West Seattle history: Long-shuttered ex-market to make way for new house


Almost exactly six years ago – on New Year’s Day, 2008 – we took a quick “past/present” look at 4808 SW Alaska, thanks to neighbor Bill pointing out its past identity as Fraker’s Grocery. Today, the building is pretty much what it was at the time of that WSB story – vacant and rundown:

But its days are finally numbered. We’re mentioning it today because our latest routine check of city Department of Planning and Development files turned up new applications for demolition and construction permits. A new single-family house is proposed for the site, which was separated from an adjacent lot in a land-use action three years ago. But it’s noteworthy given its history, still hinted at by this shadow of a Coca-Cola sign on the south-facing window:

County records show the market’s former proprietor, Dean Fraker, owned the site until 2001; he died in 2009. It was sold again two weeks ago to a real-estate-investment LLC.

23 Replies to "West Seattle history: Long-shuttered ex-market to make way for new house"

  • West Seattle Hipster December 29, 2013 (5:13 pm)

    Great story, I love reading about the history in West Seattle.

  • Jeff December 29, 2013 (5:55 pm)

    I always wondered about that place when I walked by. Love to see the picture from better times.

  • WesCAddle December 29, 2013 (6:44 pm)

    Miss the days of neighborhood groceries.

  • Mike December 29, 2013 (8:03 pm)

    My grandparents lived a block from here in the 50s and I remember going there to buy candy.

  • ttt December 29, 2013 (9:09 pm)

    interesting. I’ve always wondered what the story behind that building was since it looked like it had been something else other than a house. Thanks!

  • B-check December 29, 2013 (10:27 pm)

    Thanks for sharing that local history – we too have often wondered about that building when passing by to visit Ercolini Park or walking the dog. Too bad there still isn’t a market for small shops like that – I’d really enjoy seeing a modern update of that grocery versus another uninspired “box” house. But something did need to be done to that property.

  • J December 29, 2013 (10:54 pm)

    There go our fantasies of opening a corner store there, catering to the Ercolini crowd. Ice Cream Sandwiches, fugecicles, goldfish crackers, juice boxes, coffee, maybe beer, wine and deli sandwiches. Antipasta. Baguettes. Brie. Diapers. Band-aids, binkies. Red vines. So you can stay and play all day! Would have made a fortune.

  • brad December 30, 2013 (12:33 am)

    REALLY glad to see that there’s a single-family house going up on the property instead of more apartments…or worse..apodments.

  • WestofJunction December 30, 2013 (6:58 am)

    To be viable as as small store, they would need to sell beer and cigarettes. I doubt that would make the neighbors happy. Regarding architecture, the old craftsman and bungalows were the “box” houses of their time – pretty much cookie cutter made from plans you could purchase from Sears Roebuck. And constructed with ample use of immigrant (Scandanavian) labor The individuality you see now is due to sucessive waves of remodling over the years.

  • G December 30, 2013 (7:34 am)

    Hasn’t changed much, still the run down building I remember growing up. There was another small grocery a few blocks south at 49th/Dawson, and a few more on Beach Dr, including one about a block north of the Menashe’s. They were on the way out even back in the 60 and 70’s because no one did any serious shopping there. Weren’t best places for kid’s teeth, that’s for sure.

  • miws December 30, 2013 (7:51 am)

    J, if you were going to offer wine among the offerings at the corner store, Merlot would probably be a big seller. ;-)



  • wetone December 30, 2013 (10:00 am)

    A few more from the Alki area: 55th & Alki , 57 & Alki , plus we had 2 grocery stores between 62-63 & Alki, C&H and IGA now Bamboo and Cactus. Another small grocery store with good meat market where waterfront park is next to the condo’s that go out over the water 61st and Beach Dr. a few blocks to the south on Beach drive where La Rustica is was another one. There was one also next to the old Alki tav. Good old days penny candy everywhere.

  • phil dirt December 30, 2013 (10:17 am)

    I remember our mom’s pinning a note on our shirts,giving us some money, and sending us kids down to Fraker’s to buy cigarettes for them, and, with the change. We bought 7 cent popsicles or pop out of the bend-over-into-it coca cola cooler. They also had little boxes of 6 (or8) marshmallows that were wonderfully stale and chewy. In the summer there were frozen Snickers bars, too.

    I remember the owner(last owner’s dad), as being grumpy, but the really scary thing was to run the gamet of the mean police dog,Shep, (no leash laws in those days), and the bully on the block of 51st and Alaska.

    With 43 children on the block I grew up on, (50th and Genesee), and glass bottle deposits in place, there was pretty much 100% recycling going on without the giant trucks. That was how we funded our candy runs when our moms didn’t need cigarrettes!

    One Wednesday in first grade at Genesee Hill School, the teacher asked if we new what today was? My hand shot up confidentally, and I proclaimed,”Frakers
    is closed!” Turns out, I was wrong …it was Columbus Day. (I was right about Frakers, though.)

    There goes my fantasy of winning the lottery and remodeling Frakers with my friend who collects Americana, etc. Can you picture it? Frakers restored with all the old cases and displays?

  • sc December 30, 2013 (11:23 am)

    Please not another box house with black rectangles on the outside, so ugly!

  • DukeMalisto December 30, 2013 (11:24 am)

    As a kid, I played a lot at the house on that corner (attached yard). I always thought it was part of their property since visitors sometimes would stay in that building. I’ve even been in a few times.

    I always figured that Coca Cola in the window was from a neon sign someone had collected and left there. Blows my mind now to find out it used to be a store all those years ago.

  • JJ December 30, 2013 (11:28 am)

    I used to live directly across the street from Fraker’s in the 1960’s. The small window on the right is where Dean would sit at his desk where he’d play/teach cribbage with anyone that stopped by. He always let me restock his soda coolers in the back after which we’d enjoy a game and a candy bar as my payment. Dean and his wife lived in the back so you could always smell what was for dinner late in the day. It was a simpler time then, back when I could buy a package of Twinkies and a soda for a quarter…

  • JJ December 30, 2013 (11:35 am)

    Previous poster “G” mentioned the store at 49th and Dawson. That was called Askey’s and was owned by Dean Fraker’s sister and husband Mr. and Mrs. Askey. I used to cut her lawn for many years.

  • G December 30, 2013 (1:03 pm)

    Bingo, that’s what I thought, “Askey’s” was the name. The only problem was deciding which store to go to – Askey’s, the one where La Rustica currently is (on the tip of my tongue), or the one further south on Beach Dr. What a completely different place West Seattle was in those days, quiet – even dull- no pretense, just a place to live. Seems like everything we took for granted back then is now a 24/7 production….things change, I guess.

  • Missing the old days December 30, 2013 (2:46 pm)

    I remember going to both Fraker’s and Askey’s. My grandma would take me to Fraker’s, and a neighbor kid of grandma’s would take me to Askey’s.

    I can still recall beams of sunlight passing through the windows at Fraker’s.

    (but lets be honest – these neighborhood grocery stores were much more important back then. These days they can’t survive with such bargains to be had at the “box stores”, which are far more convenient today)

    LOL – there used to be COWS grazing in the field very near to Fraker’s, and on the way up to the Alaska Junction.

  • Dana December 30, 2013 (7:40 pm)

    I loved those old neighborhood grocery stores in W. Seattle. Fun to go in and get pops and candy. :)

  • Rick December 31, 2013 (7:33 am)

    Late 60’s/early 70’s we used to call the La Rustica store Esthers as that was the lady’s name. Not sure if that was the stores name though.

  • metrognome December 31, 2013 (7:15 pm)

    I lived on Beach Drive about 25 years ago; don’t remember what the original store was but for a while it was owned by a hippie-kinda guy who sold only two things — organic fruit and something else that I’ve forgotten.

    Across the street from La Rustica is Weather Watch Park:

  • polly aldrich January 3, 2014 (8:56 pm)

    I have a few good memories of Frakers, run by Dean and his wife, he had my school pic under thick glass at his desk in the front window, he let me run the cash register a few times, we would save pop bottles to buy candy there. as an adult I brought him my home canned peaches.

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