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Goodbye to Wagner House, last of its kind on Summit Ave

The Master Use Permit Board is up, and a new, rather unusual, small residential project is in the works down in the Summit Avenue flats. It is time to say goodbye to the old Dutch colonial frame house at 1728 – the last house on the block (although it’s been a duplex since about 1940). We don’t know exactly when the house was built. It shows up with a number of other houses on block 704 on the Sanborn map updated to 1902. From the Seattle Times we glean than the water mains were installed in this area in about 1901. And the plat was filed on December 3, 1894, called the Union Addition Supplemental Plat, or the “Union Addition” as it came to be known in the newspapers. Best guess: 1901.


In the tradition of historic preservationists, let’s call it Wagner House after the tenants who lived there longest. Theodore Henry (1860-1933) and Mary Ann (1856-1939) Wagner moved in by 1903 and stayed until 1933. They raised their daughter, Florence. there and for thirty years created music for all kinds of occasions, public, private, and maybe just for fun.

T. H. Wagner, sometimes called “Dad” Wagner, arrived in Seattle in the 1880s accompanying a traveling theatrical troupe (with cornet). He stayed and lead the 1st or 2nd Regiment National Guard Band (sources digress on the name), up until statehood and the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, then went on to form his own band and orchestra. Known for his free concerts in Pioneer Square after the Great Fire, he also played free concerts in Seattle’s parks, as many as 62 in 1912! The newspapers are full of announcements of the band’s schedule, almost on a daily basis up until the late 1920s.

Wagner was also one of the founders (with Charles E. Bray and Frank Hopkins) of the Musicians Union (Musicians Mutual Protective Union). As early as 1889, they made the first steps. Wagner served as president from 1923-1928 of the resulting American Federation of Musicians Local 76.

One does wonder whether music practice drove the nurses out. Swedish Hospital, in its very first incarnation, was housed in a small apartment house at 1733 Belmont, directly behind the Wagner house. (There’s not even an alley.) Lizzie Quarnstrom managed the hospital in 1911. Swedish was only there for a short time, until 1912, when they moved up Summit to First Hill.

The Wagners are buried in Evergreen-Washelli (Section N) if you’ve a mind to pay your respects.

After 1933, the house was sold and seems to have served as a rental. The first instance in the Polk’s Seattle Street Directories of a duplex appears to be in 1940. Certainly many folks have lived in the house since, and someone had the good sense to keep the lovely front windows even as the house has worn out. 

What’s next:
It’s called MUP Project Number 3013254 (no name as yet), and will be a 6-story building with 46 units. All studios, average size quite small (less than 300 square feet). Each unit will feature a kitchenette and a stacked washer/dryer. No parking. The idea, I gather, is for small, less expensive places for single folks who’d like a nice new clean place to live. The owner is Brett Allen of Triad Capital Partners, and the design is quite new. They’ve already had design review meetings, and are moving forward. You can see what comes next here.

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30 thoughts on “Goodbye to Wagner House, last of its kind on Summit Ave” -- All CHS Comments are held for moderation before publishing

  1. This seems to be just another apodment, albeit with slightly larger units. I wonder what the rents will be, for less than 300 sq ft? At least it had to go through design review, but I think this “no parking” trend has got to be stopped by the City Council. At least some of the 46+ residents will have a vehicle, and they will park on the street in an area which is already problematic as far as parking availability is concerned.

    I don’t think that new buildings need a 1:1 parking/unit ratio, but they should have SOME parking. Otherwise, it’s very disrespectful to others who live in the area, and have to find a place to park when they come home after a long day at work. But I doubt the developer cares about that.

  2. agreed, Calhoun. Only an absolute IDIOT would allow the building to go in without ANY parking. These fools who think we don’t need cars are just that, fools. People DO have jobs that require a bit of travel and/or commute. I commute to the Eastside 5 days a week. That’s about the only use the car gets. I need someplace to put it the rest of the time.

    Who not build this with at least 40 or 50% parking? Then you can rent unused spaces to other folks in the hood and get cars off the street too?

    And before this becomes a bitchfest, I work someplace not served by Metro and yes, I do carpool across the lake.

  3. That neighborhood does not need more parking. There is plenty of parking already in the neighborhood that sits unused. I rented a garage just a block from that location for 3 years, which was never more than 60% full.

  4. Agreed. My situation is the opposite of Yep!’s. I work downtown and take transit almost everywhere during the week. I use my car on weekends for longer errands or trips out of town. I think there are many on the hill, like me, who take advantage of transit as much as possible, but still need a car and a place to park it.

  5. If someone had a car they would move to an apartment with parking. Nobody is forcing someone with a car to live in this place or any other place that doesn’t have parking there are lots of places they could go that has parking.

    Just because your situation warrants a car doesn’t mean everybody is like you. Plenty of people move to the hill so they can get by walking,biking or mass transit. We don’t need a parking space for every person.

  6. “very disrespectful to others who live in the area, and have to find a place to park when they come home after a long day at work.”
    More parking means more traffic we don’t need. The city doesn’t owe anybody on-street parking. Why do you feel you deserve this privilage to the point where you would hinder development to preserve it?
    Rent a parking spot in a garage if you want to be guaranteed a place.

  7. My husband and I sold our car about 7 years ago and have never looked back. He works on the eastside and I work in lynnwood, we both bus everyday. It takes me about an hour each way. When we need a car for longer errands we use zip car and if we want to go out to another neighborhood for say dinner, we usually will use a combination of transit and Ubercab. Just the other night we met friends in greenwood for art walk went out to dinner with them and then Ubercabed home at midnight. No problem.

    We spend SUBSTATIALLY less per month on bus passes/zip car/über then we ever did on Car//gas/insurance/etc. for those of you who only use your car on weekends. You really can get rid of your car. You will end up making very concious choices about driving. Plus you can be super smug!

  8. The city council did do something. Several years ago they rolled back the parking requirements for multi family units. The idea was to encourage more transit use and lower unit costs. What we have seen in the last couple of years is the results of the rollback.

    I suspect that in the short run this will be bad for the neighborhood. In twenty years? Who knows.

  9. Thirty five years I have lived less than 500 feet from this house and I have never seen it. It has always been hidden by that tall fence. I can’t miss you if I don’t know you. Here’s hoping the new structure will be friendlier.

  10. If you want parking, you should pay for it, not expect the city to both provide you free parking and to force others to build parking they don’t need just to make it easy for you to park for free. Basically you are asking everybody else to subsidize your car storage needs. As noted in another reply, there are plenty of private lots on Capitol Hill that will be happy to park your car for a market-rate fee. Do everyone else a favor and pay for your parking rather than insisting they help you be a freeloader.

  11. I live on Summit and walk this area everyday. I think instead of being concerned about the parking avaliabilty I’d like to see them actually fill in some of the pot holes on Summit. If a small dog fell in one of the pot holes he’d never be found. Oh yeah and a few less drug dealers hanging out would also be nice here. Much bigger issues in this area to think about!

  12. I drive the block in front of this building several days a week, and there’s maybe one serious pothole. There were a couple down a block which have been fixed 6 months ago. You’re definitely over-exaggerating the problem.

    As far as “drug dealers”… are you referring to the halfway house residents who are often found sitting outside their homes? Because those are the only people I’ve generally seen “hanging out”, and I’ve never seen them dealing.

  13. Before anyone gets too worked up about Calhoun’s opinions about parking or what may or may not be good for the neighborhood, please member that this is the same person who has stated that free, convenient on street parking is a RIGHT in Seattle. Not a luxury or a lucky find, but a right.

    In the same comment thread he admitted that he didn’t know the difference between a single family home and a multifamily building. In this comment thread he shows that he doesn’t know the difference between an apodment and a good ol’ fashioned apartment building.

    Calhoun, have you had a conversation with anyone under 60 years of age in the past 10 years? If you did you might find that there are thousands of people (both young and old) who live a car free lifestyle on Capitol Hill. And there are thousands more who would love to live in our neighborhood if they could find an affordable place. More projects like this are exactly what our neighborhood needs.

  14. To 13th & union: You misrepresent what I said. Of course I know the difference between single family homes and multifamily buildings…my point was that both the “tall houses” and “apodments” have a similar effect on the neighbors…..crowding, blocking out light and views, etc. And in the case of apodments…no design review and no parking.

    Perhaps I used the wrong word when I said free on-street parking is a “right.” What I mean is that it is a reality in almost all of our neighborhoods and that is not going to change anytime soon, so we need to make sure there is on-street parking available for people in the immediate area….and developments like this building, with no parking at all, makes this more difficult…..it is naive to think that no one renting there will have a car. Yes, a “car-free lifestyle” is great, but it certainly does not work for everyone.

    By the way, I’d appreciate it if you would make comments without the personal insults.

  15. Unfortunately, the King County website is not always accurate. In this case it is not. The house was built before 1902, perhaps a year before, perhaps as early as 1896. The Sanborn map updated to 1902 is very clear — Seattle Public Library Seattle Room — although not digitized. It’s fun to look at in general!

  16. I applaud those who are able to live a car-free lifestyle. I wish I could too. But the reality is that most people need a car to get around in Seattle. I live on Capitol Hill, and I would love to take the bus to work (I work in the Greenlake area). This trip takes 20 minutes by car (one way), and over an hour on the bus (one way). Sorry, I’m not going to spend an extra eight hours per week sitting on the bus. I guaranty many/most of the apodment residents will have cars.

    Eliminating parking doesn’t do a thing to solve our transit problem. All it does is take one transportation option away from people. We need to invest MORE in transit capacity – especially east/west, not just downtown/U-district. I would argue that the “freeloaders” here are the developers who are using “affordable housing” as smokescreen while they make a tidy profit renting closet-sized units at usury rates. Meanwhile they are forcing the entire cost of increased transit capacity onto the taxpayer.

  17. “I would love to take the bus to work (I work in the Greenlake area). This trip takes 20 minutes by car (one way), and over an hour on the bus (one way). Sorry, I’m not going to spend an extra eight hours per week sitting on the bus. I guaranty many/most of the apodment residents will have cars.”

    So you decide to trade off ease of parking for saving an extra few hours a week on the bus. Your decision. Don’t expect us to feel sorry for you. I don’t know anyone in this town who commutes less than 45 minutes on the bus to work. Suck it up! Also, trust me: if you are living in an Apodment, or a studio, you don’t have a car, because you can’t afford it.

  18. My guess is that many people who rent studios….and who will be renting an apodment soon….own cars. They intentionally save on rent so that they can afford to own a car. Not all, but some, and even if just 25% of people in an apodment own a car, that significantly impacts parking in the immediate neighborhood for everyone else.

  19. This requires people with money who value history at least as much as they value making money. There’s enough old stuff in the city to move it or make replicas in other areas of the city for posterity.

  20. Conspiracy much? Apodments are a valuable and necessary part of the housing stock of a growing city for those who cannot afford the designs crested for higher income or trust-funded persons.

  21. My first apartment when I moved to Seattle from Missouri was right next to this house on Summit Avenue (close to E Howell), and the upstairs unit was rented by a succession of Radical Faeries from late 2000/early 2001 to around 2004. There were several great parties there, including a Geisha girl party, where everyone dressed in kimonos. I met the downstairs tenants, a great older gay couple who had lived in the house for a decade or more, when I was organizing the neighborhood to address some pressing crime issues, into what became the POWHat Neighborhood Association. For years it was known as the “stick fence house” because this couple had cobbled together a front fence out of odd-sized sticks and branches to keep the drug dealers and prostitutes out of their yard (a more proper fence was put in around 2005). Speaking of the yard, the couple had the most amazingly landscaped yard with all kinds of plants and a small (very small) fish pond. At the time I lived there (Fall 2000) the Foxxes nightclub was a block away (now Clever Dunnes’ Irish Bar on E Olive Way), and the drag shows there featured a one Cubic Zirconium, which was Jake Shear’s drag name (yes, that Jake Shears who is now lead singer for Scissor Sisters). I believe Ursula Android and Jackie Hell shows may have got started at Foxxes also.

    C’est la vie and sayonara!

    – Randy

  22. …check out local historian/author Kurt Armbruster’s amazing book, “Before Seattle Rocked” published recently by U of Washington Press. Armbruster covers local music from Duwamish to the 1960s, and it’s a wonderful read (with lots of pictures).