Carolyn Geise, Architect and Community-Builder

Carolyn in a recent photo

A Queen Anne resident since 1980, architect Carolyn Geise has designed homes and housing in Seattle neighborhoods including Queen Anne. A professional activist since her UW architecture student days, when she staffed the American Institute of Architects (AIA Seattle) booth at the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair, she has taken an active role in neighborhood planning and community development, in and beyond Seattle’s Belltown community.

Born in Olympia as Carolyn Lee Deuter, by age 27 she had climbed Mount Rainier three times, and had worked as a popular cook at Snoqualmie Lodge and as a ski instructor with climbing legend Jim Whittaker. She married and later divorced Jonn Geise, father of their son Matt Geise. …Continue reading “Carolyn Geise, Architect and Community-Builder”

Jean Burch Falls, Theatre Originator

Jean Falls, 2016

Jean Burch Falls worked with her husband Gregory Falls (1922-1997) in the origination of ACTA Contemporary Theatre — in 1965.  ACT produced notable performances in the historic Redding Building, also known as Queen Anne Hall & more recently Behnke Center and home to On the Boards, at 100 West Roy.  Later ACT restored Eagles Auditorium, relocating to downtown Seattle in 1996.  ACT introduced to Seattle works by such contemporary playwrights as David Mamet, Sam Shepard, and Tom Stoppard, and cultivated a community of actors and theatre workers.

Born and raised in New York City, Jean Burch graduated from Manhattan’s Brearley School in 1942 after attending boarding schools in Virginia and Lausanne, Switzerland.  Despite her family’s objections, she studied drama in college, first at Bryn Mawr and then at Neighborhood Playhouse in New York.  In 1943, she started to fly planes, hoping to join the WASPs – Women’s Auxiliary Service Patrol.  However, the war in Europe ended before she reached the age when she could serve.  After a first marriage and the birth of two sons, she began pre-med studies at the University of Vermont – while also directing and acting in community theatre.  There she met and married Greg Falls, Director of the University of Vermont Drama Department, and her dramatic activities intensified.

In 1961, the University of Washington appointed Greg Falls as Executive Director of the School of Drama, and the Falls family – now including two daughters — moved to Seattle.  Jean performed in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Green Lake Aqua Theatre.  After a couple of years, Jean and Greg began to look for a space to open a contemporary summer theatre, to complement the two-year-old Seattle Repertory Theatre that staged classic plays during the winter. This led to the 1965 opening of ACT at its original Queen Anne location on West Roy.  Jean notes that Jim Whittaker the first American to summit Mt. Everest and an originator of REI – had used the Redding Building as a staging area.

In 1974, Jean began to write lyrics, often in collaboration with composer Rob Duisberg. Her work has included lyrics for performances at ACT, Empty Space, and Issaquah’s Village Theatre.  In 1999, she performed her final stage role in a production of Margaret Edson’s WIT at Seattle Repertory Theatre.  She also travelled with the show to theatres in Houston, Phoenix, and Tucson.

Stewart Ballinger, Greg and Jean Falls at ACT’s 20th anniversary celebration in the Rainier Tower, May 1, 1984 (courtesy ACT)

Jean’s civic roles have included activism in the late-1960s fight to save the Pike Place Market, culminating in her service on the first Pike Place Market Preservation and Development Authority/PDA.  There she played an instrumental role in establishing the Pike Place Market Foundation, originated in 1981-82. In 1975-81, she served on the Seattle Center Advisory Commission.

Jean has resided on Queen Anne since 2007.

Virginia Anderson: Shaping Seattle

In a career spanning public and private development, long-time Queen Anne resident Virginia Anderson has contributed broadly to the creation of distinctive places well loved by Seattle residents and visitors, including Seattle Center where she served as Director from 1988-2006.

Ms. Anderson – known to many as “Ginny” – first came to Seattle in 1972 to pursue graduate studies in public administration at the University of Washington.  With her husband Rick she lived first on Dexter Avenue, then in an Anhalt apartment on Queen Anne.  She has since lived in several places on the hill, along with daughter Maile.

Beginning in 1974, she took employment in the City of Seattle Budget Office, working closely with Mayor Wes Uhlman.  In 1979 she began working with Paul Schell at Cornerstone Development – a Weyerhauser subsidiary — managing development activities throughout the Northwest.  She worked briefly in Seattle’s Community Development office, and in 1981 she joined others in the founding of Plymouth Housing Group and Bellwether Housing, developing affordable housing. …Continue reading “Virginia Anderson: Shaping Seattle”