Five women who shaped Capitol Hill’s apartment past

Corinne-Simpson-400x379Women were some of the most prolific early 20th Century developers to shape Capitol Hill into the neighborhood we see today. Author Diana James documented some of the more interesting female characters behind Capitol Hill’s classic apartment buildings in her 2012 book Shared Walls: Seattle Apartment Buildings, 1900-1939. In a 2014 talk, James said that while she was researching for her book, she was struck by the number of women who popped up in the real estate business.

“Researching women’s involvement in the business of buying, selling, and building apartments was a worthy pursuit,” she said. “The accomplishments of these women would be commendable today, but the fact that they occurred over 100 years ago make them even more remarkable.” Continue reading

CHS Re:Take | The 1892 problems at Harvard and Thomas

When you are at the intersection of Harvard and Thomas and look around, it’s impossible to not be awed and a bit baffled by the utter lack of planning and engineering.

You probably have an intersection that confuses you or an intersection you hate. Leave a comment and we’ll see if we can console you with some sort of reasoning. Meanwhile, here’s one odd truth.

What’s wrong?

Harvard and Thomas… it’s one of a kind. As it heads south Harvard changes from a normal, comfortably cozy Capitol Hill residential street into a confusing mass of concrete with no clear use or direction. Continue reading

Auto row history and Seattle Central housing development future behind Broadway landmarks hearing

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As it seeks a partner in its plans for affordable housing, Seattle Central will take the auto row history of one of the two Broadway properties it is pushing forward toward redevelopment in front of the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board next week. The board will weigh just what architectural features if any should be protected in the one-time Stewart Warner service station and its neighbor the old Eldridge Tire building in the 1500 block of Broadway between Pine and Pike. Today, the structures are home to a burger joint, a taco joint, and a hair stylist.

The board will consider the buildings for nomination Wednesday afternoon.

Landmarks board: 1515 Broadway and 1519 Broadway

Seattle has a relatively robust and busy landmarks system but the process is as much about development as it is preservation. Seattle Central is moving the properties through the review as a prelude to redevelopment and a requirement of the permitting process for buildings from before 1940. Continue reading

CHS Re:Take | Pike’s place on Capitol Hill

Pike and Minor, 1902 and 2017

Pike Street west from the edge of Minor in 1902 post-regrade blended with yesterday, January 14, 2017. The 1902 image is fantastic and worth seeing on its own. (Washington State Archives; blend by Rob Ketcherside)

John Pike

John Pike as an old man, from his 1903 obituary (Seattle Times)

John Henry Pike never lived in our midst. But the street named after him cuts the southern border of our neighborhood, and the improvement of Pike Street led directly to the creation of Capitol Hill. So let’s celebrate him and the street he begat.

John Pike
He was born in Massachusetts, probably Springfield, more than two centuries ago: 1814. Like Seattle’s founding fathers he was part of the “Go West” era of American history. European immigrants and young descendants of early Americans alike all moved successively farther west.

After living in western New York for many years, Pike found himself in the early 1850s living with wife and son in the fateful farming town of Princeton, Illinois.

If you find it on a map today you’ll see a cluster of commercial buildings with a road leading out of town to a freeway and a Walmart. Zoom out beyond the residences and the map is swallowed by farmland. Eventually Chicago appears to the east and Peoria to the south. Continue reading

CHS History | Neighbours New Year’s arson, $43M Broadway Market deal, Cone & Steiner debut


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

2016

 

E Pike Caffe Vita’s upstairs — one of the Hill’s best coffee hangouts — now ’employees only’

Mattress chain Sleep Train moving in on Broadway

2015

 

Grocery-focused real estate investment company pays $43 million for ‘an Entire City Block’ of Capitol Hill


Continue reading

CHS Pics | Last visit to Capitol Hill’s Value Village-REI-Kelly Springfield building

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Last week before the holiday weekend, the neighborhood had one last chance to say goodbye to the old Capitol Hill Value Village before a landmarks-protected, preservation-friendly office and commercial redevelopment of the nearly 100-year-old building. A Punk Rock Flea Market was a fitting end to its era as a thrift store. Images from the final nights in the space show a few glimpses of the structure’s deeper past.

Dubbed the Kelly-Springfield Motor Truck Company building for its first tenant after construction in 1917 and built as an investment development for $70,000 in the midst of World War I, the “Chicago School style,” concrete frame building with red brick, parapets and window spandrels was home to an important player in the area’s burgeoning auto row economy: Continue reading

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.” Continue reading

CHS Year in Review 2016 | Plans to build our way out of it, the year in Capitol Hill development

There it is. Just as 2016 staggers to a close, market analysts — with a heavy stake in the outcome — say, looky, Seattle rents may have finally reached a “turning point” after years of mostly unabated increase. Will 2017 be the year Capitol Hill rents finally break? If so, 2016 will be marked as the final thrust of the old way of Seattle boom development as the new HALA-throttled marketplace is finally whipped into shape. For the pessimists — or, perhaps, optimistic landlords — if rents haven’t really turned that climb upside down and Seattle’s affordability crisis continues, then, well, 2016 will represent more of the same even as our intentions grew. Here is a look at how the year in development played out on Capitol Hill.

YIR 2016
+ CHS Year in Review 2016 | Capitol Hill’s most important stories
The year in Capitol Hill pictures
Plans to build our way out of it, the year in Capitol Hill development
Pizza, no palaces, and the real world — the year in food+drink

CHS YIR 2015 — Our first look at the new Capitol Hill
CHS YIR 2014 — More than supply and demand
CHS YIR 2013 — Capitol Hill development and the quest for affordability
CHS YIR 2012 — The re-development of Capitol Hill

Bellwether's Cambridge building got a $10M upgrade

Bellwether’s Cambridge building got a $10M upgrade

AFFORDABILITY
Years of concern about the cost of living in the densest neighborhood in one of the densest cities in the nation continued in 2016. Along the way, it seemed like those concerns were growing — not shrinking away. But there were real actions in 2016 to address Seattle’s — and Capitol Hill’s — “affordability crisis.” More projects were completed with at least a component of affordable units and nonprofits like Bellwether, which now operates six affordable buildings across Capitol Hill, further emerged to help lead.


Continue reading

CHS Re:Take | The Julia’s building, past to present

Julia’s has become one of the most venerable nightlife spaces in Seattle. The drag-bar-restaurant has been open for 15 years now, and I think you qualify as a Capitol Hill old-timer if you remember further back than that.

The building’s time as Ileen’s and Ernie Steele’s is worth going over again for the newcomers. And hey, it seems the first few decades of the building need to be covered for the first time.

300 Broadway East in 1937 with Julia's sign

300 Broadway East, seen in 1937, carries the modern Julia’s neon sign. Billboards for Parent Teachers Associations, Mobilgas (Mobil Oil), and the film San Francisco starring Spencer Tracy, Clark Gable and Jeanette MacDonald.

In the beginning

The Seattle Public Library’s online 1907 real estate map shows that things were quite different for Julia’s lot. There were just a couple of tiny buildings here along Broadway that didn’t even deserve addresses. There was a house on Thomas Street. Continue reading

CHS Re:Take | In a message home to E Union, Seattle and Japan’s war with Russia

Geisha going out, 1906

To H. S. Gullixson, Esq in Seattle from “R. F.” in Yokohama, Japan. 1906.

It’s just a simple postcard.

708 E Union today is part of the parking lot next to the Knights of Columbus on Union at Boylston. The card was postmarked 1906 in Seattle and Yokohama, Japan.

There are just enough traces to glimpse the world that created it. Let’s follow them back.

Home and Harry
The house is gone. It was a large, seven-room house built in about 1901. It shared its parcel with two other rentals, probably all copies of each other. The house was only newsworthy in later years when its residents were arrested for drunk driving or were killed by cars when crossing the street. Continue reading