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.

A. It meets this criteria as part of the founding site of Seattle Children’s (its current name) which offered from its founding by Anna Clise free health care to Seattle’s children whatever their economic status. The building represents not only a significant moment in the city’s medical history, but also evidence of the role of women in the community. First the hospital was founded and overseen by a board of women who acknowledged the philanthropic role of wealthy people for caring for the poor and which continues to this day. Second, the siting of a home for nurses, all of whom were women, on the property recognizes Seattle’s acknowledgement of a standard American hospital practice and the significant role of professionally trained (single) women in caring for the nation’s sick.  Today, we may point to historical significance in the sexism implicit in nursing as single women’s work, the general absence of women doctors especially in the period immediately following the adoption in 1920 of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which gave women the right to vote.

 B. Anna Clise became a very significant person in the history of Seattle when she founded the children’s hospital. Although this argument feels somewhat like circular reasoning, the building and its site are, therefore,associated in a significant way with the life of a person important in the history of the City, state, or nation. The hospital provided housing for the nurses immediately adjacent to its facility even prior to the construction of Edris Nurses Home consequently the home is strongly linked to the hospital’s founder.

C. Seattle Children’s, its care and research activities, have since its founding been a significant aspect of the cultural, political, or economic heritage of the community, City and the state of Washington.

D.The experimentation with a fireproof all concrete structural system which included the framing of the hip roof suggests that Edris Skinner Nurses Home embodies the distinctive visible characteristics of a method of construction. This assumes that the landmark ordinance does not define ‘visible’ as ‘visible from the street.’ Only the inspection of drawings and the attic crawl space reveals the building’s totally concrete structural character.

F. There is no doubt that because of its prominence of spatial location, contrasts of siting, age, or scale, it is an easily identifiable visual feature of its neighborhood or the City and contributes to the distinctive quality or identity of such neighborhood or the City. Marking the fringe of Upper Queen Anne’s commercial core and now part of its Urban Village, the building functions as an extremely well-defined buffer to the single family neighborhood to its east and south. Most dramatically, it is located on an arterial street and major bus route exactly where two historic real estate tracts abut one another and where the orthogonal street pattern shifts slightly forcing the arterial to jog and to give the nurses home a prominent place in the neighborhood at the intersection of Boston and First Avenue North.

It is worth noting that Brian Regan, the building’s owner, personally prepared the nomination and should be commended for his interest in preserving this historic part of Queen Anne and Seattle history.

Thank you,

Michael

Michael Herschensohn, President
Queen Anne Historical Society