Preservation in Progress

Historic Seattle’s Blog

Archive for the ‘Heart This Place’ Category

Heart This Place – My Seattle

To celebrate historic preservation from home, we have launched Heart This Place – a new blog series from Historic Seattle staff. Each post will feature a different place that is significant to a member of our staff. For our final installment, Director of Preservation Services Eugenia Woo shows us her favorite views in Seattle:

My first time in Seattle was in 1991 as a visitor; I fell in love with the city and its environs instantly. On this visit, I went full-on tourist. Space Needle! Underground Tour! Pike Place Market! Mount Rainier! I loved it and wanted more. The unbeatable natural setting combined with its urban, yet still small town feel, and quirkiness called out to me. I knew I needed to come back and experience the Pacific Northwest more fully.

So, in September 1993, I drove my 1980 beige Volvo DL (aka “The Tank”), the family car that I learned how to drive in, from my hometown of Los Angeles to Seattle. After spending a hot and humid summer in Washington, DC as an intern, I was ready for Seattle weather. I’m one of those freaks of nature who loves rain. What brought me to the Pacific Northwest was graduate school in urban planning (with a focus on preservation planning) at UW. I remember learning about urban villages (so quaint sounding, right?), density, and growth management. Seattle was an ideal living laboratory for urban planning students to study. So many great neighborhoods and communities, each having its own history, culture, and character. Why would anyone want to destroy that? Little did I know then that I would spend such a large part of my professional life helping to fight save meaningful places that matter in this city.

It has now been 27(!) years since I first moved to Seattle (with a two-year stint back in L.A. in the late 1990s when I learned to love the City of Angels—I had to move away to really appreciate it). Over the years, my fondness for Seattle grew to encompass a great appreciation for the entire state, from small towns and rural areas to the mid-sized cities of Tacoma and Spokane. I have had the pleasure of traveling to and through all 39 counties in Washington State (logging A LOT of miles on my MINI Cooper). Whenever travel goes back to pre-COVID ease, I highly recommend exploring this amazing state. All of it. You might even see my husband and me on the backroads! Closer to home, I look forward to resuming my urban sleuthing of Seattle neighborhoods (documenting with photographs along the way), something I have done since my first visit in the early ’90s.

This brings me to my photo essay of some select favorite views in Seattle. No matter how long I’ve lived here or how cynical or jaded I may get lamenting my “lost” Seattle, nothing makes me happier than seeing the Space Needle, the Public Market neon sign, Smith Tower, or Mount Rainier. The Space Needle and Mount Rainier in particular just pop up out of nowhere at times—there’s always a new view of each that is unexpected. Fortunately, these icons are here to stay because they are landmarks or part of a historic district (well, Mother Nature will decide the mountain’s fate, but it won’t disappear entirely).

Enjoy!

All photos courtesy of Eugenia Woo. Click to enlarge:

View of Belltown and downtown from the Space Needle, 2010. (I’ve been taking views of the city from the top of the Space Needle since 1991.)

Same view looking south in 2019. Only the top of one of the Westin Hotel round towers is visible.

View of Pioneer Square in 2014 from the rooftop of the 619 Western Avenue building.

Pike Place Market and the iconic neon sign, Spring 2018.

Seneca Street looking west from First Avenue, a reopened view after the removal of the Alaskan Way Viaduct and the Seneca Street offramp, Summer 2019.

Seattle’s maritime heritage is on display on Lake Union in this spectacularly beautiful summer day in 2019.

This view of the Camlin from the Paramount Theatre (December 2019) will no longer be visible once the Washington State Convention Center expansion is completed.

View of Mount Rainier from a plane. I choose my seat for maximum view opportunities of the Cascades when I fly.

One of those unexpected views of the Space Needle that pop up out of nowhere. This one is on Capitol Hill near the Roundcliffe Apartments and the Lookout Bar (aptly named) on the corner of Bellevue Pl E / Bellevue Ave E / Bellevue Ct E.

View of Smith Tower, Elliott Bay, and the Olympic Mountains from Yesler Way.

That’s me at Archie McPhee!

Heart This Place – Columbia City Library

To celebrate historic preservation from home, we have launched Heart This Place – a new blog series from Historic Seattle staff. Each post will feature a different place that is significant to a member of our staff. Here, Asset & Property Manager David McClain touches on the importance of the Columbia City Library:

The Columbia City Library features two of my favorite things: historic buildings and books. To me, there are few better examples of meaningful places fostering lively communities. The library serves as a linchpin of the neighborhood, nestled within the Columbia City Landmark District just south of the Rainier Playfield and Community Center.

The original building was funded by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie and designed by W. Marbury Somervell and Harlan Thomas. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The library was expanded with an addition in 2004, designed by Cardwell Architects to preserve the look and complement the style of the original building.

Heart This Place – KEXP

To celebrate Preservation Month from home, we have launched Heart This Place – a new blog series from Historic Seattle staff. Each post will feature a different place that is significant to a member of our staff. Up next, Philanthropy & Communications Manager Bailey Hess tells the story of how she came to love 90.3 KEXP and the work the radio station does to bring people together:

Heart This Place: My End of Queen Anne Boulevard

By Cindy Hughes

To celebrate Preservation Month from home, we have launched Heart This Place – a new blog series from Historic Seattle staff. Each post will feature a different place that is significant to a member of our staff. In this installment, Council Assistant & GSC Rental Coordinator Cindy Hughes takes us on a tour of Queen Anne Boulevard:

30 years ago this month, my husband, infant daughter, and I moved to a shingled 1910 house located in the northern reaches of the historic Queen Anne Boulevard on Queen Anne Hill. I don’t think we realized at the time that we would be living on such a storied route – our actual new address was on 8th Ave. W. (no addresses are actually labeled “Queen Anne Boulevard,” they all correspond with the existing streets and the term is applied to the scenic route as a whole) and the area didn’t seem to have much in common with the celebrated Boulevard on the south slope of the hill.

Everyone knows that route for its expansive views and mansions built by timber barons and real estate magnates, but the Boulevard is more than the south brow of the hill – it reaches democratically north to encompass more modest blocks of builder’s bungalows and several small neighborhood business districts.

The little commercial district at 7th Ave. W. and W. McGraw St. with the Boulevard’s tree canopy embracing it from the south.

Over the years I have spent many hours venturing both north and south on the Boulevard from my house – walking, driving, bicycling, pushing strollers, waiting for school buses, walking dogs, and navigating its twists and turns as it stitches its way around the crest of the hill. Many of our visitors from out of town have experienced the walk with us south along the Wilcox Wall, past the Marshall Park Viewpoint and the grand estates along West Highland Drive, and ending at the iconic city and mountain viewpoint at Kerry Park. Less often I have headed north and then east along leafy streets with territorial views and sections where it would seem ironic to apply the designation of Boulevard at all.

But in the end it is the quieter north end of things that I am ending up appreciating, especially now that the Boulevard serves as my sanctioned close-to-home quarantine walk route during the COVID-19 pandemic. The rest of the city seems to have discovered the pieces to the south, but the crowds tend not to cluster north of West McGraw Street. These blocks represent recreation to me in a way they never did before, a way to get out of the house that now serves as a cramped workplace for three adults.

Montpelier Maples are a rare species of street tree lining this block of 8th Ave. W.

The legal description of Queen Anne Boulevard takes up two pages and gathers up 23 separate stretches of road ranging in length from one to eight blocks.  The fact that the Boulevard runs along narrow, already-platted streets made it unique; it differed greatly from the other broad roadways in the Olmsted plan. The design that was worked out by the Parks Board, the City Engineering Office, and neighborhood residents called for six phases of development that took place between 1911 and 1916. The tree planting plan was not particularly well coordinated between phases, resulting in a charming variety of tree species – consistent on each individual block but different from one block to the next.

Some additional highlights of the Boulevard north of McGraw:

The 1910 Prairie-style Handschy/Kistler House at 9th Ave. W. & W. Wheeler St. – the only City of Seattle Landmark home located on the Boulevard on this side of the hill. The architect was Andrew Willatsen, a student of Frank Lloyd Wright.

This house at 9th Ave. W. & W. Fulton St. was featured in Jud Yoho’s 1916 pattern book, “The Bungalow Craftsman.”

Peeking into Mt. Pleasant Cemetery as we round the curve back onto 8th Ave. W.

The venerable Arthur Wright Mortuary/Butterworth Funeral Home on W. Raye St.

As W. McGraw Pl. emerges at a 5-way intersection onto W. McGraw St., we can see the 5 Corners Hardware Store. It’s been open and heavily frequented during the pandemic.

As the Boulevard snakes through the Seattle street grid, it creates a number of small triangles at various intersections. This one at W. Smith St. and First Ave. W. is heavily landscaped by Seattle Parks and Recreation and features a prominent identification sign.

Foursquares were a popular architectural style on Queen Anne during the early years of the last century – this one is located at W. Smith St. and First Ave. W.

There are a number of stretches where the Boulevard doesn’t include sidewalks, especially along Wheeler and Bigelow Streets. Pedestrians are forced to walk in the street, which we are all doing anyway right now in order to socially distance ourselves. There is talk of closing at least part of the Boulevard to car traffic, under Seattle’s Stay Healthy Streets campaign begun during the pandemic.

An acknowledgement of the Boulevard’s status along the McGraw Street Bridge.

This triangle displays the brown directional street signs that were installed just a few years ago to guide Boulevard travelers along its non-intuitive twists and turns.

And one last look at yet another triangle created by the Boulevard’s energetic swoop along McGraw St. to Nob Hill Ave. N.

I am grateful to the community members of Queen Anne in the early part of the last century for bringing this remarkable streetscape to life, and to later historic preservation efforts to protect it and make it accessible to all. When this pandemic is all over it will continue to enrich our experience of the city, as it has done so well over the last 110 years.

Heart This Place: Hash Browns & History

By Naomi West

To celebrate Preservation Month from home, we have launched Heart This Place – a new blog series from Historic Seattle staff. Each post will feature a different place that is significant to a member of our staff. Up next, Director of Philanthropy & Engagement Naomi West serves up her favorite diners. Click below to enlarge:

Heart This Place – Tractor Tavern

By Jane Davies

To celebrate Preservation Month from home, we have launched Heart This Place – a new blog series from Historic Seattle staff. Each post will feature a different place that is significant to a member of our staff. Next up, Director of Finance & Administration Jane Davies’ poem for the Tractor Tavern in Ballard:

 

The Tractor Tavern

Built in nineteen hundred and two

On the historic street, Ballard Avenue

At a time when shingles were the jam

And Ballard’s population was about 10 grand.

 

New Melody Tavern came before,

From the 40s until around ’94,

The Tractor Tavern then took the stage

And today it is still all the rage.

 

When again it opens up its door

Let’s meet at the Tractor Tavern once more

Rich in history, music and booze

With a night at the Tractor, you just can’t lose.

 

Above photo: Jane Davies

Featured photo: A historic image of the Tractor Tavern building, courtesy of the Puget Sound Regional Branch of the Washington State Archives (via the Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

Heart This Place – Madison Park Beach

By Brady Begin

To celebrate Preservation Month from home, we have launched Heart This Place – a new blog series from Historic Seattle staff. Each post will feature a different place that is significant to a member of our staff. In this installment, Engagement & Administration Coordinator Brady Begin celebrates Madison Park Beach.

I first visited Madison Park during the summer after I graduated from UW. I said the neighborhood was “honestly too cute for words,” but that didn’t stop me from coming up with cheesy Instagram captions like “city beach vibes” and nailing far too many hashtags to my posts like some sort of millenial Martin Luther.

I had taken a photo of a trio of surfboards near the bathhouse, which, in retrospect, cracks me up. Who surfs on Lake Washington? They were more for decoration than anything, an escapist aesthetic that inspired the collages you see below. Look, I’m no artist, but I wanted to do something creative for my contribution to Heart This Place.

While I’m lucky enough to actually live in Madison Park now, I’m quarantined at my family’s home in the suburbs because my apartment doesn’t get enough natural light to work from home (if the neighborhood is one big beach, then my apartment is a sea cave). I cut out images and text from old magazines that my parents were throwing out and mashed them up with two different photos of the shoreline.

A collage based on a recent photo of the beach. The historic structure on the right is a boathouse that connected to the boardwalk, with one of the boardwalk’s swings also in view (courtesy of UW Libraries). The canoes are from another historic image of the shoreline (courtesy of MOHAI). Click to enlarge.

The first is a recent photo of me walking along the beach, backed by a waterfront condo building. The second is a historic photo of the boardwalk and pavilions that once adorned the shore, before development of the Lake Washington Ship Canal lowered the lake’s water level and before a 1914 fire burned down the main structure – Beede’s Madison Street Pavilion. The historic images came from Pavilion days on Lake Washington, a post from the now-defunct Madison Park Blogger, which details the structures’ centrality to the burgeoning beachfront community between the late 1800s and early 1900s.

I’ll admit that I’m torn as to whether or not I think the beach would be better with the boardwalk and pavilions that once lined the shore. On the one hand, there’s obviously a lot of recreational and amusement value there. On the other, the beach we have know is more laid-back and its modesty generally reflects the slower, quieter character of the neighborhood. Regardless, Madison Park Beach is still a great in-city retreat for Seattleites in search of their own Margaritaville or Kokomo.

A collage based on a historic photo of the Madison Park boardwalk and pavilions (courtesy of UW Libraries). Click to enlarge.

In a few months I’ll be leaving Seattle to attend graduate school at the University of Georgia. I’ll miss a lot of things, including this little slice of paradise here in Madison Park. I’m holding out hope that we’ll be able to gather safely before then so we can go out and enjoy Seattle’s many public shores.

Cheers to you, little beach village!

Heart This Place – Tramp Harbor and KVI Beach

Written by Kate Kelly, 12th Grade, Vashon High School

Photos by Davis Kelly, 10th Grade, Vashon High School

To celebrate Preservation Month from home, we have launched Heart This Place – a new blog series from Historic Seattle staff. Each post will feature a different place that is significant to a member of our staff. Next up, Executive Director Kji Kelly’s children Kate and Davis do some research into Tramp Harbor and KVI Beach:

Point Heyer, known as KVI Beach to residents of Vashon, was unofficially named after KVI Radio purchased the spit of sand and built a 431-foot radio tower in 1936. KVI Beach is the northern boundary of Tramp Harbor, located on the east side of Vashon Island. Now owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group, KVI Beach surrounds tidal salt marshes, which are an essential ecosystem to migrating birds, specific types of grasses, and numerous species of crabs, shellfish, and fish that find shelter in the marsh. This natural barrier lagoon is the largest in King County. In an attempt to preserve and protect the lagoon and habitat, the County has been proactively acquiring waterfront land to the north of the beach for many years.

Tramp Harbor has played an important role in the development of the Island. Vashon’s first automobile ferry dock was built on Tramp Harbor soon after a new highway was built connecting Seattle and Des Moines in 1916. This new car dock was located between two existing passenger docks at Portage and Ellisport that served the “Mosquito Fleet.” In 1922, instead of sending cars from Tramp Harbor to Des Moines, then driving north to Seattle, traffic was directed straight downtown to Colman Dock from a newly constructed dock on the north end of Vashon. (My parents will beg and plead with anyone who cares to listen, now that the West Seattle Bridge is closed, to once again re-direct cars to Colman Dock!) After cars began to leave the island from the north end, the Tramp Harbor dock was leased by the Standard Oil Company and was repurposed to bring gasoline, kerosene, oil, and diesel fuel to Vashon Island. The dock was used for this industrial purpose until the mid-1980s, when the dock was once again re-purposed and opened as a public fishing pier.

We, and so many other Islanders, spend many summer days at KVI Beach and on the protected waters of Tramp Harbor. Since our house faces the beach, it is the first thing we see when we get up and the last thing we see when we go to bed. With dogs playing fetch, the inlet off the south side of the beach being the perfect place to paddleboard, and an endless amount of beach glass you can find amongst the rocks, KVI is one of the most popular beaches on Vashon Island. With the beach and harbor being just a short walk from our home, we feel lucky to get to grow up in this magical place.

Kate, Kji, and Davis Kelly

Heart This Place: Union Stables

By Jeff Murdock

To celebrate Preservation Month from home, we have launched Heart This Place – a new blog series from Historic Seattle staff. Each post will feature a different place that is significant to a member of our staff. First up is Advocacy & Education Manager Jeff Murdock:

The Union Stables building as it appeared in 2011

After working for several years in my hometown in suburban Los Angeles, I made my way back to Seattle in 2007. We moved into to a fixer-upper apartment just up Western Avenue from Pike Place Market, situated diagonally across the street from the Union Stables building. At that time, these two buildings anchored a difficult block of Western Avenue. Surrounded by nefarious parking lots, with the viaduct walling off Western a half block north and the Battery Street tunnel ushering traffic north, it was easy to miss the historic building. It didn’t help that the mostly vacant property had been boarded up with plywood decorated with painted-on window details and garish multi-story banners advertising the property owner’s furniture business.

An interior view of the Union Stables building, 2011

But the intriguing urban stables did invite further investigation. I have always felt that there are a few old buildings in any neighborhood which, even after being ignored for decades and falling into the background of the city, can still convey a sense of memory and history – even as they wait precariously for a new life. To the casual observer, this was clearly once a working building – with its massive red brick masonry structure expressed in piers, large Roman arches, and expansive window openings. A curiously large pedimented parapet on Western is detailed with a telltale horse’s head, in terracotta. I had the opportunity to tour the ghostly interior of the building a couple years after we moved to the neighborhood. Walking through the massive horse-gnawed timber structure, it was easy to understand the layout of the stables, how horses moved through the building, and where they would spend their days waiting to convey their empty wagons home to the farms that supplied the public markets. You could imagine the heavy clip-clop of hoofs striking the substantial decking and alfalfa bales being lifted to the rooftop barn. But I don’t think it was my imagination bringing about the sensation of an odor of “agriculture,” that is, horse urine.

The terracotta horse’s head, 2011

In earlier-developed eastern cities, urban stables are a more common component of the built environment – reflecting the era when horsepower meant “powered by a horse.” Before the automobile’s transformative impact on urban design, cities developed with fashionable shopping streets offset by gritty working streets, which included urban stables as a building type. These working streets with their adapted stables would later provide the artist lofts and warehouse offices which contribute to many of our richest historic urban neighborhoods.

The Union Stables building was designed by George Dietrich and was constructed in 1910, not long after the Pike Place Market was founded. Accommodating over 300 horses, it was the largest of several stables constructed on Western Avenue (another one across the street from us is now occupied by Cloudburst Brewing, indicative of our changing neighborhood). A Seattle Daily Times article called it “the most modern stable west of the Mississippi.” However, it was built toward the end of the era of horse-drawn transportation in Seattle. By the early 1920s, the automobile had largely replaced equestrian transport in Seattle. The Union Stables’ robust construction and interior ramps allowed the building to be converted for various automotive uses. Over the years, the building intermittently served as a towing garage, furniture warehouse, and was even the location of an illicit cache of prohibition-era bootleg liquor, “the largest stock ever unearthed by police.” But its occupancy and uses dwindled over the years, and by the time we moved to the neighborhood the building was long empty.

The Union Stables building as it appears today

Today, our neighborhood is almost unrecognizable from when we moved here. The viaduct has disappeared, creating views that draw pedestrians north from Pike Place Market. Parking lots once noteworthy for being locations of illegal drug trade and nighttime gunfire are gradually becoming sites for high-end apartment development. Still, the Union Stables building holds court on our block. In 2013, the property was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and also became a City of Seattle designated landmark. Skillfully rehabilitated in recent years, the building is still occupied by stalls of daily workers – in architecture, construction, and technology.

Want updates on everything Historic Seattle?Sign up for our monthly e-newsletter