Capitol Hill Historical Society | What happened with Galbraith House

Galbraith House as of January 26th. Photo by Tom Heuser

When I saw the headlines last month that Galbraith House, a protected landmark would be demolished, my heart sank and I had to do a double take. How does a Capitol Hill landmark get cleared for demolition? The whole point of the landmarks ordinance is to prevent demolition not to enable it. I read the articles and the comments, and asked around thinking I had missed something, but only found misconceptions, half-truths, and dead ends (quite literally in one case). So I went straight to the source.

I scoured the Landmarks Preservation ordinance and the past 12 years of board meeting minutes, spoke extensively with city staff and other preservation advocates, and put all the pieces together. What I learned is a serious one-two punch to preservation that deserves our immediate attention. Now for those not familiar with the whole process, let’s start by taking a tour of the city’s landmarks ordinance. I will only cover the most salient points. Consider this a quick crash course.

The Ordinance: Landmarks designation is a four-step process and the city’s website lists and summarizes each very clearly. Continue reading

Capitol Hill’s Sullivan House voted for landmarks protections

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

New owners, new chapter at Capitol Hill classic the Canterbury

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

Here’s why Capitol Hill’s Galbraith House is being demolished

(Image courtesy John Fox)

Officials at Sound Mental Health tell CHS the decision to demolish a landmarked Capitol Hill mansion comes in the midst of planning about how the property owner can best serve the more than 20,000 people it helps each year struggling with addiction and mental health.

“The number of folks who need support help in our community has increased exponentially,” Sound spokesperson Steve McLean tells CHS.

“Our challenges are myriad — one of our challenges is space.”

CHS posted Tuesday about salvage underway on the 1904-built Galbraith House at 17th and Howell. An application to fully demolish the building that has been used as a Sound — formerly Sound Mental Health — facility and its neighboring carriage house has been approved by the city.

McLean tells CHS that Sound has been evaluating its options for the property for the past several years even before it became unusable in 2017 due to safety and structural issues. “At this stage of this process, we are assessing what we are going to do with that property,” he said. Continue reading

Capitol Hill landmark-protected Galbraith House readied for demolition

It’s been a bit since CHS heard from neighborhood historian and preservationist John Fox. He’s moved off the Hill these days but we’ve learned to listen and take a look when he points us at a piece of Capitol Hill history. John wrote to us recently about a planned demolition at 17th Ave and Howell. Designated an official landmark in 2005, the Galbraith House/Seattle Mental Health building only had its exterior protected in the process. But the landmarks board decided recently to allow “no controls” on the building freeing landowner Sound Mental Health to move forward on its plans for the property. Those apparently include demolition — a permit to demolish the structure was issued on January 3rd. Preservationists have objected to the decision but work is already underway. The giant old house completed in 1904 for Seattle merchant James E. Galbraith and designed by the same architect as 15th Ave’s landmarked Gaslight Inn has been undergoing a salvage by Earthwise who have been nice enough to share some pictures. UPDATE: Here’s more from Sound Mental Health and the landmarks board about why the house is being demolished.

From John Fox
Many have probably noticed this grand Colonial Revival house at the corner of 17th and Howell is now surrounded with construction fencing. It is scheduled for demolition very soon.

It isn’t every day that we lose a building such as this on Capitol Hill. Continue reading

Blotter | Hilltop pot shop axe break-in, Melrose biz owner DUI charge

See something others should know about? Email CHS or call/txt (206) 399-5959. You can view recent CHS Crime coverage here.

  • Pot shop axe-burglars: Seattle Police were called to the 1400 block of E Republican early on the morning of Sunday, October 15th after three suspects were reported to have busted into a pot shop with an axe and ransacked the store:According to the report on the 2 AM burglary, the burglary of the Ruckus shop was reported in progress and involved three males seen leaving the area in a white sedan. Police arrived to find a busted glass door and a mess inside but no sign of the suspects. It was unknown what had been stolen from the shop at the time of the report. UPDATE: The same modus operandi appears to have been at play in a string of West Seattle pot shop break-ins in the past week.
  • DUI charge: A Capitol Hill business owner has pleaded not guilty to driving under the influence and two counts of hit and run after her September arrest in a 29th Ave E incident. Police say Liz Pachaud, 32, was taken into custody after officers were called to 29th Ave E just before 1 AM on Sunday, September 17th and found vehicles damaged at the scene. Continue reading

Hope for Hilltop: ‘Save Our Station’ community meeting planned

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.

Capitol Hill’s only full service gas station up for grabs

Mike Burke (Images: Alex Garland)

The Hilltop Service Station on 15th Ave E — one of Seattle’s last full service gas stations — could be at the end of the road of more than 50 years of business on Capitol Hill. The station stopped selling gas this month though the busy garage continues to serve drivers from Capitol Hill and beyond. The land is up for sale.

Station owner Mike Burke has mixed feelings about the situation.

“I’m sad it’s a part of the community soon to change dramatically,” he said, “but at some point one has to accept the reality and move forward.”

 

Gary Bergamini, who passed away last November, owned the property since the 1960s. His assets moved into a trust operating on behalf of his heirs.

Burke came along in the late ‘70s, moving up from a gas pumper to a business partner. He will not make any new business decisions, however, until he talks with the property’s buyers. They could negotiate for the station to stay a while longer. But a developer is actively pursuing the property, according to Burke.

“So what do you think is gonna happen in Seattle,” he said. Continue reading

Blotter | Teen suspects cornered in park bathroom after Capitol Hill street robbery

See something others should know about? Email CHS or call/txt (206) 399-5959. You can view recent CHS Crime coverage hereYes, CHS is still on hiatus but we’ll continue to keep the news engine warm and post from time to time as events warrant.

  • 15th Ave E robbery: Police took two teenaged street robbery suspects into custody Friday afternoon thanks to an observant person in Volunteer Park. Officers were called to the area around E Highland and 15th Ave E just after 2:30 PM Friday to a report that a victim had been robbed of a bag at knifepoint by juvenile males. Police searched the area including nearby Volunteer Park where a witness said two males had headed into the bathroom. Police took the two into custody after the victim was able to visually identify them as the assailants, according to East Precinct radio dispatches. There were no reported significant injuries.
  • ‘Fast back up’ at Broadway/Pike: Police were called to assist Seattle Fire personnel responding to a reported injured person at the Shell service station at Broadway and Pike early Sunday morning. According to police and Seattle Fire radio reports, a “fast back up” call was made during the 3:20 AM incident when a female was threatening an aid crew that had “stumbled into” a fight unfolding in the gas station’s parking lot. Police arrived to find the suspect was no longer at the scene and the reportedly injured victim in the fight long gone.
  • Tattoo break-in: A burglar walked out of E Olive Way tattoo shop the Artful Dodger with the shop’s cash register and cash in a September midnight break-in, according to Seattle Police. According to the report on the September 15th burglary, video surveillance showed a male suspect wearing a dark hoodie using a rock to break the shop’s glass door before picking up the register and walking out. Police say the suspect made off with the register — and $400 in cash.

Now open on 15th Ave E: Aviv Hummus Bar

Providing “hummus where the heart is,” Aviv Hummus Bar is now open on 15th Ave E.

“It’s more than just food to me. Hummus is a way of life. It’s a culture. It’s something that people share together they go out together to go out to enjoy hummus or they will when it comes to my restaurant,” owner David Nussbaum told CHS when we talked to the first time restaurateur about the chickpea and pita-powered project earlier this year. As is typical in these boom times in Seattle, the buildout for the first-time project took a little longer than the expected May opening.

Looking to move beyond “dip,” Aviv features five different hummus pairings plus a variety of add-ons like eggs or tahina. There are also falafel and fries to round out your plate. When you belly up to the hummus bar, you can also enjoy a beer with your pitriot. Prices range from $10 to $12 for the hummus offerings, $11 for falafel.

With an overhaul of the former Gyro Cafe, Aviv’s bright space is now open at 107 15th Ave E for lunch from 11 AM to 3 PM and again from 5 PM to 9 PM for dinner on Tuesdays through Saturdays. It is open 11 AM to 3 PM on Sundays and closed Mondays. You can learn more at avivhummusbar.com.