Polson House: All in the (almost one) Family

Perry and Kate Polson’s house at 103 Highland Drive is simply exceptional. The Polsons and their descendants owned and occupied the house that hovers high over Highland Drive’s intersection with First Avenue North from 1908 to 2004. In those 96 years, the family loved the house, and however they altered it, they never jeopardized the views to the city, Elliott Bay and the Olympic Mountains. Consequently, they left us one of the best preserved residences in the city whose new owners, Rosemary and Ken Willman, have done a major and meticulous restoration since buying the house in 2011. …Continue reading “Polson House: All in the (almost one) Family”

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”