“Queen Anne is the most clearly defined of all Seattle’s hills, a miniature mountain rising abruptly from Elliott Bay, the ship canal, Lake Union and the Seattle Center. –“Queen Anne Hill Seattle’s Miniature Mountain,” Seattle Times (Duncan 1979)
“At First Avenue West and West Garfield Street, these Craftsman bungalows are of minor significance individually. As a group, they provide a rhythm and consistency of scale.” Steinbrueck and Nyberg
No one understood better than Victor Steinbrueck and his colleague Folke Nyberg how much Seattle or Queen Anne’s historic working-class housing defined the city. The six identical working-class Craftsman bungalows they referred to in their 1975 poster still stand on West Garfield Street between the alley and First Ave. W. Four of them face north on Garfield; one sits on First Avenue W. while the sixth one backs up to it from the alley. As Steinbrueck and Nyberg suggest, the historic value of buildings often lies more in the urban patterns they create than in their individual distinctiveness.
In 1975, Victor Steinbrueck embarked on a project with Folke Nyberg and Historic Seattle to identify and publish a series of ten posters inventorying Seattle’s outstanding historic buildings. Queen Anne was lucky to get one of them. In fact, the Queen Anne Historical Society and its volunteers, some of whom are still active today (6/2018), worked on the project. Completing their survey in the early days of the American historic preservation movement, Steinbrueck and Nyberg were hell bent on recognizing that along with the high style buildings often favored by the movement, the vernacular ones were those that really defined a neighborhood’s historic character. The poster authors understood profoundly how a sense of place can give meaning to a community like ours. As Historic Seattle notes on its website, “Each inventory includes photographs and brief descriptions of common building types, significant buildings, and urban design elements.” …Continue reading “Our Sweet Queen Anne Cottages”→
The profusion of Queen Anne style houses constructed at the end of 19th c. is said to have given our neighborhood its name, yet almost all of them are gone. (I think all the earliest houses were built in the style. Naturally few survive because few were built in the first place. I must test this hypothesis, but all the early photos show the south slope peppered with the occasional house and lots of empty space.).
One of the best surviving Queen Anne style houses lingers at 520 W. Kinnear Pl. on the steep rise a bit east of where Kinnear merges with W. Prospect. Built in 1890 by Galette and Rachel Marble, the house later sold to Edward and Abbie Lindsley. Abbie ties the house to Seattle’s earliest Euro-American settlers and certainly Queen Anne’s. David and Louisa Boren Denny were her parents. She was born in 1858 and was probably one of the earliest Uptown babies. The Marble House appears in the 2003 Historic Resources Survey and like most of the buildings in the survey, it is not a city landmark
Francophones will chortle at Galette Marble’s first name. Galette des Rois or King Cake, is a well-known winter treat often served in France on Epiphany, January 6,. Read about it here.
The following text is borrowed with minor edits from the survey which was led by Mimi Sheridan:
The Marble/Lindsley House was constructed about 1890. Because of the Great Seattle Fire of June 6, 1889, masons were in high demand to reconstruct the burned down city. Brick contractor Galette Marble (1844-ca 1917) could choose from dozens of job opportunities when he arrived in Seattle during the first half of 1890. Born in New York, by 1865 Marble was living in Minnesota where he married Rachel (b. 1842), who had recently moved from Canada. In June 1890, Galette and Rachel purchased some Queen Anne Hill property from land developer George Kinnear and mortgaged the property to finance the construction of a house. Marble knew most aspects of the building trades including carpentry, and he likely constructed the house. Within weeks after work on the residence started, the Marbles were living in a partially constructed house. The household included Galette, Rachael, daughters Marion (b. 1870), Adalbott (b. 1858), and Florence (b. 1884). By the end of 1890, the house was likely completed, although Marble might have continued working on it into early 1891. During most of the 1890s, Galette Marble worked as a mason and brick contractor. Marble’s commute to various job sites involved a one block walk from his house to catch the Kinnear Park streetcar line that ran along Olympic Place to downtown Seattle. During the Alaska and Klondike gold frenzy, Marble mined for gold and later operated a cigar store. In December 1891, the Marbles sold the house to Edward and Abbie Lindsley who moved in with their five children: Laurence (age 13), Mabel (age 12), Irena (age 11), Winnie (age 10), and Norman (age 8). Edward Lindsley (b. ca 1853) worked for the south Lake Union Western Mill as a foremen and engineer. After leaving the sawmill, he became a teamster. Lindsley, born and raised in Wisconsin, later moved west and in 1877 married Abbie Denny (1858-1915). Washington born Abbie Denny, was the daughter of David and Louisa Denny. David and Louisa Denny were among Seattle’s first Euro-American settlers and homesteaded the lower Queen Anne and south Lake Union districts. Abbie Lindsley became a well-known local painter and wrote numerous articles for local and regional magazines and newspapers. The Lindsleys lived in the house until August 1895 and remained in Seattle until 1907.
Some later owners and occupants include Otto Nelson, Muriel E.Leche, and Charles L. Martin. Nelson purchased the house in the early 1920s and owned it until the late 1940s. He worked as a mailer for the Seattle Times. Muriel E. Leche lived in the duplex from World War II until the 1960s. She worked as a clerk for American Mail Line, as a nurse, and an office secretary. In 1971, Charles L. Martin purchased the house. The house has had a variety of addresses. From 1891 through 1895, it was 120 Elliott. The 1905 and 1917 Sanborn Map lists the house at 600 Kinnear. The 1950 Sanborn map shows the residence at 500 and 522 Kinnear Place. The 1975 Historic Seattle Survey of the Queen Anne neighborhood lists the house as Significant to the City. The 1979 Seattle Historic Resources Survey inventoried the house. Few residences exist from Seattle’s first major building boom (1887-1891). The Queen Anne style residence appears to meet City of Seattle Landmark criteria due to the age of the structure (over 110 years old) with alterations that are sympathetic with original design. Sources (see Reference below for complete citations): Crowley p. 176 (Rachel Mable House 1890) Woodbridge. Guide to Architecture in Washington. p. 197. “Mrs. Mary Maria Lindsley” Meany, Living Pioneers … p. 205. “Seattle-Born Woman and Pioneer Passes.” (Abbie Deny Lindsley) Seattle Post-Intelligencer October 8, 1915. Clipping file. Special Collections, University of Washington Library. “Abbie Denny Lindsley Dies at Chelan Home” Seattle Times October 7, 1915. Clipping file. Special Collections, University of Washington Library Sanborn-Perris Map Co., Seattle, Washington. 1893. volume 2 sheet 78.
The Queen Anne style 1890 Marble/Lindsley House with a conical roof tower and curved glass windows. In the 1920s owner Otto Nelson added a rear porch (Permit # 216723), portion of roof altered, and an attic window was added (Permit # 218379), and rebuilt porch (in rear?) (Permit # 262310). Some additions added in the 1970s included a shed roof dormer to east side roof, balcony to third floor with door replacing original window, fretwork added to gable end and other architectural details added.
Detail for 520 W Kinnear PL W / Parcel ID 3879901530 /
Our neighborhood is under pressure as it copes with population growth, increased land values and apparent up zoning. Historic preservation has suddenly become a front-page topic, for it presents obstacles that may slow or even deter developers as they rush to cash in on the building boom.
The building to be demolished at 2220 Queen Anne Ave N
Projects such as the one at 2220 Queen Anne Avenue North provide good examples of what we can and cannot do with Seattle’s existing historic preservation tools. The property is the site of a single family American Foursquare home built in 1905. It has been adapted to commercial use for some time and is now a restaurant. The developers are proposing a 45-unit six story apartment building on the lot. It is located within the boundaries of the Upper Queen Anne Urban Village. Indeed, it is on the northern fringe of the village which terminates at McGraw Street. A cursory look at the house shows a building in disrepair covered with asbestos siding whose original design and use is still readable.
Massing of the new building
Across the street from the building, the west side of the block is totally commercial. All the houses that were once there are gone. The east side of the street where the subject building sits is a mix of historic commercial buildings that blends to a row of houses starting just north of what used to be Reed-Wright’s offices (they are still upstairs) and which is the oldest building (1901) on that side of the street. The former homes were long ago converted to commercial purposes. Their historic integrity has been jeopardized by additions and the loss of their original fenestration although the occasional historic window survives.
Reed Wright Building
If someone had been prescient in 1975 when the city’s landmark ordinance was new and designating a building easier than today, they might have succeeded in protecting this house. At the time though, so many buildings on Queen Anne Avenue dated from the first decade of the 20th c. and so many of them looked the same that it seems unlikely that the Landmarks Preservation Board would have found this building exceptional and worth designation.
I haven’t done the research, but I doubt that this house was associated with any important event in the city’s history. Even today, American Foursquare houses are found all over Seattle and, in my opinion, this building simply doesn’t meet landmark criteria. Obviously, it is old and suggests the historic flavor of the neighborhood, but it is not a landmark. If we had a historic district on Queen Anne (a problematic idea in itself), this house would be considered ‘contributing’ to the historic quality of the district, but not defining it.
It has been suggested that developers be required to move historic buildings if they want to build anew on a site. A big problem lies in defining what’s historic. If we had such a law, we’d probably have to choose a date, call any building constructed prior to the date historic and movable. The feasibility of moving a building, not to speak of finding a lot for it, is probably a greater burden than defining what’s old. Even if we had a site for it, just think how prohibitive it would be to take down the trolley wires in front of 2220 Queen Anne to make room for a move.
Eventually moving old houses to new sites may be required no matter what the cost. If it happens, it won’t be because of some intrinsic historic interest. It will be because global warming will place such a high value on existing structures and the energy already spent in their construction that governments will require saving them. Historic preservation planners, no matter how worried about global warming, will probably oppose such a solution. That’s because we tend to place an extremely high value on protecting historic buildings in situ. I think the planners then will simply have to yield to the compelling logic of saving the planet. I would.
I strive to make good choices when it comes to preserving the historic fabric of Queen Anne. These days any refusal to cudgel city staff or elected officials who decide in favor of new development over historic preservation is seen as a sellout. As the house at 2220 Queen Anne Avenue shows, landmarking, historic district protection or more stringent rules for obtaining demolition permits are not easy, necessarily good nor correct solutions. Old doesn’t necessarily mean historic; urban density instead of sprawl mitigates climate change; bicycles, walking and mass transit are far better choices than enabling continued dependence on single occupancy vehicles. There is no going back to the ‘golden age’ of trolley cars, single family houses on every block or a butcher shop on every corner. Preserving the historic fabric of our neighborhood will require hard battles and the wise investment of our time and energy. I’m ready; I hope you’ll join me.
UPDATE: On March 4, the LPB nominated the club including some interior spaces and the entire site. Actual designation may not include all the nominated features. Date of designation meeting will be posted here and in the Events portion of qahistory.org.
The Landmarks Preservation Board will consider the nomination of the Swedish Club on Dexter on Wednesday, March 4, 2020, at 3:30 p.m.* in the Seattle City Hall, 600 4th Avenue, Floor L2, Room L2-80 “Boards & Commissions.” The public is invited to attend the meeting and make comments. Written comments can be submitted to the Landmarks Preservation Board at Landmarks Preservation Board, Dept. of Neighborhoods, P.O. Box 94649, Seattle WA 98124-4649 by March 3, 2020, by 3:00 p.m. Comments can also be emailed to the Department of Neighborhoods by the same deadline.
The Queen Anne Historical Society is submitting a letter endorsing the nomination. Members of its Landmarks Committee have been working on this nomination for over two years with the Swedish Club and the primary nominator Larry Johnson, principal emeritus of The Johnson Partnership, now known as Studio TJP.
The nomination is available for review at the Queen Anne Branch of the Seattle Public Library, 400 W. Garfield St. and at the Department of Neighborhoods Office, at Seattle City Hall, 600 4th Ave, 4th Floor, telephone: 684-0228. It is posted here under “Current Nominations.”
*Although the LPB meeting starts at 3:30 nominations don’t start until around 4:30. You can check the agenda at their site later this week.