Emily Inez Denny — Seattle Pioneer

Emily Inez Denny was born in Seattle in 1853. She was the first white child born in Seattle and the oldest child of pioneers David and Louisa Boren Denny.

Louisa, Madge, David, and Emily Denny ca. 1861

Inez and her sister Madge took classes at the Territorial University when it opened in 1860. Inez later recounted that each pupil had a small slate on which lessons were written, as paper was expensive and in short supply on the frontier. The girls cleaned their slates with a sponge attached to the slate by a string and water kept in a little bottle in their pockets. The boys, on the other hand, often didn’t bother with the sponge and water, but would spit on the slate or lick it off and dry it with a sleeve. …Continue reading “Emily Inez Denny — Seattle Pioneer”

Has Uptown Forgotten About Schools?

New schools in or around Seattle Center are nothing new. The former Warren Avenue School sat on the current site of the Washington State Coliseum, now KeyArena. When the site was purchased in 1902 the Seattle school enrollment is said to have increased annually by 2,000 children. The school opened in 1903 to relieve overcrowding in the nearby Mercer and Denny Schools (these schools are also gone). Enrollment peaked in 1929 at 734 students. In 1957, Seattle voters approved a proposal for the development of a Civic Center and the World’s Fair. At the time of its closure enrollment had dropped to 250 students as families moved to make way for the fairgrounds. The school district sold the site after the State Supreme Court ruled the state could condemn the property.

Since this time, the Uptown community has been heavily dependent on the rest of Queen Anne for many of its city services. In recent history, Uptown has tried to create its own identity separate from Queen Anne. The Uptown Alliance worked hard to build a voice for their community and I praise them for their tireless advocacy.

This month the Uptown Preliminary Rezone Recommendation Director’s Report was published. In this document, Uptown is called a neighborhood, a regional center, and a district. What is new to hear is that the report calls Queen Anne an “interested neighbor”. I argue that, at this time, Uptown is not an independent entity and Queen Anne is more than a neighbor to Uptown.

The report thoughtfully addresses development standards, the increase of housing supply, transportation and traffic, sensitivity to pedestrians, its connection to Seattle Center, and makes mention of preservation. The report never studies the impact on the school district. The only place the school district is mentioned in the city’s planning efforts is in the Seattle 2035 Comprehensive Plan. Deep in the comp plan, the city calls out potential future discretionary projects. Specific to Queen Anne, the plan highlights Seattle Center; it bullet points the Memorial Stadium relocation, Memorial Stadium site redevelopment, Key Arena enhancement, and the North Parking Lots redevelopment. These are capital projects that the City might undertake or fund in the future. It’s important to stress that Memorial Stadium is owned by the Seattle School District and the funds used for redevelopment would come from the Seattle citizens.

If the comp plan and the Uptown report won’t address the impact on the schools, then the Seattle School District must… but it doesn’t. The projected growth boundary changes are not slated to account for rezones. The Uptown community cannot rely on the Seattle School District to figure this out for them. When Uptown sits at the table with the city to create a vision for their community they need to advocate for the return of their own schools – for their benefit and the benefit of their interested neighbors.

Historical Photos of Uptown’s former Warren Avenue School

John Hay School’s First Custodian (?)

Charles Wilhelm Dahlberg at John Hay School

The society just received this picture of Mr. Dahlberg from his great-grandson Scott Dahlberg.  Scott is a 1962 graduate of Queen Anne High School.  Charles Wilhelm immigrated to the United States from Stockholm, Sweden where he trained as a boiler-maker.  Boiler operation was a key function of school janitors, so his getting this job in 1905 is not unreasonable.  There is some information indicating that Charles Wilhelm continued to serve at John Hay until at least 1940, when he was 83.  This photograph makes that highly likely, since the girl standing behind Mr. Dahlberg is wearing an outfit that appears to be from that period.  Mr. Dahlberg is posing at the southwest corner of the covered outdoor play area on the second John Hay School, the brick building on Boston St.   Mr. Dahlberg died in 1944.

According to The Seattle Daily Times of July 25, 1904, Charles Wilhelm and his wife Bessie received a permit to build a one-and-a-half story cottage worth $1,800 at 1937 7th Ave West on July 23, 1904.  They probably moved into their new house some time in 1905, the very same year the school district constructed the first John Hay School.  The city directory lists their daughter Esther, a stenographer, as living there then.

When they moved in, there was no Willcox Wall or Queen Anne Boulevard.  Today, the idea of working-class folks building a house on the Boulevard would be astounding.  It tells a lot about how the neighborhood has changed over the last century or so.

The east elevation of the Dahlberg house today, facing the Willcox Wall

Although there is no ambiguity about the date of construction, the City’s side sewer record hints that the house may have been moved and set on a new foundation a few years after its construction.  The side sewer map raises this possibility, because sewer lines usually get inspected by the City when they are installed.  The side sewer record for the Dahlberg house gives the date of inspection as September 27, 1911 — well after the date of construction.  Also, the side sewer of the house next door to the Dahlberg’s was inspected the same day, while three of the houses to the north of theirs were inspected in 1910.  Additional research may show that the houses got moved to the west a bit to make room for the Willcox Wall — which they all face across a very narrow strip of the street.

The two houses under construction behind the Dahlberg House. Photo taken 3/24/17

A visit to the Dahlberg house today (3/24/2017) set off alarms, because there is a notice in the front yard about the long narrow lot being subdivided into three lots — suggesting that the old house was set for demolition.  A trip to the back yard pleasantly revealed two small houses under construction behind the house, so the Dahlberg  place may be saved after all.