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Farewell WMC

Washington Medical Clinic building and parking lot (lower left). View is to northeast; Keiro Northwest and the Langston Hughes Cultural Arts Center are in the background. Photo: Google Earth, Aug. 2020.

By David Yamaguchi, The North American Post

On Jan. 28, the NAP ran a photo of new ongoing construction at the former site of the Washington Medical Clinic. In doing so, it became apparent that the story of that historical clinic, originally owned by Drs. Evan and Ruby Inouye Shu, has probably not been properly written up in these pages. 

The clinic was at the southeast corner of the intersection of 16th Avenue S and S Washington, across the street from the former Keiro Nursing Home. The property occupies a full quarter-block, and consisted of, until very recently, the closed clinic and its adjoining parking lot. 

Below: Street-level view. Photo: Bing Maps, Jul. 2014.

In its day, the WMC was a place in the Japanese American community where you could get fitted for new glasses, indulge in a massage, participate in a Nikkei research study, or visit a doctor. The clinic had two patient entrances. From the front entrance at 1605 S Washington, Kay and Larry Toda, father and son optometrists, were on the left. Sengo Shimizu, his sons, Roy, Mike, Patrick, and son-in-law, George Beppu offered sennin-so shiatsu treatment on the right. In the back was Tsukasa Namekata, director of the Pacific Rim Disease Prevention Center and UW epidemiologist. One entered the side entrance, at 202 16th Ave S, to see Dr. Evan Shu (eye, ear, nose, and throat specialist) and Dr. Ruby Inouye Shu (family physician) in the building’s lower level.

The Shus had the WMC built in 1961. They retired in 1995, both at the age of 75. In 1998, they donated the property to Nikkei Concerns (later Keiro NW), with the approval of their three children. Keiro used it as office space and for storage, then later sold it to help resolve the nursing home’s debts when it closed in 2019. 

The WMC property is presently permitted for development into eight residential unit lots, probably condos.

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David Yamaguchi is a third-generation Japanese American [Sansei]. He has written for the Post since 2006, at first as a volunteer, later as a paid freelancer. He joined the paper's staff in May 2020, when he began learning how articles flow from Word files through layout to social media.