Editor’s note: Anybody can post on CHS — the most useful articles make the homepage. This results in community posts from a variety of viewpoints — and at a variety of levels of quality. Capitol Hill’s John Fox contributed this piece about an old home on the Hill that faces demolition. We wrote about the project slated to replace it back in February. Currently, the project is far from the start of construction. The design review process must still be completed and the land use, approved. We frequently write about Capitol Hill design reviews so we’ll keep you posted on that front. You can keep track of the latest Seattle land-use bulletins here. Below, Fox lays out some of the history of the old house he’d like to see preserved. If you have something you want to say, jump into the comments — or dig in and create a CHS post of your own. — jseattle
Since the announcement of the Weatherford House and Melrose Buildings impending demolition has raised awareness of historic preservation on Capitol Hill, I thought I would speak to the importance of another neighborhood treasure at the corner of 18th and Denny which is scheduled for demolition along with its 1893 neighbor. A massive 31 unit 4 story building will take their place.
Constructed in 1890 for Mr. Frank Pardee Lewis this cheerful yellow house is an excellent and rare example of Victorian residential architecture in our neighborhood. The former owner spent 15 years restoring the exterior and made significant upgrades to the systems and interior. The house sits high on the lot and features an unusual rounded porch, sunbursts in the gable ends, and some very fancy shingling in the gables. It is clad in tongue and groove “California” siding and retains most of its original windows and doors. Above the entry is an eye brow window which lights the stair hall inside the house. On the south side at the rear is another unusual hooded arched window which is clad in fancy shingles. The west and south side of the house exterior have not been restored but the original siding remains underneath asbestos shingles. The porch is also missing its original spandrels and spindles but still provides a pleasant outlook of the surrounding neighborhood. A side door with stained glass and the original double front doors remain. While the City has the date of construction as 1901, an 1893 map shows that both houses were there at that time at the corner of Depot and Hyde streets.
The interior is actually quite spacious and features 12 foot ceilings, wood floors, extensive original window and door trim, and a wonderful original staircase with turned spindles and newels. There are 5 bedrooms, a fireplace, and original pocket doors seperating the day rooms. Inside and out this house is in VERY good shape for being 122 years old and is certainly not a tear down nor is its unrestored 1893 neighbor. Another neighbor of mine likened their proposed demise to tearing out the good teeth and leaving the rotten ones. Without a doubt there ARE buildings I wouldn’t miss but this house isn’t one of them. Given its unique architectural style I can’t imagine that its developer owners aren’t aware they have a jewel on their hands.
Frank Pardee Lewis was from Triangle New York and moved to Seattle in 1887. He was a prominent attorney with offices in the Lowman building downtown starting in 1890. He went to the office almost every day until his death in 1938. Mr. Lewis was elected to the Washington State Legislature in 1895, he was also a member of the Scottish Rite Masons.
Mr. and Mrs Lewis entertained often at 1823. There are dozens of mentions of social events at the house 100 years ago. The neighborhood was full of successful merchants and professional families such as the Galbraiths, Maddocks, Singermans, Ecksteins, MacMillans and the Youngs. They all entertained in style and often. Many, many teas were held by Mr. and Mrs. Lewis as well as a host of other social affairs. Both were active in many organizations.
Surely there is much more to know about the early years of these two houses and their original owners. All of the information I have written was readily available in the Seattle Times Archives but many other sources exist for research such as this. The Society pages are very interesting in the Times. Pick your favorite old house or building, enter the address and you’ll be surprised by what you can find out about a particular property.
Lastly, while not all houses can or should be saved, I feel that these two houses would qualify as neighborhood landmarks due to their age, unique architectural style and the story of their early occupants. The yellow house is particularly important to the ever changing fabric of our special part of the city.
Fingers crossed that they will be saved……………………………………