Demolition watch: Two more sites on California Ave


That house is at 5933 California (map), immediately south of the townhouses going up on the former Guadalajara Hacienda site (as we most recently documented here). On Friday, the city granted a permit to tear down this 85-year-old house; more townhouses are on the way. About a mile and a half north on California, in the 3400 block (map), demolition equipment is likely to be seen soon here:


We first mentioned the impending teardown-to-townhouses status of this site in October. The demolition permit’s been in effect since November but we just noticed the fence.

43 Replies to "Demolition watch: Two more sites on California Ave"

  • Elliott January 13, 2008 (12:29 pm)

    That breaks my heart. What a beautiful home. What a shame it isn’t being moved to another homesite.

  • Picklemom January 13, 2008 (12:35 pm)

    This city is very shortsighted in terms of preservation. Houses like these are what gives a neighborhood its distinctive charm and character. Welcome to cookie-cutter condo land, where everyplace looks the same. It’s all about money and greed.

  • daPuffin in Arbor Heights January 13, 2008 (1:20 pm)

    What a shame. I’d *love* to have a house like that first one. This is rapidly becoming a different West Seattle than the one I moved to in 1994.

  • Jan January 13, 2008 (1:32 pm)

    Remember the old Pete Seeger song? “Little boxes on the hillside, little boxes made of ticky-tacky, little boxes, little boxes, and they all look just the same” – applies to the myriad of townhouses going up, for sure. Sad…

  • MoldyGreg January 13, 2008 (1:51 pm)

    Just what we need — more townhomes!

  • Booger January 13, 2008 (2:28 pm)

    I live on the same block as the Guadalajara Hacienda (44th Ave side) and am not looking forward to the additional alley traffic created by the condo’s.

  • MissK January 13, 2008 (2:39 pm)


    I think that its a sad day when great little homes that have so much life in them are torn down or moved to make room for cookie cutter townhomes. West Seattle is losing its architechtual beauty with all these townhomes.

    If we must have them why not make them more interesting to look at!!!

  • Katie January 13, 2008 (2:52 pm)

    I was hoping they were going to keep it. There is a project that was done like that a couple of years ago up the street on the other side. The original house is now an architect’s office and the units added are condos. Too bad these developers are so short-sighted. I HATE what’s happening to West Seattle. Pretty soon California Ave will look like downtown Manhattan (canyons between high-rises). Uck!

  • carraignasplinkeen January 13, 2008 (3:54 pm)

    Was this the house where there was a daycare called something like “learning for life” (and ran by a woman I think was called Miss Anna)? If so, does anyone know what happened to it/her?

  • MiniBeeLP January 13, 2008 (4:19 pm)

    Truly a shame. That gorgeous, old, Craftsman style home deserves better. And as for another set of condos? The city just keeps packing ’em in. Big yawn. Its a pity they can’t see beyond the numbers and embrace character and history more than they do.

  • Cruiser January 13, 2008 (4:53 pm)

    Nice what an original idea. Tear down a great looking house and stick up some more dolls houses. I wonder what all the sponsors of WSB who are in the real estate game think of this?

  • dapuffin in Arbor Heights January 13, 2008 (4:58 pm)

    Little Boxes is *exactly* what ran through my head. I see that I wasn’t the only one. Ever see Levittown, NY or Levittown, PA? Those are the towns that inspired the song. Scary to think that it could happen to our beloved West Seattle.

  • Johnny Ray January 13, 2008 (5:45 pm)

    Those windows, those gables, those braces on the eaves … they don’t build ’em like that anymore.
    Prolly gonna be some of those skinny townhouses with a driveway jammed in between. Same thing everywhere! EGADS!!!

  • CMP January 13, 2008 (7:28 pm)

    I’ll be sad to see that beautiful Craftsman house demolished for condos. I think Ballard is worse off than WS though. I’m still amazed that Sunset Bowl is going to be torn down to build condos…shame on that owner for selling and to the buyer for their oh-so original plans. Although WSBowl will probably benefit greatly from it!

  • Bob Perry January 13, 2008 (7:30 pm)

    Two houses south of the corner of 49th and Juneau is another huge house being constructed that doesn’t fit the neighborhood even a little bit. How do they get permits for these houses?

  • WSMom January 13, 2008 (8:55 pm)

    When will we as citizens say enough of the ugly townhouses!! 50 years from now they’ll all just get torn down to build something new because they’re soooo ugly. This sweet little craftsman is a home for the ages, not something shoehorned in to make a bigger buck.

  • islewrite January 13, 2008 (9:17 pm)

    Well, several years back someone bought one of the houses slated for demo in the same neighborhood and moved it. They bought it for a song…. (The Herald had photos of it being carted away SLOWLY.) This one looks like a beaut. Perhaps someone out in WSB land will want to look into doing the same?

  • WSB January 13, 2008 (9:49 pm)

    Isle, that makes me wonder if Jeff McCord has heard of this house. He is a West Seattleite who’s on the Design Review Board, and at a recent meeting we covered, he mentioned that he works for this company which specializes in “recycling” old homes. I think he was involved with the house move you’re referring to … was this the one?

  • flipjack January 13, 2008 (10:05 pm)

    Kudos to Mayor Gridlock and his developer buddies, another shot in the ol’ arm. There’s going to be some mighty fine pork eaten when the Mayor helps finally ruin West Seattle. Great Job Nickels!
    How’s your neckline these days, can you even wear a tie?

  • grr January 14, 2008 (6:39 am)

    Did anyone consider to think that this house, as beautiful as it is, MAY have been in too bad of a state of disrepair to make it worth the $ to fix it back up?

    and, yes..let’s HOPE that whatever goes there is NOT more cookie-cutter stuff. SURELY there has to be an architect in WS that can put that Craftsman Feel into a ‘modern’ structure, and not just build another square bunch of boxes???

    –seems like when i was driving around yesterday I spotted some new condos up on the north end of Admiral that had some style to them…(amongst a LOT of fugly ones…)

  • Kayleigh January 14, 2008 (7:56 am)

    Where are the “density and growth are good” voices on this one? Jeez, it’s just an old house, right?….get with the program. It’s 2007.

    /sarcasm off

    Such a shame.

  • lina January 14, 2008 (8:30 am)

    i wonder what the coyotes think of all the development…

  • m January 14, 2008 (9:29 am)

    This is a shame- what a beautiful house! It looks well maintained from the photo, so hopefully it could be moved if the developer would allow it. There was a great article in that lifestyle magazine section of The Seattle Times on Sunday on building preservation. These old homes and buildings have so much character and longevity; bigger and newer does not necessarily mean it is better. So many homes and townhouses that were built in the last five or so years are aleady looking worn down on the outside (mildew, bad paint, etc…). It’s disgusting that the city continues to allow these flimsy homes and townhomes to go up still.

  • Rick January 14, 2008 (10:39 am)

    A friend of did some of the remodel on this beautiful old house and tells me it’s a gem. Remember the very,very old brick hunting lodge with the carriage house that was across the street? (With the stone lions on the front steps)Now, tearing that down ws a real shame. $$$ marches on!

  • jrd January 14, 2008 (12:31 pm)

    I think it’s funny that there is no perspective from someone living in a townhome or condo in this thread. Or if there is, they don’t want to admit they are the ones living in those ugly cookie-cutter cheaply made places, that were built on top of the area’s history.

    I wonder why there’s only, what, 2 homes designated as historical landmarks in WS? And they are both huge. My house was built in 1905 (and lived in) by one of the area’s first homebuilders. But if I sold it, anyone could tear it down. Which is one reason I intend to live in it until I die – at least I can preserve it.

  • RS January 14, 2008 (1:20 pm)

    Maybe there’s no condo voice because they’re too busy working their asses off to pay the mortgage on the only affordable housing they could find in this city… sorry, housing prices have got me a little bitter.
    If you’re lucky enough to live in a nice old single family house, enjoy it. But don’t assume that everyone who buys a condo does so because they just have really bad taste or hate history and preservation. In case you haven’t noticed, the american dream is pretty expensive these days.

  • carraignasplinkeen January 14, 2008 (2:47 pm)

    Thanks, RS, for your voice of reason. While I get the “tack-itecture” argument, some of these posts are unbelievable/unbearable. Like the one re: history–whose and what history are you referring to? Nor is density inherently bad. Everyone is a part of development, regardless of when you moved to a particular place or where you live. Get involved with Seattle Planing and/or Design Commissions if you really want to do something about it.

  • westseattleite January 14, 2008 (3:13 pm)

    My husband and I live down the street from this house and we were hoping someone was going to move it, but I will say we looked in the windows three months ago before they were boarded up and it’s a mess. A lot of things had been ripped out already.

  • Pelicans January 14, 2008 (3:30 pm)

    My God, what a beautiful house! Can’t it be moved. If the owners of the property are interested in profit, why don’t they at least sell it?

  • Indaknow January 14, 2008 (7:14 pm)

    The house that my great-grandparents owned and my now-deceased grandfather was born in (1919) was torn down a few years ago to make room for 6 townhomes. When I drive by them (California and Willow) it still makes me sad. The house was in pretty bad shape at the time (my family hadn’t owned in since 1962), but looking at all of the old pictures of it in it’s prime….I wish it could have been different. The developers did let us take some bricks and stones from the fireplace after it had been dozed down. I had always thought it was river rock, but the side of the rocks that were unexposed for all of those years had barnacles on them. Can you imagine hauling those rocks up from the beach in the early 1900s? sigh.

  • Picklemom January 14, 2008 (7:15 pm)

    carraignasplinkeen, I think the other poster meant “history” as in what make a place unique, as in what gives a place character, as in a reference, a past, a figurative and literal foundation. People who favor density at all costs are simply “dense”! Traffic and pollution are worsening. Charm and individuality are diminishing.

  • Ron January 14, 2008 (8:22 pm)

    The reason builders are putting up these mostly ugly boxes is because the cost of land is so high, this is the only way they can make any money on a project. Making money may sound evil to some people, but do you donate your labor to your employer? I live on a street near the Ferry Dock where there have been 2 building lots for sale for the past year. The price is reasonable, but it’s zoned residential and builders aren’t interested in paying that much for a lot with only one house per lot, just like you wouldn’t put in 40 hours per week at McDonalds if Microsoft offered you a job.

  • Chet January 14, 2008 (9:51 pm)

    It’s nice to see (a lot of) people feel the way I do. I was gettin my arse kicked on this blog up and down California Ave about a year ago when I seemed to be the lone voice stating exactly what the majority of you are saying. Not trying to one up anyone or anything, it’s just nice to see people feel the way I do.

  • Herman January 15, 2008 (12:06 am)

    This is horrendous. West Seattle has jumped the shark. And whoever wrote about the tower/box going up at 49th and Juneau is entirely correct. It’s setting a new low.

  • grr January 15, 2008 (8:32 am)

    WS hasn’t jumped the shark any more than any other part of Metro Seattle. It’s a simple fact. Too many people, not enough places to house them. It’s just the natural progression of a growing city, and I can deal with it.–

    what I CAN’T deal with is the LACK of style/architecture that SO many of these buildings have. I spend a few hours this past sunny day just driving around with the dogs in the car…looking..

    SOME of the new bldgs are really nice (there’s one set on Fauntleroy that I’d live in in a heartbeat). There’s some one the North End of Admiral that are HIDEOUS. And, a few cool, modern ones, that have a hint of brick/craftsman to them..Not bad… I simply don’t understand that it costs THAT much more to spend a little extra time designing something that compliments then neighborhood.

    we can not fight the progress, sadly. But we certainly CAN help it look decent.

  • grr January 15, 2008 (8:35 am)

    oh more thing…

    when I first moved here in ’94, I spent a lot of time looking for areas to live in. My wife and I, while driving around Cap Hill/East Lake…both said “wow..I wonder how many old, beautiful homes got bought and destroyed so that I-5 could be built…

    we lived in Lake City before moving to WS…Don’t regret moving here one bit…even if I have to commute to the East Side every day..ugh.

  • coffee geek January 15, 2008 (10:36 am)

    I have to agree with grr’s sentiments. Anyone who takes their dislike for the townhome/condo boom so far as to judge the buyers/residents is an elitist schmuck. Reality check: Seattle is a wonderful place to live. People are clamoring to move here. Real estate prices are still (albeit slowly) going up. Development will ensue. Don’t like it? DO SOMETHING or move away, snobs.

  • grr January 15, 2008 (7:34 pm)

    mm..’elitist schmuck’….good name for a band :)

  • Indaknow January 16, 2008 (7:09 pm)

    Wow. I sure don’t think of myself as a snob! Yes, there is the romantic notion that things should always stay the same, but also the realism that they cannot. BUT, that doesn’t mean that all of this density should lead to lack of character and multiple parked cars spilling over onto the public streets. No judgement, just frustration at the lack of proper planning and infrastructure. Anyone who lived here BEFORE the high-level bridge was built probably feels about the same…

  • Amber January 17, 2008 (1:39 pm)

    Yes, WE MUST STOP THIS MADNESS! DOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD WANT TO GET TOGETHER AND TRY TO SAVE THIS OLD CRAFTSMAN HOUSE? THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IS A LOT. I AM TRYING TO MOVE A 1913 CRAFTSMAN HOUSE IN TUKWILA THE TUKWILA AREA DOESN’T GET IT. Seattle is starting to after hundreds of houses are going away. The community of West Seattle should try to fight this. Or get together and try to move the house. If the house is considered for a historic site they can’t touch it but it takes awile to do that. Start a fundraiser to save this old house. Find a lot talk to the city about how much time you have. And while I’m at it if anyone knows someone that wants to help with my foundation and or knows of someone that can help me with house plans. That would be good. I am so mad at the stupid Cities that are letting this happen. They have the power and they don’t care. We as communities have to start saying NO!

  • amber can't understand this January 17, 2008 (5:34 pm)

    The reason this happens is the city doesn’t let the neighborhood know about it until it is too late. No it is not easy fighting the city but I really hate it when people say “Oh we can’t find progress” No you don’t want to fight because it might not feel very comfortable and it is hard. I will try to organize something for this house but I need some help. Is anyone up to it? This isn’t even my neighboorhood. This house has wood you can’t even find anymore. Home depot doesn’t carry what is in that craftsman home. Does everyone want to have their house like the lady in Ballard right next to condo’s and no neighborhood?

  • momaroundthecorner January 25, 2008 (3:23 pm)

    I guess I just feel lucky that I own an old home (1916) and not one of these condos. They aren’t built with as much quality and unfortunately won’t last as long either. In about 20 years, they’ll start to look crappy cause the materials are cheap.

  • NeighborhoodR May 17, 2008 (7:28 pm)

    The daycare that used to occupy that house is Learning For Life located on 32 Avenue SW; telephone 937-9310 Still the best daycare I’ve ever seen; had my two there from toddlers onward. Miss Ana is precious!

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