Capitol Hill Historical Society forms to preserve, find new stories of old Capitol Hill

A group of history buffs have decided to combine their hobby with their community as they follow suit of other neighborhoods to form the Capitol Hill Historical Society.

Tom Heuser and Rob Ketcherside joined forces to try and organize the community group with a focus on researching and recording the historical stories of the neighborhood.

“Every neighborhood in Seattle has a historical society, except Capitol Hill,” Ketcherside said. “With all the new change and people coming in, it’s beyond time to have one.”

The society recently visited the archives of the old Broadway High School

The society recently visited the archives of the old Broadway High School

The first meeting of the historical society is scheduled for January 7th and the co-founders hope to decide on a mission for the group.

One of the reasons historical societies exist can be to help preserve the buildings of the neighborhood, Ketcherside said.

“Neighborhoods have healthy functioning historical societies may have evidence to help preserve the important sites in the neighborhood,” Ketcherside said.

Another goal would be to tell the stories that haven’t previously been recorded, Heuser said.

“Seattle history has tended to be whitewashed and focused on European history,” Heuser said.

For example, while digging and visiting the Broadway High School Alumni Association, they discovered during World War II, many Japanese American students were sent to prison camps.

“If we don’t tell these stories, history is broken,” Ketcherside said.

Lastly, they just want to inform people of their surroundings and serve the community, Heuser said.

“Generally, it’s good to know history because it can be helpful in informing our decisions going forward, protecting historical places and give connection to the community,” he said.

With the many people moving into Seattle and changing the landscape of Capitol Hill, it’s important for the stories to be captured for future generations before they disappear Ketcherside said.

“There’s a limited timeframe to actually capture stories,” Ketcherside said. “When people are gone, it’s hard to find out how things were back when.”

Capitol Hill Historical Society Founders’ Meeting

Both Ketcherside and Heuser are open to ideas the community has as well.

“Maybe the group just wants to digitize old records,” Ketcherside said. “Everyone may have a different idea of what we should do and we are open to discussing and finding projects for everyone who wants to be involved.”

Until then, the two continue to write their own history stories for the CHS blog and research historical buildings. Recently, Heuser discovered the story behind the Comet Tavern and how the owner built it to escape an impending divorce.

“It’s never just a building,” he said. “The reason they put up buildings is tied into their personal lives and whatever their situations are.”

They look forward to discussing their goals with other history buffs at the first meeting, Jan. 7th at 4 p.m. For more information or questions, visit the group’s Facebook or website capitolhillpast.org.

Subscribe and support CHS Contributors -- $1/$5/$10 per month

4 thoughts on “Capitol Hill Historical Society forms to preserve, find new stories of old Capitol Hill

  1. How about doing a Story Corps type of history gathering?
    There are a lot of folks still living on and around the Hill who remember when…

    • Ray,
      I appreciate your sentiments and support for the historic documentation and when possible preservation of Capitol Hill landmark structures and landscapes such as Volunteer Park. The renovation of this museum was approved by voters in the 2008 Green Spaces Levy. The new expansion with a 50′ glass and tile clad wing is a a separate scheme that the museum trustees have proposed and it is not appropriate for a landmark public property with Volunteer Park status.
      More information and historic details are available here at www protect volunteer park dot org. The project is contained within Volunteer Park, a culturally significant landmark landscape which is protected at the highest level. Many aspects will harm this landscape if built as submitted, including increased street noise levels from a 50′ echo wall, blocked landscape views, dangerous intrusion of glass expanses into avian habitat, and disturbance of exceptional trees.