It’s been a bit since CHS heard from neighborhood historian and preservationist John Fox. He’s moved off the Hill these days but we’ve learned to listen and take a look when he points us at a piece of Capitol Hill history. John wrote to us recently about a planned demolition at 17th Ave and Howell. Designated an official landmark in 2005, the Galbraith House/Seattle Mental Health building only had its exterior protected in the process. But the landmarks board decided recently to allow “no controls” on the building freeing landowner Sound Mental Health to move forward on its plans for the property. Those apparently include demolition — a permit to demolish the structure was issued on January 3rd. Preservationists have objected to the decision but work is already underway. The giant old house completed in 1904 for Seattle merchant James E. Galbraith and designed by the same architect as 15th Ave’s landmarked Gaslight Inn has been undergoing a salvage by Earthwise who have been nice enough to share some pictures. UPDATE: Here’s more from Sound Mental Health and the landmarks board about why the house is being demolished.
From John Fox
Many have probably noticed this grand Colonial Revival house at the corner of 17th and Howell is now surrounded with construction fencing. It is scheduled for demolition very soon.
It isn’t every day that we lose a building such as this on Capitol Hill.
This grand old house featured a fine exterior and interior that could have been restored with a large investment and some imagination for how to repurpose it. A VERY large lot necessitates its demise. I am not clear of the proposed development that will replace it. It is/was a landmark and my partner and I wrote the nomination (PDF) for it years ago. We hoped that a new owner would make it into a bed and breakfast or condos or? The interior was not protected.
It is currently being salvaged by Earthwise Salvage and they were nice enough to let me in to take some pictures so I could write something about it. VERY glad it is being salvaged. I hadn’t been in the house in years and it was sad to see oak paneling and beveled windows being removed. The staircase was amazing. At least these things will find their way into other houses. I bought several sections of handrail for a reminder of a truly special building.
I have stood on the sidewalk and watched dozens of houses being torn down on Capitol Hill over 30 years but nothing of this quality. I will be skipping this one.
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