from “West Seattle 101” by Lori Hinton
Step inside the Log House Museum and step back into West Seattle history. Feel the hardwood floors creak beneath your feet and sense the solid log walls that surround you as you peer into the past.
From the giant wooden wheel of the 1909 steamship Kennedy to the bathing suits worn by brave pioneers who swam for pleasure in the chilly waters off Alki, this time capsule of local treasures is not only the historical icon of the neighborhood but also the birthplace of Seattle. (One of the local treasures recently added to the museum is the original Alki Statue of Liberty, seen below in its spot in the Carriage House gift shop.)
“If you look up the history of Seattle, this is what you’ll find,” smiles long-time volunteer Carol Vincent. Just steps away from Alki, where in 1851 the schooner Exact’s landing party planted the seed for this city, the building of the current Log House Museum commenced when settlers moved into the area.
The past 150-plus years of West Seattle’s history are captured within the walls of the museum, and the building itself is one of the most prized pieces of the collection. Built by the Bernard family more than a century ago as part of the Fir Lodge Estate, the Log House Museum was originally used as an outbuilding for horses and carriages. After the estate sold, the building was a family home and antique store until the Southwest Seattle Historical Society purchased it in 1994 to create the museum.
“People are surprised when they walk in the door. It’s sort of unexpected that this house is such a piece of Seattle history,” explains Vincent. “They love to touch the logs.”
Heralded by King County as “the most successful heritage acquisition project in King County history,” the museum offers many ways to educate and entertain visitors:
-Film fans can cozy up on the corner bench and learn about Native Americans and the landing party by watching Alki: The Birthplace of Seattle along with other locally produced pieces on area history.
-Get a veteran tour guide going, and you won’t believe all the interesting things that once happened here. The museum offers historical interpretation tours for school groups and other organizations.
-The Log House Museum also offers heritage education kits including reproduced maps, photos, documents, and artifacts along with lesson plans and activities. Additional books and videos are also available for rental.
-Out back, next to the garden of native plants, the museum also runs the Carriage House gift shop. Many books written by local authors are available in addition to vintage postcards, mugs, and other Seattle-themed gifts.
For visitors and West Seattleites alike, this is a one-of-a-kind way to play tourist for a day.
“The Log House offers a piece of history that would not exist without the museum,” says
Vincent. “Here, everybody can discover their roots.”
So if you’re curious about what Alki was like before rollerblades and bass stereos, pay a visit to the Log House. If only those logs/walls could talk…
What: Log House Museum
Where: 3003 61st Ave SW (corner of Stevens), 206/938-5293
Hours: Thursday-Sunday, noon-4 pm
Price: Admission by donation
Find more “West Seattle 101” stories on WSB by going here.