Queen Anne Park: The Story of a Neighborhood

Queen Anne Park Streets
Queen Anne Park Streets

Queen Anne Park is a relatively unknown neighborhood located above Seattle Pacific University at the northwest end of Queen Anne Hill. Queen Anne Park’s curving streets, fantastic views and generally modest-sized 1920’s homes tell an exciting story of real estate development as the Roaring Twenties drew to a close and just before the Great Depression. While not a park in the usual sense of the word, it is park-like in its beauty with winding streets and numerous charming Tudor, Spanish and Colonial revival homes. For years, it has been enshrouded by an aura of mystery and rumor. The Queen Anne Park Addition to the City of Seattle dates to 1926, and is bordered by West Bertona, West Barrett, Seventh Avenue West, and Eleventh Avenue West. Only homes located inside the boundary formed by those streets are considered to be in Queen Anne Park.

According to the Bureau of Land Management Land Patent website, the original plat containing what is now the Queen Anne Park Addition was completed via an 1871 land patent from the United States General Land Office for approximately 114 acres. James Law acquired the property through a cash purchase. The General Land Office was selling land at that time for about $1.25 per acre, so the price he paid for 114 acres was approximately $143.00.

The property changed hands before Thomas Wickham Prosch acquired it, and his plat, Prosch’s Queen Anne Addition, was added to the City of Seattle on September 27, 1909.

Charles Prosch, the father of Thomas, was the founder of the Puget Sound Herald Tribune in Steilacoom. Thomas helped his father, and then bought the paper when he was 22 years old. He moved it to Tacoma in 1872, then to Seattle. In 1881, Prosch, George W. Harris and John Leary began the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Prosch became the sole owner and sold the paper in 1886. It was at this time that he began pursuing his interest in local history, civic affairs, and social activities. He wrote several books and his photographs can be viewed at the University of Washington Special Collection and in this online collection.

Thomas Prosch married Virginia McCarver in 1877. Her parents, Morton and Julia Ann McCarver, were founders of Tacoma. In both Prosch’s and the Queen Anne Park Addition, Conkling Place West was named after Prosch’s mother, Susan Conkling Prosch. There was also a McCarver Place in Prosch’s Addition, named for Virginia McCarver Prosch’s family, but the platting for the Queen Anne Park Addition changed the layout of some streets and the McCarver name did not carry over.

In 1908, the US Office of Public Health had declared Seattle’s record of fighting tuberculosis to be the worst in the country. In 1909, a group of leading citizens formed the Anti-Tuberculosis League of King County to combat it. That year, there were plans to build a tuberculosis sanitarium. The location was to have been a wooded area donated by Thomas W. Prosch on the west side of Queen Anne Hill. Neighbors, fearful of the highly contagious disease, bitterly and successfully fought the plan. Horace C. Henry then donated land in North Seattle, which became the Firland Sanitarium.

Thomas and Virginia Prosch, as well as others, were killed in a car accident in 1915. After their deaths, the Prosch’s daughter, Beatrice, an invalid, deeded her share of the property to her siblings, Edith, Phoebe, and Arthur Prosch. In 1922, the land became the property of the King County Treasurer. It was sold to the City of Seattle, and then to George E. Morford on November 18, 1925. The purchase price was $21,000.

On February 11, 1926, that property became the Queen Anne Park Addition to Seattle. View a plat map of Queen Anne Park Addition. Approximately 230 homes were to be built on the property which was developed by F.W. Keen Co. and J. L. Grandey, Inc., designers and builders. George E. Morford was president of F.W. Keen and vice-president of J.L. Grandey. Mr. Keen and Harry Dubois, Assistant Secretary of F.W. Keen, were also involved in the building program.

Queen Anne Park's 1st Streets, 1927
Queen Anne Park’s 1st Streets, 1927

Much thought went into developing the design of the winding streets, which were unusual for Queen Anne Hill. This design took advantage of the topography of the land, reducing grades and adding to the beauty of the home sites. Almost all lots had views: the Cascades or the Olympics, Elliott Bay, the Ship Canal, downtown, the University of Washington, sunrises and sunsets. A few lucky homeowners on 10th Avenue West had views to both the east and west.

Street plats and plans were made by Carl Morford and Charles Mowry, engineers for the F.W. Keen Company, and the pouring of concrete was begun in May of 1926. The streets, sidewalks, and utilities were installed before the sites were developed, avoiding the necessity of future cuts for driveways and utilities. Power and telephone lines were located behind the homes, ensuring the beauty of the streets which were dedicated forever to the City of Seattle.

The demonstration home and sales office were located at 3042 10th Avenue West and the first homes were completed in 1927.

Queen Anne Park had so much appeal that other areas wished to adjoin it. One such was Hill’s Queen Anne Park Addition of 1929, which ran from 7th Avenue W. to 5th Avenue W. An ordinance from the City Council was required to ensure that the owners would be responsible for construction and maintenance of the streets and sidewalks. Much of that development later became the property of what is now Seattle Pacific University.

As previously discussed there have been ongoing rumors about Queen Anne Park. Neither the plat for Prosch’s Queen Anne Addition nor the plat for the Queen Anne Park Addition shows that Queen Anne Park was to become a golf-course community. Nor do we have evidence that the home at 3042 10th Ave. West was to have become a club house as has been rumored. Perhaps that confusion stemmed from numerous news accounts about the Queen Anne Club (now the Seattle Gym),which was being built at that time.

At the beginning, the house at 3042 10th Avenue W. served as the demonstration model home and office for the Queen Anne Park development. On November 5, 1928, J. L. Grandey purchased the home from his corporation,In August of 2015, I had the privilege of meeting Ruth Adele Campbell, Grandey’s daughter, and giving her a driving tour of Queen Anne Park.  She lived in the house and decidedly debunked the golf course and clubhouse rumors. Today’s owners have renovated the home, in keeping with its original style and beauty.

Queen Anne Park was not intended to be a speculative subdivision. Purchasers were to select their lot, and then have a home of their design built on it. There were skilled architects and contractors available to assist with designing and building homes. The finest materials were used and a mill and cabinet shop were located on the site to turn out the exquisite built-ins and woodwork at the best possible prices. The cost of homes began at $5,600 and ran up to $22,000 for George Morford’s home at 3219 10th Ave. West.

J. L. Grandey was a man ahead of his time. In an era when women were just beginning to come into their own and had recently received the right to vote, Grandey realized that their ideas and opinions were important, especially in the realm of the home. In order to showcase those ideas and the quality of local materials, he and the Seattle Daily Times teamed up to sponsor the Northwest Model Home Contest. In addition to being designed by women, the contest was to demonstrate that building materials in the Northwest were at least as good, if not superior to, products elsewhere, and that a modern Northwest home could be produced that would be affordable to the average family.

The rules of the contest were for a six-room house on one or two floors. Plans for a basement could be included, and the garage could be in the basement, attached, or a separate building. Over three hundred entries were received. First prize was one hundred dollars in gold; the winner was Katherine H.K. Wolf. The home was built at 836 W. Etruria Street and received a lot of attention, with mayor-elect Frank E. Edwards breaking the ground. The home sold in ten days, so a third model home–a stucco Tudor– was soon opened at 816 W. Etruria.. This home was from a national contest prize design of the Lehigh Cement Company.

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Like some other early developments of the era, there were restrictive covenants for the Queen Anne Park development which were to run with the land and were to be effective until January 1, 1958; however, the racial restriction was dropped early on, and it is doubtful if any of the covenants could have been enforced. Although Queen Ann Park’s restrictive covenants made it an exclusive community, the streets and sidewalks were given forever for public use and access, so it could not have been private and gated like Broadmoor and the Highlands.

As stated on a deed from 1931:

  1. There shall not be erected or maintained upon any platted lot any structure other than one single detached dwelling house, with or without private garage, in architecture in harmony with such dwelling house; and said premises shall be used only for private residence purposes.
  2. No such dwelling house shall be erected or maintained which shall cost, at prevailing market prices, less than $6,000.
  3. No chickens or other fowl, or animals except individual household pets, shall at any time be kept or maintained upon said property.
  4. No person or persons of Asiatic, African or Negro blood, lineage or extraction shall be permitted to occupy a portion of said property, or building thereon; except, domestic servant or servants may actually and in good faith employed by white occupants of such premises.
  5. No house or part thereof, or other structure shall be constructed or maintained upon said premises nearer to the front street margin than the line described upon the plat of Queen Anne Park as “building limit.”

These covenants are a vestige of a bygone era.

LeRoy Grandey, who was earlier listed as the owner of Queen Anne Park, turned over a significant number of Queen Anne Park properties to F.W. Keen Company before the Great Depression and before Keen died of an extended illness in August of 1929. Harry DuBois, Assistant Secretary-Treasurer of F. W. Keen, was let go in 1930. He was given lots 18 and 19 in Block Three as compensation. His lovely home was demolished about 2000, and two large modern homes were built on those lots. George E. Morford, son-in-law of Keen, continued at F.W. Keen Company until at least the mid-1930s.

J.L. Grandey and T.N. Fowler incorporated as Grandey Homebuilders in July of 1936 and continued building in Broadmoor and Washington Park. In addition to these areas, Grandey left behind a number of exquisite homes in Winona Park and Queen Anne Park. He was a multi-talented man whose vision enriched many lives. His legacy lives on in the neighborhoods he created.

At one point, buses were to run along the lovely curving streets, but fortunately that did not last. Residents have access to several bus routes, but do not have to deal with bus size, noise, or pollution. Initially, there was no mail delivery service to Queen Anne Park; its residents had to travel to Ballard to pick up their mail.

Queen Anne Park has evolved over the years. Ramblers were built among the elegant Tudor, Colonial Revival, and Spanish-style homes. The neighborhood became a happy haven for families with children; then, there were the years of white flight from Seattle Public Schools when there were very few children. Now, we have a racial mix, and there are many lovely families with children. The neighborhood schools are excellent, and there is a lot of parental involvement.

Today, Queen Anne Park remains a beautiful, conveniently-located, peaceful neighborhood, close to top-of-the Hill shopping, yet not far from downtown. Excellent universities, medical facilities, and cultural events with nearby public transportation, walkways and bicycle paths make it a terrific place to live. Now that you know what Queen Anne Park is: Welcome!


Additional Reading

View a 1926 sales brochure for Queen Anne Park entitled A Home in Queen Anne Park at the Seattle Pacific University Library website.

Read more about Thomas Prosch at HistoryLink.org.

Explore more maps of Queen Anne Park on the Maps of Queen Anne and Seattle web page.