Keys to the Bowes Building: Meet Rane Shaub

Tacoma’s downtown districts paint the skyline with architectural integrity and tangible personality. Each address tells a story about the city’s beginning and its growing heritage. Today, the Tacoma Register of Historic Places recognizes over 169 properties as preserved local landmarks. Among them is the historic Bowes Building, located downtown on 9th street. As you marvel at the pearly white pillars and large round street lamps set like a crown around the front exterior, or Robert Wyland’s full length Orca mural on the back side, you may wonder who holds the keys to this castle and what story they might tell about these four famous walls.

Photo by Lisa Blackmore

Evergreen Personal Injury Counsel currently fills the space with legal offices and a Northwest inspired interior design. They come at the end of a long lineage of everything from bankers to bar flies and have reinstated the class and character that the structure deserves. But there’s another important name behind the Bowes Building. Meet Rane Shaub, the owner at this noteworthy establishment.

A few fun facts about Rane:

I was on the rowing team all four years in college.

I met my wife at Coachella.

What is your first memory of the Bowes Building?

I remember when we had Big Whiskey in the space, and I recall walking in one night to some pretty sophisticated line dancing. I chose to spectate and get a beer instead.

Why and when did you buy? Are there other noteworthy landmarks in your real estate portfolio?

We purchased the property in 2001. Our company has always valued historical properties in the Puget Sound so it was a no brainer when the opportunity arose to purchase the building. A couple of our other historic properties include the Wagner Motors Building (616 St Helens Ave), which is now home to Dystopian State Brewing and Artist & Craftsman Supply, and the Heritage Building, formerly the Ted Brown Music building, that holds offices for several local businesses as well as the Tacoma School of the Arts.

What has been the biggest challenge vs biggest fulfillment in owning this property?

It’s always challenging to retain the original design of a historic building while abiding by modern code requirements. Fortunately, the city was very helpful throughout this project and we were able to work together to achieve the end result. Seeing the plans come together was very rewarding.

What inspires you about the building itself?

Regardless of what type of business is operating in the building, from bank to restaurant to law firm, the architectural beauty draws people to the space.

Are you happy with the building’s location?

It’s a great, centralized location – in the heart of downtown, a block away from restaurants on Pacific Ave, across the street from Fireman’s Park and easily accessible to the interstate.

What three words best describe the Bowes Building?

Iconic, eye-catching, inviting

How many tenants have you had since purchasing the building? Who resonated most for you?

We’ve had four tenants since we purchased the building. Our newest additions, Evergreen Personal Injury Counsel and the Baker Foundation, have come with strong visions of the space and we have enjoyed collaborating with them on the restoration of the building.

What is your Tacoma story?

I was born and raised in Brown’s Point and have always had a passion for our family business, which has been based in Tacoma since 1920.

Let’s pretend you’re leading a Tacoma building tour! What are a few other locations on your hit list?

Wagner Motors Building. Though not restored yet, I think Old City Hall and the Elks Lodge are great examples of historic properties that are ready for a second life.