Post navigation

Prev: (06/06/12) | Next: (06/06/12)

Development can move forward as 14th/John’s Weatherford House rejected as Seattle landmark

The Weatherford House — too mish-mashy or not mish-mashy enough? (Image: CHS)

Developer Murray Franklyn can move forward with its plans to demolish the Weatherford House and build a four-story apartment building at 14th and John. The more than 100-year-old house, the Seattle Landmarks Board voted Wednesday night, is not worthy of historical protection.

The house, altered extensively over the years and a mish-mash of styles according to project architects Weber Thompson, has been used as an antique shop in its most recent incarnation. Previously, it was home to Seattle photographer Ella McBride. McBride, who lived to be 103, moved into the house at age 77 in 1939.

CHS reported on the structure’s unlikely pass into the second round of the city’s landmark process here back in April.

On Wednesday, the board agreed with the developer and architect presenting the nomination and voted 5 to 2 against designating the house a landmark.

“It represents the funkiness of Capitol Hill but it doesn’t have the best integrity and it’s not in the best condition,” said one board member as the group deliberated the vote.

“It is difficult to designate it, even though it’s charming, based on style,” said another.

One board member to vote for the designation said Seattle’s history of photography was embodied in the structure while another said the building’s notoriety, its mish-mash history of design and McBride’s connection made it worthy.

At the first landmarks meeting for the house, the board received several letters in support of giving the structure status and a group of neighbors spoke at the meeting in support of the old house.

The future of 14th and John. More on the development here

“The ‘free style’ is what makes it so interesting,” one said. “It is different looking. People stop to look at that building every day.”

The board reportedly received no additional statements of support for this round and there were no speakers during the public comment period of the meeting.

In what was mostly a straightforward session, there was also the representative for Murray Franklyn trying to explain why the developer felt “uncomfortable” with the possibility that a photographer of McBride’s stature being considered worthy of bestowing landmark status on the house. Of course, McBride never asked for this fight — one wonders what she might have thought about this late critique of her work.

The move helps clear one hurdle to demolishing the 1904-built house and constructing the new apartment building. Murray Franklyn, the developer behind the soon-to-be-completed Terravita project on E Pine, plans a four-story, 42-unit apartment building on the site with four live/work units at street level along John. The development will include parking for 24 vehicles.

Subscribe and support CHS Contributors -- $1/$5/$10 per month

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
8 years ago

Another one bites the dust.

8 years ago

I was hoping that the vote would go the other way. I walk past the house probably 4 – 5 times during the week. And it is distinctive and interesting. That a famous, female photographer lived there makes it even more interesting.

That said, at least it’s only a 4 story apartment building. I just hope the design is congruent with the neighborhood and that it is built soundly so that in 100 years or so it doesn’t get torn down.

Hard to leave a legacy in this town…

8 years ago

Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes made of ticky tacky,
Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes all the same.
There’s a green one and a pink one
And a blue one and a yellow one,
And they’re all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.

required field
8 years ago

I really don’t understand the preservation mentality. It seems these people would be happiest if we were still living in caves. It is greedy and selfish and mean to waste space where 10 people are living and 100 people could live. It is better for more people to enjoy our city and contribute to it than it is to keep these things that don’t work very well. It reminds me a steampunk. The same goes for cell phones, typewriters, 8-tracks the fax and especially fossil fuels. We need to move to renewable energy, efficient affordable housing and transportation. The city is where people live and work it is not a historical storage dump. People move houses all the time. These people can create their own city somewhere populated with all of these buildings. Move all the historical houses to one place call it history land and and see if you get more visitors than Disney. They have moved castles brick by brick why not put all these building in one place if they are so valuable.

8 years ago

….ground level brick with upper level aluminium siding.

It’s another glass box, very similar to the glass box of Franklyn’s on Belmont.

It’s a glass box.

8 years ago

+1 Its not popular to say on this blog, but I agree!

Dr. Junita Notherbeer
8 years ago

Yikes! It is a good thing YOU are not in charge of preservation in Seattle! What are you-like 12 years old?

8 years ago

I am all for preservation, but something has to be more than old in order to get landmark status, IMO. The fact that so many rennovations have been done to this building takes away from its historic integrity. Ultimately, I feel it’s not that great of a structure, anyway.

8 years ago

morphing into a plastic Bellevue hell – awesome…..

8 years ago

Who paid-off the Seattle Landmark board?

8 years ago

Yes! You’re a genius. Let’s level and rezone the entire city, then cover it in identical blocs of housing with retail wrap and parking underneath. Everyone will get the same number of square feet, live in identical quarters and get charged the same for rent. There is obviously no value in a street filled with different types of buildings and people with different tastes, it’s just tacky and inefficient. Better yet, all architects can be retired and we never have to go through a design phase again. We will also replace all types of vehicles with the same color, same style zero emission style mini-car. People will all turn in their clothing and we’ll all wear identical white jumpsuits with corporate logos on them. Because being efficient is far more important that diversity. Obviously. You will also be reassigned to work at the job closest to your house, regardless of your preference for type of work.

See, I can be a dramatic a**hat too. :-) So much fun.

8 years ago

Sounds to me like funkifunkisockmonki’s nailed it. So there are 10 people living where 100 could live… why stop there? Let’s do it Japanese sleep-cubicle style and put 1000 people there! Shoot, let’s do away with occupation limits on existing places and have a family of 10-12 people in every studio apartment in the city! Everybody can live in HUD projects from the 1960s, and won’t we all be so much happier then?

Never mind that building a new 42-unit apartment building (plus live+work spaces) with 24 parking spaces is crazy. I can hardly wait to see how many cars per day will be towed out of Safeway’s parking lot.

8 years ago

from the Weber Thompson cookie cutter factory – hooray! It will fit right in with the “apodments” across John. I guess the Anhalt building across 14th will be the next to go…

8 years ago

Must be an engineer commenting.

Friend of Fred
8 years ago

I’m a cave dweller who lives in one of those historical storage dumps – in fact my home is an Anhalt two buildings down from the Weatherford house. Every time I walk through a coved archway, look out a leaded glass window or walk over real wood floors, I enjoy this very special “space” that can never be replicated. There is a distinction between housing and homes. If I just needed housing I’d live anywhere in Redmond and cut out my commute.

8 years ago

The Landmarks Board has made a very poor decision in this case. Does a building actually need to have “historic significance” in order to be preserved? The consensus is that the Weatherford House is a very beautiful building and sits nicely on its site….isn’t that enough to preserve it? If the landmark legislation does not include such a criterion, it needs to be amended.

Increased urban density is a worthwhile goal, and it is obviously happening everywhere on Capitol Hill, but it doesn’t have to happen at every damned location!

8 years ago

They are so pathetic. Since we need to cut some costs in this city, I say lets start here. What is the point of having them? Seriously? NONE

8 years ago

So you don’t think there are enough parking lots, empty lots, and ugly strip malls that can have dense condos and apartments bldgs on them?

When we fill in all those holes, then we can talk about the desperate need to tear down interesting, 100+ year old buildings. Some of us actually moved to Seattle because we DON’T want to be in a Phoenix or Houston land of generic cookie-cutter homes

8 years ago

Yeah, you have to pick your battles and they probably felt like they had to let this one slide and save the battles for another day/building.

I’m pretty active with some of the group (but not on the board) and they really don’t want to be perceived as a mere obstacle to density or development who knee-jerkingly decrees “new = bad, old = good”.

required field
8 years ago

So not one person can explain the benefits of preservation beyond the concept of . . . I appreciate it . . . I agree appreciation has value but at what cost. This goes back to preservation being greedy selfish and mean. To me it is like standing in the middle of a busy sidewalk with a couple of friends obstructing the flow. There are a lot of other people trying to get by. Take that conversation elsewhere. Can anyone justify the use of this preservation space in a way that makes sense, 1+1=2 kind of sense.

@Frank . . . Thanks, I think a lot of other people agree as well but the preservation crowd is more vocal and active.
@ Dr. Junita Notherbeer . . . Thanks for helping to prove my points :-}
@ funkifunkisockmunki . . . You bring up a good point. All the one way streets are quite a problem and with all the construction we have had in Seattle over the last ten years it certainly would have been better to design something that works. I never said nor do I advocate “identical blocs of housing” or any of the other things you list. Those things are quite a stretch from what I actually did say. Would you care to comment on what I did say?
@ Hm2 . . . I am not an engineer.
@ Friend of Fred . . . Home is a perception. To put this in perspective, a hoarder has a perception of their home and perhaps more of an a appreciation of it. Your “special place” was once new too perhaps it is time to create newer better “special places” When I said caves, I literally meant caves. How far do you want to go? Bring back outhouses, indore plumbing and electricuty are pretty handy. The preservationists of the time must have been outraged over these new fangled ideas. Your new building had an impact when it was built. We now have better technology. In fact we could duplicate everything you like about your “special place” only without the lead in the pipes, windows and paint, the asbestos and rotting wood smell etc. Arches are easy, real wood floors are easy but would you not prefer glass that you could actually see out of, that is not melting? It is great that you appreciate your “special place” but it is not right that yours is the only one allowed to exist at the expense of all the others that could.
@ Jason . . . I never said any of that! Please re-read all that is here. Where does your perception come from?

I forgot to mention the first time. Why is this NEW building only 4 stories high? The view from that spot is absolutely gorgeous. It is a great place to be, So many people could use and love that space. This building could be much higher and better than the proposed plan. Is there any logic to why this new building is so short ugly inefficient and a waste of space. There really is not much difference between this new building and what it is replacing. Why don’t our laws reflect that? Where is the outrage about that?

8 years ago

That about sums it up!

Jo Seward
8 years ago

This house is lovely! The board is not thinking about our history, and the beauty of this house! This should have been put to a vote of the people.

Boo-hiss! The board has lined pockets for sure!