How Time Flies

About ten years ago, I posted an article on about the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Historic Preservation.  That article simply gave the definition for these key words: Preservation, Rehabilitation, Restoration, and Reconstruction.[1]  Now as in 2012, Queen Anne has no examples of restored or reconstructed buildings.  Knowing the meaning of those three R’s (and a P too!) is useful as people plan work on historic buildings, landmarks or not!  It is helpful to know that taste plays no role in applying the standards.

It is useful to look at three recently altered Queen Anne properties and evaluate them against the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards.  It helps that one of the projects, the Queen Anne Exchange (formerly the Garfield Exchange), is a city landmark and subject to all the constraints landmark designation puts on the owner/developer.  Of the three examples, the work on that building falls closest to the line between Preservation and Rehabilitation.

These examples differ from one another in significant ways.  The Garfield Exchange (preservationists prefer original names), located at the southwest corner of 4th Ave W. and W. Garfield, is an industrial building in the heart of a single-family neighborhood that has been converted to residential use.  It is additionally significant because along with the Queen Anne branch of the Seattle Public Library and the Masonic Temple, its predecessor as a telephone exchange, it is one of three city landmarks sited within spitting distance of one another at basically the same intersection.  The second more modest example at 2406 Queen Anne Ave. N. is an almost totally rebuilt house that serves as a buffer between the commercial and residential buildings of our primary thoroughfare.  The third example at 2002 1st Ave. N. on the northwest corner of Newton St. is also a buffer of sorts especially because of the looming Safeway project that is to get underway this summer of 2021, but its site high over the street gives it a distinctive prominence.  Even after egregious modifications, it is still a relatively good example of the Secretary’s definition of Rehabilitation.

The Garfield Exchange

Like a number of similar buildings constructed in Seattle and throughout the region, the Garfield Exchange was designed to house heavy machine switching equipment.  Construction began in May 1921, and it was completed the following September at a cost of $138,000 (The Seattle Times, 9.2.1923).   It went into service at midnight on September 2, 1923, when it took over 6,100 lines from the older exchange office diagonally across the street (now the Masonic Center under reconstruction in June 2021).

Queen Anne Masonic Center. June 2021. QAHS

The Garfield Exchange building is u-shaped.  Its two arms are separated by a narrow courtyard that runs north south and which is not visible from the street.  It was constructed as a one-story building on a basement.  In 1929, a second story was added to the first.  Pacific Telephone &  Telegraph exchange buildings generally featured Beaux Arts and classical revival design elements.   Queen Anne’s has a relatively more elaborate east façade, with a projecting entry porch with symmetrical opposing stairs, and an entry surround embellished by ornamental terra-cotta.  It is made with steel and concrete framing and deep reinforced concrete floor slabs.  The Garfield Exchange was relatively fire-resistant with masonry cladding and concrete fire proofing.  Windows were typically large  double-hung types. The brick laid up in English bond with clever use of soldier courses is a noteworthy feature of this functional design.

The Garfield Exchange building remained in service through 1967, when Pacific Northwest Bell no longer needed the equipment and found that the “demolition costs and restrictive zoning offset the commercial value of the land.”  Subsequently, the company donated the Garfield Exchange to the Seattle Public Library which used it as storage building. (The Seattle Times, 9.6.1978).[2]

North elevation with penthouses and new garage seen from public library. Photo QAHS

Renamed the Queen Anne Exchange in 2020 by the Faul Company its developers, the generally abandoned interior of the structure has been converted to apartments.  It opened in May of this year (2021).  BuildingWork, the project architect, included a complete seismic retrofit, restoration of the historic brick and terra cotta façade, a new top floor addition, a new parking garage in the basement, multi-family residential units, a common roof terrace, all new mechanical and electrical systems and full life-safety and accessibility upgrades.  The building’s beautiful façade, concrete floor structure, tall floor-to- floor heights, and generous vertically proportioned windows are particularly well-suited to its transformation to residential use.  Dramatically, the Landmarks Preservation Board gave the developer permission to add a penthouse, replace the historic windows and add a garage in the basement.  At the behest of the Queen Anne Historical Society, it did not allow a long straight stair to the street that would have replaced the elegant symmetrically opposing stairs that have been saved.

Terra cotta entry and wonderful stair Queen Anne Historical society helped protect. Photo QAHS.

The changes to the building including the replacement of windows and the penthouse additions are consistent with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation.  Perhaps because it is visibly accessed from Garfield Street, the garage in the basement is a bit hard to swallow, but it too is consistent with the standards and almost entirely below grade.  There is also a touch of Restoration here, for architect Matt Aalfs, the principal and owner of BuildingWork, found an identical example of the building in Wallingford from which he was able to borrow the profile of the rebuilt cornice.  Best of all, the new cornice is made of lightweight materials and, once installed, won’t fall off like the terra cotta it replaces.

New windows and brackets waiting for the new cornice

2406 Queen Anne Avenue North

2406 Queen Anne Ave N. Front looking eastward before any work. King County Parcel Viewer

The small house located just north of Local Eats and Barg French Cleaners is on a narrow lot and is a critical buffer building forming the transition from the commercial zone along busy Queen Anne Avenue and defining the single-family residential neighborhood that spills down the hill towards the Lake Washington Ship Canal.  The visibility of both the front and back yards from neighboring streets and the alley increases dramatically the significance of its buffering qualities.

Excavating for the new foundation. Note gable truss work.

After gutting the interior down to the studs, owners Paige and Trevor ripped off the two modest ca. 1950s additions on the rear of the 1905 house and replaced them with a two-story addition that adds welcome space and a second-floor bathroom. The overall goal the owners have in mind is the rehabilitation of the historic spirit of the house!

Demolition underway with Paige and Trevor

They report, “We reconstructed all the details from the original rear gable truss on the addition.”  The brackets under the rear porch were built to match the ones on the front porch, and the front porch ceiling will be replaced with salvaged unpainted beadboard like the rear porch ceiling.  Comparing the photograph from the King County Parcel Viewer that predates the work to the recent image of the rear of the house reveals the consistency of the rehabilitation with the house as built.  With the price of lumber through the roof but wishing to use material that harmonizes with the building’s original look, the owners were delighted to discover through another preservation enthusiast on the hill eucalyptus siding from Latin America that closely matches the look and feel of the fir siding originally on the exterior of the house.

Rehabilitated house showing new gable truss, addition and deck. Looking west from the alley.

Painting the house various shades of green nicely reflected, “both Victorian and Craftsman era homes since ours has nods to both.  But it also feels a little modern,” Paige noted.  This project offers a model of what rehabilitation can be while following the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards.  I can’t wait to add the photo of the finished street façade and garden.

2002 First Avenue North

View of 2002 1st Ave N. looking eastward at the restored balcony. King County Parcel Viewer

The rehabilitation of this imposing American foursquare on set high above the northeast corner of First North and Crockett is the work of former owners.  In 1985, long before they purchased the house, I planted a large bamboo garden outside our kitchen window to hide house’s vinyl siding and ugly trim from our view.  The need for the bamboo gives you an idea of how much work it took to rehabilitate this stand out building.  Bob and Janet, the owners responsible for the transformation, stripped off the vinyl siding and refinished and rebuilt the exterior surfaces including the front door.  Luckily, the folks installing the vinyl hadn’t stripped away all the clapboard or damaged too much of the stucco first used to protect the house from the weather.  Bob carefully removed all the paint on the original materials and varnished the solid oak front door being careful to preserve the metal scroll that holds the doorknob and the lock.  This scroll is indeed a Queen Anne feature.  There’s one on our house and quite a few others around the hill.  Check out for example the large and welcoming one on our branch of the public library.  Bob and Janis’s most creative touch involved the reconstruction of the narrow balcony on the second floor on the west facing façade.  It harmoniously blended with this early 20th house and was based on research the couple did by patrolling just about every street on the hill looking for models they might adopt. Unfortunately, recent owners undid the good work on that façade that still shows up on the county’s Parcel Viewer, so you can compare it to what’s there now.  Otherwise, the house remains a good example of what the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards call rehabilitation.

2002 1st N. Balcony replacement of ca. 2018. Note leaded windows in balcony door. Photo QAHS

[1] The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties, 1995:

Preservation is defined as the act or process of applying measures necessary to sustain the existing form, integrity, and materials of an historic property.  Work, including preliminary measures to protect and stabilize the property, generally focuses upon the ongoing maintenance and repair of historic materials and features rather than extensive replacement and new construction.  New exterior additions are not within the scope of this treatment; however, the limited and sensitive upgrading of mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems and other code-required work to make properties functional is appropriate within a preservation project.

Reconstruction is defined as the act or process of depicting, by means of new construction, the form, features, and detailing of a non-surviving site, landscape, building, structure, or object for the purpose of replicating its appearance at a specific period of time and in its historic location.

Rehabilitation is defined as the act or process of making possible a compatible use for a property through repair, alterations, and additions while preserving those portions or features which convey its historical, cultural, or architectural values.

Restoration is defined as the act or process of accurately depicting the form, features, and character of a property as it appeared at a particular period of time by means of the removal of features from other periods in its history and reconstruction of missing features from the restoration period.  The limited and sensitive upgrading of mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems and other code-required work to make properties functional is appropriate within a restoration project.

[2] The description of the Garfield Exchange is based on the nomination to the Landmarks Preservation Board prepared by BOLA Architects in 2016.

John Marshall Hoyt, Civil War Veteran (1837-1923)

Posted by Michael Herschensohn in Queen Anne Cobblestone Memorial Day 2021

John Marshall Hoyt, born March 29, 1837 in Warner, Merrimack County, New Hampshire, died November 3, 1923 in Seattle.  He served as a Captain in Company K of the 7th Wisconsin Infantry throughout the Civil War, including the Battle of Gettysburg July 1-3, 1863.

He married Mary Hoyt, and the family relocated to Seattle.

According to Richard Heisler — a historian of Seattle’s Civil War veterans — following Captain Hoyt’s death his body was buried at the Capitol Hill Cemetery of the Grand Army of the Republic.

Following Mary Hoyt’s death in 1924, John’s body was disinterred and moved to Queen Anne’s Mount Pleasant Cemetery to a grave adjacent to Mary’s — both of them unmarked.

In June 2021, the US Army paid for a tombstone that finally marks John’s grave, located in the northeast corner of the cemetery — due north of the tombs of victims of The Valencia shipwreck of 1906 and the Everett Massacre of 1916.  One of the few all-white stones, it stands under a tree.  Mary’s grave, just to the right of John’s, remains unmarked.

On Memorial Day 2021, Richard Heisler and Queen Anne Historical Society Board President Michael Herschensohn  joined those who visited Mt. Pleasant to place US flags at the graves of those who served.

Reference: The Seattle Times 9/4/2021:  “Civil War veteran finally gets headstone, 98 years after his death
:  Click HERE to take Kim Turner’s August 2020 virtual tour of Mount Pleasant Cemetery.

Queen Anne’s Nameless Places

Naming places may be one of the shared aspects of human civilizations, so it is hard to believe that there are so many nameless places in our inner-city neighborhood.  It is clear that long before non-native people arrived in Washington State, indigenous settlers had names for significant places.  ‘Tahoma’ is a marvelous example, although that wasn’t the only name in Salishan languages for Mount Rainier.  All those watery ‘mish’ places — Snohomish, Stillaguamish, Sammamish — are other familiar indigenous place names.

Following the settlement of the region by non-natives and the founding of the state of Washington, choosing place names became an important matter.  The state created a Board on Geographic Names, but it is limited to overseeing the names of geographic features such as rivers, streams, lakes and mountains.  The federal government under President Benjamin Harrison created its own Board of Geographic Names in 1890.

Seattle has a Street Naming Committee, but, founded in 1958, it was late to the game.  How our hills, ravines, valleys and creeks got their names and why they stuck remain a history mystery.  Queen Anne pioneer Thomas Mercer apparently gave Lake Union its English name at a picnic on July 4, 1854, the same day he named Lake Washington.  Walt Crowley (Historylink Essay 1445) says the settlers adopted the names a few weeks after Independence Day 1854, but he omits who those settlers were and who gave them that power.

The Seattle Parks Department has its own naming committee responsible for park names.  Don Sherwood notes in his history of Seattle parks that following the adoption of a new city charter in 1892, the Engineering Department (now Seattle Department of Transportation) “began a long and painful process of renaming all the streets.”   Sherwood quotes the assistant chief of the Engineering Department George Cotterill, a future mayor (1912-1914) and a Queen Anne resident whose home is now a city landmark, as saying that “anybody platting a piece of land did pretty much as he pleased:  he didn’t bother to join up with the streets of adjacent plats –nor use the same names for streets – resulting in one street having many names along its length or many streets about town with the same name:  i.e. half-a-dozen named Lake St., Pine St., etc.”  Queen Anne residents no longer recall that teetotalers named its main arterial Temperance Avenue, reflecting pioneer real estate developer David Denny’s commitment to a dry town.

With all this effort going into the naming, renaming and attempts at standardization, it is a great wonder that Queen Anne has lots of nameless places.  There are, for example, about eight or nine nameless triangles that give our historic Queen Anne Boulevard its exceptional flavor.  You may think that the triangles are corrections to the jumble of conflicting plats, but only a few of them appear to meet that criteria.  Highland Place, the triangle formed where First Ave N meets Highland Drive, exceptionally has a name, but it pre-existed the creation of Queen Anne Boulevard.  Its nameless neighbor at Prospect and First North wasn’t created until 1927 as one of the last pieces of the boulevard encircling the top of the hill.  Oddly, the older and named triangle belongs to SDOT whereas the nameless one is managed by our parks department.

Here is a link to the Google Map of the unnamed places.  In the map below — a repeat of the linked map — the blue symbols indicate unnamed green spaces, the orange ones mark the triangles of the Queen Anne Boulevard.  All but the one at Wheeler and 10th Ave W are part of the landmarked boulevard.  This one, while on the boulevard, appeared decades after the landmark designation.

In putting this map together, I came across a number of nameless tracts to which I hadn’t given any thought.  The large green piece of land encompassing the Galer St. stairs west of Aurora is the largest of the three I’ve found.  The strange uncared-for space between the street that passes under Aurora near Canlis (called 6th Ave N on Google Maps), and Raye St is another.  The odd zone where 5th Ave W meets W Kinnear Place is a third example.  There may be others!

In addition, there are any number of rather large nameless tracts.  Take for example the huge greenbelt west of Dexter Way N and Aurora Avenue.  There is also a nameless patch under the Aurora Bridge, near the north end of Dexter Avenue.  A friend of mine who worked in the City Attorney’s office complained about these neglected and protected properties as huge liabilities for the city.  I find them wonderful lungs in our increasingly urbanized inner-city neighborhood.

The catchy name of the Northeast Queen Anne Greenbelt is almost as good as the more concise official moniker of the Southwest Queen Anne Greenbelt which extends north from Kinnear Park above Interbay.  Both names reflect laziness, bureaucrat-eze and election strategizing.  They figure among 17[i] greenbelts and natural areas that added 91 wild and undeveloped acres to city-own lands after voters adopted an Open Spaces and Trails Bond Program in 1989.  The program authorized the purchase of generally wild and unbuildable land throughout King County and Seattle.  In addition to the two greenbelts, the city also acquired 2.2 acres of Queen Anne’s Wolfe Creek Ravine.  Seattle Parks Director Holly Miller commented in an article appearing on May 1, 1989, “We want to carry on the tradition of the Olmsted Plan, linking parks with trails and greenbelts.”

Indeed, the Northeast Queen Anne Greenbelt is a spot for which the Olmsted Brothers in their 1903 report to the Board of Park Commissioners recommended a park:  “Between the [QA] parkway and Lake Union, at or near Howe Street, there should be a local park extending down to the lake.”  They further note that it would “pay the city in the long run to take considerable area on this steep slope, because it is subject to landslides, and its occupation by streets and houses would involve difficulties and expenses which might eventually cost the city far more than the present value of the land.”  As it turned out some 86 years later, we paid a lot!

Noting the steep slopes, the Olmsted Brothers inadvertently explain why those greenbelts survived without streets or buildings.  Unfortunately, the brothers, John Charles and Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., didn’t explain why no one had ever bothered to name them.

[i] This number omits some smaller parcels also acquired in Seattle as a result of the bond program’s passage.