West Seattle, Washington
10 years ago – months after the fire that ravaged its interior – the Alki Homestead/Fir Lodge (2717 61st SW) appeared on an “endangered properties” list. But now it’s been rescued, restored, and reopened, and it’s won an award. Kathy Blackwell, president of the Southwest Seattle Historical Society board, reports Historic Seattle will be honoring the landmark at its Preservation Celebration this Thursday. It’s the winner of the Beth Chave Community Investment Award. One of its owners, Matt Schilling, will be there to accept the award; he and his father Dennis Schilling led the work to restore it after buying the historic log structure four and a half years ago.
More than a few readers emailed in recent days to say they’d seen national/international coverage of Easy Street Records proprietor Matt Vaughan‘s discoveries of unique grunge-era souvenirs – a few items from the early days of legendary Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, like this receipt:
View this post on Instagram
Money order #kurtcobain to his landlord recently found at Easy Street Records. $177 rent, dated 09/04/90 a year before #nevermind would go onto change music as we know it. Doubtful he had anymore money orders to landlords. RIP Kurt, we will always miss u. You changed the game, your music will last forever. #seattlelove #aberdeenlife #olympiawashington @nirvana
Vaughan also found a $26 royalty check made out to Cobain (that Instagram link isn’t working, so we can’t show it to you too). After some days in social-media circulation, the finds made their way out to national/international news outlets, even CNN. We caught up with Vaughan over the weekend to ask what he’s going to do with the items. He said he doesn’t have a plan yet but thinks they ought to be displayed somewhere. He does plan to talk about the discoveries at this fall’s Southwest Seattle Historical Society brunch gala, as he’s a featured speaker. (Easy Street’s own history goes back 30+ years!)
Thanks to Don Brubeck of West Seattle Bike Connections for the report on and photos from today’s Cycle History ride that WSBC sponsored with the Southwest Seattle Historical Society and Cascade Bicycle Club:
The theme this year was community gathering places that were initiated and build by neighborhood groups in West Seattle, starting with Highland Park Inprovement Club.
Kay Kirkpatrick filled us in with the club’s 100-year history and current life.
At the Disabled American Veterans Hall on Delridge, historian Judy Bentley told us about its former life as the Youngstown Improvement Club, and the place of those clubs in local history.
Then on to the Delridge P-Patch and to Greg Davis Park, where the neighborhood successfully blocked expansion of the West Seattle Golf Course (and removal of their houses), and wound up with a nice little park instead.
Finally, we received a warm reception and refreshments at the Vietnamese Cultural Center on SW Orchard.
Many of those places have community events we feature in our calendar and daily highlights list, as we did for today’s ride – for example, you’re invited to visit the Vietnamese Cultural Center (2236 SW Orchard) a week from tomorrow for the Children’s Moonlight Festival.
This Sunday marks 400 years since the arrival in English-occupied North America of the first ship carrying enslaved Africans, and there is a call for bell-ringing as part of a Healing Day. St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church in West Seattle has announced it’s participating:
The Episcopal Church of St. John the Baptist will join other churches and organizations across the country and ring our bell for one minute at 12:00 noon this Sunday, August 25 to honor the enslaved Africans who landed in 1619 at Port Comfort in Hampton, Virginia. The site is now part of Fort Monroe National Monument, which is leading the national bell ringing ceremony.
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has encouraged Episcopal churches across the country to take part. More on that here.
To learn more about Fort Monroe, and the significance of bells as symbols of freedom, healing and reconciliation, (go here).
The church is in The Admiral District at 3050 California SW. Any others participating? Let us know.
Maybe your basic West Seattle history knowledge includes the fact that this area was annexed to the city of Seattle in 1907. But there’s a lot more to the story – a lot more we hadn’t heard until we previewed the new Log House Museum exhibit “Between the Lines” tonight.
The exhibit, which officially opens tomorrow (Sunday, August 18th), details years of votes and counter-votes, petitions and counter-petitions, even proposals that never came to a vote.
It also looks at the motivation behind some of the failed proposals – issues that still aren’t settled more than a century later – like transportation.
Guest curators Phil Hoffman and Greg Lange were there for tonight’s Southwest Seattle Historical Society members-only preview:
(added early Sunday) Courtesy of Clay Eals, here’s video of their presentation:
Their work also looks at the context – such as, the peninsula’s first government:
Despite that fact, Duwamish Tribe members couldn’t vote at the time of annexation without renouncing their tribe. Voting rights also were denied to many others, including women and Asians:
You can see this exhibit as well as the continuing “Sound Spots” at the museum, Thursdays through Sundays, noon-4 pm, 61st SW/SW Stevens. There is no admission charge but a donation is welcome if possible.
Once upon a time, more than a century ago, West Seattle was NOT part of the City of Seattle. Why and how did that change? One week from today, on Sunday, August 18th, a new exhibit exploring that will open at the Southwest Seattle Historical Society‘s Log House Museum. Here’s the SWSHS announcement:
Visitors will see the reveal of the Log House Museum’s newest exhibit, “Between the Lines: The Power and Parallels of the West Seattle Annexation.” During the fight for annexation, many groups struggled to exert their power and influence on the fate of the Duwamish Peninsula. Citizens’ concerns in 1907 – saloons, taxation, voters; rights, and others – mirror similar issues Seattle is dealing with today.
Guest curators Phil Hoffman and Greg Lange searched through city archives and uncovered the untold story of West Seattle Annexation. At the Log House Museum, people can learn about the “Greater Seattle” of the past, and how that past reflects the present and informs the future.
On display, there will be maps of West Seattle and surrounding areas that were annexed during the early 1900s as a way to create a “Greater Seattle.” In the exhibit, there will also be documents showcasing the debate around saloons, transportation, and much more. Visitors will also have a chance to write a postcard to their local government. Funded partially through a grant generously provided by 4Culture, this thought-provoking exhibit shows visitors that history can and will repeat itself.
Admission: Admission is ‘pay what you can’, and suggested donation is $5.00 for adults. No one will be turned away due to lack of funds.
The Log House Museum is at 61st/Stevens and regularly open Thursdays-Sundays, noon-4 pm.
Next Tuesday’s tour of West Seattle’s historic murals – featured in the WSB West Seattle Event Calendar – is sold out, but now we’ve received word that a second one has been added, 6 pm August 21st:
With their origins tracing back to the late 1980s, the murals of West Seattle depict glimpses of long gone local history, from Elliott Bay’s once-thriving “mosquito fleet” to the “Old Mud Hole” of Lincoln Park.
Join Atlas Obscura for a fascinating, fact-filled tour of these large-scale artworks found around the Alaska Junction neighborhood of West Seattle with Clay Eals, former editor of the West Seattle Herald and former executive director of the Seattle Southwest Historical Society. You’ll get the whole story of how these murals were created by civic leaders and a team of world-class artists, discover the tricks of their trade, learn which local luminaries were depicted in various scenes, and get more inside scoop on these unique achievements. A portion of the proceeds from this event will be donated to the West Seattle Junction Association’s mural restoration project.
Don’t wait if you’re interested – go here to get your ticket(s)!
Yet another big event this Saturday – the historic Colman House in Fauntleroy is featured on this year’s Southwest Seattle Historical Society-presented “If These Walls Could Talk” tour. The details from SWSHS:
This historic Colman House tour will bring history alive with stories about Arthur Loveless and the Colman family. James M. Colman, a Scottish immigrant, moved to Seattle in the 1860s and brought the rest of his family over in the 1870s. James made a fortune investing in many enterprises such as Yesler’s mill and the Walla Walla Railroad.
The family bought property in Fauntleroy in 1905 and James’s son Laurence Colman recruited his
friend Arthur Loveless to design a new home for him and his family in 1922.
The Colman family is known today through their impact of their philanthropy. The family donated the land for Camp Colman, Colman Pool, and financially supported the Fauntleroy church, their local YMCA, as well as countless contributions to their community.
The VIP tour is an intimate, behind the scenes look at the history of the Colman home. Enjoy refreshments while taking in the beauty of the home’s immaculately landscaped gardens. The VIP tour includes a talk about the work of Arthur Loveless presented by his great grand-niece, Susan Shorett. Southwest Seattle Historical Society’s curator, Tasia Williams, will show and talk about artifacts from the historical society’s collection which illustrate the history of the Colman family.
General admission participants will get to wander through this amazing house with volunteers that are able to answer questions and give a brief overview.
To purchase tickets and learn more about this tour, please click on this link.
The VIP tour is 12-2 pm, $100/person; general admission 2-4 pm, $10 SWSHS members, $15 nonmembers.
(2013 photo – the lighthouse’s centennial year – by Dustin T. Smith)
Toured the historic Alki Point Lighthouse yet this year? It’s something you can only do once a week, in the summer, courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary volunteers. Next week, they’re offering a special tour after the day’s regular tours end! From Debra Alderman:
Special women’s-history-themed tour at the Alki Point Lighthouse
Sunday, July 14th, 3:45-4:30 p.m. led by US Coast Guard Auxiliary volunteer docents. Come learn about women’s role in running lighthouses here in the Northwest and beyond, plus visit our 106-year-old active lighthouse and view artifacts and displays about Alki Point Lighthouse’s history.
Entrance to site is located at: 3201 Alki Avenue SW. There is a small public parking lot right outside gate. Street parking may be found south of the lighthouse along the beach. Give yourself extra time to find parking. Please arrive by 3:45 so the tour can begin promptly at 4 p.m.
Tour and site info at: www.cgauxseattle.org or contact the lighthouse tour team: firstname.lastname@example.org
Surrounded by fencing, windows boarded up, the little stone-studded house at 1123 Harbor SW awaits its future – or lack of one. As we first reported in February, its site has been sold. But local preservation advocates and historians hope to save the hand-decorated Depression-era house and move it. One of their first public presentations was at last week’s meeting of the Alki Community Council, which voted to support the effort. As outlined by Mike Shaughnessy, here’s what’s being proposed:
A volunteeer advisory group called the Alki Beach Rock House Association has been formed, led by local entrepreneur and historic-preservation advocate John Bennett, who’s long been restoring old buildings, from West Seattle to Georgetown to South Park. They would like to move the house from its current location to city Parks land – ideally near the Alki Bathhouse – where it could become a visitor/interpretive center. As the infosheet he circulated at the meeting describes it:
The (center) would be staffed and operated by the Southwest Seattle Historical Society and offer a “gateway” location to the Log House Museum down the street. All relocation and construction-related costs will be provided by the Rock House Association and an “Operations and Maintenance” endowment will be established to release SPR of any incurred costs.
They envision putting it on a raised foundation and including a small space where an SWSHS volunteer could answer visitor questions and direct people to the nearby museum. The building could also be used to display interpretive information about the Duwamish people, the Denny Party landing, the nearby Statue of Liberty Plaza, Seattle Parks, and more.
There’s a precedent for a community-initiated project to become part of Alki Beach Park – a decade ago, that’s how the miniature Statue of Liberty, which originally was on a relatively nondescript base surrounded by asphalt, got its own plaza. (Though the original organizers and proponents of that plan have long since moved on, the ACC has remained caretakers of its originally endowed maintenance fund.)
The Rock House Association has had some preliminary talks with Parks. At last week’s meeting, the ACC voted to send the city a letter of support and also offered some advice on people to consult. Meantime, no redevelopment plan for the site is filed – yet.
This Friday, the centennial celebration at Highland Park Improvement Club continues with this month’s Corner Bar. The announcement is from Dina Lydia, who also created the groovy poster art above:
Time Travel to “CounterCulture” Corner Bar at H.P.I.C.
In this Centennial Year, Highland Park Improvement Club honors each decade of its history at our free monthly Friday Corner Bar.
Friday June 7th, we celebrate the years 1959-1968 in music, art, fashion, decor, games, and happenings.
PRIZES will be sprinkled for retro fashion savvy and trivia knowledge.
Photo Ops galore! Groovy wardrobe and props are free to borrow.
Neighbors are invited to bring mementos for Show and Tell.
1962 Seattle World’s Fair? Rock concerts? Campaign buttons? Lava lamps?
Doors of the EnGroovement Club open at 6pm
Kids welcome until 9
HPIC is at 1116 SW Holden.
Thanks to Judy Bentley for sending the photos and report on another of Saturday’s remarkable West Seattle events:
More than 90 people of all ages walked native land yesterday from ridge to river on National Trails Day in the West Duwamish Greenbelt.
Ken Workman, a descendant of Chief Seattle, described his personal experience growing up on Puget Ridge and the Duwamish experience of the land on the ridge and along the Duwamish River.
The hike left South Seattle College and followed an unimproved trail down to the Duwamish Longhouse on West Marginal Way and back up. In the last few blocks, hikers had to walk the parking strip along the busy truck-way because sidewalks are intermittent.
The hike, sponsored by the West Duwamish Greenbelt Trails group, highlighted the vision of a ridge to river trail, connecting landscapes nurturing human life for thousands of years.
For more information about the Duwamish Greenbelt Trails group, consult our website at www.wdgtrails.com
If you went to West Seattle High School – whatever the year – this reunion is for you. All classes, all years are invited to the annual all-school reunion, continuing until 7 pm.
Besides a special spotlight on the class that’s celebrating 50 years since its graduation – this year, that’s 1969 – there are special celebrations too.
Two more alumni are being inducted into the Hall of Fame – from the Class of 1965, journalist/author Elizabeth Becker, and from the class of 1978, Christine Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. And the reunion also celebrates scholarships awarded to more than 20 outstanding students. Note that the setup changed this year – everybody’s in the commons instead of breaking up into multiple classrooms.
Two updates on the murals in the West Seattle Junction:
Junction Association executive director Lora Radford sent that photo with word that the tagging damage done to that mural, “The Old Mud Hole” (south side of the 44th/Alaska lot), has been repaired by muralist Bob Henry. It still is in need of restoration, but the repair work is a band-aid, for now. Meantime, Radford adds, Henry starts work tomorrow on the next one to be restored, the West Seattle Ferries mural on the west side of the building at the southwest corner oF California and Alaska.
(WSB file photo)
Crowdfunding to cover the cost of restoration continues, and Radford says every bit helps – through June 30th, there’s a bonus for donations of $50 or more, inscribed mural-fundraiser keychains. Here’s where to donate.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Tonight, the Alki Homestead reopens as a restaurant, almost 10 1/2 years after a fire shut it down.
While the new restaurant, Il Nido, is in a bright spotlight because of its owner’s reputation and talent, we thought the moment shouldn’t pass without remembering the years of concern that the city-landmarked Homestead – 115 years old and originally known as the Fir Lodge – would never reopen and might not even be salvageable.
We also thought you might want to see inside, since you won’t get a chance without reservations to dine at the restaurant, already booked a month out. (Thanks to Chef Mike Easton for letting us visit briefly today to photograph the interior hours before his restaurant’s first night.)
First – the past decade of history (go here to look even further back). Old West Seattle’s collective hearts sank at news of the January 2009 fire, blamed on faulty Christmas lights. Then-owner Tom Lin had been in the process of selling the beloved home-style restaurant. Post-fire, he told WSB that it would likely take “more than six months” to repair and reopen.
No one likely could have imagined it would take a decade.
The sale did not go through. By March, the Southwest Seattle Historical Society expressed public concern about the landmark’s future. By May, the Homestead was on an annual “Endangered Properties” list. In September 2009, Lin briefed the Alki Community Council on possibilities for the Homestead’s future – maybe a restaurant, bar, spa, B&B.
Its future was still a question mark by July 4, 2010, when 150+ people gathered for that group photo outside the Homestead, declaring “This Place Matters.” The following January, on the two-year anniversary of the fire, preservation groups reiterated their concerns – “Somebody has to speak for the building.” Later that month, Lin and architects brought a new plan to a committee of the city Landmarks Preservation Board, and advocates declared they were “thrilled.” Questions lingered about whether, and how, the building could be salvaged, but proposals went through four public reviews in six months until things went quiet again.
Then in December 2013, almost five years post-fire, the Homestead was listed for sale. A prospective buyer emerged more than a year later, Dennis Schilling, a Mercer Island real-estate investor known locally for buying and restoring Alki’s Shoremont Apartments, once proposed for demolition and site redevelopment. That spring, it was announced triumphantly that Schilling was going ahead with the purchase. He promptly set about doing some of the restoration work himself.
(Dennis Schilling, Alki Homestead owner – May 2015 photo by Clay Eals)
In June 2015, another group photo outside the Homestead – this time celebratory:
(Photo by Jean Sherrard, courtesy SWSHS)
Students from Alki and Schmitz Park Elementary Schools gathered for what the SWSHS dubbed a “group hug.” But while the building had been saved, its future wasn’t yet clear. Its “rehabilitation plan” won city Landmarks Board approval in March 2016. Would it eventually reopen as a restaurant? The answer finally came last September, when Chef Easton announced the plan for Il Nido. A few days later, the Homestead’s famous neon sign returned from 2+ years of restoration:
Inside, the work of turning the Homestead back into a restaurant began. Easton told us at the time, “It initially seemed to be such a big project, just how much restoration needed to happen – I wrote it off as more than I wanted to do. But the building sort of has a haunting effect on you.” Now the work is done, and we visited for photos as final touches were readied for Il Nido’s opening.
Whether or not you ever dine at Il Nido, you might want to see what’s happened inside the Homestead:
(For a kitchen view, here’s Easton’s own Instagram photo.) The grounds have been re-landscaped:
And we’re told they hope to open the back patio in July. But first – it’s opening night, as a new chapter in the Homestead/Fir Lodge’s history begins.
For your West Seattle summer bucket list – don’t miss the chance to tour historic Alki Point Lighthouse! Debra Alderman with the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary just sent the photo and word that Sunday tours resume this weekend:
Alki Point Lighthouse Tours begin this Sunday!
Location: 3201 Alki Avenue SW
The US Coast Guard Auxiliary will again be leading free tours for the public at the Alki Point Lighthouse most Sunday afternoons Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day Weekend. This year, no tours on Saturdays and we will be closed Sundays June 23rd and Aug. 4th.
Hours: 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. (last group enters site at 3:45 p.m.)
All ages welcome, but only those 6 and up may go to the very top of the lighthouse tower.
Questions? Email email@example.com
Congratulations to the team behind “Seattle Now & Then: The Historic Hundred,” which has won three awards! The 244-page coffee-table book published last year by Documentary Media is the creation o writer and photographer Paul Dorpat and Jean Sherrard, with West Seattle’s Clay Eals as editor and introduction writer. The awards:
— The Independent Book Publishers Association Ben Franklin Awards, Silver for Regional Books (note the commemorative sticker on the cover in the photo above!)
— The Independent Publisher Book Awards (IPPYs), Bronze for West Pacific / Best Regional Non-Fiction
— The Association for King County Historical Organizations (AKCHO) Virginia Marie Folkins Award
Details are here, including video of one award presentation. And if you happen to be joining the Rotary Club for West Seattle tomorrow morning (8 am at the Alki Masonic Center in The Junction), you can congratulate Eals in person; he’ll be making the 32nd presentation about “Historic Hundred.”
Last week, former Seattle deputy mayor and longtime civic advocate Bob Royer died at 75. He wasn’t a West Seattleite so we didn’t make note of it – many regional publications did a great job of that – and then we heard from West Seattle historian, writer, and journalist Clay Eals. He reminded us of the event shown in the video above – a panel discussion in The Junction in 2014, commemorating the 30th anniversary of the opening of the high-level West Seattle Bridge, part of a monthlong series of events presented by the Southwest Seattle Historical Society, which Eals led at the time. Read more about it – and see some historic bridge video! – here. You can see/hear Bob Royer in the video starting about six minutes in (running for about 12 minutes) and then again for about seven minutes starting at one hour, 14 minutes in. Eals recalls, “It was fascinating local history, yes, but history that came alive in a lively manner. And anyone who knew Bob is mourning the loss of his energy and wit.”
Thanks to Mark Jaroslaw for pointing out that today marked exactly 70 years since Puget Sound’s biggest earthquake of the 20th century. The 7.1-magnitude South Sound quake at 11:55 am April 13, 1949, led to the deaths of eight people. Two were students – at schools in Tacoma in Castle Rock. Here in West Seattle, damage at a school was among the most notable in the city, mentioned with other nearby damage in the HistoryLink.org summary of the quake: “… At Lafayette Elementary School in West Seattle, the large brick gable over the main entrance collapsed. Three bridges crossing the Duwamish River were jammed shut due to shifting earth. …” The school damage – to a building that was predecessor to the current Lafayette – is featured in this post by historian Paul Dorpat. But because – like the 2001 quake – it was centered in the South Sound, that’s where it hit hardest; The Olympian published a story today featuring quake survivors’ memories.
SO, ARE YOU READY? The anniversary is another reminder that you need to be prepared for the next big quake. If you need some inspiration, next month you’ll find it at the West Seattle Bee Festival – an Urban Survival Skills Fair presented by West Seattle Be Prepared is part of the plan for the festival, 10 am-2 pm on Saturday, May 18th, at High Point Commons Park.
If you’re planning a visit to the Southwest Seattle Historical Society‘s Log House Museum on Alki this week, curator Tasia Williams wants you to know, “Our ADA ramp at the Log House Museum will be closed this week due to repairs.” The museum at 61st SW and SW Stevens will be open noon-4 pm Thursday-Sunday as usual, otherwise.
(‘Preferred’ massing option, from project packet by SMR Architects)
As first reported here two weeks ago, the Seattle Housing Authority has a new plan for the Lam Bow Apartments at 6935/6955 Delridge Way SW. Instead of just replacing the building destroyed in a 2016 fire, they’re going to demolish the remaining building too, and build a new ~79-unit building – almost 30 more apartments than the two original buildings had. The project is going through Administrative Design Review, and the design packet is now online for your review and comment (see it here, 68 pages, PDF). This is the Early Design Guidance phase, so the packet shows massing (size/shape/placement on site) options and lists these project goals:
LAM BOW REDEVELOPMENT OBJECTIVES
• Replace the 21 units lost in the October 2016 fire and increase the total number of units on the site.
• Create a mixed-income community with units serving residents at or below 30% of Area Median Income (AMI) and 60% of AMI.
• Increase the supply of affordable homes, especially larger apartments (2BD+) for families with children. Our target unit count and mix is:
1-Bedroom Units: 22
2-Bedroom Units: 42
3-Bedroom Units: 15
Total Units: 79
One note – today’s notice published by the city erroneously refers to it as a 50-unit project, which it was previously, but we’ve confirmed with SHA that was a error by the Department of Construction and Inspections. The notice explains how to comment in this stage of Design Review – deadline April 8th.
Though the Southwest Seattle Historical Society had hoped its Log House Museum would reopen today after being closed Thursday for furnace replacement, it’s not ready yet, so the museum remains closed. They’re expecting to be open regular hours this weekend – noon-4 pm Saturday and Sunday, at 61st SW/SW Stevens in Alki.
The photo is from Nancy, reporting that another of the 25+-year-old murals in The Junction has been vandalized: “I wake up each morning to look at this awesome mural and this morning when I pulled up the blinds, this is what I saw. How disappointing.” The mural on the parking-lot-facing north side of the building at 4520 44th SW depicts a scene at the swimming hole that preceded Colman Pool on the shore at Lincoln Park; the vandalism is tagging done in white paint on the swimming-hole midsection of the mural. This is one of the murals that community volunteers hope to be able to restore, with an ongoing fundraising campaign. Meantime, the West Seattle Junction Association has been made aware of the vandalism, and we will follow up next week.