Are Historic Districts or DADUs the Best Way to Preserve Queen Anne?

Torn by the perceived conflict between preserving Queen Anne’s historic character and of increasing urban density, I waver between historic districts and backyard cottages as the best way to preserve historic fabric. Across the country, we find contiguous districts such as the Ballard Avenue Historic District and thematic districts where scattered buildings of the same general type, style or age are protected as if the buildings were contiguous. Both types of districts protect all the buildings within their boundaries.

The relatively absence of individual landmarks and historic districts in Seattle underlies my angst. Ours is no longer a young west coast city, yet we have but eight historic districts and only the Harvard-Belmont District includes residential properties. The rest are commercial neighborhoods (Ballard Avenue, Pioneer Square, Pike Place Market, International District and Columbia City) or former military bases (Fort Lawton and Sand Point). Seattle has no neighborhood historic districts like Queen Anne, upper or lower and no thematic districts. …Continue reading “Are Historic Districts or DADUs the Best Way to Preserve Queen Anne?”

Our Sweet Queen Anne Cottages

“At First Avenue West and West Garfield Street, these Craftsman bungalows are of minor significance individually.  As a group, they provide a rhythm and consistency of scale.” Steinbrueck and Nyberg

No one understood better than Victor Steinbrueck and his colleague Folke Nyberg how much Seattle or Queen Anne’s historic working-class housing defined the city. The six identical working-class Craftsman bungalows they referred to in their 1975 poster still stand on West Garfield Street between the alley and First Ave. W. Four of them face north on Garfield; one sits on First Avenue W. while the sixth one backs up to it from the alley. As Steinbrueck and Nyberg suggest, the historic value of buildings often lies more in the urban patterns they create than in their individual distinctiveness.

The pattern Steinbrueck and Folke captured.

In 1975, Victor Steinbrueck embarked on a project with Folke Nyberg and Historic Seattle to identify and publish a series of ten posters inventorying Seattle’s outstanding historic buildings. Queen Anne was lucky to get one of them. In fact, the Queen Anne Historical Society and its volunteers, some of whom are still active today (6/2018), worked on the project. Completing their survey in the early days of the American historic preservation movement, Steinbrueck and Nyberg were hell bent on recognizing that along with the high style buildings often favored by the movement, the vernacular ones were those that really defined a neighborhood’s historic character. The poster authors understood profoundly how a sense of place can give meaning to a community like ours. As Historic Seattle notes on its website, “Each inventory includes photographs and brief descriptions of common building types, significant buildings, and urban design elements.” …Continue reading “Our Sweet Queen Anne Cottages”

Our newest city landmark: Edris Skinner Nurses Home

Queen Anne has a new City of Seattle landmark. On Wednesday, May 16, the Landmarks Preservation Board (LPB) voted to designate the Edris Skinner Nurses Home at the corner of Boston Street and First Avenue North a Seattle landmark. Congratulations to Brian Regan, the property owner and future developer of the block-long site, who prepared the nomination that you can find in the list here: http://www.seattle.gov/neighborhoods/programs-and-services/historic-preservation/landmarks#currentnomination. The decision now goes to the City Council which is sure to vote for designation.

Children's Hospital / Nurses Home
Edris Skinner Nurses Home as seen from First Avenue North

Although the society endorsed the nomination as meeting five designation criteria (see our email of May 15 posted at http://qahistory.org/endorsing-landmark-designation-of-edris-skinner-nurses-home/), the LPB decided that the home, built in 1923, only met criteria C and D. Since a building need meet only one of the five criteria to be designated a city landmark, there is no reason to object to the board’s logic in rejecting the reasons we gave for other criteria. It does seem noteworthy, however, that board chose not to acknowledge the building’s social significance and the often sexist attitudes towards women in health care work at the turn of the 20th century.