West Seattle Blog... » West Seattle history http://westseattleblog.com West Seattle news, 24/7 Wed, 27 May 2015 14:07:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 Also starting today: Tour season at Alki Point Lighthouse http://westseattleblog.com/2015/05/also-starting-today-tour-season-at-alki-point-lighthouse/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/05/also-starting-today-tour-season-at-alki-point-lighthouse/#comments Sat, 23 May 2015 19:01:57 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=311296

(Photo by Long Bach Nguyen – click image to see larger version)
The summertime tour season at Alki Point Lighthouse (lower left in the photo above) is starting early. Debra Alderman from the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary says they had to make sure they’d have enough volunteers for this weekend – they do, and so it’s on:

FREE lighthouse tours this weekend! The Alki Point Lighthouse begins its tour season this weekend! We will be open Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. First tour is at 1 p.m.; last tour enters at 3:40 p.m. We will be open most Saturdays and Sundays between now and Labor Day. Three days this summer that we will NOT be open: June 13, August 1, and August 2. U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary volunteers provide tours free of charge. Location: 3201 Alki Avenue SW. Visit our website for tour information and updates: cgauxseattle.org

Find out more about the lighthouse in this WSB story from its centennial year (2013).

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Two more for today/tonight: Meeples Games turns 1; Fauntleroy Schoolhouse looks ahead to turning 100 http://westseattleblog.com/2015/05/two-more-for-todaytonight-meeples-games-turns-1-fauntleroy-schoolhouse-looks-ahead-to-turning-100/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/05/two-more-for-todaytonight-meeples-games-turns-1-fauntleroy-schoolhouse-looks-ahead-to-turning-100/#comments Sun, 17 May 2015 19:17:43 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=310664 In addition to the highlights lineup published early today, we have two additions, both related to anniversaries:

MEEPLES GAMES’ FIRST ANNIVERSARY: What a year it’s been for Meeples Games, on the second floor of Charlestown Center (California/Charlestown), including being honored as the best Emerging Business in the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce‘s Westside Awards (WSB coverage here). If you were to pick the perfect time to stop by and help celebrate, Meeples’ proprietor Laura Schneider says they’re cutting the anniversary cake at 3 pm.

(1940 Fauntleroy School photo from Seattle Public Schools‘ thumbnail history)
FAUNTLEROY SCHOOLHOUSE’S CENTENNIAL ART OPEN HOUSE: 4-7 pm today, at Fauntleroy Schoolhouse:

We will be hosting a Centennial Art Open House to raise monies for (the schoolhouse’s) 100th Birthday in May 2017. We have art pieces from local West Seattle artist such as, Art Wolfe, Sue Madill, Warren Pope, Greg Bartol, Jimmy Gersen, Patty McPhee,Chris Bath, Linda McClamrock, Nancy Gilbert, Holly Margell,Kathy Johnson, Gail Ann Wodzin and jewelry by Abi Haggerty! Lite hors d’oeuvres by Tuxedos and Tennis Shoes Catering and Events. Come share your story, pictures and memorabilia with other alumni. See you there!

Of course, you don’t have to have been a schoolhouse alum to attend. It’s all happening at 9131 California SW.

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TRAFFIC/TRANSIT TODAY: Thursday alerts & ‘Throwback’ view http://westseattleblog.com/2015/05/traffictransit-today-thursday-alerts-throwback-view/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/05/traffictransit-today-thursday-alerts-throwback-view/#comments Thu, 14 May 2015 14:20:23 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=309907

(Four WS-relevant views; more cams on the WSB Traffic page)
Nothing out of the ordinary in/from West Seattle so far this morning. Alerts/reminders:

BRIDGE WORK: Today is the last announced day of off-peak work on the outer lanes of the bridge.

THIS WEEKEND: Anti-drilling demonstrations on sea and land Saturday are expected to bring crowds to Seacrest, Don Armeni, and Jack Block Park … On Sunday, Alki Avenue will be closed until about 11 am for the West Seattle 5K. More on both later today.

Now, our weekly look back:

TRAFFIC THROWBACK THURSDAY: This week’s featured image is NOT from the Seattle Municipal Archives, much as we love them. It’s courtesy of the Sheppard Family, who granted us permission to use the view of Admiral/California, from the southeast corner looking north:

(Click for a larger view)
While asking WSB contributor Megan Sheppard if we could use the photo, we forgot to ask the year. Guesses?

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Take a walk, to shape a tour! Join SW Seattle Historical Society on Alki Beach on three upcoming Saturdays http://westseattleblog.com/2015/05/take-a-walk-to-shape-a-tour-join-sw-seattle-historical-society-on-alki-beach-on-three-upcoming-saturdays/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/05/take-a-walk-to-shape-a-tour-join-sw-seattle-historical-society-on-alki-beach-on-three-upcoming-saturdays/#comments Thu, 07 May 2015 07:50:24 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=309412

(Wednesday low-tide photo by Lynn Hall)
In case you haven’t already seen it in the WSB West Seattle Event Calendar – the Southwest Seattle Historical Society is launching a new series of beach walks, starting this Saturday, but with a twist – the walks are not tours in themselves, but rather, your chance to help shape a tour. This announcement from SWSHS explains:

The history of Alki Beach awaits a rich, multi-layered walking tour to be developed this spring by the Southwest Seattle Historical Society, and you can help make it happen.

The historical society plans three “scouting expeditions” on foot from 10:30 a.m. to noon on three Saturdays this month. The walks will start and end at the historical society’s “Birthplace of Seattle” Log House Museum, 3003 61st Ave. SW.

People can sign up for one, two or all three sessions. They will cover these sections of the beach:

* The promenade, Saturday, May 9

* The sandy beach, Saturday, May 16

* The rocky beach north to the former Luna Park (often called Anchor Park), Saturday, May 30

Leading the sessions is Dave Hrachovina, who grew up in West Seattle and is the museum’s regular docent/greeter on Fridays and Saturdays. He is looking forward to putting together the beach walks.

“You never get tired of Alki,” he says. “It is like an inexhaustible spring of pleasure for young and old. It is Seattle’s headwater, and it is contagious. The more you learn, the more it grows on you.”

The purpose of the sessions is to identify points of interest to be included on a beach walk, everything from the Duwamish tribal story and the Landing Party saga to the times of shacks, tents and the “Coney Island of the West.” Icons present and past will be part of the mix, including the “Birthplace of Seattle” monument, the Statue of Liberty replica, the Alki Bathhouse, the Alki Natatorium, and Luna Park.

If you are interested in taking part in these “scouting expeditions,” please call 206-938-5293 or e-mail clay.eals@loghousemuseum.info to reserve your spot.

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Congratulations! Southwest Seattle Historical Society totem-pole unveiling honored with ‘Single-Impact Event Award’ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/04/congratulations-southwest-seattle-historical-society-totem-pole-unveiling-honored-with-single-impact-event-award/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/04/congratulations-southwest-seattle-historical-society-totem-pole-unveiling-honored-with-single-impact-event-award/#comments Wed, 29 Apr 2015 18:37:37 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=308588

(Photo courtesy SWSHS)
Big spring for the Southwest Seattle Historical Society. Along with being honored by the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce as its Not-For-Profit Of The Year, SWSHS accepted an award last night from the Association of King County Historical Organizations, for its big event last June unveiling the refurbished Admiral Way totem pole in its new home outside the Log House Museum (WSB coverage of that event is here). Everybody in the photo above is ID’d in this item on the SWSHS website, which also includes video from last night’s AKCHO ceremony at which SWSHS accepted the Single-Impact Event Award.

P.S. As SWSHS executive director Clay Eals told the Alki Community Council earlier this month, the 1st anniversary of the unveiling will be commemorated on June 5th with students from Schmitz Park and Alki Elementaries walking toward the museum as they did for last year’s event (added: final destination, the nearby Alki Homestead/Fir Lodge for a photo op). Meantime, you can see the totem pole outside the LHM at 61st/Stevens any time, and you can visit the museum to learn more about it and so much else of this area’s history during its regular hours noon-4 pm Thursdays-Sundays.

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Alki Community Council: From new signs at Don Armeni, to new info about the Homestead renovation http://westseattleblog.com/2015/04/alki-community-council-from-new-signs-at-don-armeni-to-new-info-about-the-homestead-renovation/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/04/alki-community-council-from-new-signs-at-don-armeni-to-new-info-about-the-homestead-renovation/#comments Fri, 17 Apr 2015 23:54:05 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=307378

(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 …

The Don Armeni parking signs were part of the update from Southwest Precinct Operations Lt. Ron Smith. The Parks Department put them up Wednesday. We had subsequently inquired with Parks – the explanation, via Parks spokesperson David Takami:

The rules at Don Armeni haven’t changed — we’ve just installed new signs to
be more clear about what the rules are. Seattle Police asked us to clarify the parking rules here–again, not to change them, just to clarify them, so that they could be fair and consistent in enforcing them.

There’s already quite a bit of single-car parking at Don Armeni: 16 single-car spaces in all, eight on each side of the boat ramp parking. To maximize the available single-car parking, we’re considering a recommendation to set a two-hour limit. That would ensure that the single-car parking spaces are available to park users rather than being used for commuter parking.

(Tipster Paul had in fact noted that most of those spaces seem to be taken up by Water Taxi commuters.) Lt. Smith described the problem in similar terms: It wasn’t that people weren’t trying to comply with the previous signs, but it seemed, they had difficulty understanding the way those signs had laid out the rules. These signs are seeking to clarify. And if that doesn’t work, SPD has enforcement out and about as needed.

On to the summer plan for Alki: As always, Lt. Smith said, the major areas of concern are underage drinking, traffic, and “behavior.” Police are seeking to be sure the right tone is set at the start of the season – which means consistent police presence. The newly expanded bicycle patrol will be an important part of that, but even bigger than that will be the new mobile precinct – no arrival date yet but Lt. Smith says they expect it will be delivered before the start of the summer season.

Another emphasis right now involving Alki: Police are trying to reel in the racing. Alki and Seward Park are the two hot spots, and when SPD shows up in one spot, the racers head off toward the other. Lt. Smith says SPD has plans in place to thwart that this summer.

Last but by no means least, he brought up the overall increase in crime in West Seattle/South Park over the past month, compared to the same time last year, as shown on this slide from this week’s SeaStat briefing downtown – everything in red is a category that’s up year-to-year in that four-week span:

Lt. Smith says they’re making progress by arresting some of the major offenders and working to identify others. (We’ll see if that’s reflected in the next crime-trends update, next Tuesday at the West Seattle Crime Prevention Council meeting, 7 pm at the precinct.)

ALKI HOMESTEAD/FIR LODGE UPDATE, AND WHAT ELSE SWSHS IS UP TO: Clay Eals, executive director of the Southwest Seattle Historical Society, says new owner Dennis Schilling has many details to work out. For starters, SWSHS has helped him connect with a structural engineer who’s doing a survey of the building. And a cleanup crew is getting rid of some of the amassed junk inside – debris and random items in the old kitchen area. SWSHS will eventually be providing updates on the renovation project via its website.

Events ahead: On (corrected date) June 5th – one day before the anniversary of the totem-pole dedication at SWSHS’s headquarters, the Log House Museum - Alki and Schmitz Park Elementaries’ students will walk over to the museum again, and this time they’ll be in a photo taken on the Homestead’s lawn. And on the 4th of July, always a big holiday for SWSHS, a fried-chicken cookoff is planned, followed by a This Place Still Matters group shot on the fifth anniversary of the “This Place Matters” photo expressing concern for the Homestead’s future.

The Alki Community Council usually meets third Thursdays, 7 pm, at Alki UCC.

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Neighborhood Conservation Districts? Many questions, few answers http://westseattleblog.com/2015/04/neighborhood-conservation-districts-many-questions-few-answers/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/04/neighborhood-conservation-districts-many-questions-few-answers/#comments Wed, 08 Apr 2015 22:54:06 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=306538 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.

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Neighborhood Conservation Districts to honor history? Next step includes 3 meetings, one in West Seattle http://westseattleblog.com/2015/03/neighborhood-conservation-districts-to-honor-history-next-step-includes-3-meetings-one-in-west-seattle/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/03/neighborhood-conservation-districts-to-honor-history-next-step-includes-3-meetings-one-in-west-seattle/#comments Thu, 19 Mar 2015 23:32:46 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=304429

(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.

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VIDEO: West Seattle Junction ‘historical character’ survey finally launched; 45 property owners invited to participate http://westseattleblog.com/2015/03/west-seattle-junction-historical-character-survey-finally-a-go/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/03/west-seattle-junction-historical-character-survey-finally-a-go/#comments Wed, 18 Mar 2015 16:06:52 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=304274 (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.

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Alki Homestead sold. What’s next? Southwest Seattle Historical Society plans ‘major announcement’ tomorrow morning http://westseattleblog.com/2015/03/alki-homestead-sold-whats-next-southwest-seattle-historical-society-plans-major-announcement-tomorrow-morning/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/03/alki-homestead-sold-whats-next-southwest-seattle-historical-society-plans-major-announcement-tomorrow-morning/#comments Sat, 14 Mar 2015 02:20:18 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=303831

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.

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Log House Museum leadership change: You’re invited to farewell reception Thursday for manager Sarah Baylinson http://westseattleblog.com/2015/02/log-house-museum-leadership-change-youre-invited-to-farewell-reception-thursday-for-manager-sarah-baylinson/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/02/log-house-museum-leadership-change-youre-invited-to-farewell-reception-thursday-for-manager-sarah-baylinson/#comments Sun, 01 Mar 2015 02:21:35 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=302423 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)

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West Seattle schools: Denny teacher shares Black History Month lesson http://westseattleblog.com/2015/02/west-seattle-schools-denny-teacher-shares-black-history-month-lesson/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/02/west-seattle-schools-denny-teacher-shares-black-history-month-lesson/#comments Sun, 15 Feb 2015 00:27:03 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=301081

(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.

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Gone but not forgotten: Parts of historic ferry Kalakala are now forever ashore at Salty’s on Alki http://westseattleblog.com/2015/02/gone-but-not-forgotten-parts-of-historic-ferry-kalakala-are-now-forever-ashore-at-saltys-on-alki/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/02/gone-but-not-forgotten-parts-of-historic-ferry-kalakala-are-now-forever-ashore-at-saltys-on-alki/#comments Fri, 13 Feb 2015 00:10:58 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=300884

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.

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‘How do I get to ‘yes’?’ prospective Alki Homestead purchaser asks Landmarks Board committee at first review http://westseattleblog.com/2015/01/how-do-i-get-to-yes-prospective-alki-homestead-purchaser-asks-landmarks-board-committee-at-first-review/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/01/how-do-i-get-to-yes-prospective-alki-homestead-purchaser-asks-landmarks-board-committee-at-first-review/#comments Sat, 31 Jan 2015 04:19:16 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=299677

(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:

That would be the idea of building a three-story, six-unit apartment building on what is currently the Homestead’s parking lot, south of the building at 2717 61st SW. That’s not the main appeal of the purchase, for him, he explained: “I didn’t buy this to put the 6-unit apartment building in the lot … there’s a lot of easier ways to build apartments.”

But the apartments would play a major role in the rest of the renovation, as architect Jeffrey Hamlett (below center, at Schilling’s left) noted toward the start of the meeting:

“Basically what we’re trying to do is to put a small apartment building on the south parking lot” to bring in income to finance the rest of the Homestead renovation. He and Schilling discussed several variations they had looked at, mostly working around the issues of entry – the current parking lot has a curb cut on 61st SW, but the city generally encourages parking to be accessed off alleys, and there’s one running along the west side of this property.

Parking is the point that has to be worked out here. It’s not the sort of situation that has arisen with projects in other neighborhoods – Alki has a “parking overlay” requiring 1.5 spaces for every residential unit – “highest in the city,” Schilling pointed out, while adding that he’s been told the Homestead itself would not necessarily require parking.

“No parking” is not an option, however, because of a unique condition of the property – an easement granted to the Southwest Seattle Historical Society/Log House Museum for part-time use of the Homestead’s existing 20+ parking spaces. So Schilling’s plans are to work in some parking to address that as well as the required parking for the residential proposal. He’s suggesting underground parking for the apartments and 16 parking spaces off the alley. To make room for those spaces, the apartment building would have to be fairly close to the property line fronting 61st, and that could affect the view of the Homestead from one direction.

Committee members asked about the city criteria by which the Homestead was designated a landmark in 1996, to see if that view is protected. One member said it doesn’t appear the proposed apartments “would overpower” the Homestead in terms of scale, overall. Another member noted that seeing a building south of the Homestead would be preferable to the current parking lot.

In public comment, Clay Eals from the Southwest Seattle Historical Society spoke, describing the Homestead as “our mother ship” – the Log House Museum was the carriage house for the Fir Lodge (it has long since been moved south). “Since the fire that closed the Homestead, we have been working on preserving (it) … and we are thrilled” at the prospect of Schilling purchasing and renovating the building. Eals said he and other SWSHS leaders have been meeting with him and “are very encouraged by this plan. … It’s fair to summarize our position that we have to keep our eye on the prize and the prize is the Homestead building and its front lawn … The easement (we have) is in perpetuity, with the owner of the building, and that transfers” with purchase, covering up to six hours a day, and was made when the Homestead as a restaurant did not open until 4 pm. When the LHM went from private residence to public museum, it had to have parking, Eals explained.

He said they are “willing to modify (the) easement, conditioned on restoration .. of the Homestead building.” He said they’d settle for fewer than the 23 spaces to which they currently have access, as “a statement of good faith on our part.” The Homestead, he reiterated, is his organization’s “top preservation priority.”

Rick Sever from the board of Historic Seattle, a former West Seattleite who said he’s been following the situation since the fire, called this the “closest thing I’ve seen that’s viable” since the 2009 fire. He too basically said that the prospect of saving the Homestead would outweigh the impact of the apartments Schilling wants to put on the lot.

Eugenia Woo, also from Historic Seattle, said she wanted to thank Schilling for his interest in doing this. Her group also considers saving the Homestead “a key advocacy issue … it’s been a saga.” (Part of that saga included the “This Place Matters” group-photo event in front of the Homestead on July 4, 2010.)

Eals took pains to ensure the committee understood that Schilling must make a decision soon on whether to go ahead. Schilling underscored that: “At some point I need confidence on whether this is something you’d approve.” It was reiterated that this part of the process is to indicate the committee’s level of comfort with moving forward. Schilling said he would like to “get parallel tracks going” for approvals so this doesn’t “take forever.”

Board members indicated they’d rather see the “compatible building” in the lot than parking and wouldn’t be opposed if some of the latter were lost. If there’s any way to move that future building back a bit from 61st, it would be ideal, but not mandatory, they said. The apartment building’s design shouldn’t be mega-modern, they added.

And then came the reminder that the board “will be more interested in what you plan to do with the historic building,” the Homestead itself, which had barely been discussed in the preceding hour. Schilling and Hamlett did say a new, smaller kitchen, possibly “dropped down,” would be part of the plan. Otherwise, Schilling mentioned his pre-submittal meeting with the city Department of Planning and Development last week – the Landmarks Board is under a different department, Neighborhoods. He brought up what seemed to be a conflict between DPD suggesting the Homestead will need seismic upgrades and the fact its interior is landmarked, posing a dilemma for how to seismically reinforce its log walls.

As for the Landmarks Board, Schilling asked the committee again, “How do I get to ‘yes’?”

Committee members said they were giving positive feedback on the concept of the apartment building next door, but they’ll have to hear about the rest of the project before it could go before the full Landmarks Board for a vote on yay or nay. Landmarks Board coordinator Erin Doherty promised she would work with Schilling in the meantime to help clarify how the rest of the process would go.

That assumes he’ll proceed with the purchase – a decision he told us earlier this week that he’d have to make within a month and a half or so.

BACKSTORY: The Homestead was a restaurant with a decades-long legacy until the January 2009 electrical fire that closed it and left its interior charred. Owner Tom Lin pursued restoration plans, including one that went to the Architectural Review Committee four times in 2011; its potential features had included an accessory structure on the west side and a third-floor view deck. He later canceled the project, and put the Homestead up for sale in 2013. Dennis Schilling, a Mercer Island real-estate investor/developer known best here for buying and fixing up the once-facing-demolition Shoremont Apartments on Alki, is the first publicly disclosed prospective buyer since then.

ARCHIVES: WSB coverage of the Homestead can be found here, newest-to-oldest.

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Can the man who saved the Shoremont save the Alki Homestead? http://westseattleblog.com/2015/01/can-the-man-who-saved-the-shoremont-save-the-alki-homestead/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/01/can-the-man-who-saved-the-shoremont-save-the-alki-homestead/#comments Wed, 28 Jan 2015 01:28:54 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=299400

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.

Well, almost history – he has not yet finalized the deal to buy the Homestead; some things remain to be explored, and this Friday morning’s meeting downtown (40th floor of the Municipal Tower, 8:30 am) is among them.

We’ll hear more details at that meeting, but what Schilling summarized for us is a somewhat simpler plan than some of the alternatives that architects working for current owner Tom Lin had taken to the city in 2010-2011 (July 2011 was the last meeting, and at some point after that, the project was shelved).

Some of the log work, as has been previously pointed out, is damaged by rot that had nothing to do with the 2009 fire. If you’ve walked past the Homestead recently and noticed blue tape on some of the logs, Schilling marked some of the spots in need of repair.

That’s a corner where he would hope to take out the old damaged logs and put in new ones – peeled, native, notched fir logs, as were the originals.

So in the bigger picture, what would Schilling do with the Homestead if he decides to go ahead with the purchase and renovations?

The historic building itself, he said, would probably have to be a restaurant. (He does recall eating there once, likely in the 1990s, likely having had its famous chicken.) Because of the site’s split zoning, he is proposing building half a dozen apartments in the parking lot east of the building; its parking would be underground, and parking for the Homestead itself would be off the alley to the west.

But first, he needs to know what the city Landmarks Board – of which the ARC is a subset – would allow him to do, since, fire damage and all, the Homestead remains under the jurisdiction of landmark regulations. He says he’s been working with city staffers already, discussing hypotheticals and possibilities – as well as noting conflicts between city rules requiring bringing the building up to new codes, and the rules governing what can be done to protected historic features.

He’s also been talking with the Southwest Seattle Historical Society, whose Log House Museum a half-block south was the carriage house of the building that is known now as the Homestead but started as the Fir Lodge. SWSHS, you’ll likely recall, has been a strong advocate for saving the Homestead/Fir Lodge, making the point publicly with a group photo on July 4th, 2010:

Even though not yet fully committed to the project, Schilling has already become concerned about some of the Homestead’s features – for example, the old neon sign on its roof, which he noticed was “flopping around” in the wind. He had asked if perhaps it could be taken down and stored safely until renovations began, and says the city told him no. So it’s now steadied with more wires. “I love old neon, I really do,” Schilling smiles, looking up at the sign. As for the entirety of the building: “I’d like to save as much of it as I can,” he says, adding later, “I’ve owned worse,” noting that he’s already handled more than one post-fire-restoration project. Last year, after fire ravaged a marina he owns in the San Juans, he got it repaired and back in operation within just a few months.

The historic Homestead, Schilling points out, “is not condemned; it’s damaged,” and he sees it as fixable, with an improvement or two if the city allows, perhaps a better patio out back – with some extension, he says, some water view might be possible. “If I could break even on it and save it, that would be pretty cool.” First, though, he has to get through a city process that he describes as somewhat “painful” – next stop, Friday’s meeting. He expects to decide within a month and a half or so whether the purchase will be a go.

7 years of WSB’s Alki Homestead coverage is archived here, newest-to-oldest.

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