Caroline Morton at play behind the counter at the 15th Ave E flower shop
Valentine’s Day is a busy one for Flowers on 15th.
Last year. the line ran out the door and, by the end of it, there wasn’t a single flower or scrap of greenery left in the shop. But nearly every day here is busy — there’s always some occasion in urgent need of floral accompaniment.
If you have spent any time on 15th Ave E between Republican and Mercer, you’ve probably seen owner Alex Soto bustling armfuls of flora into his red truck on his way to another of the day’s many deliveries. When I visited the shop on a sunny Monday morning, Soto was busy loading up flowers for the joint memorial service of former Washington Governor John Spellman and his wife, Lois, who died within days of each other at the age of 91 and 90, respectively.
Before he hurried out the door, Soto shared the best way to understand his business. “Check out our Yelps,” he said, “That’s who we are. We belong to those people. They love us because we listen to them and we do what they want us to do. The only reason people give us money is because they trust us.” Continue reading
Its owner says it is dilapidated, rotted in places, infested by bugs in others, and she had plans to sell it to a developer with plans to tear it down, but the 1898-built Sullivan House at 15th Ave and E Olive St. has new life after the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board voted Wednesday night 6-2 that the old house is worthy of its protections.
“We think it still is a castle on the Hill despite its poor condition,” said neighbor and architect Jim Castanes who was reduced to examining the house from afar using “a zoom lens and binoculars” but successfully led the effort to win the landmarks designation.
“The board has the power to keep the wrecking ball from this well-loved residence,” Castanes said.
In reaching their decision, board members focused on the old house’s “distinctive visible characteristics” of Queen Anne-style architecture as well as its prominent place at 15th and E Olive St. as one of the last of its kind in an evolving residential area of Capitol Hill. “You can see a lot of what makes it beautiful,” one board member said. “We are landmarking what exists today.” Continue reading
Just under four years after reopening with new owners and a major overhaul, 15th Ave E medieval dive bar turned medieval not-so-dive bar the Canterbury Ale House has new ownership.
Business partners Pavit Jagga and Ryan Lewis are taking over the 15th at Mercer watering hole. You might hear Capitol Hill favorite yo, son Macklemore on the sound system but, no, it’s not that Ryan Lewis.
Entrepreneur Jagga tells CHS that this Ryan Lewis is the owner behind Belltown’s Amber and that the two friends will be working together to bring new energy to the “one of a kind” 15th Ave E bar that Jagga has long coveted. Expect a new food menu soon and a wider selection of beer, wine, and booze.
The new owners take over from two big players in Capitol Hill nightlife. Continue reading
The 1898-built Queen Anne Victorian home of a Seattle businessman that has survived through the changes of Capitol Hill at 15th and E Olive St. is lined up for purchase by a townhome developer. In a city scrambling to create more affordable housing and with a nearly 120-year-old house that has definitely seen better days, the trade probably seems worth it.
Neighbor and architect Jim Castanes disagrees and has launched an effort to have the Patrick J. Sullivan House designated for official city landmark protections. “We all love it in the neighborhood,” Castanes tells CHS, “plus its context on the corner is wonderful. It’s a nice little character area.”
UPDATE 12/20/2017 5:38 PM: “The bones are there.” The Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board Wednesday night voted for the Patrick J. Sullivan House to move forward in the city’s process to designate architecturally important historical properties for protection. The decision came despite protests from Ann Thorson who now manages the estate of her late aunt purchased the 1898-built Queen Anne-style Victorian and lived there until 2010. “In her declining years, my aunt couldn’t take care of it and allowed to dilapidate,” Thorson said, telling the board that she cannot afford to restore the house and would like to sell the property. She told the board it will cost $1 million just for minimal restoration and said she and neighbors believe the house is a dangerous “eyesore.” Representatives from historical preservation groups including Historic Seattle and Friends of Historic Belltown spoke on behalf of the nomination saying the house may be in poor condition but that it remains a showcase of “integrity” as one of the few remaining examples of its kind in the city.
The board Wednesday night sided with the preservation groups and voted to move the nomination led by a neighbor of the house forward for a hearing in the new year. A resident who spoke during public comment said she had toured the house and hoped to make an offer on the property with the intention of restoring the structure. She told the board she wasn’t able to put in offer on the $2.2 million listing — “the pricing was set for development not restoration.” Landmarks designation “would force a lower price better for restoration,” the woman said.
(Image: Anchovies and Olives)
After eight years of business, Anchovies and Olives will close to end 2017. Seattle restaurateur Ethan Stowell, one of the city’s most prolific chef/owners, says not to try to read too much into the closure. It’s not always about trends and demographics. Sometimes, it’s just time for restaurants to close.
“We’ve loved this restaurant,” Stowell said Thursday after the announcement of its planned December 31st last night of service at 15th and Pine. “You never want to close down a business. You wish everything was a home run.” Continue reading
While you’re finishing shopping for your Friendsgiving feast, be aware of this note just sent to CHS from QFC HQ about upcoming changes:
Beginning late next week, customers at our QFC stores may notice some new signage asking them to only use shopping carts or hand baskets while shopping in our stores. With our busy stores, especially during the holidays, we want to ensure that all of our customers have a pleasant and easy shopping experience. At times, the process of unloading and reloading reusable bags at the register slows down the checkout process and causes delays.
The spokesperson tells CHS that the Ohio-based grocery chain is “not the only retailer to implement this change.” We asked if “lost prevention” was also a factor in the decision. “There are other benefits to this policy,” the spokesperson said, “but the main reason is customer convenience.”
Now you’ll just need to find an unused basket or cart. Good luck.
The move follows some more customer experience streamlining after QFC stores on Capitol Hill shifted from 24-hour operations to closing at 1 AM earlier this year.
UPDATE: E Madison’s Central Co-op weighs in: “We do prefer that people use shopping carts and baskets instead of shopping into their personal re-useable bags. It helps to prevent confusion at the registers.”
The house in 1975 (Image: Seattle Municipal Archives)
Nearly 120 years old, the spooky Victorian at the corner of 15th Ave and E Olive St has hit the market. With an asking price of $2.2 million, the sale of the “Patrick J. Sullivan House” is clearly more about the property’s future than its once elegant past:
The home was originally commissioned by successful boilermaking businessman Patrick J. Sullivan, who owned Queen City Boiler Works in Pioneer Square. Architects Josenhans and Allan designed the home. They also designed many other prominent buildings in the area, including multiple buildings on the University of Washington campus, many historic Pioneer Square buildings, and other grand Victorian homes around Capitol Hill and Queen Anne.
Despite the property’s recent lonely years, neglect, and deterioration, Capitol Hill-based broker Marlow Harris is looking for a buyer interested in restoration. “Today, there is an opportunity to renovate this home, bring it into the new millennium and share it with the citizens of Seattle,” she writes.
The property has never been nominated for city landmarks protections.
That lonely old house might also know a busier, more people-filled future. Across 15th Ave on the westside of the street, a four-unit rowhouse is currently under construction. Zoned for three story buildings, the Patrick J. Sullivan House land might also eventually be home to new multifamily housing.
In an underground dance studio on 15th Ave E, you can find Ilana Rubin — hair wisped and face flush — running around or behind her desk fresh out of one workout or another, her office strewn with Halloween decorations.
Rubin runs Dance Underground, a 14-year business running a 45-year-old dance studio. The studio was first opened by Shirley Jenkins when it was called Strong Winds Wild Horses. In fact, it’s the very place Rubin met her partner more than two decades ago doing Argentine tango. Rubin herself has been a dancer all her life, harking back to her roots in Israel.
The space itself contains two spacious studios with christmas lights lining the wall-length mirrors. It certainly has a homey, lived-in feel to it through the walls and the ceiling but it’s welcoming.
“To me it’s just a part of that old Seattle that we keep talking about that’s disappearing,” said Barb Duff who uses the space for BaDi dance and exercise. “From what we do for a living, you’re just not going to find a 2,000-square-foot, unobstructed studio with a hard sprung wood floor anywhere with these cookie-cutter Ikea showrooms.”
Duff and her BaDi coworker Dina Love came to Seattle from the East Coast a while back. For them, the studio is reminiscent of New York’s “gritty dance studios” because of its ambiance. Continue reading
New Liberty co-owner Brandon Paul Weaver
As Capitol Hill craft cocktail bar Liberty transfers over to new, younger hands, founder Andrew Friedman plans on starting a new company allowing restaurants and bars to brand their own drinks. It’s called Industry Spirits.
“It’s very difficult for them to legally own their own brands,” Friedman said. “We’d work with them for brand identity and sell and distribute for them… it’s never been done before.”
Last year, CHS reported on the changes as Friedman worked on a plan for Liberty Bar to be cooperatively purchased and operated by the staff. After working out the details, though, it turned out only two staffers wanted the responsibility: Andrew Dalan and Brandon Paul Weaver.
New Liberty manager Dalan said the hardest part about the transition has been paperwork. Continue reading
Earlier this month CHS reported on the end of gasoline sales at 15th and Mercer as ownership of Hilltop Service Station ponders its future under a looming property sale and redevelopment. A Capitol Hill neighbor is organizing a community meeting to help “Save Our Station.”
“The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the future of our ‘urban village.’ So far we have lost our hardware store, our post-office and now our a full-service gas station, what’s next?,” neighborhood gadfly Ellen Taft says in the announcement of the October 28th meeting at nearby Victrola Coffee.
SOS Save Our Station
Taft, also known for her efforts to advocate for stricter laws regarding dogs and breeds like pitbulls in Seattle, also hopes to help shape any new development lined up for the corner. “If businesses cannot house their workers, they may go out of business, and then we will live like people in the suburbs in the 1950’s, living in residential neighborhoods and having to drive to everything else,” she says. “Development will come to 15th, we the people, just need to plan now for the future.”
Hilltop Service Station has provided the neighborhood with tune-ups, oil changes, and more since 1966-1967 on the corner of 15th Ave E and E Mercer. Owner Mike Burke says he will continue to operate the service garage even as a developer is preparing to purchase the property from the family who has owned it for decades.