Alki Community Council: From new signs at Don Armeni, to new info about the Homestead renovation

April 17, 2015 at 4:54 pm | In Neighborhoods, West Seattle history, West Seattle news, West Seattle police | 23 Comments

(Photo courtesy Paul)
New parking signs are up at Don Armeni Boat Ramp – not new rules, but new signs (though a related rule change is under consideration). Thanks to a tip, we were already working on a story about the new signs before police explained them at last night’s Alki Community Council meeting. The signs, and other ACC toplines, including the SPD plan for Alki this summer, and Homestead/Fir Lodge updates from the Southwest Seattle Historical Society, ahead …

Click to read the rest of Alki Community Council: From new signs at Don Armeni, to new info about the Homestead renovation…

Neighborhood Conservation Districts? Many questions, few answers

April 8, 2015 at 3:54 pm | In Neighborhoods, West Seattle history, West Seattle news | 9 Comments

Will the city make Neighborhood Conservation Districts available as a tool for interested neighborhoods to use if they choose to preserve their “character”?

City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen has been exploring the idea for a while, presenting a briefing on a study last September, and convened a discussion at the High Point Community Center last night, the second of three around the city (the third and final one is on Phinney Ridge tonight).

One challenge: The legislation to be brought up for a council vote hasn’t been written yet. So while those in attendance had many questions, few answers were available. Here’s the slide deck that was shown:

The first round of meetings is being held primarily to gauge community interest. One point made clear: These districts couldn’t be created to stop development projects already on the drawing board. Questions focused on what would or would not be allowed in a district, and how that might affect property owners’ rights, given that in theory, one could be implemented without unanimous approval of affected owners. Would it come down to something simple like, what kind of fence you could put up? Answer: If there are guidelines for that, yes. Wouldn’t that make this something like a homeowners’ association? another attendee asked. And what about people moving into the district long after it was created?

Other questions: What disclosure will there be for property owners regarding the costs of these districts? What’s the final cost to the city, considering that if an area can be as small as a block, hundreds could spring up. (Rasmussen’s legislative assistant Evan Clifthorne said he expected this to start slowly.) Which city department would run the program? Probably the Department of Neighborhoods - but nothing’s finalized yet.

Again, lots of questions – the answers will depend on what’s in the official proposal. We asked Councilmember Rasmussen afterward about the likelihood of this making it to the finish line before, or after, he leaves office; his view is that if the council sees enough interest from citizens, they’ll carry it through, and public meetings like this one are one way to do that. (Our informal count last night was around 20.)

If you’re interested in the topic and can get to north Seattle, tonight’s meeting is at 6 pm at the Phinney Neighborhood Center, 6532 Phinney Avenue N.

SIDE NOTE: Speaking of centers, we noted that several people were confused about last night’s location (including our crew!). So many meetings are held at Neighborhood House‘s High Point Center (6400 Sylvan Way, not a city-run facility) that any mention of a “center” in High Point seems to send people there. The site of last night’s meeting is officially called High Point Community Center, a Seattle Parks-operated facility at 6920 34th SW.

Neighborhood Conservation Districts to honor history? Next step includes 3 meetings, one in West Seattle

March 19, 2015 at 4:32 pm | In Development, West Seattle history, West Seattle news | 4 Comments

(From the Seattle Municipal Archives, 1900 photo of store in 1600 block 44th SW)
Last fall, we reported on Councilmember Tom Rasmussen‘s study of whether Neighborhood Conservation Districts might help some areas work to keep some of their character, even in a time of growth and change. Now, he’s taking the next step – public meetings to find out if neighborhoods are interested in the idea. One of those meetings will be in West Seattle next month. Here’s the announcement:

Does your neighborhood have strong character that should be preserved, but isn’t eligible or appropriate for historic district status?

Councilmember Tom Rasmussen is holding a series of Neighborhood Conservation District (NCD) public meetings to gather resident input about establishing a program in Seattle. NCDs can be best described as a hybrid between Seattle’s Landmark Review Districts and our Design Review Program where unique neighborhoods can help dictate architectural style, square footage requirements, or other design elements.

Learn more & share your perspective:

· West Seattle, April 7, 6:00 p.m., High Point Center, 6920 34th Ave SW

Wondering how this relates to yesterday’s announcement about a “historical character survey” of The Junction? That *could* be a preface to a special district, although, as Southwest Seattle Historical Society executive director Clay Eals replied when we asked a related question during yesterday’s briefing, creating a district would mean going through a “political” process – while the survey, for starters, has no strings attached.

VIDEO: West Seattle Junction ‘historical character’ survey finally launched; 45 property owners invited to participate

March 18, 2015 at 9:06 am | In West Seattle history, West Seattle news | 9 Comments

(UPDATED 4:27 PM with video)

(WSB photos by Patrick Sand. Above, Susan Melrose ceremonially presents Jack Menashe with first letter inviting survey participation)
9:06 AM: As West Seattle grows and changes, there’s been talk for more than a year of doing a survey to capture the historic character of at least part of our area. We first wrote about it in January 2014; updates have ensued as the Southwest District Council met; and this morning, it’s finally “a go,” as announced at a news conference that’s under way right now at Husky Deli in The Junction.

For the first time, the historical character of the West Seattle Junction will be documented in a professional survey.

Funded by 4Culture, the West Seattle Junction Historical Survey, launched on Wednesday, March 18, 2015, will interview property owners in the two-block Junction core to elicit data and anecdotal information and contract with an architectural historian to identify elements that define The Junction’s character, give it uniqueness and allow it to thrive as the business hub of the West Seattle peninsula.

The project teams the Southwest Seattle Historical Society (the survey’s fiscal agent) with the Southwest District Council, West Seattle Junction Association, Junction Neighborhood Organization and ArtsWest.

The 4Culture grant totals $10,000, most of which will pay for the evaluation services of a professional architectural historian. The grant states that while The Junction “has undergone dramatic changes,” elements such as “the low-story look, the traditional narrow and deep interiors and the compression of multiple businesses into small spaces” have allowed the district to retain a distinctly “small-town feel.”

It also states that because there is only “outdated and insufficient knowledge about the worthiness of any of the structures” in The Junction, the survey will have great value.

One aim of the survey is to determine if buildings in The Junction would qualify for nomination as Seattle landmarks, which is part of why property owners are “key stakeholders” in the survey.

Over the next six months, all 45 property owners in the survey area will be invited to be interviewed about the history of their buildings, including enhancements and uses, along with how the district’s milieu has contributed to the success of the businesses operating in their buildings. The interview findings will be merged with architectural data, and results of the survey will be made available to the public.

“We trust that the resulting information and insights will be useful to property owners, businesses and the community at large in shaping the future of this treasure of a business district,” says the survey’s letter to property owners.

The district got its name immediately prior to West Seattle’s annexation to Seattle, in 1907, when the West Seattle and Fauntleroy streetcar lines converged at a transfer point at California Avenue and Alaska Street, forming “The Junction.” Among the oldest buildings in The Junction are the Campbell Building (1918), housing Cupcake Royale, and the Hamm Building (1926), home of Easy Street Records.

We’re at the news conference with numerous community leaders and will add photos/video later.

10:16 AM: Adding our photos for starters (we were the only news organization at the event). Photo above shows those who spoke at this morning’s event and/or are integrally involved with making this happen – from left, Clay Eals of the Southwest Seattle Historical Society; Jack Miller of Husky Deli; Susan Melrose of the West Seattle Junction Association; René Commons of the Junction Neighborhood Organization, Jack Menashe of Menashe & Sons Jewelers (WSB sponsor), Deb Barker and Chas Redmond on behalf of the Southwest District Council.

Photo immediately above this line shows many of the community leaders who were there to be part of it. Video and a few event notes still in the works.

ADDED 4:27 PM: Three video clips; the first and third are by WSB’s Patrick Sand, from this morning’s event; in the middle, the video clip shown at the event, profiling Jack Miller and Husky Deli, is courtesy of the Junction Neighborhood Organization:

Though all that’s set in motion right now is a report – in Q/A after the announcement, SWSHS’s Eals expressed confidence that it will be a spark to preservation and celebration, not just a reference document. We’ll check in from time to time to see how it’s going.

Alki Homestead sold. What’s next? Southwest Seattle Historical Society plans ‘major announcement’ tomorrow morning

March 13, 2015 at 7:20 pm | In Alki Homestead, West Seattle history, West Seattle news | 9 Comments

The city-landmark Alki Homestead officially has a new owner, according to documents filed with the county, dated today: Fir Lodge LLC has purchased it for $1,250,000. Fir Lodge, of course, is the historic name of the log building at 2717 61st SW. And the LLC is in the name of Dennis Schilling, with whom we talked back in January about his prospective purchase of the Homestead, closed since a fire damaged its interior six years ago.

Schilling is a Mercer Island-based investor who already has a success story in Alki, having purchased and fixed up the once-threatened-with-demolition Shoremont Apartments, just blocks east of the Homestead. His interest in the historic lodge came more than three years after former owner Tom Lin‘s proposed renovation plan went idle following multiple reviews with members of the city’s Landmarks Board, which has jurisdiction over changes to buildings and sites that are under city landmark protection, as this one has been since 1996. Schilling has been talking with the Landmarks Board and other city reps about his hopes of renovating the building and possibly building a few apartments on part of its current parking lot; we were there as he talked with the board’s Architectural Review Committee in late January.

New ownership is only a first step into the Homestead’s future, but we expect to find out much more about what’s next for it tomorrow morning, as the Southwest Seattle Historical Society – which has been working for years to save the Homestead – has announced a media briefing with “a major announcement” at 9 am, and we’ll be there. SWSHS has many ties to the Homestead/Fir Lodge, not the least of which is the fact that its headquarters building, the Log House Museum a half block away, was its carriage house decades ago.

ADDED SATURDAY MORNING: The official news release is on the Log House Museum site; we’re at the LHM news conference where the sale and restoration plan are being officially announced.

Log House Museum leadership change: You’re invited to farewell reception Thursday for manager Sarah Baylinson

February 28, 2015 at 6:21 pm | In West Seattle history, West Seattle news | Comments Off

After two and a half years as manager of the Southwest Seattle Historical Society‘s Log House Museum, Sarah Baylinson is heading south; you’re invited to a farewell reception next Thursday (March 5th). SWSHS executive director Clay Eals has announced that Baylinson is departing to become collections manager at the Bowman Museum in the Central Oregon town of Prineville. She joined SWSHS as a volunteer in 2010 and became museum manager in fall 2012. Her farewell reception is set for 3-4 pm Thursday, March 5th, at the museum (61st/Stevens). If you attend, you’ll also get a chance to meet new interim LHM manager Lissa Kramer, a Morgan Junction resident who started volunteering for SWSHS last year and has 15 years of experience in museums and public programs. Baylinson’s last day is Sunday, March 8th; recruitment of a new permanent manager is expected to start shortly thereafter. The full announcement with more information is on the Log House Museum website. (Photo of Sarah Baylinson, left, and Lissa Kramer, courtesy SWSHS)

West Seattle schools: Denny teacher shares Black History Month lesson

February 14, 2015 at 4:27 pm | In West Seattle history, West Seattle news | 1 Comment

(Photo courtesy Alan Blackman, who’s at right with guests James and Michael Dixon)
February is Black History Month. Denny International Middle School‘s 7th grade US History teacher Alan Blackman brought guests to his 4th-period class on Thursday, and wanted to share the story with you:

Here at Denny, we strive to prepare scholars to become responsible, informed citizens by utilizing multiple perspectives in their educational journey. In my American History class, we have dissected such events as the Columbian exchange and the American Revolution by examining the varying experiences of all groups involved.

(On Thursday), we were extremely fortunate to be joined by Michael Dixon, a former Black Panther, and his son James, who volunteered at Denny during the 2013-14 school year with the City Year program. Mr. Dixon was not only a member of the Seattle Panthers – his brother Aaron founded the city’s chapter in 1968. Mr. Dixon spoke to students about the events of the 1960s and the aims of the Black Panther Party. Students were very eager to ask Mr. Dixon about the origins of the Black Panthers, and his thoughts in hindsight of that time. It was a great opportunity for students to interact with and learn from an individual who experienced and participated in such a tumultuous, powerful, and significant period of American history.

Mr. Dixon emphasized the role of community service in his words to scholars, recalling the community programs that the Seattle Panthers organized, such as the free breakfast program in Madrona. He encouraged students to recognize the impact each of them could have on their community, using his own activism as an example. Students definitely left class feeling encouraged and empowered.

The UW’s website has an extensive archive about this chapter in the city’s history; it starts here. More-recent background on Aaron Dixon, who ran for US Senate in 2006 and authored a memoir in 2012, is here.

Gone but not forgotten: Parts of historic ferry Kalakala are now forever ashore at Salty’s on Alki

February 12, 2015 at 4:10 pm | In West Seattle history, West Seattle news | 17 Comments

The art outside and near Salty’s on Alki (WSB sponsor) includes something new that’s also something old: Pieces of the recently scrapped, once-gleaming art-deco ferry Kalakala. Alki photographer David Hutchinson shared the photos and this link to SeattlePI.com, which reports that Salty’s proprietor Gerry Kingen bought “the wheelhouse, massive rudder and crank, a piston and rod, and a hatch” to display outside his West Seattle restaurant, where the grounds already sport sections of a demolished local bridge.

In addition to that unique view of the city, the new feature also provides a portrait view of Salty’s itself.

SeattlePI.com quotes Kingen as saying this is just the start of the display, which will also include interpretive features.

If you hadn’t been following the saga, the Kalakala, half a century out of service, finally met its end recently at a scrap yard in Tacoma. Meantime, in addition to the Kalakala pieces and bridge sections – explained by Kingen in this video featured at the Southwest Seattle Historical Society brunch gala last year (WSB coverage here). P.S. If you stroll the area, you can also see the Luna Girls on Alki steel sculpture by Lezlie Jane; it’s on city-owned land just west of Salty’s.

‘How do I get to ‘yes’?’ prospective Alki Homestead purchaser asks Landmarks Board committee at first review

January 30, 2015 at 8:19 pm | In Alki Homestead, West Seattle history, West Seattle news | 6 Comments

(2012 WSB photo of Alki Homestead, with part of parking lot visible at left)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

If you own a city landmark, what you do with it is subject to a set of rules that can delve into details as minute as window trim.

And you usually have to go before the city Landmarks Preservation Board to get approval before renovations/changes. If they’re significant enough, before you ever get to the full board, you’ll need to deal first with a subset of the board, its Architectural Review Committee.

This morning on the 40th floor of the city Municipal Tower downtown, that committee met with someone who isn’t even a landmark owner yet: Prospective Alki Homestead (Fir Lodge) purchaser Dennis Schilling, who, as reported here earlier this week, has to decide soon whether to go ahead with a deal to buy the 111-year-old log structure, vacant since an electrical fire six years ago. He made it clear he is seeking reassurance that he won’t be buying himself a long-drawn-out process; toward the end of the discussion, he asked flat out, “How do I get to ‘yes’?”

He didn’t get a specific answer on that, but he did get positive feedback on the part of the proposal that had to be evaluated first:

Click to read the rest of ‘How do I get to ‘yes’?’ prospective Alki Homestead purchaser asks Landmarks Board committee at first review…

Can the man who saved the Shoremont save the Alki Homestead?

January 27, 2015 at 5:28 pm | In Alki Homestead, West Seattle history, West Seattle news | 25 Comments

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

“It’s fixable, in my opinion.”

So says Dennis Schilling of the historic West Seattle landmark he’s considering buying and repairing, the Alki Homestead (originally Fir Lodge), vacant since the fire that charred its interior six years ago this month.

This Friday, Schilling takes a new repair/restoration/renovation plan to the city Landmarks Preservation Board‘s Architectural Review Committee. The meeting agenda is the first public document pointing to his involvement with the Homestead; after finding the damaged landmark on the ARC agenda for the first time in 3 1/2 years, we looked up the Department of Planning and Development files for the site and found Schilling involved.

If you can’t place his name, Schilling is the Mercer Island man who saved the Shoremont Apartments, blocks east of the Homestead, as first reported here in 2011. That classic brick building was at one point proposed for demolition and replacement with an ultramodern-style building. He bought it instead, fixed it up, and says everything’s “been great” since then.

One day while visiting Alki to go to the Shoremont, Schilling told us in an interview outside the Homestead today, he noticed the big “for sale” sign that’s been up for months. (He explains that every time he goes somewhere, he tries to “not drive home the same way twice.”) The rest was history.

Click to read the rest of Can the man who saved the Shoremont save the Alki Homestead?…

VIDEO: Southwest Seattle Historical Society’s rock ‘n’ roll & ‘rebirth’ Champagne Gala Brunch scores sizable support

November 9, 2014 at 10:49 am | In West Seattle history, West Seattle news | 1 Comment

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

West Seattle rocks.

You already knew that.

The hundreds who gathered at Salty’s on Alki (WSB sponsor) Saturday for the Southwest Seattle Historical Society‘s annual Champagne Gala Brunch were served many reminders of why it’s true, and gave big in response.

For the gala’s centerpiece, they were the live audience for an on-location half-hour-long Marty Riemer podcast, co-hosted by his once-and-future radio partner Jodi Brothers, about West Seattle’s role in Seattle’s rock scene, with guests including a rock star, a record-label exec, and the owner of the city’s most-famous record store. Here’s the video (toplines later in this story, if you don’t have time to watch/listen):

The Marty Reimer Show at Salty’s on Alki from Avenue Collection on Vimeo.

Wait – you might think – didn’t you say “Historical Society”? Doesn’t that conjure an image of great-grandmas, tea, cookies, and lectures about the distant, misty past, more than rock ‘n’ roll?

Certainly, a few great-grandmas and great-grandpas were in the audience somewhere. And the family in the spotlight brought a multi-generational group – all 27 of whom gathered in front of the trademark Salty’s view windows; that would be the Schmitz Family, right after three members spoke movingly about the living legacy that traces back to one Schmitz’s emigration from Germany and eventual arrival in Seattle.

(WSB photos by Torin Record-Sand unless otherwise credited)
But when SWSHS executive director Clay Eals (above right, with Vicki Schmitz-Block and Dietrich Schmitz) spoke of “rebirth,” he made it clear the organization is looking ahead even as it celebrates the past. Especially what he said about this year’s biggest SWSHS event, the unveiling of the restored Admiral Way Viewpoint totem pole on June 6th, at its new home on the east side of SWSHS’s Log House Museum. He showed this five-minute video capturing the essence of the unveiling ceremony:

Click to read the rest of VIDEO: Southwest Seattle Historical Society’s rock ‘n’ roll & ‘rebirth’ Champagne Gala Brunch scores sizable support…

‘No ordinary cookbook’: 114 recipes from 49 locals in ‘Apron Strings’

October 4, 2014 at 10:20 am | In West Seattle books, West Seattle history, West Seattle news | 1 Comment

(WSB photo: Cookbook editors Joan & Joey arranging stacks at LHM on Friday)
Get ‘em while they’re hot! Copies of “Apron Strings,” a brand-new local cookbook, are officially on sale. This weekend, you can buy it during regular hours at the Log House Museum (noon-4 pm Saturdays, Sundays, and Thursdays and Fridays) – or maybe you’ll be at the LHM for the volunteer orientation today (11 am-1 pm) and get yours then – or, look for the Southwest Seattle Historical Society at the West Seattle Farmers’ Market tomorrow. And get busy making recipes like this one:

Here’s the SWSHS announcement about “Apron Strings”:

Just in time for Thanksgiving meal planning and the search for a unique holiday gift, the Southwest Seattle Historical Society is releasing a new, home-grown cookbook.

“Apron Strings: Recipes and Recollections from the Duwamish Peninsula” is a 180-page paperback with 114 recipes from 49 local residents. Stories accompany many of the recipes, and the book is laced with 16 photos from the historical society’s archive.

Editors of the cookbook are three longtime members of the historical society: Dayle Banks, Joey Richesson (former board secretary) and Joan Stover (former board treasurer). The cover features a colorful, quilted vintage apron from Merrilee Hagen, past president of the historical society.

“Apron Strings,” priced at $25, is on sale at the historical society’s “Birthplace of Seattle” Log House Museum. It also will have its public debut from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 5, at a table at the West Seattle Farmers Market in The Junction.

Net proceeds will go to the Southwest Seattle Historical Society.

Three years in the making, “Apron Strings” is “no ordinary cookbook,” the editors write in the book’s preface. “It is a collection of recipes that reflect the history and culture of Duwamish Peninsula families and friends. … Entwined with the details for sifting, stirring, baking and frying are the stories of the people and circumstances surrounding the dishes, the family traditions of meals and snacks, and the community history of food that is uniquely West Seattle, White Center and beyond.”

Golden Ticket time! Buy yours at Log House Museum

October 2, 2014 at 1:44 pm | In How to help, West Seattle history, West Seattle news | Comments Off

As part of its fall fundraising, the Southwest Seattle Historical Society is now selling Golden Tickets in its drawing for an Alaskan cruise. One hundred tickets are on sale, at $100 each, for that grand prize – described as:

… a cruise for two with an ocean-view cabin aboard the ms Westerdam of the Holland America Line, sailing from Seattle on Sept. 19, 2015, to Juneau, Sitka and Ketchikan, Alaska, and Victoria, B.C., returning on Sept. 26, 2015. Programs on Pacific Northwest totem poles will be featured. (The prize does not include government or port taxes, shore excursions or airfare.)

The drawing will happen during the SWSHS Champagne Gala Brunch, 11 am Saturday, November 8th at Salty’s on Alki (WSB sponsor). You don’t have to be at the brunch to win – but you do have to buy your Golden Ticket in person at the Log House Museum (or AT the brunch), which is open Thursdays-Sundays, noon-4 pm, 61st/Stevens. Questions about the Golden Ticket drawing? If you have questions about the Golden Ticket drawing, please call the museum at 206-938-5293 or contact SWSHS executive director Clay Eals at 206-484-8008 or clay.eals@loghousemuseum.info.

P.S. The discounted Early Bird ticket rate for the brunch has less than a week to go – more on that here.

P.P.S. The next edition of the SWSHS-presented “Words, Writers, West Seattle” series is tomorrow, 5-7 pm at Barnes and Noble/Westwood Village, featuring Susan Rich.

Followup: Tickets now available for Southwest Seattle Historical Society gala. New info, too: Wine, coffee, cruise!

September 14, 2014 at 7:41 pm | In How to help, West Seattle history, West Seattle news | Comments Off

Earlier this summer, the Southwest Seattle Historical Society went public with some details of this year’s Champagne Gala Brunch on November 8th. Now, not only are more details available, tickets are too – go here to get yours at the “early bird” rate (available until October 8th). Here are the newest details from SWSHS:

With a program featuring West Seattle deejay Marty Riemer, a half-dozen West Seattle-based music luminaries and the mother-son-daughter combination of Vicki Schmitz-Block, Dietrich Schmitz and Julie Schmitz Broker, this year’s Gala promises to be rousing and memorable.

Click to read the rest of Followup: Tickets now available for Southwest Seattle Historical Society gala. New info, too: Wine, coffee, cruise!…

Followup: Fauntleroy Schoolhouse crowdlending goal reached!

August 28, 2014 at 2:54 pm | In Fauntleroy, West Seattle history, West Seattle news | 2 Comments

Update from the Fauntleroy Community Service Agency: The crowdlending campaign to raise money for remaining work at the historic Fauntleroy Schoolhouse has just passed its $500,000 goal! This is for the second phase of repair work, involving roof, painting, gutter/downspouts, and earthquake-resistance retrofitting. As reported here last month, the campaign launched in connection with Semble hit the halfway mark within its first week; by the start of this week, it was three-quarters of the way to goal; and today, it passed the half-million mark. FCSA hopes to get the work done before fall rainy season arrives.

Two special spotlights previewed for Southwest Seattle Historical Society’s 2014 Gala Champagne Brunch

August 28, 2014 at 11:24 am | In How to help, West Seattle history, West Seattle news | Comments Off

Fall is approaching, and that means fundraising-gala season. So again this year, the Southwest Seattle Historical Society gathered board members and longtime backers at The Pacific Institute across from Seacrest Park for a preview of this year’s Gala Champagne Brunch. At last night’s gathering, SWSHS executive director Clay Eals announced that the gala, 11:30 am November 8th at Salty’s on Alki (WSB sponsor), will feature two special spotlights.

As Eals mentions in our brief clip, one relates to the gala’s theme, celebrating the renovated Admiral Way totem pole unveiled in June at SWSHS’s Log House Museum:

The totem pole was carved from a log cut in Schmitz Park, one of the West Seattle treasures donated by the Schmitz family, whose Vicki and Dietrich Schmitz will discuss the family’s unique historical legacy.

Also in the spotlight at the SWSHS gala brunch: A panel spotlighting West Seattleites’ roles in the world-renowned Northwest music scene – “Why West Seattle?” Marty Riemer and Jodi Brothers will host panelists including Chris Ballew, Tim Bierman, Gary Crow, Megan Jasper, Nicole Vandenberg, and Matt Vaughan. Here’s Marty’s video invitation:

Postal-mail invitations are going out soon, but even if you don’t get one, you’re very much welcome at the event (sponsors, by the way, include WSB). Reservations will be available via the SWSHS website in about a week. If you reserve your seat by October 8th, you’ll get a $10 discount – we’ll publish an update as soon as we get word the page is live.

Charlestown Court not worthy of landmark status, says Landmarks Preservation Board, again

August 6, 2014 at 5:53 pm | In Development, West Seattle history, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 19 Comments

(County archives photo of the building now known as Charlestown Court)
We’re at the Municipal Tower downtown, where the city Landmarks Preservation Board voted this afternoon to reject landmark status for Charlestown Court. The building is proposed for demolition to make way for an 8-unit townhouse project.

This was the second time the Tudor-style 1920s-era brick fourplex at 3811 California SW had been nominated; the last time, in a process that played out 2007-2008, the board said “no,” but development proposals then stalled until the current one, and the city said too much time had elapsed for them simply to refer to that previous vote, so the process needed to start again.

Before today’s presentation about the building, Paul Cesmat said he has owned it since 2007 and declared it has structural issues – “the brick’s not structurally sound, the chimney has issues, this has been pointed out to us … and we have insurability issues … I feel that this building does not meet historical criteria … and it’s not structurally worth saving.” It is wood-framed without concrete backing the brick, he explained in response to a question later.

The presentation focused on changes made to the building, including its windows, contending the changes made over the years affected the fourplex’s “physical integrity.” The photo you see at the top of the story was shown, with the comment “It’s a shame that’s not there any more.” (The nomination document from the June meeting, including photos and history, can be seen as a PDF here.)

In pre-vote discussion, board members said basically that while you could consider it “handsome” or “charming,” it just didn’t “rise” to landmark status.

Click to read the rest of Charlestown Court not worthy of landmark status, says Landmarks Preservation Board, again…

Saturday with SW Seattle Historical Society: Volunteer orientation in the a.m., WS Outdoor Movies in the p.m.

August 1, 2014 at 10:10 pm | In West Seattle history, West Seattle news, West Seattle Outdoor Movies | Comments Off

Make it a historic Saturday:

VOLUNTEER ORIENTATION: 11 am-1 pm tomorrow (Saturday, August 2nd) at the Log House Museum, it’s the next orientation for prospective Southwest Seattle Historical Society volunteers. No, you don’t have to know all about WS history to help – learn some along the way, and put a variety of skills into action. Read about it here, then show up at the LHM, 61st/Stevens.

WEST SEATTLE OUTDOOR MOVIES: SWSHS is sponsoring tomorrow night’s West Seattle Outdoor Movies presentation of “Sleepless in Seattle,” which you probably know includes a famous – and contextually infamous – West Seattle scene. It’s also a wrapup event for this summer’s celebration of the West Seattle Bridge’s 30th anniversary; Hotwire Online Coffeehouse (WSB sponsor), adjacent to the WSOM screen/courtyard, still has anniversary T-shirts and commemorative coffee on sale. Gate opens 6:30 pm, movie at dusk (9-ish), free but bring $ for benefit raffle tickets/concessions.

West Seattle Bridge anniversary: One more big event ahead

July 27, 2014 at 3:19 pm | In West Seattle history, West Seattle news, West Seattle Outdoor Movies | Comments Off

Next Saturday night, “Sleepless in Seattle” (the movie that inspired the cry, “You can’t get to Alki like THAT!”) will be onscreen as part of West Seattle Outdoor Movies, sponsored by the Southwest Seattle Historical Society as a wrapup of the summerlong celebration of the 30th anniversary of the dedication of the “high bridge.” As you know if you’ve been to a WSOM screening before, the screen is on a big wall in the courtyard outside Hotwire Online Coffeehouse (WSB sponsor), which has been partnering with SWSHS in the summerlong celebration.

Back on July 14th, 30 years to the day after the bridge’s dedication, the courtyard was the site of a panel discussion of the bridge’s history – not just how it got built, but also, the bizarre spinoff story that became a murder mystery. In case you missed that event, here’s our video:

Back to next Saturday’s WS Outdoor Movies presentation: According to the full preview on the SWSHS website, preshow entertainment includes live music and more of those historic bridge-related video clips previewed here earlier this month. And as with all WSOM shows, it’s free! But you can bring $ for not only nonprofit-benefiting concessions and raffles, but also to buy an anniversary T-shirt and commemorative coffee. Make a night of it – August 2nd, 4410 California SW.

Fauntleroy Schoolhouse centennial celebration: You can help!

July 9, 2014 at 11:34 am | In Fauntleroy, West Seattle history, West Seattle news | Comments Off

That photo was taken on the grounds of the historic Fauntleroy Schoolhouse, shortly after its 1917 opening. Though it’s not in service as a public school any more, it’s part of the heart of the Fauntleroy community, and that’s why planning is already accelerating for the schoolhouse’s centennial celebration. Fauntleroy communicator/community advocate Judy Pickens shares this information on how to help, starting now:

The Fauntleroy Schoolhouse will turn 100 in 2017, and a planning committee is laying the groundwork for several events to honor “A Century of Serving the Community.” Here’s how you might help:

§ Photos and memorabilia from your time at the school, either donated or loaned.

§ To build a database, your full name, contact information, and year(s) you were a student or staff member at the school.

§ Centennial event planning. If you would like to help, meet at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, July 31, at the Original Bakery.

If you can help with any of the above, please email faunt.schoolhouse100years@gmail.com.

The first centennial event will be an open house next May. Grander celebrations will follow in 2017.

The schoolhouse (file photo above) has been community-owned since the purchase from Seattle Public Schools was completed four years ago.

West Seattle Summer Fest countdown: Meet ‘Seymour History’

July 8, 2014 at 4:07 pm | In West Seattle festivals, West Seattle history, West Seattle news | 2 Comments

Three days until West Seattle Summer Fest – our area’s biggest party of the year, in the heart of The Junction, Friday-Sunday, July 11th-13th. We’re continuing to roll out previews of what you can see and do, and today we have an update from the Southwest Seattle Historical Society, which will have a booth at the fair to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the “high bridge,” partnering with Hotwire Online Coffeehouse (WSB sponsor). SWSHS’s Clay Eals sends word that in honor of another anniversary – the state’s 125th birthday – you can “meet” Seymour History at the booth. That’s Seymour at left; he is a 10-inch-high doll replica of an Olympic Marmot, the state’s official land mammal, available for photo ops at the booth, where you can also enter a contest to win him or other prizes including two “History Is Not for Wimps” T-shirts, the book “Washington Curiosities,” and four guest passes to the Washington State History Museum in Tacoma. If you stop by the booth 11 am-3 pm on Summer Fest day 1 this Friday, you’ll also meet staffers from the Washington State Historical Society; other hours, SWSHS volunteers will do double duty as Seymour’s handlers, while also leading the bridge-a-versary activities including an interactive art opportunity and more chances to buy commemorative T-shirts and coffee beans. Get ready for everything Summer Fest has to offer by browsing the official site here.

West Seattle 4th of July: Picnic, bridge-anniversary celebration, volunteer awards at Log House Museum

July 4, 2014 at 1:23 pm | In Holidays, West Seattle history, West Seattle news | Comments Off

How many bridges have connected West Seattle to the mainland? What year did the first one open? What year did the bridge get hit by a freighter, paving the way (so to speak) for the current high bridge? Those are three of the trivia questions* that Southwest Seattle Historical Society executive director Clay Eals has asked so far in a quiz during the Log House Museum‘s traditional 4th of July picnic.

The trivia quiz is part of the SWSHS-led celebration of the 30th anniversary of the high bridge’s completion, with more events to come, as listed here – including a special booth during West Seattle Summer Fest July 11th-13th and an event at the Hotwire Online Coffeehouse (WSB sponsor) courtyard on the 30th anniversary of the bridge’s completion, July 14th. Meantime, today’s picnic is on until 3 pm, and you’re welcome to come by – 61st/Stevens, one block inland from the beach, home of the renovated Admiral totem pole, and if you’re not already a SWSHS member, consider signing up during your visit (info here). The museum also celebrates its volunteers on this day; President’s Volunteer Service Awards were received by two people – (L to R) volunteer coordinator Bethany Green presented the awards to Kerry Korsgaard, and Dave Hrachovina:

*(Trivia answers: 13, 1890, 1978. The T-shirt Clay Eals is wearing was today’s quiz prize – the special commemorative shirt you can still buy at the LH Museum & Hotwire.)

Also tomorrow: Explore Hiawatha’s Olmsted Parks history

June 20, 2014 at 5:17 pm | In West Seattle history, West Seattle news, West Seattle parks | Comments Off

Just got word of this, and it’s a rare opportunity: Friends of Seattle’s Olmsted Parks is offering a free public walking tour tomorrow (10 am Saturday) of Hiawatha Playfield, designed by John Charles Olmsted more than a century ago. Meet by the park entrance at Walnut/Forest. Prepare with this history lesson (and find out about the other Olmsted parks in West Seattle via this clickable map).

Landmarks Board votes to formally consider Charlestown Court for landmark status

June 18, 2014 at 5:19 pm | In West Seattle history, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 13 Comments

Quick update from the city Municipal Tower downtown: The city Landmarks Preservation Board has just voted to approve the nomination of Charlestown Court, the brick fourplex at 3811 California SW, as a potential city landmark. A consultant hired by its owners – who want to demolish it and replace it with eight townhouses - said they don’t think it merits landmark status, a decision reached by the board six years ago when another demolition/redevelopment proposal was pending. (Since more than five years have passed, city reps explained, a new review was warranted.) Today’s vote sets the stage for a final vote on August 6th.

West Seattle Bridge’s 30th anniversary! Celebration starts rolling at Hotwire Online Coffeehouse during Thursday’s WS Art Walk

June 11, 2014 at 9:05 pm | In West Seattle history, West Seattle news | 11 Comments

(Photos courtesy Southwest Seattle Historical Society)
Every West Seattle Art Walk has a multitude of reasons for you to visit local venues and see what – but tomorrow night, there’s an extra reason: The start of a summer-long celebration of the West Seattle Bridge’s 30th anniversary – a reason to talk about the bridge WITHOUT a discussion of traffic trouble! The photos accompanying this preview – and others – went up tonight at Hotwire Online Coffeehouse (WSB sponsor), which will be showing them off as part of the June Art Walk (and beyond).

Hotwire and other local businesses are collaborating with the Southwest Seattle Historical Society for the multi-site, multi-date celebration. Stop by Hotwire Thursday night not only to see the photo exhibit but also to see the new “Bridging the Gap” T-shirt in honor of the anniversary and meet its artist (more info on the SWSHS website) and to check out the “Bridge Blend” coffee beans that Hotwire is launching. Part of the proceeds from T-shirt and coffee sales will benefit SWSHS.

(Added: As Mike points out in comments, today is the 36th anniversary of the ship-vs.-bridge collision that led to construction of the new bridge!)

Read on for other highlighted events celebrating the anniversary over the next month and a half or so:

Click to read the rest of West Seattle Bridge’s 30th anniversary! Celebration starts rolling at Hotwire Online Coffeehouse during Thursday’s WS Art Walk…

More Log House Museum totem-pole celebration photos: The people who were there to write a new chapter in its history

June 6, 2014 at 10:30 pm | In West Seattle history, West Seattle news | 2 Comments

(Our first report on this morning’s ceremony is here)

(Photo by David Hutchinson)
This morning’s celebration of the former Admiral Way totem pole’s new home at the Log House Museum wasn’t really about the pole – it was about the people. Not just the dignitaries:

(This and subsequent photos by WSB’s Patrick Sand unless otherwise credited)

It was especially about the kids – most of whom arrived with the dignitaries – County Executive Dow Constantine walking from his alma mater, Schmitz Park Elementary, through the park:

Mayor Ed Murray, who attended Alki Elementary, walked with its students, and talked with kids even once he was in place:

At Murray’s left is Marcy Johnsen from the Southwest Seattle Historical Society, a childhood playmate of his, from her time living in what’s now the museum. The young attendees made the event especially memorable:

Some helped keep their fellow students safe, as they guarded intersections on the walk to the museum – following a quick run to get ahead:

Also there with safety in mind – SPD:

(Photo by Liesbet T.)
Considering the Schmitz Park, Alki, and Lafayette students on hand helped the crowd total pass 900, it was amazingly calm. Finally, the big moment came, and student representatives joined dignitaries in pulling streamers to unveil the totem pole:

Here’s video of what happened from there:

(More of the ceremony is in the archived Livestream video in our first report.) A Native American blessing was bestowed by Blake Shelafoe:

The energetic voice that guided everyone through today’s event, that of Historical Society executive director Clay Eals, who emceed:

Some of the people who were there today represented both past and present – the Schmitz family, for example, represented by family members including Dietrich Schmitz and Vicki Schmitz Block:

The pole was carved in 1966 from a log that came from a tree in the Schmitz Park forest.

(Photo by Liesbet T.)
And now you can make your own memories – visit the pole on 61st south of Stevens any time, and learn about West Seattle history inside the Log House Museum during its regular hours Thursdays-Sundays, noon-4 pm. (You might even want to become a volunteer – the next orientation is tomorrow morning, 11 am Saturday!)

P.S. If you missed our earlier reports including more about the pole’s history – see this page on the museum website.

ADDED 4:17 PM: Time-lapse of the event by SWSHS volunteer Brad Chrisman, starting with preparations, then the gathering of the immense crowd, and beyond:

Happening now: Went to West Seattle High School, any year(s)? This reunion’s for you

June 6, 2014 at 6:12 pm | In West Seattle history, West Seattle news | Comments Off

It’s All-School Reunion night at West Seattle High School – this year’s spotlighted 50th-anniversary class is the Class of 1964, gathering in the Commons, while other years gather in rooms around the school. Also there, Marcy Johnsen from the Southwest Seattle Historical Society, just hours after their big totem-pole ceremony, showing off the SWSHS tote bags ($20):

And Janet Jones with the Steps at Stevens project, which has another design meeting coming up June 23rd. If you have some ties to WSHS, drop by in the hours ahead!

8:14 PM: Also seen during our brief stop – Gail Stevens Anderson, WSHS ’63, with the West Seattle Garden Tour book for this year:

The tour’s coming up July 20th; WSB is again among the co-sponsors. And from the class of ’63 and ’64 respectively, Mike Munson and Marsha Munson:

Along with socializing and reminiscing, the All-School Reunion also includes scholarship presentations.

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