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CHS Community Post: This is what 40 years of neglect looks like… goodbye to 16th Ave E

Editor’s note: CHS Community Posts feature stories posted by neighbors and readers about neighborhood stories and issues. This submission features a unique 16th Ave E house CHS reported on earlier this year that is slated for demolition and redevelopment. Thanks to J R Fox for a look inside.
DSC07856Certainly one of our neighborhoods most interesting haunted houses has been this one at 339 16th Ave East which was moved to it current site in 1972 to make way for a Group Health building at 15th and Thomas. I have always been curious about the inside and Graham Black (owner) was gracious enough to give me the keys so that my partner and I could take some pictures of it. Within a few days it will be demolished to make way for a new townhouse development.DSC07811

While the outside appears to be mostly original to our surprise the interior is completely gutted of all doors, plaster and wood work. It is a pretty spacious house on the inside but decades of dampness and a totally shot roof have made it completely unrestorable. I would imagine in the 70’s restoration would have been entirely possible. Not now. In places the floor was completely rotten thru and you could see from the attic to the first floor. There were some piles of doors that did not appear to be original and the dampness surely has ruined them. We also saw a huge pocket door and fireplace mantel that didn’t appear to belong. Of particular interest was an ancient rotting piano with keys covered with dust and leaves. Front and back door and maybe the porch posts are the only things worth saving for use elsewhere.

The tower room on the third floor was cool but had a foot or so of pigeon droppings everywhere. Sun was pouring in from the south side where the roof is toast. One of the weirdest things was that the chimney does not go down thru the house but appears to rest on the rotting roof. Very odd and dangerous! This place would probably fall down on its own within a few years.

Scheduled to be demolished very soon consider this its eulogy and enjoy the pix that we took.

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19 thoughts on “CHS Community Post: This is what 40 years of neglect looks like… goodbye to 16th Ave E

  1. Thank you for sharing what many of us have been curious about for quite some time. Many of us have walked past, always wanting a peek inside.

    It would be nice to learn more about this old house’s story and why it fell into a state of neglect.

  2. It’s really sad when houses like this are allowed to fall into such a state of disrepair.

    It appears from the inside that somebody had started a renovation on the house at sometime in the past. Notice the rooms have no lath and plaster but there’s no real debris anywhere on the floor . Pity it couldn’t be completed.

  3. That’s been a “Wow! Look at that!” for a long time now. I lived on 17th [down the street from there] on E Thomas, @1977/78. We all thought it looked like the perfect haunted house on Halloween. But the real distraction at that time was the Krishna House [anyone remember that?] and EVERY weekend they shared their tambourines and drums at dawn with the locals. HAR…we didn’t have video camera’s back then and I think that was prob’ly a good thing.

    Really cool to see the inside of this one after so many years. Thank you to all. Just fascinating.

    • Krishna House was NE corner of 18th and Harrison. They were just leaving when I arrived at 309 18th Ave E. in late 1982. Recall Capitol Hill Times articles about their interactions with the neighbors, and relief when the house was sold.

  4. What a shame that everything is so trashed and unusable. That house has fascinated me for years, thank you for the peek inside. Sorry that it will soon disappear and replaced by same old-same old.

  5. Thanks for this story, JR. I live in the neighborhood and have always been curious. Did the current owner share any insights into the history (other than it being moved in 1972)? A couple of times over the past year or two, I’ve seen two women — one older and one younger — either sitting on the porch or working in the yard. At the time, I assumed they were living inside, but…now that I’ve seen the condition of the interior, perhaps not? Or maybe it was a “Grey Gardens” scenario? I have a feeling it’s an interesting story, but I suppose we may never know.

    • Mr. Black didn’t know a lot about it. There is a trailer at the rear of the property that the previous owner had lived in for years. The house hadn’t been occupied in ages. I have been here in the neighborhood for 30 years and the house has remained the same just slowly rotting away. He did say that the City had cited and fined her for a dangerous building.

      I took a ton more pictures and only included the most interesting ones. It was exciting and sad to see the inside of this place. When it was built in the 1890’s it was probably a very nice house. 15th Avenue back then became a very fashionable street. The Gaslight Inn is the best reminder of what the street once was. It remains and in exceptional original condition.

      Mr Black is finishing a project across the street from me at 122 18th Avenue East and was able to save a Classic Seattle Box and develop behind it. I think what is built at 339 will be nice and in scale with what is around it. He does good stuff.

  6. I have been coming to Seattle for almost 20 years and have been visiting the neighborhood for the same. I always called the house the Ghost House and wondered about it too. I wondered why it continued to stand with space being so valuable. A story about the house would have to be interesting-who built it, who lived in it and WHY was it allowed to decay…Would make a great research paper for someone.

  7. The house originally was located on 15th Ave E. We have photographs from the day it was moved around the corner to 16th Ave E location. It came from the south right down the street on 16th. It was quite an ordeal to move the house to its present location. The owners were trying to save the house from demolition in the first place because Group Health was buying up lots of property for parking lots and expansion. Everyone had such high hopes for saving the house. It is just too bad that it didn’t happen.

    • I would love to see what it looked like prior to its deterioration. How did that hippie couple who’ve recently lived in it LIVE in it?

  8. I’m pretty amazed at how well the house stood up. I’ve seen much more substantial structures fall to shit in way shorter periods of time. Seattle takes good care of it’s things.

  9. The question for me is WHY? Why,did the owners leave this building to rot for decades? I have spoken to many people, even a realtor who offered to repair the roof, why did the owner refuse to do even basic maintenance?they are making a mint now!

  10. Pingback: CHS Pics | 16th Ave E’s ‘haunted house’ comes down | CHS Capitol Hill Seattle