Bartell Mansion: 1517 11th Avenue West

George Bartell Sr. (1868-1956) established the nation’s oldest drugstore chain, originating in Seattle in 1890.  In 1900, he and his second wife Beatrice Shaffer Bartell (1879-1969) became the first residents of the house at 1517 11th Avenue West – constructed by the father of the bride, Fisk Shaffer (in partnership with Joseph A. Moncrieff) of Montana.  Shaffer Moncrieff, Building Contractors also constructed the adjacent multi-unit residential project at 1511 11th Avenue West. 

George Henry Bartell Jr. (1916-2009) arrived two days after his parent’s 11th wedding anniversary. He and his older sister Amy Ellen (1906-1998) grew up in the house now known as “the Bartell Mansion.”  They both attended West Queen Anne Elementary School and Queen Anne High School.   …Continue reading “Bartell Mansion: 1517 11th Avenue West”

Jean Louise Penrose Sundborg

Born in Ontario, Oregon, the daughter of George Lewis Penrose (1915-87) and Elinore Sterrett Shields (1913-93), Jean Penrose (September 7, 1939 – June 22, 2018) grew up on their small farm in Tigard, Oregon.

After high-school graduation in 1957, Jean spent a memorable year with her family in Tehran, Iran.  She also lived on a kibbutz in Israel as part of the International Farm Youth Exchange (IFYE) Program.

With her 1962 Bachelor’s degree in Home Economics from Oregon State University, she went to Colorado to teach high-school HomeEc.  Her sense of adventure took her to Juneau, Alaska in 1965 where she taught at Juneau-Douglas High School.

Uptown Alliance members at the 2008 dedication of Counterbalance Park: Jean Sundborg (from left), John Coney, John Gessner, Keith Biever and Kathy Biever. Photo courtesy of Jean Sundborg

She and longtime Alaskan Pierre Sundborg married in December 1966.  Pierre’s 30-year career with IBM brought the family to Seattle in 1968, then to New York, Texas, Leicester in England and St-Paul-de-Vence in France.  They adopted infants George Charles in 1969 and Lynn Marie in 1971.  Lynn died in 2007.

After the Sundborgs moved from Normandy Park to Seattle and settled on 5th Avenue West in 1992, Jean co-founded and led the Uptown Alliance.  She reminded all that “it’s not Lower Queen Anne.”  Jean played a key role in the creation of Uptown’s Counterbalance Park, dedicated in 2008.  In the 1990s she worked for Triangle Associates, specializing in waste reduction and recycling.

In retirement, she pursued passions of traveling and family genealogical research.

She died in Tallin, Estonia after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage while on a Baltic cruise with husband Pierre aboard the Rotterdam.


Source: “Uptown Alliance, A Key Queen Anne Player” (Queen Anne News, July 2008)

Jean Burch Falls, Theatre Originator

Jean Falls, 2016

Jean Burch Falls  (1926-2020) worked with her husband Gregory Falls (1922-1997) in the origination of ACTA Contemporary Theatre — in 1965.  ACT produced notable performances in the historic Redding Building, also known as Queen Anne Hall & more recently Behnke Center and home to On the Boards, at 100 West Roy.  Later ACT restored Eagles Auditorium, relocating to downtown Seattle in 1996.  ACT introduced to Seattle works by such contemporary playwrights as David Mamet, Sam Shepard, and Tom Stoppard, and cultivated a community of actors and theatre workers.

Born and raised in New York City, Jean Burch graduated from Manhattan’s Brearley School in 1942 after attending boarding schools in Virginia and Lausanne, Switzerland.  Despite her family’s objections, she studied drama in college, first at Bryn Mawr and then at Neighborhood Playhouse in New York.  In 1943, she started to fly planes, hoping to join the WASPs – Women’s Auxiliary Service Patrol.  However, the war in Europe ended before she reached the age when she could serve.  After a first marriage and the birth of two sons, she began pre-med studies at the University of Vermont  — while also directing and acting in community theatre.  There she met and married Greg Falls, Director of the University of Vermont Drama Department, and her dramatic activities intensified.

In 1961, the University of Washington appointed Greg Falls as Executive Director of the School of Drama, and the Falls family – now including two daughters — moved to Seattle.  Jean performed in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Green Lake Aqua Theatre.  After a couple of years, Jean and Greg began to look for a space to open a contemporary summer theatre, to complement the two-year-old Seattle Repertory Theatre that staged classic plays during the winter.  This led to the 1965 opening of ACT at its original Queen Anne location on West Roy.  Jean noted that Jim Whittaker the first American to summit Mt. Everest and an originator of REI – had used the Redding Building as a staging area.

In 1974, Jean began to write lyrics, often in collaboration with composer Rob Duisberg.  Her work included lyrics for performances at ACT, Empty Space, and Issaquah’s Village Theatre.   In 1999, she performed her final stage role in a production of Margaret Edson’s WIT at Seattle Repertory Theatre.  She also traveled with the show to theatres in Houston, Phoenix, and Tucson.

Stewart Ballinger, Greg and Jean Falls at ACT’s 20th anniversary celebration in the Rainier Tower, May 1, 1984 (courtesy ACT)

A co-founder of Seattle’s Empty Space Theater, Jean sat on the boards of Allied Arts of Seattle and Town Hall.   Her civic roles included activism in the late-1960s fight to save the Pike Place Market, culminating in her service on the first Pike Place Market Preservation and Development Authority/PDA.  There she played an instrumental role in establishing the Pike Place Market Foundation, originated in 1981-82.  In 1975-81, she served on the Seattle Center Advisory Commission.

Jean Falls resided on Queen Anne beginning in 2007.

Reference:  Jean Falls, The Seattle Times 1/3/2021