Southwest Seattle Historical Society to meet with new owners of ‘stone house’ in hopes of moving it

(WSB photos)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Will the stone house join the Log House (Museum) under the Southwest Seattle Historical Society‘s wing?

SWSHS leaders tell WSB they are grateful that the new owners of the well-known little stone-covered house at 1123 Harbor Avenue SW have agreed to meet with them. They aren’t seeking to get in the way of whatever the new owners – who just bought the site and two adjacent lots last week – have planned. They just want to obtain the house itself and move it someplace new, potentially to use as an interpretive center.

We talked this afternoon outside the 90-year-old house with SWSHS president Kathy Blackwell and longtime local preservationist John Bennett.

They shared the letter they sent to the new owners, who, they say, subsequently agreed to a meeting next Monday.

You might not be aware of all the backstory behind the little stone-studded house across from Don Armeni Boat Ramp. To catch up, see this Seattle Post-Intelligencer story from 2002. Even then, the owner of the house – a member of the family who built it with scavenged materials – was in her 70s and told the newspaper that developers had been making them offers for at least 15 years.

SWSHS had talked to the family in the past, too, as the 2002 story alludes to. Bennett says the family had expressed interest in donating the little stone house if they ever sold the property, but nothing was in writing. So now they’re looking forward to talking with the new owners, Chainqui Development, whose expressed values indicate this should be in perfect alignment. No development proposal is on file yet for the site – which also includes the two parcels immediately west – but the new owners have obtained a permit for exterior work on the stone house, including its windows, some of which are already boarded up:

Where the house would be moved, SWSHS hasn’t determined yet, but the sale of the site has them determined to obtain it first, settle on a site later. Wherever it winds up, the goal would be for it to be accessible to the public. (This wouldn’t be the first [corrected] moved house in the SWSHS fold – its headquarters at 61st/Stevens, the Log House Museum, was originally the carriage house for the Alki Homestead a short distance north.)

“We have a real opportunity here to preserve part of the special story of West Seattle,” says Blackwell – the story of its mostly-gone beach cottages, via what’s unquestionably the most distinctive of those that remain.

33 Replies to "Southwest Seattle Historical Society to meet with new owners of 'stone house' in hopes of moving it"

  • pdid February 21, 2019 (4:19 pm)

    Put it in Lincoln Park. That park needs a little indoor event space aside from Coleman pool.

    • just wondering February 21, 2019 (6:25 pm)

      Maybe it could be moved by barge around Alki point to a location at Lincoln Park? 

      • pelicans February 22, 2019 (2:35 pm)

        Like others, I’ve loved and admired this little house for decades. I am greatly concerned for its safety while it sits there unoccupied. Graffitti and vandalism are real concerns, if you look at other little houses waiting to be torn down on Alki.  If, through the SW Seattle Historical Society, and working with the new owner, we could set up a group of volunteers to watch it, maybe it will avoid the fate of so many others.  I contacted Sarah Miller of SWSHW (206-938-5293) today, and discussed these concerns with her. She was very receptive to ideas and will be looking into things. Maybe if more concerned fans of this little gem offered to volunteer, we can help in its preservation.

  • ACG February 21, 2019 (4:44 pm)

    I hope they can save it. I know nothing about moving houses, but it would seem incredibly difficult to move a stone house, no?  I’d be worried that the walls would crumble. 

  • rw February 21, 2019 (4:50 pm)

    I wish it could stay on Harbor or Alki Ave. Both need some infusions of funk to offset the characterless modern condos and townhouses.

  • buglarbustindad February 21, 2019 (5:26 pm)


  • Admiral neighbor February 21, 2019 (5:49 pm)

    Thank you SWSHS!

  • HS February 21, 2019 (7:29 pm)

    Ditto that it would be a great addition to Lincoln Park. However, if there aren’t any other options people in the community, such as myself, would happily take it. 

  • Yma February 21, 2019 (8:30 pm)

    Could this be a cornerstone of whatever is needed to be developed? I know the land itself is now worth a ton – but this is part of our quirky history. Moving to somewhere in Lincoln Park would be Fab! What a wonderful community space! How do we organize/fund /get permits for that?

  • Celeste17 February 21, 2019 (8:45 pm)

    I wish this house was already on the historical list.

  • Ann February 21, 2019 (9:57 pm)

    Love hearing about this!  Seems like this little house should stay in the Alki area. Alki Beach somewhere? 

  • Marcy February 21, 2019 (10:36 pm)

    This is such a great opportunity to work with John Bennett, local historian and preservationist, to once again save part of our local history. It’s the stone house! I feel it is my honor to serve on the board of the Southwest Seattle Historical Society along with dedicated others and our terrific community here on the Duwamish Peninsula promoting our local heritage through education, preservation, and advocacy. 

    • Patricia February 22, 2019 (2:31 pm)

      Go for it Marcy – it’s our history!!

  • Seavieu February 22, 2019 (4:08 am)

    If the building can’t be moved, the suggestion to incorporate the stone house into the development plans is a good one. The Harwood condominiums in Beacon Hill have some old stone structures in place that add a lot of character.

  • Question Authority February 22, 2019 (8:50 am)

    Unfortunately moving that type of structure would be inherently problematic due to its weight and fragile makeup.  The only way would be to plastic wrap encapsulate both the inner and outer layer and then build an inner and outer rigid containment structure which is then filled full of lightweight expandable foam to provide rigidity.  When removed at its new destination a high level of success would be achieved because of the process.

    • Delmar B Davis March 3, 2019 (5:57 pm)

       There have been   multitudes of this type constructed buildings and monuments relocated across our country for many years in the past. There is a 5 generation moving firm here in our area that is more than capable of  handling the task. They specialize in moving stone, brick, concrete and most any other building material on the market. Look them up 

  • Kravitz February 22, 2019 (9:21 am)

    I have loved this house as long as I’ve been alive. On a whim, I drove down Harbor last week and immediately noticed some of the boarded windows and almost felt a sense of panic. I’d always seen a little light on in there, but curtains were always closed keeping my mind wandering about who lived there and what stories those beautiful walls held. This is West Seattle’s version of Edith Macefield’s house in Ballard, and it would be hard to lose it. I so hope that it somehow has a repurposed future here. It would feel almost like losing a family member to see it vanish.

  • DD February 22, 2019 (9:27 am)

    I love this house (as an admitted stone collector)….and support any approach which would preserve it. I think moving it would present a major challenge, with walls composed of rocks and pebbles. Like the idea, expressed by others   , of incorporating this into development on the site if it cannot safely be moved. If it can be moved, having it grace one of our parks in West Seattle would be ideal, and promote public access.  If all else fails, maybe sections of the walls and the windows could be salvaged and auctioned off to help fund other public  projects. 

  • Pam Rehm February 22, 2019 (10:40 am)

      It would be nice to have a historical section somewhere in the Alki area to move the Rock House to. Maybe the SWSHS could buy the Alki Beauty Salon and B’s Poor Boy, make that corner the historical area next to the log cabin? We have lived here all our lives and own one of the last beach bungalows. It’s really hard to see them just get torn down without a  care of so much history that will be gone forever. Thank you, SWSHS Save The Alki Rock House, all the Alki Beach Bungalows and our History!!  

  • Dale Swanson February 22, 2019 (11:41 am)

    I wonder if it could be moved to near the Alki Bath House site? 

  • Gene February 22, 2019 (11:55 am)

    Lincoln Park is an event space- it doesn’t need an indoor space -besides moving it to Lincoln Park would be it’s demise. How long until it’s covered in graffiti- windows broken, broken into & trashed. I like the idea of incorporating it into whatever might be built if possible. 

  • Denise February 22, 2019 (12:04 pm)

    I love this house, and I hope it can be moved and used as an interpretive center. But it definitely should not be put in Lincoln Park, as some commenters have suggested. Lincoln Park is a natural area park, and it should stay that way for people to enjoy. The only other areas in the park are already developed for sports or other active uses, so there is not any free space. Please look elsewhere for a suitable location! 

  • -3rd Generation Graduate of West Seattle Highschool February 22, 2019 (12:35 pm)

    Would be so nice right between the Bathhouse and the Statue of Liberty. My Dad used to tell me that this home was made by a mother and her children while her husband was away at war. They hauled all the rocks up from the beach. A pretty special piece of Alki History like this  should remain at Alki. Please keep it somewhere down there?!!?

  • enid February 22, 2019 (1:36 pm)

    Why wasn’t this house considered for historic preservation before it was sold to developers?  When I bought my crappy little 1934 house, it had to be reviewed.  Don’t think this house is movable, but it would be a crime to lose it.  It’s an icon of Alki, just like the flower house.

  • john bennett February 22, 2019 (4:50 pm)

     Thank you for all your positive remarks and support. We are overjoyed that the developer is willing to work with us to move the house and save it for generations to come. We have been on this for over 17 years. Moving the house should not be a problem. Our goal is to make the stone house a sort of interpretive center that would tell the early history of Alki beach and West Seattle. We plan to keep it in the Alki neighborhood. This will most likely be a costly endeavor and we will start fundraising as soon as all parties are committed. This little house is very unique and filled with so much colorful history. There is no question that it needs to be saved, and it will be. John

  • Laney February 22, 2019 (7:01 pm)

    Sounds like big developers want it out of the way?  This is history.  Hmmm.

  • Scott Collins February 22, 2019 (8:29 pm)

    John,A bit of a knee jerk (and cliched) response…but perhaps a GoFundMe page or something of that ilk?  I’m Seattle born and raised, but relatively new to WS and I dig both the house and the story.  I’d be in to help.

  • 2 Much Whine February 23, 2019 (4:21 pm)

    Put it in Camp Long!   Make it a cabin you can rent. . . . Although Lincoln Park would probably be my first choice.

  • john maynard February 24, 2019 (12:46 pm)

    Kudos to Bennett for spearheading this preservation prospect.  Long live the Stonehouse.

  • Elle Nell February 24, 2019 (4:36 pm)

    My dear friends Grandmother built this home… it’s such a shame what is happening to Seattle. All the wonderful sites, that mean so much to so many, are being destroyed for money… ultimately.

  • MC February 25, 2019 (2:21 pm)

    It would be a shame to lose it, like we lost the stone cottage that once stood near Alki Point, and was featured in Ripley’s Believe it or Not.  

  • dhg February 25, 2019 (3:38 pm)

    I’d love to see it cross the street, on City land, perhaps remove a chunk of the parking lot (we’ll all be riding in self-driving cars soon enough).

  • Connie G. February 25, 2019 (6:45 pm)

    It looks so much like the stone house in Redmond! Is there any connection?

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