West Seattle, Washington
9:20 PM: If you didn’t know Peder Nelson already, you might have met him at West Seattle Summer Fest last weekend – he’s vice president of the Southwest Seattle Historical Society board, and he was taking the 360-degree We Love The Junction photos (among other things, including conducting walking tours). In the SWSHS video clip above, he invites you to SWSHS’s next SouthWest Stories presentation – in honor of The Boeing Company‘s centennial (today!), you can find out about Boeing’s West Seattle roots. Be at the South Park Library (8604 8th Ave. S.) for his presentation at 2 pm Sunday (July 17th).
ADDED 12:30 AM: Unlike the aforementioned event, most of the official Boeing Centennial celebration is private. But here’s an iconic image captured along the way by West Seattle pilot/photographer Long Bach Nguyen:
Those nine jets spanned Boeing models from the 707 to 787.
Another West Seattle Summer Fest preview, with hours to go until the streets close at 6 pm – the Southwest Seattle Historical Society‘s festival plans center on its “We Love The Junction” campaign – get your button, take a walking tour, be part of a group photo, share your thoughts …
The Southwest Seattle Historical Society’s “We Love The Junction” Task Force plans a variety of activities during West Seattle Summer Fest that will invite attendees to support the preservation of key buildings in The West Seattle Junction.
The headquarters for these activities will be the Southwest Seattle Historical Society booth, next to the Easy Street Records booth, just north of the main Junction intersection of California Avenue SW and SW Alaska Street.
The activities are part of the yearlong campaign of the “We Love The Junction” Task Force to support the historical society’s effort to secure city landmark status for the Campbell Building (main tenant Cupcake Royale) and the Hamm Building (main tenant Easy Street Records).
On Saturday and Sunday, July 9 and 10, the task force will stage 360-degree group photos at noon, 1 pm, 2 pm, 3 pm, 4 pm and 5 pm at the California/Alaska intersection just north of the festival’s main information booth.
The photos will feature a “We Love The Junction” banner in the foreground and include the Campbell Building and Hamm Building. Everyone is encouraged to come and pose in one or more of these unique photos, which will be posted immediately on social media.
Free “We Love The Junction” walking tours of The Junction also will be offered during Summer Fest. Here are the tour topics, times and leaders:
“The ABCs of the West Seattle Junction Historical Survey,” 12:15-1:15 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, leader Deb Barker, who served on the survey’s steering committee.
“If These Buildings Could Talk: Stores of the Past,” 2:15-3:15 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, leaders Peder Nelson, vice-president of the Southwest Seattle Historical Society board.
“The Art of History: The Murals of West Seattle,” 3:15-4:15 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, leader Clay Eals, executive director, Southwest Seattle Historical Society.
In addition, the Southwest Seattle Historical Society booth will feature a “We Love The Junction” chalkboard, on which visitors can write their reasons for their attachment to West Seattle’s shopping hub. The answers will be photographed and posted online.
“We Love The Junction” buttons will be for sale at the booth for a $1 donation. Brochures explaining the campaign will be available, and people will be invited to sign the campaign’s statement of support.
Also, the booth will feature the popular “Guess the Number of Lincoln Logs” contest, and $100 Golden Tickets for a chance at winning a Holland America “Choose Your Cruise” will be on sale.
This summer, the historical society plans to submit landmark nominations for the Campbell and Hamm buildings prepared by a consultant funded by a 4Culture grant.
Scroll through our other festival previews in this WSB archive.
After many previews, today was finally the day to party:
Colman Pool on the shore at Lincoln Park is now three-quarters of a century old. Opening day was July 4th, 1941. Among those who gathered to celebrate the milestone, members of the Sears family, with a third-generation pool operator now on board:
The story is told in detail by Judy Pickens in the newest Fauntleroy Community Association newsletter: Mark Sears is retiring from 43 years at Colman Pool, most of them in the operator/grounds caretaker role previously held by his dad Norm Sears. And his successor is daughter Maya Sears:
She has already been with Seattle Parks for a decade, including as the manager of its wading-pool system (which includes a pool just a short stroll uphill from Colman). This morning’s party celebrated the pool’s present and future, as well as its past, in many ways. More of its history was presented by speakers including Jean Carroll, one of the first two people to swim in Colman Pool, practicing on July 3rd, 1941, to be part of the celebration the next day:
Last weekend, we featured Southwest Seattle Historical Society executive director Clay Eals‘s video of her memories.
Also today, a diving demonstration:
A demonstration of “fancy diving” also was part of the 1941 opening celebration, according to a clipping in this KUOW story; another 1941 participant listed in the clipping was Gary Gaffner, that year’s “King Neptune” (and a descendant of a member of the Denny Party), who spoke today as well:
Back in the water, members of the lifeguard staff demonstrated the rescue skills they all have but hope never to have to use:
A lifelong aquatics professional who knows those skills well, Coy Jones, was today’s emcee:
Two “mermaids,” Essie and Cyanea, took a turn performing:
At noon, the party made way for the first swim session of the day, after former lifeguards and current and former pool staffers shared their memories open-microphone style.
There’s so much more to the history of Colman Pool – you can read a bit in Lori Hinton‘s West Seattle 101 essay, and more in HistoryLink.org‘s page about Kenneth Colman, who presented the pool to the city in memory of his father Laurence Colman. Colman Pool is only open part of the year, for obvious reasons – its preseason weekends start before Memorial Day, and by late June it’s operating 7 days a week, until Labor Day, which will be followed by one post-season weekend this year, according to the official brochure. If you’ve never been … don’t miss it.
As we’ve been reporting, Colman Pool in Lincoln Park marks its 75th anniversary tomorrow, having opened on July 4th, 1941. On Saturday, we shared a video with the story of the first two people to swim in the pool. Tonight: Local author and documentarian Lee O’Connor e-mailed WSB to announce he’s just released a short film about an ugly side of Colman Pool’s earliest years, and how it moved “from segregation to integration.”
Among the sources he cites is Shelley Sang-Hee Lee‘s book “Claiming the Oriental Gateway: Prewar Seattle and Japanese America,” excerpted here (click on the second passage to read more). O’Connor, a Seattle resident, is author of “Take Cover, Spokane: A History of Backyard Bunkers, Basement Hideaways, and Public Fallout Shelters of the Cold War.” He is currently working on a documentary based on it, while writing another book he says is “about abandoned underground missile silos in the Columbia Basin.” As mentioned in his video, Seattle Parks now maintain a non-discrimination policy; it’s on page 4 of this year’s brochure. The city’s overall policy, and how to file a complaint if you experience a violation, is here.
That’s what the Lincoln Park “mud hole” swimming pool looked like in 1936, as shown in the Seattle Municipal Archive photo collection, just five years before it was replaced by sleek Colman Pool, which had its grand opening on July 4, 1941. That means Monday is the 75th anniversary of the city’s only saltwater pool, and it’s party time. Also time for memories. The video below is from Clay Eals, executive director of the Southwest Seattle Historical Society, who talked with Jean Carroll, who was one of the first two people to swim in Colman Pool when it opened. She has a lot of stories to tell!
Even if you don’t feel like swimming, go to Colman Pool Monday morning to celebrate its history – here’s the official invitation. At 10:15 am, mural conservator Peter Malarkey will talk about the historic lobby mural he restored last fall (WSB coverage here); then the celebration, with light refreshments, happens on deck at 11. The party’s free; swimming has the usual fees, but the slide will be free all day.
P.S. This is just one of the West Seattle 4th of July events you’ll find in our guide.
We’ve already previewed some of tomorrow’s big events – and here’s another: The Southwest Seattle Historical Society‘s annual benefit tour, “If These Walls Could Talk,” takes you behind the scenes at The Kenney. Its century-plus-old grounds include the city-landmarked Seaview Building (with the cupola you see in our photo taken earlier this week at sunset from nearby Solstice Park). The SWSHS site has full details on the 3-5 pm tour, including a video invitation from the great-great-great nephew and niece of The Kenney’s founders Samuel and Jessie Kenney. Admission by donation, $10 for SWSHS members, $15 non-members. (The Kenney is at 7125 Fauntleroy Way SW.)
(Fall 2012 photo of Lincoln Park & Colman Pool by Long Bach Nguyen; click image for larger view)
We’re putting together our annual West Seattle 4th of July page – what you need to know about the big day/night around here – and this is one of the events you’ll see: As announced by Seattle Parks, here are details of the 75th-anniversary party for Colman Pool on the shore at Lincoln Park:
Colman Pool, West Seattle’s outdoor pool and Seattle’s only heated saltwater pool, celebrates its 75th birthday this year, and Seattle Parks and Recreation is holding a celebration on July 4.
The celebration at the pool, 8603 Fauntleroy Way SW in Lincoln Park, will begin on the deck at 11 a.m. and include light refreshments and special entertainment. The celebration on the deck is free; regular fees apply for all swims, however the slide will be free all day. See swim schedule below.
The event will also include the unveiling of the restored entry mural, which was commissioned in 1941 when the pool was opened. The mural was restored with help from the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture. A presentation by mural conservator Peter Malarkey will take place in the lobby at 10:15 a.m.
Swim schedule for July 4
Noon-1:30 p.m. — Lap and family swims
1:45-4:45 p.m. — Public swim (slide and diving board open)
5-7 p.m. — Lap and family swims
The mural restoration was done right after the end of last year’s Colman Pool season – here’s our feature about the project and the artist. Meantime, today is the second day of the 7-day-a-week season at the historic pool.
P.S. If your business or organization has a public event (or special hours, or closure, or …) on the 4th of July, please send info so we can include it on the upcoming WSB holiday page! firstname.lastname@example.org – thanks!
That’s Ron Tjerandsen, and tomorrow he’ll tell “An Immigrant Family’s Story” as the next installment in the Southwest Seattle Historical Society‘s “SouthWest Stories” series, 2 pm Sunday at West Seattle (Admiral) Library. Free, but get there early to ensure a seat!
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
At City Hall, the Landmarks Preservation Board has just unanimously approved the Admiral Theater‘s renovation plans – a key step toward getting the work done in the months ahead.
The board’s approval is necessary because much of the historic moviehouse is protected by the city ordinance designating it a landmark – including its site, exterior, lobby (but not its restrooms or carpet), and the east and west walls with historic mural art.
FarAway Entertainment (the theater operator, not building owner)’s Sol Baron presented the plan, after first describing the Admiral’s ship-evocative design. “What we’re proposing is limited exterior improvements, updating our bathrooms – right now they probably haven’t been updated in decades – make them handicapped-accessible … Main thing we’re doing from our business perspective is converting the 2-screen auditoriums to 4 screens. A corridor that’s actually a tunnel is how we’re going to access them … (they’ll have) stadium seating, it’s going to be a pretty classy place – around 220 seats in 2 auditoriums, the other two will be significantly smaller.”
Baron said the exterior work will be limited, but they’ll be “replacing water-damaged sections of the roof … replacing emergency exit doors … inside, the doors will be painted the same colors …. lobby doors will be painted the same color … we’re not making any chnages in the color or look.” Also some improvements are planned to deal with stormwater issues, including a downspout, and a steel canopy over two alley-side stairwells that “collect water.” Some exterior “patching and painting” is planned, too.
On to the interior: They want to change the bottleneck of how the entry works – requiring you to go through the ticket counter the moment you set foot into the building – so that people have some access to more of a “public space” in the lobby. For one, they’ll transfer condiments to a condiment counter, which will enable the addition of one more concession stand. They’ll reconfigure what’s in the lobby, and also change the look of the concession counters themselves.
(WSB file photo)
Overall, they want to pull as much signage as they can away from the Captain Vancouver mural (above) so that it’s showcased even more.
Enhancing the theme, Baron told the board they’re ordering a custom carpet “that will have nautical themes.” He said some of the mural art that will be uncovered inside the theater is believed to be in OK shape but will need restoration work, and they hope to partner with the community on that. New curtains are planned too.
The only member of the public to speak was Southwest Seattle Historical Society executive director Clay Eals, who campaigned to save the theater almost three decades ago when it was in danger of closing forever. “This is a hugely exciting turning point, in fact, it will go down as a landmark year … the theater is a bellwether for the community.” He mentions the 1989-1992 closure, “and in those three years there were many empty storefronts” as a result. “This is what’s going to keep a landmarked business building alive. … The beauty of this is, these changes are being done without harming, and with in fact enhancing the historic features of this building … that caused this board to vote it to be landmarked 27 years ago.” He mentions that the centennial of the building itself (in its pre-Admiral incarnation) is just three years away. “Exposing the murals … will be a tremendously inspiring thing.” He called it “the next phase of a jewel … the only theater in the community … the only theater between the airport and downtown.”
Landmarks Board member Deb Barker (a West Seattleite) said that “cleaning up the mural in the lobby really makes a lot of sense …” Board member Rob Ketcherside said it will be good for the mural art to be seen by more people. Barker said, “What’s there now, you really have no idea that the side walls (hide the murals).”
Baron explained that all this is essential to make the theater a successful commercial venue, and that the building’s owner had looked at other possible uses, but continued operation of a moviehouse would be vital to truly honoring the reasons it was made a landmark.
With that, the board voted unanimously to give its approval. As noted in our coverage of the “Group Hug” event outside the theater earlier this month, Baron expects the work to get going by mid-August.
After 54 years, it’s down to three weeks before students and staff have their last classes at Schmitz Park Elementary, before moving to the new Genesee Hill Elementary, opening this fall.
Last night, hundreds of people gathered at the school to celebrate its half-century-plus history.
They included members of the extended Schmitz family, which not only donated the land on which the school was built, but has stayed involved with the school all these years:
At the event, we photographed Dietrich Schmitz, great-grandson of Ferdinand and Emma Schmitz, with wife Mary Howland Schmitz and mother Vicki Schmitz Block. Family photos and memorabilia were part of what was displayed around the school last night:
The “love (the Schmitz) family has for this community” was subsequently acknowledged by high-profile Schmitz Park alum, King County Executive Dow Constantine, speaking while holding toddler daughter Sabrina, acknowledging “fond memories of a place that did quite right by us.”
For eight years, Gerrit Kischner has led Schmitz Park as its principal:
He recalled arriving at the school in 2008, when its enrollment was 315 and it was something of a well-kept secret; it has more than doubled since then, to 650, the capacity of the new campus half a mile away.
New memories will be made from the moment that school opens on September 6th, but those from last night will linger as well. The event was organized by parent Fiona Preedy:
After speeches in the courtyard, last night’s celebration moved on to group photos – see some of them after the jump: Read More
In case you missed our original mention and are going to be in The Admiral District at midmorning tomorrow (Friday), a reminder that almost a thousand students will be there too, for the “Group Hug for The Admiral” event. As reported here last week, it’s a big photo op to commemorate the soon-to-start major renovations at the historic Admiral Theater, organized by the Southwest Seattle Historical Society, which did the same thing for the Alki Homestead/Fir Lodge on the first Friday of June last year. SWSHS executive director Clay Eals says neighbors in the area all have received a notice; students will start arriving, on foot, around 9:30 am, from Alki, Lafayette, and Schmitz Park Elementary Schools. The ceremony/photo is set for 10 am; former mayors Norm Rice and Greg Nickels (an Admiral-area resident) are scheduled to speak to them briefly. No streets will be closed but a few parking spaces in front of the theater will be off-limits for the duration of the event.
12:54 PM: Thanks to David Williams for the photo and first word that a bit of Junction history is exposed right now – in front of Talarico’s Pizzeria at 4718 California SW. The restaurant doesn’t open until 3 today so we haven’t yet reached anyone to ask for details of the work (and the sign’s fate) but an online permit filing has the notation, “Install 45 lineal feet of rigid canopy on storefront with no signage or graphics.” Meantime, Mike Phelps also sent a photo, which we’ve cropped for a closer look:
Mike adds, “The revealed signage predates (the old) New Luck Toy. Predates me; interesting to see if any readers remember or have photos.” The recently released West Seattle Junction Historical Survey says this building dates to 1950.
1:51 PM: As “Chemist” points out in comments, the address is identified on this Junction-history site as having belonged to “Star Radio” before New Luck Toy in 1950.
5:30 PM: During a brief stop at Talarico’s this afternoon, we learned this work is part of a bit of remodeling of the entire front, including the windows. The sign, we’re told, is from when Schuck’s was in part of the building. No plans to preserve it, so if you’re interested in seeing it in person, get down there fast. The work is only expected to take a few days.
Sunday afternoon at 3 pm, come to the Southwest Library to find out something you probably didn’t know about West Seattle history. You’ll hear it from Carol-Ann Thornton, whose video invitation, below, is provided by the Southwest Seattle Historical Society:
Thornton will talk – with you, not at you, as she said in the video – about “Culture Shock: The Awakenin of Alki and West Seattle in 1962 and Beyond.” It’s the latest chapter of the SouthWest Stories series, co-presented by SWSHS and SPL; her stories include her experience as the first African-American student at Alki Elementary. The event is free, and everyone’s welcome; SW Library is at 35th SW/SW Henderson.
In case you haven’t already seen this in the WSB West Seattle Event Calendar – it’s now just three and a half weeks away, and you might have something to contribute in advance:
As Schmitz Park Elementary plans its move to Genesee Hill this fall, we thought it was important to celebrate the legacy of Schmitz Park Elementary, which has been open since 1956, having moved into its current building in 1962.
We invite those in the community – especially those that were involved at Schmitz Park as a teacher, student, or parent – to join us on Friday, June 3rd at 6:30 p.m., at the school, to reminisce, walk the halls, view photos, etc.
Those who wish to be involved are invited to:
*Attend the event in June.
*Send in photos or request someone to copy their photos or memorabilia.
*Share an anecdote or memory via email.
*Consider being interviewed by a student.
*Add their email address to the mailing list for more information.
*Spread the word to neighbors and relatives that may have been at Schmitz Park.
Please contact Fiona at email@example.com or visit the school’s web page for more information.
If you’re wondering about the future of the SPE site – it remains up in the air. Seattle Public Schools says there’s no plan to use it for anything next school year, for starters. We’re following up on the process for determining its longer-range future.
It’s been years in the making – in this WSB story from five years ago, for example, you’ll find a mention of sculptural art planned at what is now Junction 47, as part of the “public benefits” required for the City Council to grant an alley vacation for the two-building megaproject. Tonight, community advocates and neighbors gathered to celebrate what was eventually created and installed – prolific local artist Lezlie Jane‘s 10 panels telling West Seattle stories, including that of our area’s First People:
The Junction Neighborhood Organization and West Seattle Junction Association, both involved in advocacy throughout the planning of the development as well as its public benefits, co-hosted tonight’s gathering.
You can go see Jane’s artwork any time, on the southeast corner of California and Alaska – view and learn about each of the 39-inch-tall panels via this section of her website.
Join the Southwest Seattle Historical Society on Saturday, June 25, 2016, for a tour that focuses on rarely-seen and -shared background on how this inspiring institution got its start 107 years ago in the woods north of Lincoln Park and along the Fauntleroy streetcar line.
In the video above, Stuart and Michele Kenney, the great-great-great-nephew and -niece of Samuel and Jessie Kenney, founders of The Kenney, invite you to the tour, which will run from 3 to 5 p.m.
Admission is by donation: $10 for historical-society members and $15 for non-members.
Featured will be display panels on the history of The Kenney, its founders, its prominent residents over the years, and much more.
Stay tuned for more details. (An invitation-only VIP opportunity will be available earlier in the day. If you are interested, please e-mail Clay Eals, executive director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
P.S. If you missed the mention in our daily preview, the SWSHS’s Log House Museum is closed today for Easter, but will be back to its full regular hours/days next week – noon-4 pm Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday.
If you didn’t get to High Point Library on Sunday afternoon for the first-ever edition of SouthWest Stories, with Rob Ketcherside telling the tale of the Morgan Street Drive-Up Market, stand by for video – we weren’t able to record it but as always, the Southwest Seattle Historical Society did, and will publish it when ready (that’s their camera in our photo). The library’s meeting room had a full house for the event, in which Ketcherside explained the Morgan Street Market’s place in the short-lived trend of California-style “drive-in markets” in Seattle.
It was at 4201 SW Morgan, exactly where you will find West Seattle Thriftway (WSB sponsor) now. Ketcherside wrote an in-depth story about these types of markets, built in the late 1920s and early 1930s – read it here.
The second SouthWest Stories presentation (co-sponsored by SWSHS and the Seattle Public Library) will be at 2 pm April 17th, Delridge Library, featuring vibraphonist and West Seattle High Hall-of-Famer Tom Collier, on “Across the Bridge: West Seattle Heritage in Jazz.” Free!
Chances are you only know the Morgan Street Drive-In Market from that mural on the west side of the building on the southwest corner of Morgan and California – if at all. Tomorrow (Sunday, March 20th) is your chance to get to know it much better. As first previewed here four weeks ago, urban historian Rob Ketcherside is the first presenter in the new Southwest Seattle Historical Society series SouthWest Stories, and he’ll be talking about the market, seen in this 1937 assessor’s photo:
It’s on the site where West Seattle Thriftway [WSB sponsor] is now, and was at the time part of a trend toward “drive-in markets.” Whether you drive, walk, bicycle, bus, or find some other way to get there, be at the High Point Library at 2 pm (sooner, since it’s first-come, first-served for seating) tomorrow. (The Seattle Public Library, by the way, is co-sponsoring the series; see its future monthly guest speakers and topics on the SWSHS website.)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Next Wednesday afternoon, the full city Landmarks Preservation Board will formally consider the Alki Homestead‘s restoration plans. As a prelude, Homestead owner Dennis Schilling and his architect Jeff Hamlett spoke this morning with the board’s Architectural Review Committee – almost exactly one year after we first reported that Schilling was the historic Fir Lodge‘s new owner, and more than seven years after the fire that ravaged and closed what had been a beloved restaurant.
What is before the board now isn’t the full site plan, which is eventually expected to include apartments to the south of the city landmark. But because much of the Homestead is protected, changes and repairs have to get approval from the board as well as from city staff.
The committee meetings are open to the public but informal, so this morning’s session was a discussion more than a presentation. And this stage of the review generally follows months of discussions between building owners and city staffers:
(Mouse over the window to reveal video “play” button; click for :15 panorama including the 2 potential landmark buildings)
11:00 AM: When we covered the West Seattle Junction Historical Survey announcement back on Wednesday, the SW Seattle Historical Society promised to announce the “next step” today. And indeed, that’s what’s happening right now at the corner of California and Alaska in The Junction – SWSHS is announcing that it will nominate two buildings at this corner for city-landmark status – the Hamm Building (home to businesses including Easy Street Records):
And the Campbell Building (home to businesses including Cupcake Royale):
Toplines are on the SWSHS website.
11:51 AM: The announcement event is over – we’ll add video and photos after our return to headquarters. (Added – here’s the video):
The campaign to get these buildings nominated and protected as city landmarks is under the title We Love The Junction – three co-chairs, Peder Nelson, Brad Chrisman, and Crystal Dean, were introduced. SWSHS is applying for a $12,000+ grant to cover the cost of preparing the comprehensive nomination documents, but executive director Clay Eals warned that’s not a sure bet, so they’re launching other fundraisers, including the sale of We Love The Junction buttons, which just went on display at Husky Deli:
Here’s a closer look at the button:
You’ll find We Love The Junction on a new website, where you (added) will eventually be able to find out where and how sign a statement of support for the landmark nominations (no digital version yet); you’re also invited to a town-hall-style meeting at 6 pm Wednesday, March 16th, at the West Seattle (Admiral) Library (2306 42nd SW).
ADDED SATURDAY NIGHT: A few more notes from the announcement:
-While there’s no digital petition you can sign right now, there is something you can do until you happen onto one of SWSHS’s signature-collecting events (the first one is set for tomorrow at the West Seattle Farmers’ Market) – get on the mailing list by sending a note to email@example.com
-Along with Husky Deli, two other locations are selling the “We Love The Junction” buttons ($1 each, for either size) right now – Hotwire Online Coffeehouse (4410 California SW; WSB sponsor) and the Log House Museum (61st/Stevens, open noon-4 pm Thursdays-Sundays)
-These would be the fourth and fifth buildings for which SWSHS helped secure landmark status, if it happens – the other three, as Eals discussed at today’s event, are the Admiral Theater, Alki Homestead/Fir Lodge, and the organization’s own Log House Museum (formerly the Fir Lodge’s carriage house). As noted in comment discussion following our coverage of Wednesday’s historical-survey unveiling, The Junction has no landmarks now – the closest is the old substation at Dakota Place Park, a short distance north. (Here’s a city list of all Seattle landmarks.)
-They don’t expect to hear back about the requested grant until May. That and other work in the landmark-nomination process mean, Eals said, that the campaign will likely stretch at least into the fall.
(WSB photo, taken this morning; remaining top half of vandal’s marking has been blurred – bottom half was painted over)
12 days after we first reported on this vandalized mural in The Junction, its future remains unsettled. Paint has been used to cover the lower half of the big black-paint markings with which it was defaced – the part that was not on the mural itself. But while West Seattle Junction Association director Susan Melrose was hopeful at first that a graffiti-paintout firm would be able to handle the rest, that turned out not to be the case. We asked her about it at today’s Junction Historical Survey event; she tells WSB she has called in a muralist to evaluate it. After taking a first look this past weekend, she says, the muralist concurred that it’s major damage without an easy solution – the mural already was too faded, and the vandal’s paint just soaked right in. They’re still talking to see what can be done, but in case you’re wondering why the tag is still partly visible – that’s why.
BACKSTORY: The mural is “The First Duwamish Bridge” by Robert Dafford, and is on the north side of 4740 44th SW, facing The Junction’s southernmost 3-free-hours parking lot. It dates back a quarter-century now, along with nine others noted here.
9:02 AM: We’re at Husky Deli in The Junction, where the first-ever West Seattle Junction Historical Survey is being formally announced, with a gathering of local advocates, businesspeople, electeds, and more.
Gathering for WS Junction Historical Survey unveiling pic.twitter.com/VoZyU3aOoV
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) March 2, 2016
We’re recording video and will be publishing toplines live. (added 3:24 pm – here’s the video – the heart of the briefing starts 1:30 in):
For starters – the report and highlights are here. It’s in three parts: A survey of 58 Junction buildings that are 40+ years old; summaries of interviews with nine Junction building owners; summary of a public survey done last summer. As Clay Eals, executive director of the SW Seattle Historical Society, has just pointed out, it’s been almost exactly a year since this effort was announced. More to come!
9:07 AM: Community advocate Chas Redmond is opening the event with backstory – he was on the Southwest District Council when the idea first came up 3+ years ago. Current SWDC member Deb Barker (who also happens to be on the city Landmark Preservation Board) mentions that King County’s 4Culture helped fund this, and that the building survey was done by architectural historian Mimi Sheridan.
The buildings surveyed are between Genesee and Edmunds, mostly along California SW, some on 44th and 42nd. The survey categorizes buildings, primarily by whether they might be eligible for landmark status. Two wound up in that category (A) – the Campbell and Hamm Buildings in the heart of The Junction (NW and NE corners of California/Alaska – see them in the historical photo atop this story), built in 1918 and 1926 respectively. Six buildings are Category B – potentially eligible to be designated as landmarks, pending further evaluation – Hotwire/dental, Courtesy Accounting, JF Henry, ex-JC Penney, Curious Kidstuff, Technical Analysis. The rest of the 40+-year-old buildings were not considered eligible for potential landmark status.
9:15 AM: Susan Melrose from the WS Junction Association is introducing the building owner interviews – and she says the transcriptions are worth diving into; they often were the first time these owners had ever been asked about the buildings, how they came to own them, and more.
She’s followed by Eals, summarizing the public interviews done during events in the area last summer, on paper, with 260+ respondents who “were eager to share their observations and opinions – and every syllable of what they wrote is in the report.” The question included “favorite buildings” and Eals says they were named by their main tenants, Easy Street Records and Cupcake Royale, – the Campbell and Hamm Buildings mentioned above – were the leading answers. What’s worth preserving? History and small-town feel, he said – and 43 of the respondents had a one-word answer to that question: “Everything.” Eals says the logical question to all this is, what’s next? The Historical Society will answer that question in its own event at 11 am Saturday in The Junction, outside Key Bank if it’s not raining, at Husky Deli if it is. The interim time is in order for the survey to “be absorbed” and appreciated, he says.
9:20 AM: Now, the electeds (and an ex-elected). King County Executive Dow Constantine kicks it off, recounting The Junction’s century-plus history. (We’re recording video and will have it up within a few hours.)
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) March 2, 2016
With him, as you can see in our photo, are King County Council chair Joe McDermott, City Councilmember Lisa Herbold, and former City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen. Constantine says The Junction is always “where the community came together.” And, he notes, the survey is meant to help this area “move forward by honoring the past” and to “learn more about what makes this place so special to the community.” (He is a native West Seattleite, if you didn’t already know that.) He says 4Culture’s support of this involved a $10,000 grant. He says he’s “excited about the proactive approach taken by (those who did and oversaw) this survey.”
Councilmember McDermott, introduced by Constantine as another “old-timey West Seattleite,” calls West Seattle “truly a unique community.” But he stresses that for historical preservation, something has to have “meaning,” and the new report documents “what’s going on here, not just what used to go on here” – although he subsequently recounts memories including an early job here at Husky Deli. He says the report will assist with “an informed and solid conversation about meaningful use and historical preservation.”
Councilmember Herbold brings this into the context of a current issue, affordability (housing and otherwise), saying that “not just about saving these buildings because of why we love them, but because of what we want to retain moving forward – the affordability of this community, the use of local businesses … a place that is an economic engine for our local businesses.” She chairs the community that oversees economic development and believes it will be “useful to bring these findings to the council” including as assistance to other communities in Seattle struggling with these same issues. “For me, what this survey represents is hope” – for West Seattle and elsewhere.
Now, Rasmussen, who left the council a few months ago after deciding not to run for re-election. “We’re not just here to talk about saving buildings … but also we want to save what’s unique about this neighborhood, including the small locally owned businesses.” He talks about working with other areas, including Pike-Pine on Capitol Hill, which is “now one of the most successful neighborhoods on the West Coast. … When you save what is unique about (a) neighborhood, then you also save the local businesses … when you bulldoze a neighborhood or block, it is very difficult for local businesses (to move back in).” He points across the street to two new apartment buildings in this block, which now primarily have chains occupying or moving into its spaces. Just arrived, it’s announced, deputy mayor Hyeok Kim.
9:33 AM: Next up, business owners – Lora Swift of Hotwire Online Coffeehouse (WSB sponsor) and Ann Walker of Curious Kidstuff.
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) March 2, 2016
Swift says she is grateful and honored to have been part of this business community for 15+ years. “As I look around the room, I find that I’ve served coffee to most of you. … I hope to see everyone of you for the next 15 years.” Walker says the neighborhood “looked very different” when she opened her shop 18 years ago. She says she never realized when she started the store that it would go on so long, and she would have customers whose children are now customers with their own children. “It’s a lot of work, and it’s hard, but it’s so valuable,” she says, regarding running a small business.
9:37 AM: Next – two of the nine business owners who were interviewed, Menashe and Sons Jewelers (WSB sponsor)’s Jack Menashe, and Husky Deli’s Jack Miller.
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) March 2, 2016
Menashe says he grew up in Seward Park but was brought to West Seattle as a child every Sunday to have Spud Fish and Chips, and the family would drive to The Junction. He went into business here when he was 25, he says, fulfilling a wish voiced by his parents. He thanks those who supported him over the years and hails West Seattle as a “very, very loyal community” – saying the thanks for that goes to everyone in the community. “With all the changes in business, from forms of advertising with the Internet and all the different things and everything that’s happened to our city … many people outside West Seattle have come into this area for the unique area it is and the unique shops … and they love this area, the uniqueness, the older buildings … we can go everywhere (they say) but ‘please keep this area a unique, loyal area’ and that has stayed with me all these years.”
Miller says it’s not just the businesses – “Lincoln Park is not just a park, Alki is not just a beach … The Junction is not just a place to shop … we’re lucky to be here … I’m lucky to have been born into a family that has been here for 84 years. … We’re not just selling sandwiches and ice cream, there’s community here. It’s dear to us, and I’m hoping .. we have some kind of vision to preserve the feel, and loyal people here.” He recounts the story of how loyalty led to a Ben and Jerry’s franchise (where Cupcake Royale is now) not lasting long.
9:46 AM: The briefing is wrapping up; we’re the only news media here, and we ask whether the owners of the two buildings identified as potential landmarks, without even further evaluation, think about the concept. Eals says the Campbell Building (Cupcake Royale & more)’s ownership indicated potential support for preservation, but they so far have not been able to reach the Hamm Building (Easy Street & more)’s owners. All building owners, adds Barker, have been notified of the survey’s results. And as mentioned above, Eals reiterates to us, the Historical Society will have more to say on Saturday.
We’ll be adding more photos, as well as the video, of this event, after we get back to HQ.