Stuart-Balcom House – 619 W Comstock St

Stuart-Balcom House, 1982
Stuart-Balcom House, 1982

Deette McAuslan Smith (1892-1979) built the imposing brick residence on the south slope of Queen Anne Hill in 1926.  She was the widow of contractor Grant Smith (d. 1923) who built the Olympic Hotel and the White-Henry-Stuart Building.  He died four months after their marriage in 1923. Mrs. Smith grew up on Queen Anne Hill and wanted a home for herself, her mother, her older sister, and for two children whom she planned to adopt (but never did).  Her late husband’s firm handled construction.

The English Georgian style brick building was designed by Abraham H. Albertson (1872-1964), who had worked on the White-Henry-Stuart Building and other downtown projects.  The home is on three levels, and has a large garden on the south side.  A large ballroom opens onto the garden level. The home features a library, living room, dining room, a large nursery, four bedrooms, and staff quarters. …Continue reading “Stuart-Balcom House – 619 W Comstock St”

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 Place

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 Place”