Cobble, Cobble, Cobblestones

In memory of Roger Billings, a staunch defender of our cobblestone streets.

Queen Anne is blessed (bicyclists disagree about that) with many cobblestone streets. Every fan of Queen Anne history knows that the stones provided traction for horses struggling up the hill. Most history buffs can’t explain their conservation, although their prevalence on steep streets suggests they helped both horses and horseless carriages navigate the slopes for a long time. Even though the street surfaces are not official city landmarks, they are charming anachronisms someone at the Seattle Engineering Department, now SDOT, decided to protect.

Looking west down Blaine at 7th.
Looking west down Blaine at 7th.

The most notable Queen Anne cobblestone streets on the west side of the hill can be found at Blaine where it drops down off Queen Anne Boulevard at 7th Ave., and on Howe as it plunges from the steps below 7th to 10th. On the east side, there is a stretch of cobbles on Warren N. running south from Lee that the Fire Department favors. Queen Anne has the greatest share of Seattle’s 93 cobblestone streets with the east side of Capitol Hill a close second. …Continue reading “Cobble, Cobble, Cobblestones”

Historic Preservation and the Illogical Dangers of Hyperbole

I prepared this article in response to a misleading article published on December 22, by the Sightline Institute. A link to the article appears below. Today, January 17, 2018, the Landmarks Preservation Board (LPB) voted not to impose Controls and Incentives on the Wayne Apartment the recently landmarked building discussed by Mr. Bertolet and me. The vote effectively makes my arguments weaker. Even though the building is part of Belltown, I share the article so as to give our readers a sense of the obstacles we face protecting the historic fabric of Queen Anne.

The LPB’s vote is the result of the property owner’s claim that preserving the building would be an economic hardship. It frees the property owner to sell the building with nothing in the way of its demolition. Part of the argument for the vote, which resulted from a rigorous review of all the options by the staff of the city’s Preservation Program and its recommendation to oppose Controls and Incentives that might have protected the building from demolition, rested on the huge disparity between the amount of money owners could realize from selling the Wayne and the cost of repairing and restoring it. It is a very dangerous argument in this time of incredibly high land values throughout the city. The Queen Anne Historical Society plans to begin redrafting the landmark ordinance in cooperation with other preservation organizations and lobbying the city council and the mayor for its eventual adoption, so stay tuned.
…Continue reading “Historic Preservation and the Illogical Dangers of Hyperbole”

Testimony in Olympia opposing SB 5805 bad school district preservation idea!

Here is our Olympia testimony opposing Senate Bill 5805 which if passed would authorize the board of the Seattle Public School District, the only school district in the state with over 50,000 students, to decide on its own whether or not to adhere to the provisions of the city of Seattle’s landmark preservation ordinance.

January 11, 2018

The Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee

SB 5805 – 2017-18: Position of the Queen Anne Historical Society

SB 5805 – 2017-18 (Sponsored by Senators Reuven Carlyle and David Frockt): Concerning the application of landmark or historic preservation regulations with regard to school district property in school districts with more than fifty thousand students.

The Queen Anne Historical Society vehemently opposes SB 5805. It is a broadside attack on the quality of life in our neighborhood and a serious threat to the protection of our historic built environment. Although we could tick off many reasons for our opposition to the bill, an example says it best. …Continue reading “Testimony in Olympia opposing SB 5805 bad school district preservation idea!”

Queen Anne High School

When the Queen Anne High School was built, America was conflicted over the purpose of high school. Public education was seen as a possible cure for America’s social ills. Some believed there should be an emphasis on liberal arts, while others wanted to use the system to assimilate a surging immigration population, and another push was for vocational training.

In Queen Anne, the demand for a high school came from Seattle’s rapid population growth during the years following the Alaska Gold Rush. Between 1902 and 1910, Seattle’s total high school enrollment leapt from approximately 700 students to 4,500 students. Several elementary schools were constructed on Queen Anne Hill, and it was evident that a new high school would be needed. …Continue reading “Queen Anne High School”