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

Capitol Hill’s next landmark: Broadway’s Eldridge Tire Company

Word is the Capitol Hill Historical Society is exploring what it would take to put plaques in front of every official City of Seattle landmark in the neighborhood. Once the city council eventually signs off on the designation, the society will need one more for Broadway’s Mission Revival-styled Eldridge Tire Company.

This week, the Landmarks Preservation Board agreed the 1925-building today home to Tacos Guaymas and Folicle Hair Design in the 1500 block of Broadway between Pike and Pine is worthy of protections that will preserve portions of its auto row-era design even as it likely is incorporated in preservation incentive-boosted development in the future.

In December, the building’s owner Seattle Central put out a call for developers to make bids in “letters of intent” for leasing or buying the land where the Eldridge Tire building and its neighboring (and landmark-rejected) Stewart Warner service station building stand today for redevelopment “commercial purposes and/or housing, including a potential affordable housing element.” The college said this early step in the development process is part of its potential acquisition and development of Sound Transit “Site D” property adjacent the westside Broadway entrance to Capitol Hill Station. Last spring, Dr. Sheila Edwards Lange told CHS that creating faculty housing on Capitol Hill was a major priority.

Wednesday’s designation puts the property on track for eventual confirmation by the Seattle City Council and ups the chances you’ll see the facade and shape of the former Eldridge Tire Company be part of whatever seven-story building comes next on Broadway.

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 Pics | E John’s little pink house now a lot beige

That Pink House. No More

Monday, the Seattle City Council finalized landmarks status for two 100+ year-old Capitol Hill houses affording the structure protection from future changes and development. A Capitol Hill landmark house of a different sort along E John is showing off a different look this week. The little pink house just west east of Capitol Hill Station is suddenly much more subdued. These images from the CHS Flickr pool show the pink house has gone beige. A cursory check of land records doesn’t show anything significant up with the property still held by the owner that acquired the puny 700-square-foot, 1906 built house in 2010. Today, it stands sandwiched between an alley and a microhousing development to its west. When inevitable redevelopment comes for its parcel, the little house wouldn’t stand a chance of winning official landmarks status. But some of us will remember how very pink it was.

Pink Fairy, Beige House

Seattle City Council protects two very different Capitol Hill houses as landmarks — UPDATE

Two Capitol Hill houses that have stood for more than 100 years are set to be designated official City of Seattle landmarks Monday afternoon. The Seattle City Council will vote on the final designations following approval at the committee level last week and previous approvals by the Landmarks Preservation Board.

UPDATE: As expected, both ordinances were passed by the full city council Monday.

The structures share vastly different recent histories but both will now be afforded protections that should preserve the structures even as the city’s much needed multi-family development continues to flow around them. Continue reading

Developer abandons plans for The Stranger building after preservation board objections

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(Image: CHS)

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After submitting three design proposals, developers will meet with the preservation board members about their latest design that leaves The Stranger building untouched (right).

“Our hope is that by developing the Value Village building mid block, its impact is much more acceptable to the neighborhood.”

It’s been almost a year since plans to redevelop the The Stranger and (former) Value Village buildings were stalled due to the 11th and E Pine buildings winning landmark status. Since then, developer Legacy Commercial has met twice with members of the Landmark Preservation Board to hammer out how its plans for an office and retail project can move forward while still complying with the landmark protections. It hasn’t been going so smoothly.

After two meetings with the Architectural Review Committee, preservation board members said Legacy was making little progress in addressing its concerns about the proposed preservation incentive-boosted 75-foot high office and mixed-use development incorporating the two auto row-era structures and a sunken parking lot. When Legacy submitted plans for a third meeting, they were turned away.

“The third briefing packet did not appear to contain any new information and I advised the applicant that another ARC could be scheduled when new alternatives or additional information was provided,” said Sarah Sodt, a coordinator for the Historic Preservation Program. Continue reading

Capitol Hill’s Meany Middle School consideration as landmark likely a mere formality before major overhaul

From May, Meany’s understated elegance

From May, Meany’s understated elegance (Image: John Feit)

Seattle Public Schools has its hands full these days so you might forgive its lack of interest in the “understated elegance” of Capitol Hill’s Meany Middle School. The 20th Ave E buildings — built in three phases in the 1940s, ’50s, and early ’60s — are due for a major overhaul and construction project to prepare the campus to host a new Capitol Hill middle school by 2017. As part of the process, the district is carrying out the city’s landmark designation process to determine if the building has architectural significance that will require the construction to preserve specific historical elements.

But it’s not an enthusiastic nomination. The schools spokesperson called the nomination proposal coming in front of the landmarks board Wednesday a “fairly standard practice” and said it has been part of nearly all of the district’s major renovations.

Now, if we were fighting to preserve the 1941 edition, things might be different...

Now, if we were fighting to preserve the 1955 edition of Meany, things might be different…

Still, if you’d like to mount a defense of Meany’s architectural significance, you can send your comment on the nomination to the landmarks board via email or plan to attend the hearing this week:

The Landmarks Preservation Board will consider this nomination at its meeting on Wednesday, September 16, 2015, at 3:30 p.m. in the Seattle Municipal Tower, 700 5th Avenue, 40th Floor, Room 4060. The public is invited to attend the meeting and make comments. Written comments should be received by the Landmarks Preservation Board at the following address by September 15, 2015, by 3:00 p.m.: Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board, Dept. of Neighborhoods, P.O. Box 94649, Seattle WA 98124-4649 (mailing address).

Meany Middle School | Nomination | Drawings – Part 1 | Drawings – Part 2 | Drawings – Part 3 | Appendix 3 | Public Notice (PDF)

For support, you might consider our essay from May by Capitol Hill architect John Feit exploring Meany’s understated elegance:

A view of the northern most saw-tooth shows that it is neighborless, revealing a simple composition of skylight and window. Again, repeating, simple forms with just a hint of hierarchy (the posts between the windows and the brick wainscot, for instance) maintains the simple approach.
Continue reading

Board votes unanimously to move 111-year-old Capitol Hill B&B forward in landmarks process

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(Image: The Gaslight Inn)

(Image: The Gaslight Inn)

“It’s not common that people see something in the rough and decide to take it on and spend three decades bringing it back to life.”

Seattle’s Landmarks Preservation Board unanimously approved the nomination of Capitol Hill’s Gaslight Inn for landmark status Wednesday afternoon. The board will meet again on October 7th to consider the nomination.

Board member (and CHS contributorRobert Ketcherside said the Gaslight Inn had “emotional and personal significance,” citing longtime owner Stephen Bennett’s efforts to make it a haven for members of the gay community during the 1980s AIDS epidemic. His colleague Nicholas Carter said the Inn was “a very important part of our cultural history.”

Board chair Alison Walker noted how unusual it was for a property owner to self-nominate for a landmark designation and thanked Bennett for his efforts to maintain the 111-year old property: “It’s not common that people see something in the rough and decide to take it on and spend three decades bringing it back to life,” she said.

Most landmarks hearings related to Capitol Hill properties in recent years have been part of clearing the way for planned development.

“I feel so lucky to have lived there for the last thirty five years. It’s a wonderful place, it gives me back much more than I put in,” Bennett told the board after it cast its vote.

He was there with John Fox, a onetime employee of the Inn and local preservation advocate who helped prepare the proposal. Both men were overjoyed at the board’s decision. CHS spoke with Fox about the proposal prior to Wednesday’s meeting. “It’s how the gay community used to live,” he told CHS. “We remember a time when you weren’t necessarily welcomed everywhere and this was our way of making something nice in our neighborhood.”

The Gaslight Inn was built in 1904 and was originally the private residence of Paul Singerman, a prosperous Polish-born Jewish businessman. Singerman sold the property two years later in 1907 and it changed hands several times before being purchased by Bennett in 1983, who turned it into a bed and breakfast. The Inn is constructed in the “American Four Square” architectural style.

In order for a building to be designated as a landmark, it must be at least 25 years old and meet one of six criteria outlined in the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Ordinance. The board determined that the Gaslight Inn met criteria C and D of the ordinance:

C) It is associated in a significant way with a significant aspect of the cultural, political, or economic heritage of the community, City, state or nation.

D) It embodies the distinctive visible characteristics of an architectural style, or period, or a method of construction.

15th Ave’s Gaslight Inn to be considered as landmark

15th Ave’s Gaslight Inn will be considered as an official landmark later this month. But don’t worry, good neighbor — nobody is planing to tear it down.

In a process that often portends doom in Capitol Hill’s hyperactive environment of redevelopment, the 1904-era bed and breakfast is being nominated because the man who has owned it for more than 30 years and restored it to what the nomination backers claim is near-original condition, honest to goodnessly believes the old house should be a protected Seattle landmark.

Neighborhood preservation activist and area resident John Fox helped prepare the nomination for the Singerman Residence/Gaslight Inn house and tells CHS owner Stephen Bennett is pursuing the designation “because he does NOT want it ever torn down.” “He wants to be sure it stays part or the architectural fabric of the neighborhood,” Fox writes.

It is also, the proposal contends, a symbol of how gay and lesbian residents revived, and reshaped Capitol Hill starting about 40 years ago: Continue reading

Last chance to have your say (via email) on 11th/Pine as Seattle landmark

IMG_2175-600x400Screen-Shot-2014-11-18-at-12.39.48-PM-600x357Wednesday afternoon, the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board will decide whether it will extend its protections to the White Motor Company building at the corner of 11th and Pine. You might know it as The Stranger building.

The Wednesday vote follows a decision by the board earlier this month to protect the building’s neighboring auto row-era structure with REI roots currently home to Value Village. The White Motor Company has a similar auto row and REI mixed pedigree — and, the board decided in December, it also has an impressive enough interior that it, too, could be worthy of the board’s ongoing oversight.

Wednesday’s meeting includes an opportunity for public comment but you can also provide your thoughts via email to Sarah Sodt  sarah.sodt@seattle.gov — Pike/Pine coordinator for the landmarks program. In its deliberations about the two early twentieth century structures, the board has consistently cited the many comments and shows of public support for the building it has received. CHS wrote here about efforts by preservation advocates to win protections for the buildings.

It’s not clear what impact the landmarks designations would have on the plans for a large office and commercial space development planned to integrate the facades and massing of the historical structures. A representative for real estate developer Legacy Commercial told CHS after the decision on the Value Village/Kelly Springfield building that it was too early to say what bearing the vote would have on his company’s plans to for a Pike/Pine’s preservation incentive-powered development.