John Hay School’s First Custodian (?)

Charles Wilhelm Dahlberg at John Hay School.

 

The society just received this picture of Mr. Dahlberg from his great-grandson Scott Dahlberg. Scott is a 1962 graduate of Queen Anne High School. Charles Wilhelm immigrated to the United States from Stockholm, Sweden where he trained as a boiler maker. Boiler operation was a key function of school janitors, so getting this job in 1905 is not unreasonable. There is some information indicating that Charles Wilhelm continued to serve at John Hay until at least 1940 when he was 83. This photograph makes that highly likely since the girl standing behind Mr. Dahlberg is wearing an outfit that appears to be from that period. Mr. Dahlberg is posing at the southwest corner of the covered outdoor play area on the second John Hay School, the brick building on Boston St. Mr. Dahlberg died in 1944.

According to the Seattle Daily Times of July 25, 1904 Charles Wilhelm and his wife Bessie, received a permit to build a one-and-a-half story cottage worth $1,800 at 1937 7th Ave West on July 23, 1904. They probably moved into their new house some time in 1905, the very same year the school district constructed the first John Hay School. The city directory lists their daughter Esther, a stenographer as living there then.

When they moved in, there was no Willcox Wall or Queen Anne Boulevard. Today, the idea of working class folks building a house on the boulevard would be astounding. It tells a lot about how the neighborhood has changed over the last century or so.

The east elevation of the Dahlberg house today facing the Willcox Wall.

 

Although there is no ambiguity about the date of construction, the city’s side sewer record hints that the house may have been moved and set on a new foundation a few years after its construction. The side sewer map raises this possibility because sewer lines usually get inspected by the city when they are installed. The side sewer record for the Dahlberg house gives the date of inspection as September 27, 1911 well after the date of construction. Also, the side sewer of the house next door to the Dahlberg’s was inspected the same day while three of the houses to the north of theirs were inspected in 1910. Additional research may show that the houses got moved to the west a bit to make room for the Willcox Wall which they all face across a very narrow strip of the street.

The two houses under construction behind the Dahlberg House. Photo taken 3/24/17.

 

A visit to the Dahlberg house today (3/24/2017) set off alarms, because there is a notice in the front yard about the long narrow lot being subdivided into three lots suggested that the old house was set for demolition. A trip to the back yard pleasantly revealed two small houses under construction behind the house, so the Dahlberg’s place may be saved after all.

Working Class Queen Anne

It is hard to imagine Queen Anne as a working class neighborhood. The views from the ridges on the south, east and west sides have attracted large elegant houses built by many of the movers and shakers in city history. Once you leave the ring of elegant aeries though, one-story commercial buildings, a huge quantity of apartment houses and numerous industrial sites on the neighborhood fringe suggest a working class history we don’t want to forget. …Continue reading “Working Class Queen Anne”

July 4, 1907: The Day the World Came to Queen Anne

Independence Day, 1907
Independence Day, 1907

For one summer day in 1907, Queen Anne Hill was the center of attention not just of Seattle, but of two continents. With a spectacle the likes of which has not been seen before or since, Seattle’s Japanese community hosted the city’s Independence Day festivities at just west of what is now Kerry Park on West Highland Drive. …Continue reading “July 4, 1907: The Day the World Came to Queen Anne”