Two Capitol Hill houses that have stood for more than 100 years are set to be designated official City of Seattle landmarks Monday afternoon. The Seattle City Council will vote on the final designations following approval at the committee level last week and previous approvals by the Landmarks Preservation Board.
UPDATE: As expected, both ordinances were passed by the full city council Monday.
The structures share vastly different recent histories but both will now be afforded protections that should preserve the structures even as the city’s much needed multi-family development continues to flow around them.
15th Ave E’s Gaslight Inn lives these days as a bed and breakfast. Gaslight owner Stephen Bennett, who nominated the building, told CHS he was elated at the board’s decision and recognition of the building’s important place in Capitol Hill’s LGBTQ history when it was approved for the protections last fall. Bennett said he was looking forward to living out his retirement with the house and his bed and breakfast business. “I don’t have any family or children, so I would like to leave it to a civic organization,” he said. “I want it kept in the community.” The Gaslight’s reflection of Capitol hill changing role in the city over the past century — especially for the city’s LGBTQ history — made the decision an easy one for the board. One board member choked up when talking about the inn’s history as a place for families to stay while attending funerals during the 1980’s AIDS epidemic. “It’s the story of a rebirth of a neighborhood,” Ketcherside said.
Landmark status for 10th Ave E’s J.W. Bullock Residence was driven by a different set of emotions. The private home’s owner Dr. Valerie Tarico told CHS she had no personal vendetta against development of multifamily housing on Capitol Hill, she said she wanted to protect the 103-year-old J.W. Bullock house from that particular fate. “It’s something I’ve thought about for years,” Tarico said in an interview prior to last week’s vote. “It’s a stewardship issue. This building was made by our ancestors that put a lot of care and precision into their craftsmanship. Buildings like this are not going to be made again.”
Any building at least 25-years-old can apply for a nomination to be labeled as a preservable landmark. The city qualifies that, to receive the status, it must have”significant character, interest or value as part of the development, heritage or cultural characteristics of the City, state, or nation.” Should a nomination receive landmark status, strict limitations are placed on any changes made to the properties that would affect the qualities that led to it receiving such status.
After what is likely to be unanimous approval by the council Monday, each building will have separate, specific set of designated feature to protect. For the Gaslight, those include “The site; the exterior; and the first floor entry hall, main stair, living room, dining room, library, and parlor (former ballroom)” — and, for the Bullock, “The site; exterior of the house and garage; and the first floor reception hall, main stair, living room, dining room, study and conservatory.”
You can find the Gaslight Inn at 15th and Howell and the J.W. Bullock Residence at 1220 10th Ave E.