Polish Town, Girl Attorney & the World War II Nisei Hero: Unravelling Ballard’s Past

What happens when you find oral histories from early Ballardites on tape cassettes in a basement, and decide they need to become part of a multi-media map? Tune in on February 17, 2022 at 7:00 pm to find out. This is an online event, access link HERE.

West Woodland Elementary Landmark Nomination Report

In 2019, Seattle’s Landmarks Preservation Board considered the nomination of West Woodland Elementary School (5601 4th Avenue NW) and while the school building didn’t make the cut, the community has benefited from the review process.

The landmark nomination process produces a report that includes a physical description of the building, object, or site, and information on its history, current and historic photos, site plans, maps, drawings, and more. You can learn more about the nomination and designation process here.

The report contains a snapshot of the West Woodland Neighborhood, and a general overview of both Ballard and Phinney Ridge histories.  While you will recognize many of the photos included, there are several that you might not have seen before.  Two such photos are included on page A-48 and show NW 55th Street (looking west).  Do you recognize the locations?  Please reach out, this might be a future “Now & Then” opportunity for me to investigate.

The research is documented for public benefit by the Landmark Preservation Board and their final report is available online or can be downloaded here: WWE Nomination 2019.  Enjoy!

Have a story or photo to share?

You’re invited to submit your West Woodland Neighborhood stories and photographs.  Memories will be shared on Vintage West Woodland for neighbors to enjoy! Interested in participating in this project? Please email to westwoodlandneighbors@gmail.com.

Thank you for supporting this project!

West Woodland Neighborhood circa 1900




Inside Ballard’s Bardahl: A Guided Tour

Explore the headquarters of this automotive empire and meet legendary race car driver Al Young.  Full details below, courtesy Atlas Obscura.

bardahl ballard west woodland 2016-08-30 10.35.45

Join Al Young and the team at Bardahl for this exciting, first-of-its-kind tour of the Seattle Bardahl headquarters.

Operating in the heart of old Ballard for over 80 years, the Bardahl Manufacturing Corporation has helped fuel the world. Founded by Norwegian immigrant Ole Bardahl, who came to Seattle in 1922 with just 26 dollars to his name, Bardahl blossomed into a motor oil company that led the industry by the 1950s and continues to this day. Known for engaging, mob-style advertising campaigns featuring menacing characters such as “Dirty Sludge” and “Sticky Valves”, and its iconic neon sign that has held court in the Ballard skyline for decades, Bardahl remains a family owned and operated company with deep roots in racing, including the NASCAR and Grand Prix Formula One circuits. In Seattle, Bardahl helped morph the Green Lake Aqua Follies into the Seafair spectacle on Lake Washington, where the Miss Bardahl boat dominated the hydroplane races for years.

One of our hosts for this event will be National Hot Rod Association Hall of Fame drag race driver Al Young. We’ll watch products being bottled on the line in the historical plant, see a vast collection of trophies, photos, and artifacts from Bardahl history, and observe the lab where company engineers continue to innovate. Then we’ll watch Race: The Al Young Story, a short documentary about Al’s career as the first Asian-American World Champion race car driver and the obstacles he overcame to get there. Finally, we’ll join Al as he shows us one of his race cars, his world famous ’73 Plymouth Roadrunner, which will be brought to Bardahl for the occasion.

Participants will be able to see and sit in the car, enjoy the opportunity to take photos, and take home a collectible GreenLight toy replica of Al’s championship Dodge Challenger, signed by Al himself.


  • There is free street parking in the area, but it is highly competitive. Plan accordingly and consider taking public transportation.
  • With the exception of viewing the film, where we will be seated, this is a walking tour. The area is mostly flat but will include a few staircases. There is no elevator.


Email Tamara Bunnell at tamara.bunnell@atlasobscura.com.

Stay connected! Subscribe to the Atlas Obscura Society Seattle newsletter and join  our Facebook group for a first glimpse at upcoming events.

Advance ticket sales only. All ticket sales are final. No refunds or exchanges.

Click Here To Purchase Tickets!

Oral History Project–Storytellers Wanted

SMA - 435_014 - Worlds Fair - Ballard West WoodlandDo you remember the Seattle World’s Fair? If so, Jeanne Kohl-WellesKing County Councilmember – District 4, wants to hear from you! Her team is working on a project and they would appreciate having interested individuals interviewed on camera to recollect old times around the working title, “The 1962 World’s Fair — What Did the Neighbors Think??” There are fantastic productions around the major players and the bigger picture, but none around how the Fair impacted the lives of those closest to it—residents in and around District 4, which includes Ballard.

Space and time for this project are limited, so if you have stories to share, they are excited to hear them! The interview will be taped in the KCTV studio at the King County Courthouse in Pioneer Square.

Please contact Kohl-Welles’ Chief of Staff, Adam Cooper, at adam.cooper@kingcounty.gov or 206.477.3763 to get involved in this exciting and fun effort. When the final product is complete, the project will be posted so you can all see and hear our neighbors’ views of this critical part of County history.

World’s Fair Souvenir Program, shown above, courtesy Seattle Municipal Archives, IDENTIFIER: 435_014.

War Garden Park

Updated: January 2022

Located at the corner of North 50th Street and Phinney Ave North, War Garden Park is losing its cannons. The Seattle Department of Recreation put out a notice that the two cannons from the U.S.S. Concord commemorating veterans of the Spanish-American War would be removed. You can read the full notice HERE, and a screenshot has been provided below.

SPR Announcement 05 19 2019

Here are pictures of one of the guns that will be removed.  Dated, April 29, 2017.

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From the Woodland Park Zoo:

History of the park as detailed by the Woodland Park Zoo is available online at http://www.zoo.org/about/chronologicalhistory and below.

1914: On January 23rd, the southwest corner of WPZ, later known as the War Garden, was dedicated to the veterans of the Spanish-American War. Two Civil War-era barge howitzers (small wheeled field pieces) were added to the existing naval guns that had been placed there in 1911. A plaque made of metal from the USS Maine was set there as well, to honor the personnel of the USS Illinois. It is not clear why the Illinois was specifically honored.

1924: A statue, “The Hiker,” portraying a Spanish-American infantryman, was placed in the War garden (the southwest corner of the park near N. 50th St. and Phinney Ave. N.)

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From The SunBreak:

The SunBreak does a great job of detailing the history of each piece of war memorabilia located in the park, including the plaques shown below. Access the story here: http://thesunbreak.com/2013/06/08/7-odd-things-to-see-in-seattle-parks-north-end-edition/7 or Odd Things to See in Seattle Parks (North End Edition) – The SunBreak, created using web.archive.org.

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From HistoryLink:

Learn more about Seattle’s connection to the Spanish-American War from HistoryLink.org.

  1. First Washington Volunteer Infantry Regiment Muster for the Spanish-American War on May 1, 1898: http://historylink.org/File/5526
  2. Spanish-American War Volunteers return to Seattle on November 6, 1899: http://www.historylink.org/File/2051

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West Woodland Wizards Circa 1950

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Photo #1: West Woodland School, 7th Grade Class, June 1950.  

Several years ago, I reached out to Seattle Public Schools asking about old school photos.  I was hoping they would have a storage room full of dusty boxes containing old class photos and pictures of events that had long been forgotten.  Maybe they would let me dig through them and scan a few to share online.  I was excited to find out that not only did they have photos, the school district also had a dedicated archives department.

Score one for historic preservation!

Through email I was introduced to Aaren Purcell, who works in the archive department scanning and cataloging these treasures. The photos are a genuine joy to look at, and occasionally the district will post to their Facebook page.  Purcell was so kind to share a few school photos, which I have posted below.

Most of the photos include some student names, but the scanner face isn’t large enough to include the whole document and some of the names have been cut off.  If you recognize a classmate, brother, sister, or neighbor, please comment below and include the photo number and a general description of where they are standing.  You can also email westwoodlandneighbors@gmail.com.

Let’s talk about the 7th Grade photo at the top of this page.

Paul Siqueland 1950 ballard West WoodlandI first shared this photo on Facebook and, as a result, was contacted by the daughter of one of the children pictured, Paul Siqueland.  Turns out that Paul once lived in my home.  His parents bought this little Ballard brick after WWII.  Paul’s father served as a medical corpsman during World War I, then a chaplain with combat units in new Guinea during World War II. Read his father’s full obituary here.

Another daughter of Paul’s came by the house and shared many happy memories of her time spent playing in the yard.  She was pleasantly surprised to find out we hadn’t remodeled, and the house looked pretty much like it did during her childhood.  The pink kitchen paint has long been covered, but all the burgundy tile is still intact.  Her Grandmother would be happy.

Here are a few more school photos, courtesy Seattle Public Schools.  Do you recognize anyone pictured?  Let us know!  Comment below, or email westwoodlandneighbors@gmail.com.

Double click on photos to enlarge.

Photo #2: West Woodland School, Dated 1949

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Photo #3: West Woodland School, Dated 1950

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Photo #4: West Woodland School, Dated 1950

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Photo #5: West Woodland School, Dated 1950

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Heart Bomb Hattie’s Hat

Ballard Adams Hatties Hat

Ballard Historical Society plans to Heart Bomb Hattie’s Hat, the oldest continuously running Ballard Restaurant, on February 14 at 8:00 AM and you’re invited!

What is Heart Bombing?

Heart Bombing is a form of advocacy, a fun and creative way to bring people together and raise awareness about what’s cherished in a community — places both safe and threatened — with homemade valentines that serve as a sort of love letter to places that matter. This February, groups and individuals across the country will be heart bombing the places that matter to them.

Heart Bomb with the Ballard Historical Society!

To join in, craft up a valentine and join your neighbors at Hattie’s Hat, 5231 Ballard Ave NW in Old Ballard, at 8:00 AM on February 14. They’ll snap a picture, and share on social media using #HeartBombSEA and #IHeartSavingPlaces to be part of the local and nationwide love fest!

Not crafty? No worries! Ballard Historical Society will have ready-made Valentines for you to use, if you’d like.

Then & Now: 612-618 NW 65th Street

Then & Now: NE corner of 7th Ave NW & NW 65th

While the actual month this photo was taken is unknown, I believe it may have been taken in June or July of 1937. During the 1930s the West Woodland Commercial Club would host a neighborhood event called “Klondike Days”. This two day event would include a parade, with floats and marching bands, as well as games of chance, live music and dancing. The streets would be dressed with decorations, including banners and streamers, which can be clearly seen in this photo. More on “Klondike Days” in a later post.

In 1937, 618 NW 65th Street was home to the West Woodland Pharmacy (today soon-to-open JOLI SEATTLE). Directly east of the pharmacy was Hansen’s Barber Shop at 616 NW 65th Street (today BaBaLouise Salon). West Woodland Dry Goods, at 612 NW 65th Street, shared their double store front with the US Post Office (today The Sneakery).

You can also see the Woodland Tavern (today Molly Maguires) and the Woodland Theater’s marque in this picture (today Advance Sign Design, Jigsaw Records & the new Woodland Theater performance space). The movie playing that day at the Woodland Theater was “Klondike Annie” staring Mae West.

This retail space was built in 1926 and has remained largely intact. There have been changes to the exterior facade, as well as window and door placement, but the footprint of the building remains the same.

The black & white photo, courtesy the Puget Sound Archives, shows the NE corner of 7th Ave NW & NW 65th in 1937.



Heart Bomb Ballard This Valentine’s Day


Ballard Historical Society would like to invite you to join us for the Heart Bomb Project that the Nat’l Trust for Historic Preservation does each Valentine’s Day.  People all over the Nation are encouraged to stand in front of a building they love holding homemade heart valentine signs, snap a photo and then post them on social media with a hashtag to connect them all for exposure.  We have some pix of us at the Ballard Bell Tower last year on our FB page: https://www.facebook.com/BallardHistory/

Also, here’s some photos from the whole Nation’s participation: https://savingplaces.org/stories/heart-bomb-2016-spread-the-love-for-historic-places#.WH-kFVzCuQw

This year at 8am on Valentine’s Day, we’d like to stand in front of the Sunset Hill CC (3003 NW 66th St, Seattle, WA 98117) to snap our photo!  We hope you will join us for a quick pic!  We have about 10 signs already created, but we’d love if you wanted to bring your own valentines as well.

Questions?  Contact: President@ballardhistory.org

Leonard Nordine was Ballard’s Barber

This story was originally shared on Facebook, November 2014.  See posts here and here.  

About 1930, fresh out of barber school, Leonard Nordine came to Seattle and set up shop at 5416 6th Ave NW, now more commonly know as the south side of Brimmer & Heeltap Restaurant. Leonard was renting, so when he saw the vacant building across the street go up for sale, he made an offer.


Leonard’s original barbershop, 1937.  Courtesy Puget Sound Archives.


Over the summer (2014), I spoke with Sharon Barry, Leonard’s daughter. She told me that her father had offered the owner $37 for the building, the owner countered, stating he wanted $37.25 for it. The extra 25 cents? It was for train-fare to get out of Seattle.

Leonard now owned his own shop, 5413 6th Ave NW, and would cut hair there until his retirement in June 1990. He became a bit of a local celebrity, people would drive for miles to have Leonard cut their hair, his signature crew cut was always in demand. The Seattle Times ran a story about his retirement in 1996 and his passing in 2007.


Leonard’s Barber Shop, and Rod & Reel, 1958.  Courtesy Puget Sound Archives.

Leonard’s love for cutting hair was matched only by his hatred of crows. Sharon told me that her Dad could often be found hollering at crows in their front yard at 6030 35th Ave NW. Leonard also had a BB Gun and between hair cuts at the shop would pop off a couple shots. Just to clear the air of his feather foes.

In the 1950s Leonard added rod and reel repair to his repertoire. The only place in Seattle you could get your hair cut & fix your fishing reel. I think Leonard would be pleased that his building continues to be a gathering place for neighbors, thanks to Slate Coffee Roasters and Hair by Penny B..


Leonard Nordine (right) cutting hair, 1990.  Courtesy The Seattle Times.

About the building:

The actual construction date of 5415 6th Ave NW is unknown. The original property tax record card available at the Puget Sound Archives shows the building was built in 1893, but the records available online show 1928. Either way, this is one very old structure and for most of it’s life was home to a Hair Salon or Barber Shop.

While today we know this location as Slate Coffee Roasters and Hair by Penny B., it was made famous by local celebrity barber Leonard Nordine, who retired in 1990 and sold the building to an ex-Army Ranger named Monty Reed. Monty opened “Mountain Castle Arms”, the second gun shop to call our neighborhood home. Being 500 feet from West Woodland Elementary there were a lot of upset parents which resulted in the shops ultimate demise.

I found several articles from the Seattle Times showing the school PTA, and several neighborhood groups petitioned the city to shut down Monty’s shop. In the end, even City Hall fought to change the law so that firearm and liquor stores could not open within 500 feet of a school.



Mountain Castle Arms, 1992.  Courtesy Puget Sound Archives.