John Lorentz & Lorentz Pl

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 Pl”

Historic Residences

Some of the old houses in this selection of historic photos survive. A walk around the neighborhood is a great way to discover them. As you go on your walk or flip through this collection, see how very many of the buildings have turrets, towers or other distinctive features on one corner. It is up to you now to decide if the playful treatment of corners is characteristic of Queen Anne house, if they show us to be a particular nosy bunch of neighbors who want to look around corners without anyone knowing, or if the Queen Anne historian who put together this collection, just happened to like buildings with fanciful corner features. …Continue reading “Historic Residences”

Anhalt Apartments – 1320 Queen Anne Ave

Fred Anhalt, Seattle’s best known apartment builder, designed 1320 Queen Anne Avenue in his more typical Tudor style. Anhalt aimed to be different from other developers by creating large individualized units that people could consider permanent homes. He particularly wanted to avoid the long hallways that he said reminded him of tenements. His “apartment homes” were refuges distinguished by their size, quality detailing, landscaping and charm, built for people who did not want to own property, but could afford the best.

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His most typical styles were Tudor and Norman French courtyard apartments, which became very popular. They featured such details as leaded or stained glass, turrets, fireplaces, beamed ceilings, and elaborate brickwork. Anhalt considered a nice view important, home, so he developed attractive courtyards as a practical way to achieve this pleasant outlook: “I could make things look the way I wanted them to, that way, which is hard to do when you’re dealing with a view of Mount Rainier or Puget Sound.” The typical approach was through a landscaped courtyard, with entrances leading to two or three units. The plantings and privacy make going home a pleasant transition from the outside world. …Continue reading “Anhalt Apartments – 1320 Queen Anne Ave”