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”

Endorsing Landmark Designation of Edris Skinner Nurses Home

The Queen Anne Historical Society continues its active support of the city’s landmark processes with this email sent May 15, 2018 to the Landmarks Preservation Board prior to its deliberation on May 16 of the designation of the Edris Skinner Nurses Home on the campus of the former Seattle Children’s Orthopedic Hospital once located on Queen Anne Hill.

Dear members of the Landmarks Preservation Board:

Due to unexpected conflicts and with apologies for the tardiness of this message, the Queen Anne Historical Society enthusiastically endorses the designation of the Edris Skinner Nurses Home which will be before the Landmarks Preservation Board tomorrow May 16, 2018. In our opinion the Edris Skinner Nurses Home meets five designation criteria. A, B, C, D. and F.

…Continue reading “Endorsing Landmark Designation of Edris Skinner Nurses Home”

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”

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”