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.

 

Stay tuned for updates to the Dahlberg story!

Bayview Reinvents Itself

A sketch of the Kinnear Mansion (destroyed) serves as the logo of the Queen Anne Historical Society and appears at www.qahistory.org (upper left hand corner of this page) along with many photos of the house. The logo celebrates the longtime relationship of the society with the Bayview Retirement Community and its ties to the Kinnear family. For about 25 years, the society has benefited from a rent-free space for storing its archives at Bayview. The renovations now underway require the society to relinquish its space and seek a new one.

As the primary real estate developers of the land on the southwest slope of Queen Anne, George and Angeline Kinnear had a major impact on our neighborhood. Their 1888 house at 809 Queen Anne Ave. N. was quintessential Queen Anne style. It sported the mandatory tower, multiple gables, clapboard siding, intricately turned columns and spreading front porch that mark the style. The Kinnears designed it as an advertisement for the kinds of homes they expected to see on the lots of their subdivision. Their home sat on a two and a half acre site.

The family’s influence resonates today at Kinnear Park which they gave to the city in 1893 and which is Seattle’s second park after Denny Park. Its impact is also seen in two other tiny parks. One of them, a small strip along Queen Anne Drive just below the Bayview, retains a few trees planted by the Kinnear family and the wall which lined the edge of their property. The other small park, at Prospect and Second Ave. W., held the cistern which provided water for the Kinnear home. (The elevation drop to the house created enough force to provide water to the third floor). Also, still standing in the neighborhood are the 1908 De La Mar Apartments that George and Angeline constructed for their guests to the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition.

When George Kinnear died in 1912, his son Charles moved into the home and lived there until he died in 1956. The Charles Kinnear family had strong ties to the First United Methodist Church and gave their home site to the church for the care of “older adults or children.” The Methodists created a not-for-profit to run the retirement home. It may have also started the foundation that covers housing costs if residents run out of money. The church worked with the community to build the ten-story residential community designed in 1958 that opened in 1961. While the church gave the building to the not-for-profit, it retained ownership of the land. The relationship of the building to the land is a strange historical wrinkle that had to be ironed out before Bayview could initiate its current projects.

The original Bayview building was designed by John Graham & Co. while John Graham Jr. was still practicing. Graham junior — Space Needle, Nordstrom and Macy upper stories, Northgate Mall – was one of the most successful and influential architects in Seattle’s history. The company designed many important Queen Anne buildings including the Victorian Apartments on Highland Drive.  Graham created a tall building made taller still by its location above Uptown-Lower Queen Anne where Queen Anne Avenue begins its steep climb. It had three wings. The east and west wings rose to ten stories while the bisecting wing to the north was held to nine stories. If the Kinnear home expressed the essence of the Queen Anne style, the retirement home did the same for what is known as mid-century modern. Bayview sports a Roman brick veneer and on the south facing façade elegant balconies from which residents have phenomenal 180o views of downtown, the Space Needle, Mt. Rainier, the Olympics and Elliott Bay. Surely no one living on the south slope of the hill remembers the great views before Bayview went up, but now folks living on that slope and in the retirement community are ironically worried that the high-rise building proposed for Roy Street between First West and Queen Anne Ave. will block theirs.

North Elevation showing new two-story memory unit to the left. Image courtesy Bayview Retirement Community.

 

This is not the first time the Bayview has expanded. In 1995, it gave up the front lawn shown in the 1974 photograph to a three-story building that spreads across the entire southern side of the original building and creates elegant terrace gardens facing Elliott Bay. This addition, designed by Dale Anderson of Tsang Partnership, also made room for a daycare center which meets the original terms of the Kinnear gift and provides an exceptional opportunity for intergenerational caregiving. The project now underway, designed by Rice Fergus Miller, adds dwelling units and a memory care unit in the crook of the east and north wings. It sacrifices the common lounge and balcony on every floor at the intersection of the wings. Our Archive, which connects via dumbwaiter to the kitchen and served as a place for distributing meals to third floor residents, is being incorporated into a redesigned dwelling unit. Other improvements include a new swimming pool and refurbished public spaces at the entry level.

Charles Kinnear would have been surprised that his clever scheme to keep the retirement home associated with the First United Methodist Church thwarted its redevelopment plans. Bayview has borrowed the money to renovate and add to its campus through the State of Washington Housing Finance Commission. The program lends not-for-profit agencies funds for capital projects, but they must be owned in fee simple. Fee simple means that the land and the building belong to a single owner. It took a long a time for the Methodist Church to give up its land ownership of the land, but the church eventually sold it for a dollar. Once Bayview owned the building and land in fee simple, it could borrow the required money.

Now, as it seeks a new location for its Archives, the historical society is indebted to the Bayview Retirement Community for its longtime generosity. As one might expect in today’s hot real estate market, finding even a small 200 square foot office in our neighborhood is no small feat. The society has been looking for nearly half a year and has only until the end of June to find a new spot, so any help will be appreciated. In the meantime, Bayview assures the society that it can continue holding its board meetings on the building’s tenth floor where the spectacular views are enough to cheer us up even on dark rainy days of winter.

The K Block at Seattle Center

Queen Anne folks have surely forgotten the history of the K block which after nearly 35 years of temporary uses is being transformed into a permanent beacon of Uptown’s future. Most people know the block as the home of Teatro Zinzanni which has rented the eastern edge along 3rd Ave. N. for nearly 15 years and which will be closing its doors in the early spring of 2017.  The 43,000 square foot block now consists of five different parcels all of which were originally given to the city in 1982-1983 by Charles Osborn, the trustee of the Kreielsheimer Foundation which lent the block the ‘K’ in its familiar name. After several trades in ownership, the three northern parcels were finally given to the Seattle Opera in 2000. Now, sometime this year developer Maria Barrientos will begin the construction of a transformative high-rise apartment building on the Roy Street or northern part of the block.

Ah! You won't see the Space Needle from here any more whatever the tower's height.
Ah! You won’t see the Space Needle from here any more whatever the tower’s height.

 

It hasn’t been decided yet if the tower will loom 85 or160 feet over Roy Street, but either way this is the …Continue reading “The K Block at Seattle Center”