Destined for demolition, ‘depressing’ Broadway Bonney-Watson won’t get landmark protections

There is no shade thrown more darkly than the criticisms leveled at an old building brought up for landmarks review by a developer who wants dearly to demolish it. Seattle’s Landmarks Preservation Board Wednesday night unanimously rejected the nomination of Broadway’s 1961-built Bonney-Watson Funeral Home calling the modern-style building underwhelming, boxy, and, well, depressing.

“We think this building is not a landmark and we’d like you to agree with us,” Jack McCullough, legal counsel for the company under contract to purchase the property and develop two mixed-use buildings on the site, said, calling the building a “most ordinary and uninspiring example.” David Peterson, who prepared the nomination report for the developers called the building “disappointing” and said it was his belief the building doesn’t meet any of the city’s landmark criteria: Continue reading

Capitol Hill Historical Society | The many landmarks of Cal Anderson Park

Cal Anderson Park was designated a Seattle Landmark 19 years ago this month on November 4, 1998.

But if you search the city landmark list for “Cal Anderson,” you won’t find anything.

In 1998, Cal Anderson Park was still a civic dream. As part of the process leading to the creation of Cal Anderson, Seattle Public Utilities and Seattle Parks self-nominated the existing reservoir (Lincoln Reservoir) that they hoped to lid over, the grounds around it, and Bobby Morris Playfield to the south which would also be affected. The entire stretch from Pine to Denny, Nagle to 11th became a landmark.

Holding Seattle’s water

Lincoln Reservoir was an important part of the municipal water system created by Seattle following the Great Seattle Fire in 1889. One of the realizations after the fire was that the collection of private wells at springs across Seattle’s hillsides could not supply enough water to carry the city forward. After a successful funding vote, City Engineer R. H. Thomson set out to create a dammed reservoir in the Cascade mountains and a 20 mile pipeline to three reservoirs. Continue reading

Capitol Hill Historical Society meeting for December 2017

Our meeting will begin with a 15-minute presentation from Patrice Carroll, Strategic Advisor at the City of Seattle Office of Planning and Community Development on the city’s plan to update Capitol Hill’s design guidelines. A 15-minute Q&A will follow the presentation.

Our agenda (subject to change)

Project Udpates:
1. Landmarks
2. Broadway, 1893 Arcgis
3. Photo scanning
4. Preservation policy research
5. Bylaws and 501c3 Status

Landmark nominations:
1. Bonney Watson
2. P.J. Sullivan House

Check the Facebook event for any changes: https://www.facebook.com/events/127409807973898/

Capitol Hill Historical Society | Nagle Place created this month in history

On November 15, 1899 — one hundred and eighteen years ago this month — Nagle Place was dedicated by the Seattle City Council in ordinance 5630.

Where it’s at

Nagle Place is among the shortest streets in Seattle. It’s bounded by Pine Street on the south and Denny Way on the north, just three blocks long. It’s intersected only once, by Howell Street. The former Olive Street right of way brings a staircase down from Broadway which continues as a path through Cal Anderson Park to the east.

Nagle Place in the 1980s

Nagle Place in Kroll Map book at Seattle Public Utilities Engineering Vault, apparently updated through the 1980s

What’s a Nagle?

John H. Nagle came to Seattle in 1853 as the pioneers were first staking their land claims and filing “plats”, the first official maps of roads and property to be sold. The land that Nagle claimed was more than a mile northeast of the main town, centered on current Cal Anderson Park. He built a homestead and he worked a farm on the land.

We don’t know exactly what afflicted him, but in 1874 Nagle was committed to the Washington Territory Insane Asylum, deemed a “dangerous man”. His stay at the asylum was funded by renting and then slowly selling his property. Continue reading

Two scary Hilloween stories: The Williamson Sisters and the last day of the CHS subscriber drive

Want to hear something really scary? Without your financial support, CHS as we know it is DOOMED. Halloween is the last day of our push to 800 subscribers. We are far short of the goal but if you would like to continue to enjoy CHS without the DREADED SUBSCRIBER WALL AND HAVING TO LOGIN EVERY TIME, you still have time to SUBSCRIBE and HELP!!!!! us continue providing community news to everybody. Happy Hilloween!

Wanna hear another scary story? Let’s visit 1633 Boylston — today’s Buena Vista apartments. For now, it remains one of the Hill’s oldest apartment buildings. In the winter of 1911, it became the home for two of the more tragic figures in Capitol Hill historythe Williamson Sisters:

While visiting Victoria BC, they read an advertisement for Linda’s book in a Seattle newspaper. Although there was no indication that either of them was sick, they decided to go and take the fasting cure. In February of 1911, they visited Linda at her office and were told that the sanitarium wasn’t ready yet, but that she would treat them in Seattle. The sisters were put up at the Buena Vista Apartments at 1633 Boylston on Capitol Hill.

Under Dr. Linda Burfield Hazzard’s, um, care, the sisters were starved from February into April inside the Boylston Ave building, according to Stalking Seattle:

They survived mostly on a thin vegetable broth. Linda would show up regularly to provide the enemas and massages. She also began to make inquiries about the sisters’ business affairs, and offered to store the women’s diamond rings and real estate deeds in her office safe. (How nice)

Dr. Linda’s fasting diet is now a legendarily macabre tale from the annals of quack medicine and a descent into some of the darker corner’s of Capitol Hill’s mortuary past:

Prosecuting attorneys would later suspect that Hazzard had starved the British sisters in order to strip them of their wealth (Claire, weak and skeletal, had signed over her bank accounts to Hazzard shortly before her death.) Worse, the body lying before Conway on the fourth floor of E. R. Butterworth and Sons, beautifully preserved as it was—What was it with these Americans and their obsession with pickling the dead?—was not Claire. At least it didn’t look like Claire. The sisters’ uncle, a Brit and also unaccustomed to embalmed corpses, didn’t recognize his niece either.

Enjoy your Hilloween candy. Oh, and subscribe to CHS… while you still have time.

 

Not yet dearly departed, Broadway Bonney Watson to be considered as landmark

What is coming next for Broadway’s Bonney Watson Funeral Home could have been much different if the original plans for the “modern style” structure had been achieved:

An undated but presumably early architectural rendering retained by the Bonney-Watson company gives some indication of preliminary design ideas—the image shows a Modern-style three-story flat- roofed structure with an integral clock tower, all set back from the street to allow for landscaping. The few windows on the main elevation feature projecting wrapped surrounds, which match approximately the profile of the thin parapet coping. The building is clad with stone laid in a random ashlar pattern, but the front elevation is dominated by a two-story-high central gridded façade made of an unknown material—possibly a projecting screen, or a wall cladding of mosaic-like tiles, stones, or even translucent glazing. This proposed design apparently included a wrapping driveway allowing vehicular access to the rear of the building from Broadway, like the 1912 building.

Instead, the 1961 architectural creation of the Bain & Overturf firm more than likely has a date with the wrecking ball in a year or so. CHS reported on the development plan for twin six-story mixed-use apartment buildings to rise on the Bonney Watson properties adjacent Cal Anderson Park. November will bring the project’s first design review. A required assessment of the squat, blocky building’s potential as a historical landmark is now also on the calendar:

Landmarks Preservation Board: nomination of Bonney-Watson Funeral Home for landmark status

As we’ve noted about past seemingly doomed but requisite landmarks reviews, even if it can’t save the building, the documentation can help save the history. The nomination packet, embedded below, for the Bonney Watson mortuary is a worthwhile read:
Continue reading

CHS History | Value Village’s end, rogue garbage truck, Skillet born


Here are the top stories from this week in CHS history:

2016

 

Here is why there is now a box for free socks at Broadway and Pike

After encampment backlash, mayor rolls out ‘Interim Action Plan’ on Seattle homelessness

100 dumpsters pulled off Capitol Hill’s streets and sidewalks

2015

 

Capitol Hill Value Village to close after one last Halloween — UPDATE


Continue reading

Capitol Retrospective | The motorcycle hill climber who climbed Capitol Hill — Part 1

May 15, 1945. Image: WA State Archives.

On Labor Day weekend of 1929, 300 motorcyclists and their families roared into the sleepy resort town of Long Beach, WA for a motorcycle rally known then as a Gypsy Tour.

Aside from the three days of two-wheeled camaraderie that ensued, one rider raced ahead of the rest. His name was Marion Diederiks, an unknown motorcycle messenger from Portland who became “grand champion” after winning 8 out of 12 races over the weekend.

His victories included various pursuit and get-away races, the two-mile open, and a broad jump. Although a promising start of a career in racing, he curiously never won any other speed races like these hereafter. Instead he later found his true calling in a different form of racing known as the hill climb — a race to the top of rough hills that were so steep they were practically vertical.

Marion’s career negotiating these hills spanned two decades and culminated in the establishment of his own Harley Davidson dealership on a most unique hill — our very own Capitol Hill.

His fortune in cash prizes, his regional fame, and the tightly-knit group of riders he bonded with along the way made it all possible. The result was a dealership with a unique business model that wove standard sales and service and the spectacle of professional racing into the same fabric. And although this fabric abruptly unraveled with the onset of war and personal dramas, Marion kept the dealership going in one form or another for three decades on 12th Ave and later on Broadway. Continue reading

CHS Re:Take | Walking off into the sunset, Capitol Hill landmark by landmark

I dug a bit in Archive.org’s Wayback Machine and was surprised to find that CHS started in January 2006 as a Blogspot. That first recording captured a microcosm of Justin’s neighborhood writing: a hair salon review, a couple of restaurant reviews, a warning of an upcoming moth spray, and a lamentation on the loss of an old, dependable haunt. As you know, this was a formula that he looped through a few hundred thousand times over the next 11 years.

While Justin was developing CHS from a hobby blog into a life-sucking addiction, geologist David B. Williams was basking in the afterglow of the publication of his first book about Seattle: 2005’s The Street-Smart Naturalist.

Street Naturism

One reader of the book let it all hang out in a brief Seattle Public Library review of Street-Smart Naturalist: “Everyone in Seattle should read this engaging and insightful book about how nature and the wild still exist within city limits, and that we are part of it.”

I second the recommendation, but I’ll strip away the book jacket and show you the salient bits. Capitol Hill made two appearances in Street-Smart Naturalist. First was a short piece about the several hundred year-old Garry oak tree at Oak Manor on Belmont Ave and Belmont Place. Then in the chapter The Hills Williams rightly questioned whether it’s appropriate to call the long form of Capitol Hill a hill at all. Continue reading