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15th Ave’s Gaslight Inn makes first appearance before landmarks board Wednesday


(Images: Gaslight Inn)

The Gaslight Inn house near 15th and Howell has been a relatively quiet character in Capitol Hill history, but it’s reflection of the neighborhood’s changing role in the city over the past century is undeniably special.

The 3-story, 7,700-square-foot house was completed in 1907, a time when Capitol Hill was primarily the neighborhood of choice for city Seattle’s wealthy entrepreneurs. It was built by Paul Singerman, a business owner and philanthropist who was also a notable character in the Central Area’s Jewish history.

By the 1920s, the building had become a rooming house — a precursor to the boom of multi-unit dwellings that would popup during the Great Depression.

Since that time, the building has been used for guest boarding of one type or another. In 1983, current owner Stephen Bennett took over the building and began remodeling it with his partner. After decades of use as a budget guesthouse, the 1727 15th Ave E property needed a serious sprucing up.

In the formative years of the Capitol Hill gayborhood, longtime Gaslight employee John Fox said many gay couples bought similar rundown houses to fix them up as their own.

“It’s how the gay community used to live,” he said. “We remember a time when you weren’t necessarily welcomed everywhere and this was our way of making something nice in our neighborhood.”

The couple opened Gaslight Inn in 1985, and Bennett has lived and worked there ever since. As Capitol Hill undergoes another dramatic transformation, the Gaslight Inn is poised to assume a new role as a historical landmark.

The Gaslight Inn will make its first appearance before the city’s landmarks board Wednesday afternoon. Here are the details:

Seattle’s Landmarks Preservation Board will consider nomination of the Singerman Residence/Gaslight Inn (1727 15th Avenue) on Wednesday, August 19 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 August 18 at 3:00 p.m.:
Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board
Seattle Department of Neighborhoods
PO Box 94649
Seattle, WA 98124-4649 (mailing address)

Fox worked at the Inn from its first years in the mid-1980s to 2001 and was the driving force behind collecting the the raw material for the building’s landmark nomination. He now owns his own guesthouse on Capitol Hill, the Foxglove Inn on 18th Avenue E.

“I’ve stood on the sidewalk for 30 years and watched dozens of houses go down in this neighborhood,” he said. “The immediate neighborhood doesn’t have many of these houses left.”

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