Early History of Queen Anne

Mercer House, 1900
Mercer House, 1900

After an exploration in December, 1852 of Smith’s Cove and on to Salmon Bay, David T. Denny decided on living in what is now lower Queen Anne, generally the area between today’s Denny Way and Mercer St. from Elliott Bay to Lake Union.

Married in January, 1853 in his brother Arthur’s cabin, David and new wife Louisa Boren filed a 320-acre donation claim the next day, where he built a one-room log cabin on the bluff overlooking Elliott Bay, near Denny Way and Western. Built of nearby trees without a single nail, Louisa planted Sweetbrier roses outside the front door. The roses were found still there growing wild in 1931, when they were uprooted for a new commercial building on the site.1

Around 1860 the Denny’s cleared an area near 2nd Ave. North and Republican Streets (now Seattle Center) for a farm, and built a new home, living in it until 1871, when they moved to a new home at Republican and Dexter.

Kinnear House, 1900
Kinnear House, 1900

In the spring of 1853, Thomas Mercer settled on a land donation claim just north of David & Louisa Denny, in an area roughly bounded by Lake Union on the east, Mercer St. on the south, 1st Avenue North on the west, and Highland Dr. on the north, while Dr. Henry Smith settled in 1853 in western Queen Anne in the area that came to be known as Smith’s Cove, or Interbay.

The Queen Anne name is derived from the 1880’s when Rev. Daniel Bagley, an early Seattle settler, asked folks jokingly if they were ‘going out to Queen Anne Town?’ — for by that time, many homes in the area were in the Queen Anne style. Several still exist today, more than 100 years old. Interestingly, the Reverend Bagley and his wife lived with their son Clarence, and his family, in a house located on Queen Anne.

  1. Queen Anne: Community on the Hill; Queen Anne Historical Society; 1993