the city’s early history, including the Clark County Courthouse.
“Kiggins is the only one of Day Hilborn’s buildings that has been nominated for the National Register,” Leigh said, adding that he thinks the odds of it being named to the list are “pretty good.”
The state office sent an official nomination for Kiggins to the National Register after completing its review.
Leigh has owned the building for four years and has completed about $400,000 worth of improvements so far, he said.