West Seattle history 679 results

FRIDAY: Hiawatha play-area project briefing

Interested in what’s planned for the play-area move at Hiawatha Playfield/Community Center? You can see a briefing during tomorrow morning’s meeting of the city Landmarks Preservation Board‘s Architectural Review Committee. The project is in the board’s jurisdiction because Hiawatha is a landmark, one of the city’s historic Olmsted parks. You can preview the briefing packet here; the meeting, which starts with a public-comment period, is at 8:30 am Friday (August 28th), online – here’s the link. If you plan to comment, register here, or email your comment to erin.doherty@seattle.gov and/or sarah.sodt@seattle.gov. You can also listen to the meeting by calling 206-207-1700 and entering meeting access code 146 522 0524. (Thanks to Deb Barker, who recently completed two terms on the Landmarks Board, for the tip!)

THURSDAY: Learn about West Seattle’s streetcar-driven days

(Heart of The Junction, 1926. Photo courtesy SWSHS)

Among other things, streetcars are why The Junction is The Junction. Though they’ve been gone for many decades, streetcars play a big role in West Seattle history, and you can learn more about it Thursday. Here’s the preview:

Southwest Seattle Historical Society‘s monthly speaker series will host local transportation enthusiast Mike Bergman in his presentation of “To West Seattle by Streetcars: 1916 to 1940” at ‘Words, Writers & SouthWest Seattle’s’ next digital event, which will be hosted via Zoom at 6 PM on August 13th.

Bergman’s talk will explore the history of West Seattle’s streetcar system in the first half of the twentieth century, including its construction and the influence the streetcar system had on the area’s development and growth. Showcasing numerous historic photos, Bergman will address the evolution of three segments of the West Seattle corridor: Youngstown (Spokane & Avalon to the bridge), the West Waterway bridge itself, and the elevated streetcar trestle between the bridge and downtown.

Advanced registration is required at www.loghousemuseum.org. Registered participants will be emailed a Zoom link to the presentation on the date of the event.

Born and raised in Seattle, Bergman has been interested in Seattle Transportation history from an early age, especially the city’s bridges, railroads and public transit systems. He has a degree in Geography from the University of Washington, and was employed as a transit consulting firm, then moved to King County Metro in 1980. At Metro, he worked as a transit service planner, project manager and communications specialist. He took a new position at Sound Transit in 2000, where he produced the agency’s annual service plan and developed schedules for ST Express buses, Sounder commuter rail and Link light rail.

Following his retirement in 2016, Mike maintained a strong interest in local transit and transportation history. He is a volunteer at the Pacific Northwest Railroad Archive (PNRA), a non-profit educational organization developing a repository of Northwest rail history, including city streetcar systems. Mike has organized PNRA’s large collection of material on the Seattle Municipal Railway and has developed and shown powerpoint presentations on Seattle streetcar history to various community groups. He is the president of the Tacoma Chapter- National Railway Historical Society, and regularly contributes articles of local historical interest to The Trainsheet, the chapter’s monthly newsletter.

The Southwest Seattle Historical Society has been sponsoring this free speaker series regularly for the past seven years. Future presentations for following months are planned to be shown live via Zoom to continue observation of safe, social distancing. Corporate sponsorship is being sought for this series and donations are welcomed.

Next month’s event will be by former presenter Eric Wagner, and is titled, “After the Blast: The Ecological Recovery of Mount St. Helens”. For videos on these and other speakers’ presentations, check out “Events” at www.loghousemuseum.org. This series is open to hosting any author or speaker addressing historical issues relating to the Puget Sound/Duwamish Peninsula and/or the general public.

HISTORY: Explore Seattle’s oldest home without leaving yours

Two weeks from today, the oldest house in West Seattle – and the entire city – opens up, virtually, for you to see. Here’s the announcement:

The Southwest Seattle Historical Society‘s annual “If These Walls Could Talk” historic-home tour has gone digital! Join us online to support SWSHS and explore the history of the oldest house still standing in Seattle –the Maynard House on Alki. Lovingly restored in 2018, you will get to experience the updated interior of the home and learn how the house has changed in its 100+ year history.

This tour will be a YouTube 360 experience, so you can explore the interior of the home while learning about the lives of Doc and Catherine Maynard. A recent donation of personal letters from the Maynards will illuminate new insights into one of Seattle’s most interesting figures. After registering, you will receive a link to the video to explore at your leisure. This will be sent to you on the morning of August 15th. The video will be about 15 minutes of recorded content about the Maynards with the ability to pause and move around the 360 space. The experience is available for a suggested donation of $10-20.

For a deeper experience, register for our live VIP session where local historians will discuss the Maynards in greater depth. You will get a chance to hear some letters read, including never-before-seen firsthand accounts of the Battle of Seattle! This VIP panel session will be held on August 15th at 11 am PST. The price for access to this exclusive conversation is $50. Our panelists include:

Ken Workman, the Great-Great-Great-Great Grandson of Chief Seattle. He is a retired Systems and Data Analyst from Boeing’s Flight Operations Engineering Department, a former Duwamish Tribal Council member as well as a former Duwamish Tribal Services 501(c)(3) President. Ken is a member of the Duwamish Tribe, the first people of Seattle. Today Ken enjoys retired life on a river, in the mountains, east of Seattle and he serves as a member of the Southwest Seattle Historical Society’s Board of Trustees.

Phil Hoffman, a graduate of Georgia State (Atlanta) and Wayne State (Detroit) Universities holding a Masters of Urban Planning degree. He resides in Seattle’s Alki neighborhood. Mr. Hoffman is the retired director of the University of Washington Office of Institutional Studies. Upon his retirement, he established the Alki History Project. The Project’s mission is to document, explore, and interpret the history of Seattle’s founding neighborhood. Current research includes investigation of proposed and failed transportation improvements which would have forever changed Alki’s landscape and land use and an effort to identify ‘Watson,’ the suspected 1893 Herring House arsonist.

Greg Lange, a life-long Seattle resident and King County Archivist. He became interested in local history while selling northwest history books at used, antiquarian, and new bookstores. Greg is one of the original staff members of Historylink.org. He is a former member of the Pioneer Square Preservation Board and the Washington State Board of Geographic Names. He conducted a survey of houses built prior to 1905 for the city of Seattle and he has given many presentations on how to complete a history of a house. Greg has extensive experience researching early EuroAmerican settlement of Seattle and King County.

Registration is due by August 14th at this link.

P.S. Here’s our coverage of the gift the SWSHS received from the Maynards’ descendants half a year ag.

FOLLOWUP: See part of the restored West Seattle Junction mural that’s going back up

(WSB photos)

It’s almost as if Bob Henry has an audience! As we reported Monday, the muralist is at work this week on the north side of 4727 44th SW in The Junction, re-hanging the restored panels that comprise the “Press Day” mural. Today, we got a look at part of the restoration:

It’s been more than two years since the restoration project began.

This is one of nine surviving murals of the original 11 created in the late ’80s/early ’90s – one, “Midnight Call,” was removed four years ago; another was re-created at a new location near the demolished building that originally held it. Crowdfunding is supplementing the philanthropy and grants to pay for the restoration.

WEST SEATTLE ART: Junction mural restoration continues

(WSB photo, August 2019)

Almost a year ago, we reported on the next West Seattle Junction mural to be restored, “Press Day,” on the north side of 4727 44h SW. This time, the process is different – this mural is on wooden panels that were removed so muralist Bob Henry could work on them. Today, he’s back to start re-hanging the restored panels.

(This photo & next, courtesy of West Seattle Junction Association)

First – scaffolding goes up. Then, the panels.

West Seattle Junction Association executive director Lora Radford tells WSB the process is expected to last all week. It’s one of the murals created ~30 years ago as a celebration of local history; restoration is funded by philanthropy, grants, and community contributions (the crowdfunding page is here).

REGISTER NOW! Live local online event: ‘Before Seattle Was a City’

July 18, 2020 7:02 am
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 |   West Seattle history | West Seattle news | West Seattle online

(WSB file photo)

Though its Log House Museum still can’t reopen for visitors, the Southwest Seattle Historical Society remains busy finding ways to share our area’s history with you. Here’s the next event:

The Southwest Seattle Historical Society is pleased to announce our latest virtual program. On Thursday, July 23rd, at 6:30 pm. we will be offering a live panel discussion of historical experts. You may have heard that this year’s historic home tour features the oldest house in Seattle … the Maynard House on Alki! This August we will be bringing you a special virtual experience to explore the house and the lives of Doc and Catherine Maynard. But before Doc and Catherine arrived in Washington Territory in the 1850s, the area that would become Seattle already had a rich history. We invite you to join our panel discussion to explore what was going on … before Seattle was a city.

What world did Doc and Catherine step into when they arrived in the Puget Sound area? What did the landscape of the 1850s look like? Who were the political players? What was the relationship between the colonial settlers and Indigenous peoples like?

Our panelists will explore those questions and more. We are pleased to include Ken Workman, 4-times great-grandson of Chief Seattle as one of our panelists. Tasia Williams, Curator of the Southwest Seattle Historical Society, will moderate the discussion. We will be announcing our other panelists soon!

Register here.

Ticket price is “donate what you can.”

RSVP ASAP: Words, Writers, Southwest Stories presents Clarence Moriwaki with ‘Let It Not Happen Again’

July 6, 2020 5:15 pm
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 |   West Seattle history | West Seattle news | West Seattle online

This is happening live online Thursday night, but you need to register to get the link. As announced by the Southwest Seattle Historical Society:

‘Words, Writers & SouthWest Stories,’ a historically based speaker series of the Southwest Seattle Historical Society, is excited to announce that it is hosting Clarence Moriwaki for a live Zoom presentation on Thursday, July 9 at 6:00 PM. Moriwaki will deliver a presentation titled, “Let it Not Happen Again: Lessons of the Japanese American Exclusion.”

Registration is required. Registered participants will be emailed a link to the presentation on the date of the event. Please register here.

In March of 1942, 227 Japanese Americans were forcibly removed from their homes on Bainbridge Island by the US Army. Starting with this small community, a national strategy began, with more than 120,000 Japanese American men, women, and children forcibly removed and incarcerated during World War II.

Clarence Moriwaki shares the story of Bainbridge Island — the origin point of the Japanese American exclusion — to provide a human, historical account of this national tragedy, and to ask the question: Are there parallels to what’s happening in America now? Moriwaki uses historical images, including historical and current propaganda, to explore the fear, racism, and failure of political leadership that led to these unconstitutional actions during World War II, and why we must not let it happen again.

Moriwaki is the president of the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community and a founder and former president of the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial Association. Moriwaki has written guest editorials on the subject that have been published nationwide. Moriwaki has served as a spokesperson for administrations including the Clinton Administration, the Office of the Governor, and Congressman Jay Inslee. Moriwaki lives on Bainbridge Island.

This presentation is part of the Humanities Washington Speakers Bureau. The Southwest Seattle Historical Society is grateful for the support of Humanities Washington.

‘War on the Homefront’: Southwest Seattle Historical Society presents ‘mini-exhibit’ online

Right about now every Fourth of July, Southwest Seattle Historical Society members and friends gather at the Log House Museum on Alki for their annual picnic. Not this year. But the SWSHS is offering you the chance to celebrate by learning more about a chapter in American history – here’s the announcement:

Over the past year, staff at the Southwest Seattle Historical Society have conducted a series of oral histories with the West Seattle High School classes of 1944 and 1945. The purpose was to document the impact of WWII on the youth of West Seattle.

We had hoped to have a pop-up exhibit at the all-school reunion at WSHS (last month). However, the reunion was canceled due to the pandemic. So, we are bringing you a mini-online exhibit of War on the Homefront. Head over to our website for a glimpse of the rich stories our wonderful participants shared with us. We look forward to creating a more robust exhibit at the museum in the future.

(To explore the “mini-exhibit,” mouse over the bottom of the window that’ll come up on the SWSHS website, and you’ll see the arrows.)

YOUR FAMILY PHOTOS: Sign up ASAP for Southwest Seattle Historical Society’s online workshop

June 16, 2020 8:55 am
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 |   West Seattle history | West Seattle news

The Southwest Seattle Historical Society is offering you another opportunity to learn from an expert about preserving irreplaceable items of personal history – family photos. Here’s the announcement:

Join us on June 18th for a live workshop on caring for your family photos. Curator Tasia Williams will walk you through storage and display considerations for different types of pictures you might have in your family collection. In this workshop you will learn which kinds of album pages will discolor your photos, what to do if an older picture is falling apart, and more! There will also be a chance to ask any questions you have about photo preservation.

The workshop will be live on Zoom on June 18th (Thursday) at 5 pm PST. Registration is required and due by June 17th (tomorrow) – go here.

As you’ll see at that link, the cost is whatever you can afford to donate.

ONLINE TODAY: Virtual birthday party for Louisa Boren

As announced by the Southwest Seattle Historical Society:

On June 4th, the Historical Society is hosting a virtual birthday party for kids and kids-at-heart celebrating early Seattlite Louisa Boren. Known as the Sweetbriar bride, Louisa would have been 193 years old this June. Join us to learn about Louisa’s life and we will show you how to make some fun projects with roses! Register at: loghousemuseum.org/events/june-4-louisa-boren-virtual-birthday-party

ALKI POINT LIGHTHOUSE: Tours suspended indefinitely

May 23, 2020 3:12 pm
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 |   Coronavirus | West Seattle history | West Seattle news

(2015 photo by Long Bach Nguyen)

Usually, Memorial Day weekend would mark the start of tour season at historic Alki Point Lighthouse. Not this year. Just received from Debra Alderman of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary:

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Coast Guard Auxiliary has not been given permission to offer public access and tours at the Alki Point Lighthouse during summer 2020 until further notice. Check www.cgauxseattle.org or the lighthouse’s Facebook page for updates, Questions can be sent via email: alkilighthouse@cgauxseattle.org

Meantime, you can learn about the lighthouse’s history here.

HISTORY: Southwest Seattle Historical Society workshop will help you with yours

May 23, 2020 11:49 am
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 |   West Seattle history | West Seattle news | West Seattle online

The Southwest Seattle Historical Society wants to help you with YOUR history. Next Thursday, you’re invited to learn about how to ensure your family photos aren’t lost to time:

Join us on May 28th for a live workshop on digitizing your family photos. Have you wanted to scan your photos but don’t know where to start? Ever wondered about the best format to save pictures in? Or how to organize your photo files? Collections Manager Rachel Regelein will walk you through the steps from selecting and scanning images to the aftercare needed to manage and preserve your family photos for future generations! There will be a chance for you to get your digital preservation questions answered and access a downloadable reference guide for you to get started digitizing your photos. Register here.

The workshop will be at 5 pm, and as you’ll see when you click through to the registration page, the cost is a “pay what you can” donation to SWSHS.

ONLINE TONIGHT: ‘Once and Future River’ @ Words, Writers, Southwest Stories

May 14, 2020 10:33 am
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 |   West Seattle history | West Seattle news | West Seattle online

Happening tonight! From the Southwest Seattle Historical Society:

‘Words, Writers & SouthWest Stories,’ a historically based speaker series of the Southwest Seattle Historical Society, is excited to announce that it is re-releasing a recorded presentation of Tom Reese and Eric Wagner (tonight). The presentation, titled “Once and Future River: Reclaiming the Duwamish,” was originally delivered by Reese and Wagner as part of the ‘Words, Writers & West Seattle’ series on July 8, 2016. The presentation will be made available at www.loghousemuseum.org and on Facebook at 6:00 PM Thursday, May 14. We hope you’ll join us from the comfort of your home!

Tom Reese is an independent photographer, editor and teacher in Seattle. He presents his work in print, at public events, in galleries, and teaches workshops on subjects including photojournalism, ethics, and environmental journalism. He was a career photojournalist at The Seattle Times. In addition to his book, Once and Future River: Reclaiming the Duwamish, recent books and projects focus on the complex relationship between humans and the rest of the natural world. Tom is currently at work on a documentary project involving Longfellow Creek, called “Our Liquid Mirror.” It explores global issues of clean water though the stories of this urban creek: Environment, culture, history, landscape and science, and its connections between humans and other living things.

Eric Wagner, journalist, is also from Seattle. He has a Ph.D. in biology from the University of Washington for work he did on Magellanic Penguins in Argentina. His essays and journalism have also appeared in Audubon, Smithsonian, and Earth Island Journal, among other places. His most recent book is entitled, After the Blast: The Ecological Recovery of Mount St. Helens and he is scheduled to present it for ‘Words, Writers & SouthWest Stories’ later this year.

‘Words, Writers & SouthWest Stories’ presentations are scheduled regularly for the Second Thursday of each month at 6:00 PM at the Southwest Branch of the Seattle Public Library. The presentation for next month (scheduled for June 11th) will be announced at a later date, depending on our community’s ongoing efforts to curtail the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

HISTORY: Explore West Seattle’s historical places without leaving home

If this were a pre-COVID-19 Sunday afternoon, the Southwest Seattle Historical Society‘s Log House Museum would be open to visitors right now. Though it’s not, the SWSHS continues finding ways to help you enjoy and learn about local history online. Here’s the latest, from SWSHS executive director Michael King:

The Southwest Seattle Historical Society has created a virtual map of historic places on the Duwamish Peninsula. Visit the map to learn about historic places near you. The map can be used to create a custom tour … whether it’s walking around Alki, driving through Fauntleroy, or cycling around Delridge. While social distancing mandates are in effect, you can also “tour” the map using Google Street View!

P.S. The SWSHS also invites you to join them online May 14th for the next “Words, Writers, & Southwest Stories.”

WEST SEATTLE BRIDGE: Revisit its history

(Seattle Municipal Archives photo, West Seattle Bridge construction, 1981)

The 36-year-old West Seattle Bridge’s future is uncertain, as revealed Wednesday, 3+ weeks into its safety shutdown. That’s given rise to questions about its history. If you’re curious, you might be interested in this announcement from the Southwest Seattle Historical Society:

The Southwest Seattle Historical Society has revised and re-released their 2014 “Bridging the Gap” exhibit in a format you can experience from the comfort of your home! The West Seattle bridge closure is on everyone’s mind as we wait to see what the future of peninsula transportation will look like. This is a timely moment to explore the history of how we have commuted across the water — from ferries, to the Mosquito Fleet, to multiple iterations of bridges. The online exhibit consists of a history of transportation to and from the peninsula, historic photos, and a video!

You can see it now, here.

This Seattle Now and Then post from the bridge’s 30th-anniversary summer in 2014 might be of interest, too.

ALSO ONLINE TONIGHT: Words, Writers, Southwest Stories talks Seattle sports history

April 9, 2020 1:23 pm
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 |   West Seattle history | West Seattle news | WS & Sports

Another second-Thursday event that’s happening online tonight since in-person is not possible – the Southwest Seattle Historical Societypresented author/speaker series Words, Writers, & Southwest Stories. The SWSHS is re-releasing a video presentation by award-winning sports journalist Dan Raley – its announcement continues:

Raley’s presentation, titled “How Seattle Became a Big-League Sports Town,” was originally delivered as part of the Words, Writers, & West Seattle series on March 4, 2016. The presentation will be made available at loghousemuseum.org and on Facebook at 6:00 PM (tonight). We hope you’ll join us from the comfort of your home! The Historical Society will also be sharing an interesting sports-related item from our collection to celebrate the re-release of this presentation.

Raley is an award-winning sports journalist, author, and former aerospace writer. He worked as a journalist at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer for 29 years. His previously published books include The Brandon Roy Story, published by Old Seattle Press, 2013; Pitchers of Beer: The Story of the Seattle Rainiers, published by the University of Nebraska Press, 2011; and Tideflats to Tomorrow: The History of Seattle’s Sodo, published by Fairgreens Publishing, 2010.

‘Words, Writers, & SouthWest Stories’ presentations are scheduled regularly for the Second Thursday of each month at 6:00 PM at the Southwest Branch of the Seattle Public Library. The presentation for next month (scheduled for May 14th) will be announced at a later date, depending on our community’s ongoing efforts to curtail the spread of COVID-19.

P.S. The SWSHS has an extensive video gallery here.

HISTORY: Southwest Seattle Historical Society tells the story of the Alki voting-rights fighter

As noted here earlier this month, though the Log House Museum is closed for now, the Southwest Seattle Historical Society is producing videos and other online info you can access at home. Checking the SWSHS website this morning, we found this video, published this week – the story of Katherine Smith, the Alki woman who helped lead the fight for women’s right to vote. Our state approved it in 1910, a decade before the 19th Amendment. (Read more about Ms. Smith here.)

P.S. Remember that you too are making history right now, and the SWSHS has a special way for you to share it.

You’re making history. Here’s how to help chronicle it

(WSB file photo)

From the Southwest Seattle Historical Society, which is headquartered at Alki’s landmark Log House Museum:

The Southwest Seattle Historical Society is requesting your help to document history as it unfolds.

The Southwest Seattle Historical Society realizes that we are living through an historic event. In an effort to document the effects of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on our community, we are collecting diary entries from residents of the Duwamish Peninsula. How has COVID-19 influenced your life and that of the community in which we live? Consider submitting an entry to help future historians understand how the COVID-19 pandemic influenced life in Southwest Seattle.

Visit to share your experience (here).

Or go directly to the form (here).

Though the museum is currently closed, you can explore some of its offerings online.

HISTORY: What the Log House Museum can offer you even though it’s closed

March 17, 2020 6:25 pm
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 |   Coronavirus | West Seattle history | West Seattle news

(WSB file photo)

We’re living through history now. But even with a scary present and uncertain future, you might be able to take some time to learn more about our area’s past. From the Southwest Seattle Historical Society:

While the Log House Museum is closed to the public during this time, they are dedicated to bringing historic content to the community in new ways. Here are a few offerings the museum has made available, with much more to come!

First, they have put their most recent exhibit, “Between the Lines: The Power and Parallels of the West Seattle Annexation” online. You can click through the exhibit content here.

For parents and teachers in need of educational content, the activity book Welcome to the Green Land is free for download here.

The museum is participating in the #museumalphabet challenge with other museums across the globe, featuring a collection item for each letter. You can follow along on their Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter page. Be sure to follow them as they have more content, including some special videos, planned for the coming weeks.

Your support is crucial to the Historical Society now more than ever. If you are interested in supporting the Historical Society’s mission during the temporary closure of the Log House Museum, please consider donating or becoming a member today!

FYI when the museum reopens – you’ll find it at 61st SW and SW Stevens.

NEW LEADER: Executive director chosen by Southwest Seattle Historical Society

Just announced by the Southwest Seattle Historical Society:

The Southwest Seattle Historical Society is pleased to announce that the Board of Trustees has appointed a new Executive Director, Michael King.

Michael comes to the Historical Society from the Flying Heritage & Combat Armor Museum in Everett, where he managed the museum’s education and volunteer programs. Prior to working at FHCAM, he worked at the Nordic Museum in Seattle, serving in both the programs and development departments, during which time he built on the experience he gained at several heritage and cultural organizations including the Berkshire Cultural Resource Center and the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

He earned a Ph.D. in History and Culture from Drew University and holds Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees in history from Lehigh University.

Originally from Tacoma, Michael is a dedicated advocate of local history and is eager to serve new and established audiences across the Duwamish Peninsula and beyond while leading the Historical Society’s programmatic, advocacy, and preservation efforts. The Board looks forward to working with Michael and is deeply appreciative of his enthusiasm for our mission.

It’s been more than a year since the previous SWSHS executive director, Jeff McCord, departed. The SWSHS is headquartered at the historic Log House Museum on Alki, which you can visit noon-4 pm Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

VIDEO, PHOTOS: ‘Priceless’ gift from family of ‘Doc’ Maynard celebrated during ‘reunion’ at Log House Museum

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

A celebration of a gift was also a reunion 160+ years in the making on Saturday at the Southwest Seattle Historical Society’s Log House Museum.

The gift: More than 30 letters written in the second half of the 19th century, mostly by a major figure in early Seattle settler history, Dr. David S. “Doc” Maynard.

The reunion: The celebration began with Chief Seattle‘s great-great-great-great-grandson Ken Workman welcoming Maynard’s great-great-great-great-grandchildren.

In two languages, he offered the welcome he said his “grandpa” would have offered: “Come ashore, my friends, onto this land of the Duwamish,” and observed, “We’re all gathered again, on this old, old land, in this old, old house.” You can hear his words of welcome about 1:45 into the event video recorded by West Seattle historian, author, and journalist Clay Eals:

The Historical Society says the letters will be a game-changer in the understanding of Seattle history – providing some of Maynard’s perspective on how the city came to be. They were almost lost to time and the elements, kept for years in a shed near Seola Beach, the family said, as they told the story: Many of the letters were written by Maynard to his son Henry thousands of miles away, trying to convince him to move west. He even referred to Chief Seattle in the letters, they said, at one point describing him as “the old Indian I named the city after.”

Henry and his father – who left Henry’s mother to move west – were not close, and he never even visited Seattle, so the family isn’t sure why he saved the letters. Henry’s great-great-great-grandson Chris Braaten explained that they were found “stuck between magazine pages, stored in a shed at Seola Beach.” How they got there isn’t known either, but eventually Chris learned about them from his mom, and started transcribing them some years ago. Another relative helped. All but about half a dozen have been transcribed.

Along with the early saga of the city of Seattle, they also tell a deeply personal story – in one letter, Maynard’s second wife Catherine informs Henry that his father has died (that was 1873); in another, Maynard reacts to news that he has become a grandfather. None of the modern-day descendants carry that surname, Chris explained; it died out a couple generations ago because “many branches [of the family tree] had no sons, or no children at all.”

Mary Ellen Braaten explained how the donation happened, saying family members were inspired after local historians Paul Dorpat and Jean Sherrard appeared at West Seattle’s Paper Boat Booksellers, talking about their book “Seattle Now and Then: The Historic Hundred” (edited by Eals), which includes photos of Maynard’s still-standing historic Alki house (mentioned here in 2017).

They met with the SWSHS’s curator and collections manager, Tasia Williams and Rachel Regelein, and eventually realized, “Seems like this is where (the letters) belong.”

Williams offered gratitude that “these letters are coming home to the people who live on this land,” calling it “an incredibly important addition to our collection.” She said the museum is starting immediately on the work of figuring out how to best stabilize, clean, and preserve the letters, with a professional conservator coming in a few days to take a look.

Another SWSHS associate who has already begun studying the letters, volunteer curator Phil Hoffman, said they will bring “better insight and valuable understanding of our heritage.” That includes a clearer picture of the business dealings between Maynard and another key figure in the city’s early days, Charles Terry. A land swap between the two brought Maynard to Alki. Hoffman read from the deed, including its line describing the land’s boundaries, down to “a post on the beach.” Alki was a township all its own for a time, and the letters speak of that, as well, including the businesses it held, from a general store to a ships’ chandlery. (Here’s the story of one business back then.)

Before Saturday’s event concluded, there was time for Q&A. One attendee wanted to know the value of the letters. They can’t be assigned a monetary value, but the word rang from multiple corners of the room:


WHAT’S NEXT: The Historical Society intends to make the transcriptions available online, and will likely eventually be able to show the letters in an exhibit; they’re also considering publishing a book about them. You will also be able to learn more about “Doc” Maynard later this year at the annual SWSHS “If These Walls Could Talk” historic-home tour – which will be at the mentioned-earlier historic Maynard house (whose current owner was at the museum for Saturday’s event).

FOLLOWUP: Seattle Park Board pitched on proposal to move ‘Stone House’ to Alki

(WSB photo, December 2019)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

A briefing about the proposal to move the Harbor Avenue “Stone House” to Alki Beach filled the gallery at the Board of Park Commissioners‘ January meeting.

No vote was taken – the board is advisory only – but commissioners heard from a Parks staffer as well as, during the meeting’s public comment period, supporters – and one opponent – of the idea.

Backstory: The 80+-year-old house at 1123 Harbor SW is best known for its exterior of beach rocks, scavenged by the family that built it. Preservationists have tried for many years to secure its future but its owners finally sold the site – and adjacent buildings – to developers who plan a condo project. As reported here last year, its new owners have agreed to donate the building if it can be moved off their site. Preservation supporters say they could move it to an interim site while details are worked out with Parks for a permanent site, potentially adjacent to the Alki Bathhouse.

That was noted by Max Jacobs from Parks’ Property and Acquisitions as he opened the briefing at Thursday night’s meeting.

He mentioned that the interim-site plan means they’re not in a do-or-die situation. He also stressed that the Southwest Seattle Historical Society would pay to move it and to pay for whatever upgrades the building needs.

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2019 LOOKBACK: This year’s most-commented-on WSB stories

New Year’s Eve brings a WSB tradition – listing the most-commented-on stories of the year. Going through the archives, what surprised us a bit is what the list is missing compared to a year earlier – we’ll point it out at the end if you haven’t figured it out by then! By the way, while this list is traditionally a “top 10,” this year it’s 13 stories long because there were three ties along the way. And our caveat – thsse are not necessarily the most-imoortant or most-read stories of the year, just the ones that generated the most comments. On with the countdown:

August 6, 2019 – 103 comments

First results in the 3-candidate primary race for the District 1 seat on the Seattle City Council.

(February 10, 2019 photo sent by Eddie V)

#9 – WEST SEATTLE SNOW (Sunday pm updates)
February 10, 2019 – 106 comments

Remember all that February snow? On this afternoon/evening, several inches fell, and WSB commenters did what they do best, sharing info and observations.

December 10, 2019 – 111 comments

City leaders announced they’ll reduce arterlal speed limits to 25 mph in hopes of reducing the number of crashes resulting in deaths and serious injuries.

(SDOT camera image showing bus lane’s location, September 2019)

September 27, 2019 – 111 comments
A bus lane was added to a stretch of NB 99. Uproar ensued. This was one of our followups.

(Screengrab from SDOT traffic camera at 1st/Madison, August 2019)

August 2, 2019 – 117 comments
The “Seattle Squeeze” put buses on 1st Avenue and that led to a clamor of complaints about how long it took to get home from downtown, so SDOT announced some tweaks.

(Reader video of March 2019 tree/wire fire, from Betsy)
March 20, 2019 – 118 comments

6,200+ customers lost power after a line went down and set a tree on fire near a City Light facility in North Delridge.

(Water Taxi line at Seacrest, January 14, 2019)

January 14, 2019 – 118 comments

We tracked how the morning commute went on the first day after the closure of the Alaskan Way Viaduct for the tunnel transition.

November 8, 2019 – 122 comments

The fourth count post-general election locked in the re-election of Councilmember Lisa Herbold, as her lead over Phil Tavel was larger than the number of votes left to count.

(44th/Oregon shoveler, February 12, 2019)

#4 (tie) – SLUSHY
February 12, 2019 – 132 comments

First the snow, then the melt.”

(California Way, photo from Al, February 8, 2019)

#4 (tie) – SNOW STARTS
February 8, 2019 – 132 comments

A “wall of snow” moved in. Here’s how things shook out.

January 6, 2019 – 141 commments

Windy weather cut the electricity to about 8,000 customers.

January 6, 2019 – 142 comments

Multiple West Seattle neighborhoods were littered with weighted bags containing literature for a white-nationalist group.

November 5, 2019 – 156 comments

When the first vote count was announced on Election Night, incumbent Herbold led challenger Tavel for City Council District 1.

PREVIOUS YEARS: Here are our most-commented-stories lists, going back to 2011:


WHAT’S NOT IN THIS YEAR’S TOP 10: No crime stories made the most-commented list this year, first year with that distinction since 2015.