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Capitol Hill’s Conover House set for demolition after board splits on landmarks bid

The 126-year-old Conover House just down 16th Ave from the Central Co-Op will not be eligible for landmarks protections after last week’s split 3-3 vote on its merits.

The split decision paves the way for the house’s demolition to make way for planned development.

The Capitol Hill Historical Society which had been advocating for fhe structure’s preservation has details on the vote and says changes to the old structure over the years ultimately doomed its chances at protection:

All that said, the crux of the issue was largely about whether Conover House still embodies the distinctive visible characteristics of an architectural style (colonial revival) and whether it stands out in the neighborhood. Due to the lot being partially excavated to allow for a 5th basement unit with windows, the asbestos siding and missing (concealed?) pilasters, and other additions to the house, the board overall was not convinced that such was the case. Further, while acknowledging that the house stands out on its block, most of the board asserted in agreement with JFS that the house does not stand out in the area more broadly.

In May, CHS reported on the plans of the building’s owners, the social services nonprofit Jewish Family Services headquartered nearby,.to demolish the Conover Residence to make way for a seven-story, 88-unit apartment development with space for a restaurant, and underground parking for 105 cars.

Charles Conover, a city editor at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, had the family house in built in 1893. Proponents of preservation say the house is a “highly refined” example of the Colonial Revival style in Seattle and was, architecturally/stylistically speaking, ahead of its time.

The Historical Society, meanwhile, is also raising attention for “major alterations” planned to a recently designated Capitol Hill landmark. In November, the Roy Vue building won landmarks protections that would stave off a developer’s plans for converting the 94-year-old building to microhousing. CHHS reports that a new plan proposes to add a penthouse and four-story townhouse structure to the property. The plans must be approved by the Landmarks Preservation Board’s architectural review committee.


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Snarky Snarker
Snarky Snarker
1 year ago

Just what the neighborhood needs, 105 more cars!

Kate
Kate
1 year ago
Reply to  Snarky Snarker

Agreed. If they reduce the number of car spots available in new construction it’ll force people to get creative with transportation and also make the city step up their public options (light rail, bus, ride-share etc.)

Bob
Bob
1 year ago

Think before you had one extremely rich family of 4 people living on this plot of land in their single family home….but now we can make way for 88 units giving 88 more people the the opportunity to work and live in Seattle. Tear down more of these homes of the past and let Seattle grow!

JerSeattle
JerSeattle
1 year ago
Reply to  Bob

I agree completely. We’re land locked. No space.

DS
DS
1 year ago
Reply to  JerSeattle

Spread the misery then. From about 65th upward there is lots and lots of space, condemned houses and storefronts that have been boarded up for years, long stretches of single story, etc. ALL the density doesn’t have to be on and near the hill at the expense of historical buildings.

RWK
RWK
1 year ago
Reply to  Bob

I disagree completely. Preservation of beautiful old homes like this is important to the quality of life here. The constant drumbeat of “more density, more density” is not shared by many Seattleites. Growth, yes, but not at the expense of neighborhood aesthetics. We are rapidly becoming a city of ugly, cheap-looking boxes.

klaas j langhout
klaas j langhout
1 year ago
Reply to  RWK

I think both points are right. We need to preserve specific historical elements and, we need to increase density. The commentary to me shows that both points are represented. I haven’t seen the house in person so no commentary though the 3 to 3 vote suggests it was close.

Sam
Sam
1 year ago

I agree, we can add density but do it in a way that preserves the lovely things about this city, keeps funky architecture/things to look at, preserves open space and keeps views.

And one would like to think that increased density spurs better transit but – on a side note – watching the new 520 construction actually take AWAY bus options eg to Amazon, is bewildering.