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A monument of Capitol Hill’s restricted Black history, Cayton-Revels House considered for landmarks protection

Susie Revels Cayton

Capitol Hill’s Cayton-Revels House, once home to Susie Revels Cayton, daughter to the first U.S. Senator of African descent and a writer, newspaper editor and leader in Seattle’s black community, will be considered for official landmarks protections later this month.

The 1902-built 14th and Thomas Mercer structure now used as a rental triplex is marked as both a historical residence of an important Black family in Seattle history and a manifestation of structural racism.

“Horace Roscoe Cayton, his wife Susie Sumner Revels Cayton, and their family lived at 518 14th 1​ Avenue East from 1902 ​to 1909,” the nomination proposal reads. “The Caytons were one of only three Black American families living in today’s definition of Capitol Hill​ before racial restrictive covenants barred non-white residents in 1927.​”

CHS reported here on the restrictive covenants of the era that shaped the modern Capitol Hill and Central District neighborhoods.


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The landmarks bid for the house comes during Black History Month and is being brought by the property’s longtime family owners, Kathleen Jo Ackerman and Edwin Erie Jones.

There are no development plans currently for the property which sits in an area near Miller Community Center that has been busy with townhouse and mid-size residential development.

Susie Cayton and her family’s legacy are also honored nearby at 19th and Madison’s Cayton Corner Park.

While landmarks status would preserve architectural elements of the old house, the history the structure is also rich with the stories of the Black community and the birth of modern Seattle.

“In the period of time the Caytons operated the ​Seattle Republican​ and lived on Capitol Hill, Seattle grew from a frontier town into a legitimate city,’ the nomination reads. “Black American status changed along with the city’s evolution.”

The hearing for the proposal will take place February 17th. You can learn more about the meeting and how to provide public comment here.

The full nomination is below.


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tangerine
tangerine
2 months ago

I like thinking Paul Robeson knocked on that door. He stayed with them when visiting Seattle.

Erie Jones
Erie Jones
2 months ago

Hello CHS
As one of the owners and sponsors of The Cayton Revels House Landmark nomination, I am writing to ensure that we take care in how we characterize the Cayton family’s significance. The landmarking of this house is a celebration of the family’s significant contributions to journalism, civil rights, and local politics. In a recent article published about the nomination in your blog, none of the historic achievements of the Caytons are mentioned. It would be unfair and reductive to describe the family’s significance only in context to racial restrictive covenants, as the family’s achievements are culturally significant not just in context of Seattle’s heritage, but in relation to the entire nation’s history. While racial restrictive covenants were certainly a part of the family’s history and the struggles they experienced, this narrow perspective does a great disservice to the family’s accomplishments and their courage, tenacity, and historic significance. The family’s experiences (represented by the house) is a ribbon through American history–from slavery to reconstruction to westward migration to Seattle and to the work they did here – often at great personal risk – and then on via the children to later 20th century civil rights and labor movements, Black research and literature. It’s our civic duty to be thoughtful about honoring their legacy.
Thanks
Erie Jones

Wes
Wes
2 months ago
Reply to  Erie Jones

Thank you for the extra info!