Wilke Farmhouse – 1920 2nd Ave N

In 1898, Charles Wilke built a comfortable, modest 3-bedroom home for his family at 1920 2nd Ave. N. at the corner of Newton St. The house, which was out in the country at the time, is an example of 19th century vernacular small farm architecture.wilke-farmhouse-barn-1974

Wilke was a framing carpenter and put a large sign on the roof of his barn “Chas. Wilke, Carpenter and Builder.” As land values rose, Wilke cut his orchard to the south of his house, and built more houses, which he sold. He also built a number of houses in the eastern and central neighborhoods of Queen Anne. The barn housed chickens, horses, and possibly a pig. …Continue reading “Wilke Farmhouse – 1920 2nd Ave N”

John Lorentz & Lorentz Pl

Wedding photo, John and Bena Lorentz, 1905

From 1868 to 1914, more than a million Swedes immigrated to the United States. Among them was John A. Lorentz, who was to become one of Queen Anne’s most prolific builders.

John A. Lorentz was born Johan Amandus Lorentzson in Ulvhult, Sweden, in October 1879. His family owned a farm, but the soil was poor and rocky. Like many Scandinavian immigrants, he left his native land because dividing the family farm with his brother would not have provided a viable living. Being adventurous,1 in 1903 he boarded a ship to the United States to seek a better life. He found work first as a blacksmith at the Old Star Carriage Company, and later as a carpenter, living on Garfield Street on Queen Anne. At that time, he was one of many newly-arrived immigrants from Scandinavia working in the building trades.

In 1905, he married his wife Bena, also a Swedish immigrant, who became not only his life-long companion but also a partner in his business. With her assistance, in 1910, Lorentz began a career as a building contractor. During his career, he built an estimated 200 single family homes on Queen Anne,2 many of which still exist with minimal exterior alterations, as well as apartment buildings in the Denny Regrade and on First Hill. …Continue reading “John Lorentz & Lorentz Pl”

Elfrieda Apartments – 1932 Queen Anne Ave N

Many Queen Anne residents mourn the loss of this neighborhood landmark that has quietly sat on the southeast corner of Crockett and Queen Anne Avenue since its completion 100 years ago.

Elfrieda Apartments, 1937
Elfrieda Apartments, 1937

In 1910, the city issued the building permit for the Elfrieda, and it first appears in city directories in 1913. The permit was issued to Louis S. Nunnemacher who with his wife Elfrieda lived in and managed the building from at least 1915 until 1922. It doesn’t take much to guess for whom the building is named, but there is no record of the Elfrieda’s designer. Mr. Nunnemacher is listed in the city directories of the time as a builder and contractor, so we can assume that he was the building’s contractor and may have been personally responsible for much of the finish work. It was not uncommon at this time for developers to actually live in the buildings they constructed. One might wonder if this were still a common practice, whether the design of contemporary apartments and condominiums might be greatly improved. …Continue reading “Elfrieda Apartments – 1932 Queen Anne Ave N”