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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for supporting this project!
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.
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 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..
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.
Share Your Memories – A West Woodland neighborhood history enthusiast is creating an anthology of memories commemorating 418 NW 65th Street and needs your help.
The announcement yesterday regarding the sale of 412-418 NW 65th Street saddened many in the neighborhood. In response, the blogger behind Vintage West Woodland (https://vintagewestwoodland.wordpress.com/) is creating an anthology of memories to commemorate the businesses that once called this address home.
You’re invited to submit your stories, essays, photographs, and art featuring your experiences at these businesses, including 418 Public House, Reading Gaol Pub & Grill, Hagar’s, and more.
Memories will be shared on Vintage West Woodland for neighbors to enjoy! Interested in participating in this project? Please email your stories, essays, photos, and more by July 28, 2016 to email@example.com.
Thank you for supporting this project!
If you lived in the West Woodland neighborhood between 1953 – 1970, you’ll remember hearing the air raid siren each Wednesday at 12:00 pm. Long time neighbors have told me that you could set your watch by ‘Big Bertha’, the nickname given the massive Chrysler built siren that weighed over 5000 pounds. Dogs would howl and kids would scramble under their desks each time the siren wailed. Big Bertha was installed at North 67th Street & Phinney Avenue North, next to the John B. Allen School, better known as the Phinney Neighborhood Center.
Learn about Seattle’s first Bertha, Mayor Bertha Landes, on HistoryLink.org: http://www.historylink.org/File/5343
The tower and siren were erected in 1953, a response to the Cold War, Communists, and threat of nuclear annihilation. This tower-siren combination just might be the only remaining example of the 21 that once dotted Seattle neighborhoods, my search turned up *no others. (But there is another! Please see two updates at bottom of post!)
Why was the air raid siren installed next to a school? According to a Seattle Times article, dated March 24, 1953, the alternative would have been the Woodland Park Zoo. “The whole thing could be explained to children. But who’s to recite the hard facts of the atomic-age to monkeys…?” Can’t argue with that logic.
In 2011, the Phinney Neighborhood Center, the surrounding buildings and the air raid tower, earned a historic designation. The Governor’s Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and the Washington State Department of Archaeology & Historic Preservation listed the John B. Allen property on the Washington Heritage Register of Historic Places. The property is also designated a Seattle landmark and home to the Phinneywood Monkeys during the winter holidays!
Additional information about this property is available HERE.
The City of Seattle routinely photographs public works projects, events, sites, facilities, and elected officials for current use and as a record of events. The photo below, of North 67th Street & Phinney Ave., was taken to record the creation of a traffic channel for motorist. This “channelization” is now a part of the Heart of Phinney Park.
Click HERE to explore the current view.
*Update #1 (04/03/2016):
Dave Hoover, neighbor & history enthusiast, found a photo on Instagram that shows an air siren tower, just like ‘Big Bertha’ at Northacres Park. There is no mention of the tower on the Seattle Parks Department webpage.
I headed out to the park this morning & indeed the siren & tower are still standing! There is no informational plaque available on site. I will call the Parks Department and see what information they are able to provide. Stay tuned!
*Update #2 (04/05/2016):
Message from Seattle Parks & Recreation
“I was not able to track down any historical information about the air-raid siren at Northacres Park. You might have more luck researching through the library.
The only information I could find from staff is that the air-raid siren is not designated as a landmark and that we currently do not have any plans to move the siren or do anything with it.
Strategic Communications Advisor
Seattle Parks and Recreation”
After my baby boy was born, I filled long hours with walks around my neighborhood. Not the kind that simply take you from point A to point B, but walks where I would lose myself in the trees, flowers, and architecture of the neighborhood. The questions started during a spring stroll in March 2013. Why does that home look like an old grocery store? Why is 5th Ave NW wider than the rest of the roads in the neighborhood? A digital camera became my constant companion and the photos of buildings, roads, and other neighborhood landmarks were researched during baby boy’s nap time.
It didn’t take long to realize I knew nothing about my neighborhood. I didn’t even know I lived in Ballard. Armed only with curiosity and a laptop, I began my research. During one walk I photographed an apartment building near NW 65th Street with the words “The West Woodland Apts.” painted above the front entrance. A quick online search of “West Woodland” revealed a photo of the Woodland Theater. My first discovery, and another question. Why do these locations all have “Woodland” in their name? The hunt continued.
I shared the discoveries with my neighbors and in return they sent more locations for me to research. Long time locals thanked me for collecting their memories and photos. A few wondered if West Woodland would be forgotten in our rapidly changing city.
I love my hobby. The research is exciting and I enjoy giving back to the community I call home – West Woodland, Ballard. When you’re out on your next walk, look beyond the pealing paint, the angular addition, or that overgrown hedge. It’s worth the effort to uncover Seattle history hiding in plain sight.
Connecting with Paul Dorpat & Jean Sherrard
I’ve been reading the ‘Now & Then’ column since I was in Elementary School. Every Sunday while my sister Sandy and brother John fought over the funny pages, I would grab Pacific Magazine out of the middle of the Times and flip to the back page. The old photos of Seattle were mesmerizing. I knew I was holding something special, so I carefully cut each one out and saved in a photo album my Mom kindly purchased for me.
Fast forward to 2015, the photo album has long since been discarded, but I continued to read ‘Now & Then’ online. One sunny Sunday scrolling through the archives, I realized West Woodland had never been highlighted. I mustered up the courage and sent an email to Paul Dorpat, my childhood hero. When he called me a week later, I totally gushed on the phone. Absolutely star-struck. I collected myself after a few minutes and got down to business. “Please write a column about West Woodland!”, I said. He agreed and the rest is now history.
The Ghosts of Seattle Past is an anthology and art installation designed to preserve memories of place – gathering spots, restaurants, shops, art venues, and community institutions lost to rapid development in Seattle.
The project started with editor/curator Jaimee Garbacik, mapmaker Josh Powell, and designer Jon Horn conducting interviews with community members, inviting the public to share places they miss. The team also created a digital map where anyone could pin and note their memories of a lost space, you can find the map HERE.
The team will be using the map as a reference as they create hand-drawn maps featuring everywhere Seattleites miss. The art installation includes an atlas of essays, photography, and art from those who wish to commemorate a lost space.
The Ghosts of Seattle Past team is collaborating with Chin Music Press to compile and publish an anthology of the most striking and representative pieces of the art installation. The book will come out in or before 2017, but in the meantime this labor of love is ongoing.
They are hoping the public continues to share stories and art to be included in this project. Their goal is to make sure that as many different voices are represented as possible from all of Seattle’s communities.
Would you like to participate?
They’re looking for essays, people to interview, or any artwork or photography they can print to help preserve the city’s collective memories. If there is someone who you think would be a good fit for our project, they would also like for you to share their contact information.
Many of the places we love are disappearing, please help in creating something that lasts.
Walks through the neighborhood usually turn into a history lesson for anyone with me. The old buildings all hold stories waiting to be uncovered and shared. Clues to our neighborhood’s past are everywhere – embedded in the sidewalk, under vinyl siding, or shared in the memory of a longtime resident. When we are looking, with our eyes and ears, we find clues that provide a peek into the past.
I was one of the many volunteers photographing pre-1960 homes this past February as part of the Ballard Historical Society’s mapping project. My assigned route took me from 8th Ave NW to 14th Ave NW, where I met David Smith, owner of Blowing Sands Glass Studio.
David showed me around his building, sharing bits of history he had gathered using old property records and photos obtained from the Puget Sound Archives. As I was leaving he showed me the old City of Ballard street name plaque embedded in the sidewalk outside his shop and our conversation turned to trolleys.
Pre-1907, 14th Ave NW was Railroad Avenue and the #27 trolley ran the length of the street, taking passengers north to East Sloop Street, today’s NW 70th Street. There was a “T” or turn around at NW 70th Street so the trolley was able to face forward on the way back into town. Photo of the #27 trolley below, courtesy the University of Washington. Current view of this location can be found HERE.
Trolley lines were important in the development and expansion of early Ballard. The northern frontier neighborhoods, including Loyal Heights & West Woodland, owe their growth to the introduction of the trolley line. Most roads in the area were not paved until the 1930s, making travel dirty and difficult. Trolleys made the rural north end accessible to those wanting to buy property or a home of their own.
As I walked home along 14th Ave NW, I wondered what our city would be like today if the trolley rails had not been torn up and replaced by gasoline powered buses in the 1940s. The convenience of commuting from Ballard to Fremont, Queen Anne & beyond, car free, no parking problems, makes the trip sound down right delightful.
The future of 14th Ave NW includes a park that will provide much needed green space in park starved Ballard. This two block outdoor oasis, stretching from NW 59th to NW 61st Street, will become the front yard for neighbors who live in the many condos and townhomes lacking outdoor access. Perhaps someday the park will stretch south, following the trolley line, creating a refreshing refuge for years to come.
The Seattle Municipal Archives Photograph Collection is a time machine of sorts, providing Seattleites with the ability to look back in time at their city, neighborhood, and block. I browse the archives for fun, looking at old photos, maps, and other city documents that are available online, that is how I came across the photos for this post. I had seen them several times, but never investigated further because the description provided by the city was limited to the following:
That was it. No address or other indication of location was provided. Armed with the plat name, I went to work locating the approximate address of the photos you’ll see below. I was surprised to find that these photos were of homes on Market Street, between 6th & 7th Ave NW. When you think of Market, you don’t think “residential street”, you think noise, big trucks, and traffic! These photos paint a different picture of Market and it looks rather quiet.
The photos were part of a petition to the city, by Belanger and Belanger, asking that two parcels located in Block 2 of Ballard’s Addition to Gilman Park be rezoned. The request is dated January 26, 1953, which was four years after the Ballard – UW Extension, also known as the Ballard Spur, was created in 1949.
Ballard’s Addition to Gilman Park is a plat name provided by a long forgotten frontier developer, and block 2, which was reference by the city, is circled in red on the Kroll Map. This plat is made up of 10 blocks in the heart of the West Woodland Neighborhood, bordered by Market Street to the north, NW 50th Street to the south, and between 8th Ave NW & 3rd Ave NW.
The city denied the Belanger’s request for a rezone that year. I wasn’t able to find what zoning the Belanger’s were requesting, or why their request was denied. More to hunt down later. Enjoy the Market Street views circa 1953.
About Plat Names:
Plats in Seattle have unique names provided by the land owner. So while you may live on the west side of Phinney, your plat name may be something Ballard related. Most plat names in our area were assigned during the land grab between the City of Ballard & City of Seattle, and owners may have chosen names to show where their allegiance lie.
In 1895, one frontier neighbor even went so far as to deed the City of Ballard a huge chunk on land on the west side of Phinney Hill. This parcel later became Greenwood Park, see Baist Map of 1905 below. Today, there’s just a sliver of this park remaining – Greenwood Triangle Park.
A plat is a section of surveyed land that the owner has created a plan for, including lot sizes and identifying where they believe streets will be. A plat document is used for construction purposes, filing for permits with the city, and showing to prospective buyers. The document shows how the area will be developed for personal use or lots sold for home building, but it does not mean that the area is already developed with basic infrastructure like roads. Sometimes items shown on plat documents are for future planning purposes and they currently only exist on paper. Something to consider when looking at old documents.
You may find that you live in a plat called “Steel Works Addition” or “Salmon Bay City”, both on the west side of Phinney Hill. Remember those are not neighborhood names, they are simply names assigned to a specific chunk of land by the property owner. You can learn about Seattle’s current plat process available HERE.
One Final Shot of Market Street:
This photo was taken 2 years after the photos above, in 1955, and was part of the file created to document the completion of the Market Street Widening project. Look closely at the right hand side of this photo, you can see the mid-century house that was once on the lot Belanger wanted to rezone. There are several other data points you can compare & connect with the photos above. I won’t point them all out – enjoy the hunt!
Updated April 11, 2018
Seattle has been a backdrop for some of Hollywood’s biggest films. Amazing views and diverse scenery make for a breathtaking cinematic experience. Check out these movies and TV shows filmed, in part, in Ballard’s West Woodland neighborhood.
Twice in a Lifetime: Filmed at 311 NW 51st Street
There have been several movies and TV shows filmed in and around the West Woodland Neighborhood, including Twice in a Lifetime staring Gene Hackman and Ann-Margret. The video clip available HERE shows the home at 311 NW 51st and great views of the surrounding area. Current view of the home is available HERE.
If you decide to watch the movie, you will be treated to glimpses of Seattle in the 1980’s, including the Kingdome, Mike’s Chili Parlor, and the original Dubliner in Fremont. The good ol’ daze.
Video clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HSAqQU3SQy4
More about this movie: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0090223/
Below: 311 NW 51st Street, courtesy Puget Sound Archives. Approximate date, 1937.
Humpday: Filmed at 612 NW 50th Street
Our next movie Humpday is about two guys who take their bromance to the next level, and was partially filmed at 612 NW 50th Street. The movie is rate R, so you all have been warned. If you do decide to watch you will catch glimpses of Ballard, Edith Macefield’s house (1438 NW 46th Street), and Woodland Park.
Video clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_1sQedSS5iQ
More about this movie: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1334537/
Blood, Whiskey, and Silver: Filmed at 418 Public House
An Indie film you may not have heard about, Blood, Whiskey, and Silver was filmed at the 418 Public House. The film was created in 2013 as part of the Guerrilla Film Challenge, and at 6 minutes in length you will want to watch it a couple times. Enjoy!
Video available here: http://youtu.be/wSWA0XrCh3s
Below: 418 NW 65th Street. Approximate date, 2014.
Evil-In-Law: Filmed at 6245 5th Ave NW
West Woodland has shown up on the small screen as well. Evil-In-Law filmed two episodes at 6245 5th Ave NW. Both of these episodes aired in December 2013 and show the interior of the home.
I happen to be walking by when they were filming and met the Producer and set personnel. The film crew worked for Screaming Flea Productions, a production company based in Seattle. The Producer shared that they are always looking for new homes to film at, if interested please visit: http://www.sfpseattle.com/casting/ for more information.
More about this show: http://www.tvguide.com/tvshows/evil-in-law/episodes-season-1/549907
Did I miss your favorite movie or TV show filmed in the neighborhood?
Comment below or email firstname.lastname@example.org.