Changing times, changing looks: The Wooden Stores at Sixth W. and W. Howe

1834 6th W. in 2017; southern window hidden.

The impact of Seattle’s streetcar lines on Queen Anne’s commercial development continues to be part of our daily lives. Even today, following the historic #24 streetcar route, the one that ran up the Counterbalance around a couple of corners and down Sixth to its terminus at W. McGraw, finds us still shopping in historic buildings all along the way. The active stores like Macrina Bakery, Top Pot Doughnuts or Molly Moon delight us still, but the abandoned ones, like the three at 1828, 1834 and 1900 6th Ave. W. at of W. Howe, draw my eye every day.

All three stores are on the east side of the wider street and were obviously built in response to the 1902 completion of the streetcar line. According to the city’s historic side sewer cards, the shop at 1828 connected to the sewer in 1909 while the one at 1834 on the southeastern corner of W. Howe tied up in 1910. The oldest of the three at 1900 6th Ave., connected in 1904 barely two years after the streetcar arrived. Oddly, we don’t learn the name of the shop owner until 1907. Unlike the great majority of the brick clad stores that survive today, these three are two-story wooden structures with at least one apartment over the shops. Fortunately, we have photographs of all three in 1937 and the early 1950s. The 1937 photos were snapped by an under-employed designer working for the Depression era Works Progress Administration. …Continue reading “Changing times, changing looks: The Wooden Stores at Sixth W. and W. Howe”

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”