Even with the acceleration in teardown-to-townhome construction, West Seattle still has thousands of homes dating back to the ’50s, and earlier. We found out some of our house’s history not long after moving in — I was out doing some garden cleanup one day, when a man walked up, asked me a few questions about the house, then revealed his father was the original owner/builder. He told us his dad had to go off to serve in World War II not long after the house was done; after the war, he said, his dad moved into the homebuilding business bigtime, and the family eventually moved to California. (Whenever I find myself bemoaning our house’s relatively tiny size, I think of its original residents, who were double our number and apparently got along just fine!)
After this encounter, we did more research on the house by going to some government building (memory fails me) and looking up its original building permits. (You should still be able to do this nowadays; check these places for starters.)
I mention all this as an excuse to link to a few interesting house-history sites we’ve encountered recently while doing online research. One is this site set up by real-estate agents for a Fauntlee Hills home that sold earlier this year (though the site is still active, please note the listing is not); they went to great lengths to create a site with the house’s history and even old marketing materials for the area (if you’re not familiar with Fauntlee Hills, it’s the group of brick houses just east of Fauntleroy Church and the old school-turned-community center, uphill from the ferry dock). Another is the site a local developer created a few years back for a 1923 Craftsman home he rescued from impending teardown, then moved a short distance and renovated. And the third is a site for a home whose history is still in progress, a rather dramatic renovation project we’ve seen along the south end of Cali Ave. Very nice of these folks to share the houses’ history with the rest of the world!