“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)
Post by Rosalie Daggett & Marga Rose Hancock Lomita Vista, a Spanish stucco apartment building at 1208 10th Avenue West built in 1907, overlooks Kinnear Park and Elliott Bay. Noted architect Harlan Thomas (1870-1953) designed the building — originally known as Rosita Villa Apartments — with 19 units and surrounding green space. The building served as a home for workers at the railroad station located down the hill on Elliott Avenue at the current site of the grain terminal, with a funicular that brought them to and from work. (Other funiculars delivered bricks for construction of Queen Anne properties.)
Harlan Thomas Villa, 2020 Note: In Spanish, “lomita vista” means “little hill view.” Over its history, the Lomita Vista has provided a home for Seattle newcomers and long-term residents. Perhaps today’s Expedia workers hope for a funicular for their commute up and down the hill.
When searching for historic images of Queen Anne to recapture for a contemporary comparison, I’m often frustrated by streetscapes and vistas that are too obscured by mature vegetation or engineering of the landscape to make for interesting subject matter. Today’s subject provides a rare example of an urban intersection where little has changed in nearly 100 years.
6th Avenue West and West Ewing Street intersect at the northern edge of Queen Anne, between Nickerson Street and the Fremont Cut. Just beyond its intersection with West Ewing, 6th West terminates at a small public boat launch bisecting a community of houseboats. The land north of West Ewing Street and west of 4th Avenue West is one of two small slivers of Queen Anne’s base that are zoned for manufacturing and industrial use (the other being between 13th and 15th Avenues West, and continuing along Elliott Avenue West, bordered north and south by West Newton and West Prospect streets). It is due to this zoning of the land and the long duration of its occupants that the intersection is nearly identical today to when the historic image was taken in 1956.
The property on the left side of the image is part of the Foss Maritime shipyard, which extends westward to the Ballard Bridge. Founded in 1889 in Tacoma, Foss established operations in Seattle during World War I. The wooden warehouse building on the left, built in 1930, bears a Foss sign in the same position on the building’s clerestory today as in the historic image. The small white house at the water’s edge, built in 1935, still stands but is hidden behind tall bushes.
The warehouse buildings on the right were the location of the Gascoigne Lumberyard from 1926 until 2018. The most noticeable change since 1956, other than the vintage of the cars, is the absence of the warehouse building in the right foreground of the historic image. It was among several warehouse buildings owned by Gascoigne that were destroyed in a fire on November 10, 2018. The highly combustible contents of the buildings shot flames 100 feet into the air and resulted in Seattle’s first 4-alarm fire in a decade. The fire was found to be the work of a serial arsonist who had set several smaller fires in the area. Gascoigne moved their business to Everett, but a dark rectangle on the surviving warehouse marks the spot where their sign used to hang.
It certainly isn’t going to win anyone’s vote for the most attractive intersection in Queen Anne; but in a city that has seen as much rapid growth and change as Seattle, there is something special, and kind of comforting, about the little pockets that are seemingly untouched by time. A walk or bike-ride on the path that runs along the canal, between the Ballard and Fremont bridges, offers a glimpse into the past and a reminder of the industries upon which Seattle’s fortunes were built, and that still thrive despite our image as a big-tech hub.
Honoring Black History Month 2021, the Society recognizes some of the notable African Americans who have resided or worked on Queen Anne Hill over the years. Among them:
* Homer Harris(1916-2007), football hero, physician, community leader * Denice Johnson Hunt(1948-1994), an architect with a highly productive public practice
Others have contributed to the Queen Anne community, including * Benjamin McAdoo (1920-1981), an activist architect whose work includes Queen Anne Pool * Richard Norman, a Black aeronautical engineer who moved to Seattle from Mississippi and worked for Boeing, purchased the La Quinta Apartments on Capitol Hill, and in 1963 the Queen Anne Apartments. * James Washington, Jr. (1908-2000), a successful artist whose work we see at Betty Bowen Viewpoint Kim Turner’s Mt. Pleasant Cemetery Tour cites the presence there of suffragist Bertha Pitts Campbell (1889-1990) and Seattle City Council-member Sam Smith (1922-1995) — neither of them residents of Queen Anne while alive. Other African Americans buried at Mt. Pleasant: * Green Fields (1840-1914), a Civil War veteran, worked for the City of Seattle as a street cleaner. He saved his money to purchase a modest home in the Queen Anne area. * Leala Holden (d. 1959), jazz musician * Ron Holden (1940-1997), “dancehall singer” * Jerline Abair “Jeri” Ware (d. 1997), human rights activist