West Seattle-raised star Frances Farmer’s 100th birthday today

September 19, 2013 at 9:07 pm | In West Seattle history, West Seattle news, West Seattle people | 3 Comments

Thanks to local historian Peder Nelson for pointing this out: Today is the 100th anniversary of movie star Frances Farmer‘s birth. Her family lived on Capitol Hill when she was born on September 19, 1913, but moved to West Seattle in the early ’20s, and she went on to attend West Seattle High School, gaining her first round of fame for an award-winning essay titled “God Dies.” She died in 1970, but her legend lives on, as much because of her tragic later years as her silver-screen career – even her HistoryLink.org biography, published 10 years ago, spends far more time on the former than the latter. That’s a big reason why five years ago, Nelson organized an Admiral Theater mini-festival that was about “celebrating Frances Farmer for her life and what she did, away from all the tragedy,” as he told us in our interview for this 2008 WSB story previewing the event. She is most definitely not forgotten – Shadowland in The Junction, for example, carries the same name as a biography of Farmer. In 2011, Nelson led walking tours about “The Life and Times of Frances Farmer,” passing spots including the home where her family lived in the 2600 block of 47th SW. She was just 56 when she died of cancer in Indiana.

Video: ‘Shared experience we never wanted to share’ revisited in ‘The Earth Cried Out’

September 9, 2013 at 5:04 am | In West Seattle history, West Seattle news | 5 Comments

Their messages ranged from simple, like the one above from children who are now adults, to wrenching, like this one:

At Alki Arts on Sunday night, there was no way to read all the bags on special display, let alone the ones for which there wasn’t enough room on the gallery walls:

But just the concept of their existence – echoes from the nights after 9/11, the bags for luminarias that glowed with anger, love, hope at Alki’s Statue of Liberty – is sobering enough. With the 12th anniversary of 9/11 just a few nights away, the Southwest Seattle Historical Society brought the bags out for a one-night-only display and began it with a lineup of speakers. They included Dean Keppler, who (as recounted here) briefly choked up with emotion as he recalled setting up a table with bags and pens and lights for people to make their luminarias, a “spontaneous and organic experience”:

Also speaking were City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, who observed that the bags’ messages had a “common theme (of) love and justice and patriotism,” and County Executive Dow Constantine, who called 9/11 and its aftermath “a shared experience we never wanted to share.” We have it all on video, starting with the introduction by SWSHS executive director Clay Eals:

To evoke some of the 2001 experience, battery-powered tea lights lined the bottom of the walls holding hundreds of bags, and outside the gallery, some bags ringed a tree:

The bags were donated to SWSHS earlier this year.

West Seattle scene: Getting ready for ‘The Earth Cried Out’

September 8, 2013 at 4:45 pm | In West Seattle history, West Seattle news | 3 Comments

Three days before the 12th anniversary of 9/11, tonight is your one-night-only chance to visit Alki Arts and see the Southwest Seattle Historical Society-presented exhibit “The Earth Cried Out.” Volunteers and staffers have spent many long hours preparing the luminaria bags saved after the post-9/11 expressions of mourning and hope at Alki Statue of Liberty, including the work shown in our photo, setting them up at the gallery this afternoon – and tonight, starting with short speeches at 6:30 and continuing past 8 pm, they’ll be on display, along with other mementos.

Full details are here; the backstory is here. See you there.

New info on the eve of Alki’s two big Sunday events: Harbor Seal Day; ‘The Earth Cried Out’

September 7, 2013 at 8:59 pm | In West Seattle history, West Seattle news, Wildlife | 1 Comment

Big Sunday ahead in West Seattle – particularly on Alki, where two major events are happening in the afternoon and evening, and we have details tonight on how both will unfold:

Harbor Seal Day – as proclaimed by the mayor and governor, as part of Seal Sitters‘ “Year of the Seal” – is happening in and around Alki Bathhouse 1-4 pm Sunday. In addition to what you see on the poster, we have the program, courtesy of Seal Sitters’ David Hutchinsonsee it here as a PDF, highlighted by the sculpture dedication at 1:30 pm. And check out the Seal Sitters’ Blubberblog for previews, including Alki establishments that are donating part of their proceeds tomorrow (along with the still-available Seal Sitters-benefit mocha at Hotwire Online Coffeehouse [WSB sponsor] in The Junction).

On Sunday night, don’t miss “The Earth Cried Out” – the Southwest Seattle Historical Society‘s early 9/11 anniversary commemoration, with a chance to revisit history, looking at many of the decorated bags that held luminarias at the Alki Statue of Liberty on and after 9/11. It’s happening 6:30-9 pm Sunday at Alki Arts (2820 For the past few days, volunteers have been preparing the bags at the Log House Museum – SWSHS executive director Clay Eals sent this work-in-progress photo today:

And he shared an update at afternoon’s end:

We have finished processing the 9/11 bags — in other words, emptying out sand and folding them. The total number of bags that were given to us in February is 1,580. Along with 112 bags we already had in our collection from 9/11, the grand total is 1,692 bags.

This is far more than the 1,000 we had estimated would be on display tomorrow. For tomorrow’s event, we will display as many of the bags as possible. The two walls that Diane Venti is making available for the bags probably will hold a total of 800 or so bags. We also probably will line the gallery floor and sidewalk with bags anchored by rocks or beach glass to simulate the luminary effect. We also plan to bring bins that will hold remaining, undisplayed bags so that those attending can flip through them and see them.

Read the story behind the luminarias and the bags here. The exhibit is for one night only, starting with speakers at 6:30 pm, then viewing around 7 until at least 8 pm, maybe later, says Eals, “depending on the interest shown by those present. I have been advising people to come a little earlier than 6:30, perhaps around 6, so that they can get a good spot for the program, as we are expecting quite a crowd. We will have a sound system and a mike so that everyone can hear the speeches.” Alki Arts is at 2820 Alki SW, just south of 63rd SW.

Quick note: No landmark status for Arbor Heights Elementary

September 4, 2013 at 9:05 pm | In Arbor Heights, West Seattle history, West Seattle news | 2 Comments

As Arbor Heights Elementary approaches teardown and rebuild, it had to be reviewed for potential city-landmark status. As originally reported here last month, that review before the Landmarks Board was set for today – and tonight, one of the board’s newest members, Deb Barker of Morgan Junction, mentioned at the Southwest District Council meeting that the board decided unanimously NOT to consider AH for landmark status.

1,000 bags of ‘rage, sadness, and fear’ – and hope: Days before ‘The Earth Cried Out,’ meet the man behind 9/11′s Alki luminarias

September 2, 2013 at 12:50 pm | In West Seattle history, West Seattle news | 7 Comments

(September 2001 photo by David Hutchinson)
By Clay Eals
Special to West Seattle Blog

A dozen years later, Dean Keppler reels at the memory. His eyes well up. His voice chokes as he talks haltingly, reverently, and, in the end, almost dazedly in trying to describe the indescribable.

“It all just happened,” he says, over and over, through tears.

Keppler is standing in the second-floor workroom of the Southwest Seattle Historical Society‘s Log House Museum. He combs through hundreds of an estimated 1,000 brown-paper bags on which people from all over West Seattle and beyond inscribed messages of sadness, anger, fear and hope.

The trigger for these emotional expressions, of course, was the terrorist attack on Tuesday morning, Sept. 11, 2001, that came to be known as 9/11. The inscribers were countless men, women, and children who for five days following the tragedy gathered beneath the Statue of Liberty replica on Alki Beach.

And the catalyst for the heartfelt messages was Keppler.

(Southwest Seattle Historical Society video)
Keppler will be among four who will speak briefly at a 9/11 memorial event, “The Earth Cried Out,” at 6:30 pm next Sunday (September 8th), at Alki Arts, 2820 Alki Ave. SW, two blocks west of the Statue of Liberty replica.

Organized by SWSHS, the free event also will feature reflections by King County Executive Dow Constantine, Seattle City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen and King County Councilmember Kathy Lambert.

The focus of the event, however, will not be the speeches.

Click to read the rest of 1,000 bags of ‘rage, sadness, and fear’ – and hope: Days before ‘The Earth Cried Out,’ meet the man behind 9/11′s Alki luminarias…

Alki Point Lighthouse centennial: Season’s final tours; Southwest Seattle Historical Society gala ahead

August 31, 2013 at 1:30 pm | In West Seattle history, West Seattle news | Comments Off

This afternoon, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary volunteers are back at the historic Alki Point Lighthouse until 4 pm, for the first of this summer’s final two afternoons of free tours. The video above is a promotional reminder, courtesy of Mark Elliott and Avenue Productions – with a preview of what you’ll see when you go, though nothing compares to experiencing it firsthand.

The tour season began in June with a commemoration of the lighthouse’s centennial. The celebration won’t stop when the tour season ends around 4:01 pm tomorrow – the Southwest Seattle Historical Society has featured a special mini-exhibit at the Log House Museum, and the SWSHS’s Champagne Gala Lunch in November is themed “Tripping the Lighthouse Fantastic“:

That’s the official invitation cover, shown off at a gala-preview gathering Thursday night at The Pacific Institute on Harbor Avenue near Seacrest. SWSHS executive director Clay Eals spoke to a gathering of local civic/historic-preservation champions:

Among the many local luminaries present was (on the couch in our photo above) Earl Cruzen, about whom Eals said, “If there ever was a Mr. West Seattle …” Eals noted that not only did Cruzen lead the way in bringing West Seattle its history-depicting murals and the Walking on Logs sculptures, he also for many years (as also noted here, in 2010) singlehandedly maintained the landscaping around the latter.

Eals previewed a few details of the gala itself, which will include a silent auction – video previews of key items are coming up on the SWSHS/Log House Museum website, he promised – and dessert dash; go here to find out how to get your tickets! (WSB is proud to be a media sponsor for this year’s gala.)

But before then – make sure your calendar is marked for a week from tomorrow, 6:30 pm Sunday, September 8th, when Alki Arts (which remains open until the end of September) will host The Earth Cried Out,” a one-night-only exhibit of the bags saved from luminarias placed around and near the Alki Statue of Liberty after 9/11. (We’ll feature a more-detailed preview later this weekend.)

Video: Making new memories at Nickels family’s century-old home

August 19, 2013 at 8:02 pm | In West Seattle history, West Seattle news | 10 Comments

Think politicians tend to live in fancy mansions? Some might. But for more than a quarter of a century, Greg Nickels, two-term mayor of Seattle, and wife Sharon Nickels have resided in a humble Craftsman bungalow in North Admiral, where they hosted a party on Sunday afternoon. The benefit for the Southwest Seattle Historical Society celebrated the 100-year history of the Nickels family’s home, as well as its restoration, and the concept of restoring and researching any not-so-new home. We were there for the early going, with dozens there to look, listen, and learn:

We also recorded video of the warm introduction by SWSHS executive director Clay Eals, and then Greg Nickels’ remarks, humorous and informative:

He had many memories to share, including dealing with the rust-colored shag carpet you might remember from this photo shown in some of the pre-event previews:

But as Eals said, the event wasn’t just a look back – it was also meant to create new memories, and new history at which attendees and others will look back, years down the road. Also featured was Greg Lange from the King County Archives; we weren’t able to stay to record what he had to say, but you can learn a lot about property research – current and past information – via the county website.

Watch the SWSHS website for more on Sunday’s event and other frequently updated content; you can even go there right now for details of SWSHS events coming up, including a West Seattle-centric 9/11 commemoration on Sunday, September 8th, at Alki Arts, displaying the bags from the luminarias that were displayed at the Alki Statue of Liberty starting the night after the attack 12 years ago – details here. (The day before that – September 7th – is the next informational session for potential volunteers; read about that here.)

Nickels home centennial today: Video sneak peek

August 18, 2013 at 8:59 am | In West Seattle history, West Seattle news | 2 Comments

One of today’s big events: The Southwest Seattle Historical Society benefit marking the centennial of a 1913 Craftsman home in North Admiral that’s been home for more than a quarter-century to former Mayor Greg Nickels and his family. It’s not just about the Nickels family and their home, but about the history that lies in so many homes around West Seattle, and inspiration/education to restore older homes, as they have done with theirs. The video above is a quick sneak peek inside the home, if you’re still making up your mind about whether to go today. The two-part event begins with a 1-3 pm VIP session including a presentation by Greg Lange, administrative specialist from the King County Archives, former staffer from the state’s Puget Sound Regional Archives, who’s an expert in how to research your home’s history; 3-5 pm, the house is open for tours; details on tickets and activities are on the SWSHS website.

‘House party of the century’: Three days to Nickels home’s centennial celebration/education events

August 15, 2013 at 4:21 am | In West Seattle history, West Seattle news | 2 Comments

(1930s photo, taken for King County Assessor’s Office)
As an e-mailed reminder puts it, it’ll be the “house party of the century”: This Sunday is the day you’re invited to the North Admiral home of Greg and Sharon Nickels, for either or both parts of a two-part event: “If These Walls Could Talk: The Centennial of Hizzoner’s House.”

(July 2013 photo by Jean Sherrard)
They’ve lived in the 100-year-old Craftsman for more than a quarter century, and in addition to working extensively on its restoration, have hosted many a gathering…with visitors including Al and Tipper Gore

… and supporters from the former mayor’s own campaigns …

As explained here, the entire afternoon is a fundraiser for the Southwest Seattle Historical Society, starting with a 1-3 pm VIP event including talks by the Nickels and a presentation on how to research your home’s background; reservations are required. For the 3-5 pm event, including tours of the restored home, admission will be collected on a walk-up basis. (Again, full details are here.)

P.S. You can get ready for the big day by checking out the backstory, as told on the Log House Museum website by Brad Chrisman, and also checking out the preview in “Now and Then from last Sunday’s Seattle Times, as well as the extras added to that story on the website that is co-authored by Paul Dorpat from “Now and Then.”

West Seattle scene: A night for lighthouse learning

August 8, 2013 at 9:59 pm | In West Seattle history, West Seattle news | 2 Comments

(Photo courtesy Southwest Seattle Historical Society)
Along with music and art, tonight’s palette of possibilities in West Seattle also included history. In the courtyard at the Log House Museum, 20 people watched and listened as Will Winter shared highlights of the Alki Point Lighthouse‘s hundred-year history. He was in the uniform he and other U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary volunteers wear as they spend summer weekend afternoons showing visitors around the lighthouse and its grounds. The Southwest Seattle Historical Society, based at the museum, has joined with the USCG and the Auxiliary to celebrate the lighthouse’s centennial; it began in earnest with festivities back on June 1st, continues with weekend tours through the end of this month, and will peak at the SWSHS’s lunch gala November 9th, themed “Tripping the Lighthouse Fantastic.” (You can order your tickets now – go here to see how.)

P.S. The next big SWSHS event is a different centennial – on August 18th, Greg and Sharon Nickels host the 100th-birthday party for their North Admiral home, as a benefit for SWSHS and a chance to learn about not only the house and neighborhood history, but also about researching your own home; details here.

Duwamish Tribe says it’s lost artifacts because it’s not officially recognized

August 8, 2013 at 2:40 pm | In West Seattle history, West Seattle news | 7 Comments

(Now-empty artifact case; photo courtesy Duwamish Longhouse)
The Duwamish Tribe – whose longhouse and headquarters are here in West Seattle – have long pointed out the cost of its lack of official federal recognition, for which they continue to fight, so far unsuccessfully. Today, a new report is out with details of another cost: Tribal artifacts, taken away from the Duwamish Longhouse after 4 years on display because they are to be “repatriated” to a tribe that does have recognition. The artifacts were found here in West Seattle more than a quarter-century ago, reports Indian Country Today Media Network, on Port of Seattle-owned land. They had been exhibited at the Duwamish Longhouse until they were recently taken away, and ICTMN reports that the Port is making the decision about who will get the artifacts. The full story was published today on ICTMN’s website – see it here. The publication reports that the Port has not answered its inquiry about who will get the artifacts; we also are inquiring.

Landmark nomination to be considered for Arbor Heights Elementary

August 1, 2013 at 3:52 pm | In Arbor Heights, West Seattle history, West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 8 Comments

Keep in mind, this is basically a required, routine action, triggered by impending demolition/rebuild – as is similar consideration for Genesee Hill. Nonetheless, public notification is mandatory, and here it is, as just sent by the Department of Neighborhoods, which includes the Landmarks Board:

The Landmarks Preservation Board will consider landmark nomination for Arbor Heights Elementary School at 3701 SW 104th St. The meeting will be on Wednesday, September 4 at 3:30 p.m. in the Seattle Municipal Tower, 700 5th Avenue, 40th Floor in Room 4060.

The public is invited to attend the meeting and make comments.

Click to read the rest of Landmark nomination to be considered for Arbor Heights Elementary…

Alki Point Lighthouse: No tours next weekend; history presentation coming up August 8 at Log House Museum

July 28, 2013 at 11:10 am | In West Seattle history, West Seattle news | Comments Off

(WSB photo from June 2013)
Alki Point Lighthouse fans, two things you should know: First, the U.S. Coast Guard asked us to let you know that the lighthouse will NOT open for tours next weekend (August 3-4) because of “heavy tasking during Seafair weekend.” You can still visit 1-4 pm today, or on a later August-weekend day.

Second, another chance to learn about lighthouse history: This is its centennial summer – you might recall the two-site celebration on June 1st, and the history presentation at the Alki Community Council‘s meeting back in May (WSB coverage here).

The UCCG Auxiliary volunteer who gave that presentation, Will Winter, will be at the Log House Museum on Thursday, August 8th, to tell you all about the lighthouse’s history – and it’s not just a rerun! Read on for full details from the Southwest Seattle Historical Society:

Click to read the rest of Alki Point Lighthouse: No tours next weekend; history presentation coming up August 8 at Log House Museum…

You can help! Log House Museum welcomes potential volunteers Saturday

July 12, 2013 at 10:25 pm | In West Seattle history, West Seattle news | Comments Off

Could be a great way to start your weekend: Spend two hours at the Log House Museum Saturday morning:

Want to learn more — and help others learn more — about the West Seattle peninsula? Volunteer!

Like to interact with people? Fix computers? Update databases? Make small repairs? Transcribe interviews? Shoot videos and still photos? Plan events? Teach school children? Get a glimpse of our community’s past?

And do you have time to volunteer? The Southwest Seattle Historical Society needs you!

The next Volunteer Introduction Session for the Southwest Seattle Historical Society will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday (July 13) at the organization’s Log House Museum.

Whether you have lived here one year or 50, come learn about how to turn your desires and skills into meaningful tasks that will help preserve and promote the heritage of West Seattle and the greater Duwamish peninsula. It’s a way to look to the future helping others explore West Seattle’s past.

The Southwest Seattle Historical Society, which operates the Log House Museum, offers this introduction to volunteering, led by Clay Eals, executive director. It will include a brief primer on West Seattle history. The museum is one block from Alki Beach, at 61st and Stevens. More info: 206-938-5293, loghousemuseum.info.

‘If These Walls Could Talk’: SWSHS to spotlight 1913 Admiral home

July 5, 2013 at 11:53 am | In West Seattle history, West Seattle news | 2 Comments

During the Southwest Seattle Historical Society‘s 4th of July membership picnic, executive director Clay Eals rolled out a long list of events SWSHS has in the works, including a series of monthly author talks in partnership with South Seattle Community College (WSB sponsor), a 9/11 commemoration on September 8th at Alki Arts, and the annual fundraising gala in November, spotlighting the Alki Point Lighthouse‘s centennial. But first up will be the August event that SWSHS is formally announcing today – centered on another centennial, that of a well-known couple’s home:

(Photo by Jean Sherrard)
The event August 18th at the North Admiral home of Sharon and Greg Nickels will be both a celebration of history and inspiration for homeowners considering renovating their own classic homes. Here’s the official announcement from SWSHS:

What do you do when the house you live in turns 100? Former Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels and his wife, Sharon, have a ready answer: Throw a community celebration and make it a fundraiser for the Southwest Seattle Historical Society.

To be held Sunday afternoon, Aug. 18, 2013, the event is called “If These Walls Could Talk: The Centennial of Hizzoner’s Home.” It will take place at the Nickels home in the Admiral neighborhood of West Seattle.

Sponsoring the two-tiered event is the 29-year-old Southwest Seattle Historical Society, which also will be the beneficiary.

Click to read the rest of ‘If These Walls Could Talk’: SWSHS to spotlight 1913 Admiral home…

West Seattle 4th of July: Log House Museum’s 2013 picnic

July 4, 2013 at 12:43 pm | In Holidays, West Seattle history, West Seattle news | 1 Comment

12:43 PM: Next big event of the day is at the Log House Museum (61st/Stevens) – its annual 4th of July membership picnic is under way now till 3 pm, with a theme of “celebrating volunteers” this year. We’re on the way for some photos and will add an update when we get there!

1:21 PM: Clay Eals, executive director, is emceeing the picnic program on the museum’s back patio (above), talking to some of the volunteers who are on hand about why they volunteered and why others should join them. Eals noted that this year alone, 35 new volunteers have signed up. There are some not-that-new volunteers here too – 87-year-old Nancy McPhee (with Eals in photo below) joked that she “IS a historical exhibit.”

Veteran volunteer Barbara McGlothern reminisced about the campaign to save the Admiral Theater more than 20 years ago. And president Marcy Johnsen talked about living in the Log House Museum before it was a museum.

Still lots of time to come on over – bring a potluck dish if you have one, but if you don’t, don’t let that stop you, there’s food aplenty to share here! P.S. Your next chance to get involved as a volunteer at the museum/Southwest Seattle Historical Society is an information session on July 13th – details here. And Eals has just announced other big events SWSHS has coming up – look for a separate story on that here a bit later.

West Seattle scene: Demolition uncovers old Firestone sign

June 21, 2013 at 2:17 pm | In West Seattle history, West Seattle news | 19 Comments

After getting word (thanks to Max for the tip) that most of the ex-Petco building had been taken down during our rainy Thursday, we went by at midday today for followup photos – and noticed the construction crew taking down a sign from the newly exposed building to the south. There’s no mistaking the old Firestone Tire logo:

Online searching yielded multiple references to 4724/4736 California SW as a Firestone store in the mid-20th century; it opened in 1946.

Since their construction crew was taking it down, we asked the 4730 California (formerly 4724) developers what happens to the sign. It belongs to the owner of the adjacent building, we’re told, but was taken down to “remove and secure it to prevent unnecessary damage or building up against it again. The ultimate disposition of the sign will be entirely up to its owner.”

West Seattle High School’s All-School Reunion, inside & out

June 7, 2013 at 10:33 pm | In West Seattle history, West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 2 Comments

At tonight’s West Seattle High School All-School Reunion, hundreds of alumni were on hand from nine decades. But the spotlight shone brightest on the Class of 1963, celebrating its golden anniversary. While we were there, class members were posing for photos grouped by the elementaries they had attended – as you’ve probably guessed from the sign, the people in our picture had gone to nearby Lafayette Elementary. All around the WSHS Commons, where the Class of ’63 met, there were displays with historical photos:

Other classes met in various locations around the school, before attendees gathered in the theater for the program to announce scholarships and Hall of Fame inductions. Outside, for the first few hours, the traditional display of classic cars, like this gleaming Ford Mustang:

Thanks to reunion chair Jim Biava of the WSHS Alumni Association for sharing this electronic copy of the program – it includes the names of tonight’s honorees. Keep a eye on the association’s new website for future alumni events.

Happening now: 2-location Alki Lighthouse centennial celebration

June 1, 2013 at 2:02 pm | In West Seattle history, West Seattle news | 2 Comments

Big day at the Alki Point Lighthouse – its 100th anniversary, and the first day of this year’s summer season of free 1-4 pm tours on Saturday and Sunday. Local US Coast Guard Auxiliary volunteers are the people who staff the lighthouse for those tours. Today, you can even see knot-tying demonstrated outside the gate:

Also till 4 pm, a celebration at the Log House Museum just half a mile away – including lighthouse coloring sheets for kids, which are being put up as they’re completed:

The now-famous handmade lighthouse cookies are ready and waiting at the museum too, while they last:

More photos and info to come, including our conversation with RADM Keith Taylor, who, as USCG 13th District commander, lives on the lighthouse grounds, but not for much longer, as he’s retiring later this month. (This’ll be a separate story on Sunday.)

Followup: Alki Point Lighthouse’s two-site centennial celebration, cookies and all

May 30, 2013 at 9:21 pm | In West Seattle history, West Seattle news | 3 Comments

(Photo by Joan Stover; courtesy Southwest Seattle Historical Society)
It’s not a party without cookies – and this Saturday’s Alki Point Lighthouse centennial celebration will have them, provided you stop by the Log House Museum as well as the lighthouse during the two-location celebration. Above, that’s Carol Vincent, membership secretary for the museum’s parent organization, the Southwest Seattle Historical Society, taking a break after leading a baking team in creating the first batch of Alki Lighthouse cookies to be given away there on Saturday afternoon. (Not pictured, but just as busy: Marcy Johnsen, board president; Joan Stover, board treasurer, and Kerry Korsgaard, board trustee.)

We first reported on the centennial celebration back on May 21st. Now that it’s almost here, the final details are in. SWSHS executive director Clay Eals says the “prime candidates” to get the cookies are kids who stop by the Log House Museum (61st/Stevens, just half a mile from the lighthouse) to color a special Alki Lighthouse coloring sheet; they’re hoping for a hundred.

A special exhibit is debuting at the museum, “Alki Centennial Summer: From Lantern to Lighthouse,” celebrating the lighthouse’s 100th anniversary. It’s an expansion of a pre-existing “mini-exhibit” about the lighthouse that’s been in the museum’s smaller gallery, expanding now to the big gallery with, according to the LHM’s official announcement, “newly displayed artifacts, rare vintage photos, artwork and other memorabilia to tell the inspiring story of how the lighthouse came to be, how it has operated as an aid to navigation over the years and how it continues to be a symbol of hope for all of West Seattle and beyond. The exhibit also will cover the decades prior to the construction of the lighthouse, when a single lantern provided the same function of aiding the navigation of sailing ships and steering them away from danger.”

Museum manager Sarah Baylinson curated the exhibit with SWSHS collection/exhibit volunteers, and it’ll be on display all summer long, with some new items, activities, and interpretive programs added from time to time.

But for Saturday – the schedule goes like this:
*Noon – Log House Museum opens
*1 pm – Lighthouse opens (first weekend tour day of the season, too)
*2 pm – Special program at the Log House Museum, with speakers including former SWSHS president Merrilee Hagen and West Seattle maritime author Joe Follansbee
*4 pm – Lighthouse and museum both close

By closing time, all 100 or more of the coloring creations will be on display at the museum. Questions? loghousemuseum.info or 206-938-5293.

West Seattle’s Villa Heidelberg sold; ‘estate sale’ starts Thursday

May 28, 2013 at 9:32 pm | In West Seattle history, West Seattle news | 17 Comments

Last night, Judy Burbrink (above left) hosted her final guests as operator of the Villa Heidelberg bed and breakfast southwest of The Junction. Three years after first listing it, she has finally sold the stately century-old view home, with the help of Prudential Northwest Realty‘s Jeralee Knittel (above right).

(King County Archives photo)
But the new owners will not be operating it as a B&B; it will go back to its origins as a family home. Judy is moving into a condo that just doesn’t have enough room for everything she’s built up over 14 years of operating the B&B – considering, as she says, she moved in with 23 years of stuff from her previous home on Gatewood Hill – so a big three-day “estate sale” (“living estate sale,” Judy jokes, “since nobody died”) starts later this week. When we stopped by this afternoon, the packing and sale preparations were already under way, but we were invited to look around:

Furniture – including six bedrooms’ worth! – serving ware, even Christmas decorations will be on sale

Some items are already gone – Burbrink says some of the guests have snapped up certain items and traveled back home with them, so “little bits (of Villa Heidelberg) are all over the country.”

40 lawn chairs and even appliances and rugs are part of the sale, scheduled for 10 am-6 pm Thursday and Friday (May 30-31), then skipping a day and concluding noon-6 pm Sunday (June 2nd).

As a small sign out front notes, whatever you buy, you have to take away the same day. This closes 27 years of B&B operation on this site, according to Burbrink, who adds that it’s almost exactly 14 years since she took it over – her purchase closed on June 10th of 1999; she will be handing the house over on June 5th. “I’ll miss all the nice people,” she says wistfully. She was only the fifth owner of the home in its century-plus existence; it was built, as the history is told online, as a home for a family, which Judy says had eight kids, noting that the buyers have children too. P.S. If you plan to check out the sale, the house is at 4845 45th SW.

Alki Point Lighthouse celebrating centennial as tours resume June 1st; Log House Museum part of the party

May 21, 2013 at 2:42 pm | In West Seattle history, West Seattle news | 6 Comments

(April 2011 photo by Long Bach Nguyen, over Alki Lighthouse)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Every year, you get just a few chances for a close-up look at one of West Seattle’s true gems – the Alki Point Lighthouse.

This year, those chances start June 1st, when weekend afternoon tours resume. But that first day comes with something extra – a celebration of the lighthouse’s centennial.

US Coast Guard Auxiliary member and area resident Will Winter talked about it at last Thursday’s Alki Community Council meeting. (He’s at right in the photo below, taken by Liesbet T. and published here as the tour season wrapped up in 2011:)

The USCG Auxiliary volunteers staff the lighthouse for tours, and that’s why Winter joined.

He presented an overview of its history, as well as mentioning the low-key celebration that’s ahead, planned in conjunction with the Southwest Seattle Historical Society, which has a “complementary celebration” on deck that day:

Click to read the rest of Alki Point Lighthouse celebrating centennial as tours resume June 1st; Log House Museum part of the party…

West Seattle Crime Watch: Then, now, and tomorrow

May 20, 2013 at 10:32 pm | In Crime, West Seattle history, West Seattle news | 10 Comments

First – before two reader reports – here’s something that likely would have topped West Seattle Crime Watch 52 years ago:

Anne Higuera from longtime WSB sponsor Ventana Construction was working on a project in Ballard when that West Seattle story from a 1961 edition of the Seattle P-I, stuffed in the walls, caught her eye. It tells the tale of how a West Seattle family nabbed a would-be burglar. Click here for a larger, readable version (you might have to click it to zoom in when it opens in your browser – that’s what happened with ours).

Ahead, the current cases:

Click to read the rest of West Seattle Crime Watch: Then, now, and tomorrow…

West Seattle scene: Not the ‘sold’ sign you thought it was

May 14, 2013 at 11:38 am | In West Seattle history, West Seattle news | 7 Comments

This story is from the “looks can be deceiving” file. Messages/questions we’ve received suggest that more than a few people who have seen those two real-estate shingles in the 4800 block of Beach Drive believe the “sold” sign means the historic-landmark Satterlee House/”Painted Lady of Beach Drive” finally has a buyer, after years on the market. No, the 107-year-old Satterlee House has NOT been sold; it is still on the market. The “sold” sign is for the house to the south, 4872 Beach Drive; we confirmed that with its selling agent, Dan Mullins, who tells WSB that while that house is not an official landmark, it has a long history of its own: “It was built about 100 years ago for the Chinese consulate.” He says the family buying it wants to “restore it to its original beauty.”

Meantime, a couple of people who e-mailed us also wondered about the work crew you see on the Satterlee House’s front lawn in the background of our photo, recalling that the “lawn” is actually on the books as three separate lots (which was part of the subject of the long court fight that ended at the state Supreme Court’s doorstep three years ago). According to the permit shown in online city records, it’s side-sewer-repair work.

P.S. Here’s the current listing for the Satterlee House, on the market right now for $1,595,000 (down more than $600,000 from its 2008-2009 listing price).

Speaking of history … More chances to help honor it

May 7, 2013 at 7:14 am | In How to help, West Seattle history, West Seattle news | 2 Comments

Big day at the Southwest Seattle Historical Society‘s Log House Museum this Saturday – the LHM is participating in West Seattle Community Garage Sale Day (sale #70 on the map) 9 am-3 pm, and from 11 am-1 pm will be hosting its monthly informational event for prospective volunteers. And from SWSHS executive director Clay Eals – some specific ways you can help:

Just in time for the warmth of late spring and summer, the Southwest Seattle Historical Society is ramping up its tour schedule and native-plant garden — and volunteers are welcome to help out.

Volunteer committees have formed to focus on tours and gardening. The leaders are Mark Lewis for tours and Carol Vincent for gardening. Here are details on both:

Click to read the rest of Speaking of history … More chances to help honor it…

West Seattle weekend scenes: Touring historic Colman Estate

April 29, 2013 at 1:03 am | In West Seattle history, West Seattle news | 3 Comments

(Photos courtesy SWSHS executive director Clay Eals)
The sun came out for the Colman Estate tour presented Sunday afternoon by the Southwest Seattle Historical Society and Historic Seattle. Also out: 135 visitors!

Thanks to SWSHS executive director Clay Eals for sharing photos – see half a dozen more, ahead:
Click to read the rest of West Seattle weekend scenes: Touring historic Colman Estate…

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