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

 

 

 

Seattle’s Second Bertha: Cold War Relic on Phinney Ridge

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.

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Dated March 24, 1953, courtesy The Seattle Times

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.

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Air Raid Siren Installation, April 22, 1953.  Courtesy Seattle Municipal Archives, #44281.

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Then & Now:  Looking north at 67th & Phinney

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Air Raid Siren Installation, April 22, 1953.  Courtesy Seattle Municipal Archives, #44285.

Tower - North with date

Then & Now:  Looking south at 67th & Phinney

Bonus Picture:

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.  

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Looking north at North 67th Street & Phinney Ave North, 1951.  Courtesy Seattle Municipal Archives, #54427

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!

Northacres Park 04 03 2016

*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.

Thanks,

Christina

Christina Hirsch
Strategic Communications Advisor
Seattle Parks and Recreation”

The accidental neighborhood historian

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.

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The West Woodland Apartments at 6512 5th Ave.NW.

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.

ST - 03 27 2016 - Pierce

The Ghosts of Seattle Past

ghostsThe 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.

Contact Information:

Cali Kopczick
Editor, Chin Music Press
cali@chinmusicpress.com
(360) 531-3337

Then & Now: Market Street in 1953

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:

Balenger

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.

Kroll Map 2

Kroll Map of 1920.  Courtesy Seattle Municipal Archives Map Index, #1868.

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.

6th and market - then

Looking south west on Market Street.  The street sign on the left side shows 6th Ave NW.  Photo courtesy Seattle Municipal Archives, 168422.

6th and market - SW

Then – January 26, 1953 & Now – March 9, 2016

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Looking south on 7th Ave NW towards Market Street.  Photo courtesy Seattle Municipal Archives, 168424.

7th and market - south

Then & Now

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Looking south east near 7th Ave NW & Market Street in 1953.  Photo courtesy Seattle Municipal Archives, 168423.

7th and market - SE

Then & Now

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Looking south west near 7th Ave NW & Market Street in 1953.  Photo courtesy Seattle Municipal Archives, 168421.

6th and market - SW 2

Then & Now

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.

Baist map 1905

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!

Market and 8th - Aug 1955

Looking east from 8th Ave NW & Market Street, 1955.  Photo courtesy Seattle Municipal Archives, 52744.

Then and Now - Market and 8th

Then & Now

Then & Now: NE corner of 5th Ave NW & NW 62nd Street

The summer of 2014 will be remembered because of beautiful blue skies and extreme temperatures. On one of those sultry summer days, I was busy in the attic space at Grace Fellowship Church (now Calvary Ballard Church), digging through dusty files, old hymnals, and boxes full of Christmas decor. I had contacted Steve Nelson, the Minister of Grace Fellowship, just a week prior asking if he could share a bit about the churches history. Steve was kind enough to visit with me in his office and allowed me access to the building, to photograph and dig up any juicy bits of history that might be hidden away.

The NE corner of 5th Ave NW and NW 62nd wasn’t always a parking lot. In the 1940s it was once home to the Northwest Church of Christ. The church sold the building to the Southern Baptist Church on July 20,1952 for $9,500 and the name was changed to the Woodland Baptist Church.

woodland baptist church

Photo courtesy Dr. Taffey Hall, Archivist for the Southern Baptist Church Historical Library & Archives.  Date unknown.

Then & Now - NE corner of 5th and 62nd

Then & Now:  Woodland Baptist Church

By the 1960s, the congregation had grown to over 300 members and more space was needed. The new church, which sits at 410 NW 62nd, was built in 1968 one parcel to the east of the original building. The original church was torn down in 1968 and the lot has been used for parking since that time. In 1999, the congregation voted to change the name of their church from Woodland Baptist Church to Grace Fellowship in order to better reflect their mission in the community.

In the “Then” photo below you see the home that once occupied the lot where Grace Fellowship is located. Behind the home was an accessory structure that had been converted into an apartment and rented as a “1/2” address.

Then & Now - 410 NW 62nd St

Black & white photo dated 1937, courtesy Puget Sound Archives.

Steve shared with me that the congregation built the current church with their own hands and used their own money. They broke ground before their plans had been finalized and raised needed funds through special church collections, loans, and selling at least one church van. The interior of the church was never completely finished. Spaces that would not be used on a regular basis are still “mud and taped”, no paint on the walls.woodland baptist church - demolitionThe church also owns a parsonage, where Steve and his family live.  Located right around the corner at 6208 5th Ave NW, the home was originally a duplex built in 1944.  Steve’s family pet is one very talkative bird, which you will often hear while walking by.

6208 - 10 5th Ave NW

Church parsonage.  Photo courtesy Puget Sound Archives, dated 1945.

Authors Note:  This post was originally written in September 2014.  Pastor Steve Nelson of Grace Fellowship Church passed away in October 2015.  Steve moved to Seattle, WA in 1969, and became a parishioner at Woodland Baptist Church.  In 1986, he became the worship leader, and in 2001 he became the pastor of the church where he served until his death.  Additional photos and information about Steve available HERE.

steve nelson

Pastor Steve Nelson

 

Then & Now: 8th Ave NW & NW 58th Street

The black & white photo, courtesy Anna Jensen Kvam, was taken between 1903 & 1934 and appears in the book, Passport to Ballard, and is from the photo collection of Paul Dorpat.

The photo is undated, but we are able to assign an approximate date based on two factors. In 1903 the “Cow Ordinance” went into effect making it illegal for cows to roam freely. Then in 1934, our neighborhood became a construction zone when the city started grading and paving the dirt roads.  Since the cow is leashed and the road is dirt, we have an approximate date.

jensen

8th and 58th - 2

Then & Now:  Looking north from the corner of 8th Ave NW & NW 58th Street

The location is approximate because there were too few data points for me to confirm the exact location. The first aerial photos of our neighborhood were taken in 1936, and by this date 8th Ave NW had been graded, widen and paved. One home in the original photo is still standing at 5816 8th Ave NW. Today the home is almost completely covered by trees and shrubs and barely visible in the photos.

then and now -1

The photo is of Jesse Jensen, who once lived at 330 NW 51st Street. Jesse was Anna Jensen Kvam’s father.  A 1967 Seattle Times article (see: JENSEN, K – April 9, 1967 – Seattle Times), describes Jesse as a “dairy farmer” and also as owning a “plastering business”.

If you believe you have additional information to help confirm this photos location, date or subjects, let me know. I would love to see how close I came to the exact information!

Thank you to my husband and sweet baby boy for humoring me on Sunday morning and walking up and down 8th Ave NW in order to figure out the approximate location.

Then & Now: 418 NW 65th Street

Constructed in 1925, this building’s first tenants included the Minni Belle Fountain Lunch restaurant at 418 NW 65th Street and West Woodland Hardware at 416 NW 65th Street. Just east of the building, at 412 NW 65th Street, White Rock Service Station was providing automobile services for vehicles in the neighborhood.

Business was booming on NW 65th Street in the 1920s as the West Woodland District continued to grow. Minni Belle’s closed about 1936, and West Woodland Hardware took over the coveted corner retail space where they would operate until moving to 501 NW 65th Street in 1944.

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West Woodland Hardware, 1937

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The New Woodland District Hall:

In 1937, the West Woodland District moved it’s district hall into the space previously occupied by West Woodland Hardware at 416 NW 65th Street. The original Woodland Hall, which is still standing at 419 NW 60th Street, became a grocery store for the growing neighborhood.

At the new location, several community groups were able to conduct business on behalf of the West Woodland Neighborhood.  One of these groups was the West Woodland Commercial Club (WWCC), a grassroots organization that had previously been meeting in homes and public spaces.  The WWCC organized Klondike Days, a two-day neighborhood celebration that included a parade, games of chance, music and dancing. The club also acted on behalf of the business district and neighborhood petitioning the City of Seattle for funds to improve roadways and other public services.

Another group that moved into the new West Woodland Hall was a social movement called Technocracy. The “technocrats” proposed replacing politicians and business people with scientist and engineers who had the technical expertise to manage the economy. This group grew in popularity during the 1930s, and all but disappeared after the start of WWII.

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Marcella’s tavern cafe, 1944

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Recent Changes:

In 1944, the building was again full of food and laughter when Marcella’s Tavern Café opened its doors. For the next 60+ years the location changed names many times; Ben’s Tavern opened in the late 1940s, Dan’s Tavern in the 1950s,  and Hagar’s Tavern in the 1980s.   Most neighbors remember Hagar’s because of the risque mural that once covered the west facing exterior wall of the building.  More recently, this building has been home to the Reading Gaol and 418 Public House.

The White Rock Service Station has been closed for many years, but you can still see the cement footprint of the station building in the NE corner of the lot.

There have been few changes made to the exterior facade of this building. The southeast corner has been modified so there is no longer an entrance and retail windows at that address. Several doors and windows have been modified on the north side of the building as well. Still present, the diamond roof-line embellishments and exaggerated external columns.

The property was put on the market Summer 2014 and sold Spring 2016.  For additional sales information click HERE.

418 two - Now

418 Public House, 2014

The black & white photos, courtesy the Puget Sound Archives, show the NE corner of 5th Ave NW and NW 65th in 1937 and 1944.

Little Jimmy & the Gilman Shelter House Chimney

One of my favorite West Woodland Neighborhood stories took place in January 1953 at a snow covered Gilman Playground.  The boy’s name was Jimmy Wright and his adventure made the front page of the Seattle Times.

Little Jimmy was enjoying a day at the park, playing in the snow with his school chums, when he decided to climb to the top of the Gilman Playground shelter house.  Side note, the Gilman Playground shelter house is listed by the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods on their Historical Site Database.  For more Gilman Playground history click HERE.  

Once on top, Jimmy showed his friends that he could indeed fit in the chimney opening…. and swoosh!  Just like Santa Claus, Jimmy slid down the chimney into the room below.   Unfortunately for Jimmy, the shelter house was locked from the outside and the only person with a key was park superintendent Ben Evans.

After finally being released, he ran to his step-father, soot faced tears streaming down his cheeks, and proclaimed, “Never again!”  One trip down the chimney was enough for Jimmy.

Article below courtesy the Seattle Times Archive.

jimmy wright.jpg

Then & Now: Looking west from NW 55th Street onto Market

The black & white photo was taken on March 1, 1956 and comes to us courtesy the Seattle Municipal Archives Photograph Collection, Item No: 53109.

The “Then” photo was taken at the corner of NW 55th Street and NW 55th Place (west tip of Greenwood Triangle Park) to record the completion of the Market Street widening project. The photo shows Eagle Service Station at the corner of 6th & Market and directly across the street an IGA Grocery Store, which today is home to Brimmer & Healtap Restaurant. To the north of these businesses, you can see the Curly Cone ice-cream stand which once stood on the parcel now occupied by Veraci Pizza.

This old grocery store’s facade is elegant and includes a corner entry topped with a gabled parapet and cast stone ornamentation. It is clad in yellowish tan brick, with decorative brickwork that extends around the exterior of the building. The original display windows with intact transoms flank the entry and the wood-and-glass door is original. As a result, the building is included in the Seattle Historical Site Inventory. For additional information about the building, please visit:  http://web6.seattle.gov/DPD/HistoricalSite/QueryResult.aspx?ID=361

Market and 52 BH Then and Now - Market and 55th short