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Part of the Central District’s history of redlining and change, 16th Ave’s Considine House considered as Seattle landmark

In the midst of change from the Black Lives Matter movement, Seattle is also reckoning with its own history of racism and inequity when it comes to its neighborhoods and efforts to protect some of the remaining buildings and homes.

Wednesday, the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board is set to decide on possible protections for a 1909-built house at the corner of 16th and E Columbia in the Central District that advocates say should be preserved for its architectural value to the neighborhood and as a reminder of the role racist real estate practices shaped the Central District and Seattle. UPDATE: King County records the construction year as 1909 but the landmarks research shows that it dates to 1901.

The Considine House, first built as a private residence and later used as the Immaculate Conception Convent home, has survived decades in the middle of the city and managed to stay useful to the neighborhood even as racist redlining left it empty and abandoned, the group behind the landmarks nomination writes:

In 1972 the Immaculate Conception Church put The Convent on the market. However, the redlining of the 1960s, and lingering racist attitudes about the Central District made finding a buyer impossible. The house sat empty for six years, during which time some of the original fixtures were removed from the house, and sold to antiques dealers. Neighborhood children roller-skated through the vacant rooms, and musicians–including local celebrity Jimi Hendrix– met for practices.

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

Today, the house is a four-plex home to the building’s owner, artist Sue Perry (you can see Perry’s artwork and renderings of the Central District here), and residents hoping to protect it from the steady redevelopment changing the neighborhood. Historic Seattle talked with Perry’s daughter and resident Amy Hagopian and Sarah Greiner who authored the nomination about the effort and the complicated relationship the current generation of people living in the Central District have to the neighborhood as we know it today:

Despite multi-generational ties to the neighborhood, Sarah and the Hagopian and Perry families acknowledge their part in the process of gentrification. “I definitely feel complicated in my relationship to the neighborhood,” said Sarah. “When my parents bought their house in the late ‘80s, they were the first White people on the block.  The block, and of course the neighborhood, looked very different then than it does now. The Hagopian and Perry family is also mostly White and despite their activism, social awareness, and caring for all their neighbors, they are still a White presence in the neighborhood. I think we can preserve elements of the neighborhood, such as the house, while acknowledging the damage that people including our families and our friends have done. As the nomination report describes, over time the House has been mostly a residence for working class people, and it continues to be one of the only affordable rentals within a few blocks. Not wanting to see more people displaced is a big part of why we are seeking to preserve it. I want to see it continue to be a family space, a gathering space, and a place people can afford to live in.”

There are currently no development plans currently for the property and the landmarks effort is being driven Perry to protect the house, Historic Seattle reports. In addition to the protections, designation can make a property eligible for grants and tax credits and programs to help preserve and protect the house and its features.

Wednesday’s decision on the Considine House will precede another vote from the landmarks board coming this April on Capitol Hill’s historic Cayton-Revels House. In February, the board voted to move the nomination forward on the 14th and Mercer 1902-built house once home to Horace Roscoe Cayton, publisher of Seattle Black-owned newspaper the Seattle Republican, and his wife and associate editor Susie Sumner Revels Cayton.

According to the landmarks nomination, “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.”

While, like the Considine House, it also stands as an example of the historic architecture of turn of the century Seattle and Capitol HIll, the Cayton-Revels House, if ultimately landmarked, will also stand as a monument to the changes needed to overcome the inquetities like redlining that shaped the city.

The Considine House will be considered for landmarks protection Wednesday afternoon:

Landmarks Preservation Board Meeting
Remote Meeting
Wednesday March 17, 2021 – 3:30 pm
In-person attendance is currently prohibited per Washington State Governor’s Proclamation
No. 20-28.5. Meeting participation is limited to access by the WebEx Event link or the telephone
call-in line provided below.
Sign-up to provide verbal Public Comment at the meeting; see link below.
Virtually attend the meeting (all attendees will be muted upon entry) via this WebEx
Listen to the meeting by calling 1-206-207-1700 and enter meeting access code:
187 991 4352

The full nomination report is posted here (PDF).

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26 days ago

If they turned it into a 4 plex how much interior is left. I guess anything is better than another 65ft tall block of hardi.

26 days ago

I love the Considine house and appreciate the thoughtful approach and self-awareness of the current owners and residents in this process. Good luck today!

26 days ago

How could Jimi Hendrix have used the space for practice in 1972 when he died in 1970?

25 days ago
Reply to  Kerry

Good catch. The timing isn’t even close.

26 days ago

Irregardless of race or ethnicity, you should be able to live where you want without guilt or condemnation!
Less adjectives please.