West Seattle, Washington
Are we SURE we really want to whine about the heat (97 at the official gauge at Sea-Tac as of 4 pm, a new record for this date)? Consider what had hit us half a year ago (photo from Upper Fauntleroy, Jan. 11, 2007):
Tomorrow (Wednesday) night, at the height of the heat, you can multitask by cooling off at Alki and joining in a meeting outside the Bathhouse, to help determine the future of the statue that might otherwise soon earn a nickname like “Liberty in Limbo.” Seems the replacement for the old one (Northwest Programs for the Arts photo at left) is done but fundraising for the “plaza” to surround the new one is not, so a community meeting is being called to discuss, among other things, whether to just install the new one and be done with it sooner, or carry on with the “plaza” project and see the installment happen later. Read the meeting organizers’ explanation, in their own words, after the click:Read More
Wondering what’s up with the Alki Statue of Liberty and why it’s not back in place yet? There’s an update in this week’s WS Herald.
If you look between the townhomes almost complete on the controversial site across from Seattle International (formerly Gatewood Baptist) Church, you can still — for now — see the old house neighbors know as the “hunting lodge.”
But maybe not for long. The empty space, which was given the address 7204 Cali, is where two more townhouse buildings are supposed to go; those buildings probably would be as close to completion as their bookends, if not for feisty neighborhood pushback. First, neighbors protested the lack of environmental review of the townhouse projects (scroll down for details), which were processed separately rather than as one big new clump of housing. Then they chimed in about concerns that the “hunting lodge” will no longer be visible from Cali; their concerns are noted in this city memo about the project dated earlier this month. The latest ruling went against them and for the project, but an appeal’s been filed, and an “appeal hearing” is set for July 16.
The Times reminds us that today is the 29th anniversary of the notorious incident (detailed nicely at HistoryLink.org) that paved the way for the high bridge: the day Rolf Neslund (whose subsequent murder is featured in a book by Ann Rule) crashed a freighter into the bridge’s predecessor. That finally closed years of squabbling over whether to build a better bridge; the current high bridge opened in 1984. So next time you’re stuck in morning bridge traffic (recent photo below) … remember, it might be worse if not for Rolf …
Rhonda @ Beach Drive Blog tips us to a must-go event (for us WS history fans, anyway) tomorrow: memories of Luna Park, at the former site of Luna Park. Conveniently, this will be happening during low-tide time, when what remains of the LP pilings can further fuel your imagination. (Here’s the Luna Park history link from our WS History page.)
Someone in Florida who clearly has ties to Seattle includes descriptions of our city’s neighborhoods in this blogpost today, describing West Seattle as the essence of “old Seattle.” Though we still love WS fiercely and cherish its unique charms, we wonder if that atmosphere isn’t eroding a bit with the building boom, among other things. P.S. When you want to wallow in a little nostalgia for the bonafide “old Seattle,” check out the excellent new local-history blog, Vintage Seattle.
Nine months after the landmark Painted Lady of Beach Drive (aka the Satterlee House) went up for sale again, we just noticed a change in signage outside the house and its front lawn. Now, with a change in listing companies, it’s offered as one “estate” again, though the blurb goes on to say, “this property is actually two parcels … the one the house sits on and the front parcel which has been short platted for three homes. Buy one or both!” Hadn’t realized the short-plat had gotten final approval but it seems that happened right before Christmas, on a day most of us had something else (like this) on our minds. So then how come somebody hasn’t snapped up the land already? (P.S. Dear John L. Scott, the new blurb is kind of over the top. “Coyly awaits restoration”? And it’s not “near Alki Point.” 1.5 miles, to be precise. Plus “flair” is the word you’re looking for, not “flare.” /nitpick)
There’s a new development in Land Use Land regarding one of the first unique local buildings whose impending demise we lamented, 4532 42nd SW (original post from last August). An application is now filed (with less than two weeks for public comment) with some more specifics on what’s proposed there: Six stories, mixed-use, 35 residential units over 3,000-plus SF of “commercial space.”
This Thursday night, the city’s Southwest Design Review Board meets to consider the plans for those two Cali Ave teardowns we lamented in extended posts a couple weeks back: 3811 Cali (left) and 6053 Cali (right). It’s at the SW Precinct (near Home Depot) — 3811 is first on the agenda at 6:30; 6053 follows at 8.
On this busy spring Sunday, perhaps between your Farmers’ Market stop and your Water Taxi trip, take a little time to help ponder the future of the Fauntleroy Schoolhouse. A community open house is happening there 11 am-2 pm to facilitate and inspire that pondering. And there’s urgency — the school district still owns this 90-year-old treasure (the child-care center, events hall, and others based there are tenants) but is indicating it’s time to sell off this and other “surplus property.” If you have only driven by, perhaps heading to or from the nearby ferry dock, you may not realize how large the schoolhouse property is; as a result, as one reader wrote to us, “there are developers who are hovering over the property.” Will it be the next townhouse cluster — or will the community rally to preserve it? Drop by today to offer ideas … or absorb them … a rare chance to do something before it’s too late.
Checking the lineup for future Design Review Board meetings, we learned of two projects along Cali that will apparently take out what we consider distinctive old buildings. Both will be taken up by the SW DRB on May 10. We posted yesterday about the first one, at 3811 California. The second is a longer, more personal yarn, so we’re putting it (pix included) one click away:
-Thanks to the reader who tipped us that Bakery Nouveau is featured on the cover of Seattle Magazine’s new “best restaurants” issue. Yum.
-Also from the P-I, Ted Van Dyk has a good post-viaduct-vote rant. Reminds us of the interesting sight we saw while traveling up Cali after the Charlestown meeting last night — an apartment window plastered with not only a YES ELEVATED sign, but also RECALL NICKELS and even mock Times front pages with the apartment-dweller’s fantasy future headline NICKELS DEFEATED. (Perhaps a Steinbrueck relative lives there!)
If you live in one of West Seattle’s many older houses and have a bit of curiosity about who lived in your house way back when, here’s an unlikely tool: The city database of “side sewer cards.” Look up your address and you’ll find an image of the hand-drawn, hand-written records showing where your house connects its “side sewer” to the nearest main city pipe and who owned it last time it was inspected (check the back of the “card” for that info). And if yours goes back far enough that the person who originally owned it is likely to have left the planet by now, you can look ’em up on the Social Security Death Index.
A list of great/not-so-great moments in Seattle transportation history that’s in the Times today includes this line:
1984 Ã¢â‚¬â€ Scandal-plagued high-level West Seattle Bridge survives referendum and opens.
Had no idea, about the scandal OR the vote — just the freighter crash that accelerated the bridge work. Online, we found a little bit about the scandal (design problems, city employees getting fired over them), but can’t find more about the vote. Old-timers, any enlightenment? (We weren’t here in the eighties.)
Even with the acceleration in teardown-to-townhome construction, West Seattle still has thousands of homes dating back to the ’50s, and earlier. We found out some of our house’s history not long after moving in — I was out doing some garden cleanup one day, when a man walked up, asked me a few questions about the house, then revealed his father was the original owner/builder. He told us his dad had to go off to serve in World War II not long after the house was done; after the war, he said, his dad moved into the homebuilding business bigtime, and the family eventually moved to California. (Whenever I find myself bemoaning our house’s relatively tiny size, I think of its original residents, who were double our number and apparently got along just fine!)
After this encounter, we did more research on the house by going to some government building (memory fails me) and looking up its original building permits. (You should still be able to do this nowadays; check these places for starters.)
I mention all this as an excuse to link to a few interesting house-history sites we’ve encountered recently while doing online research. One is this site set up by real-estate agents for a Fauntlee Hills home that sold earlier this year (though the site is still active, please note the listing is not); they went to great lengths to create a site with the house’s history and even old marketing materials for the area (if you’re not familiar with Fauntlee Hills, it’s the group of brick houses just east of Fauntleroy Church and the old school-turned-community center, uphill from the ferry dock). Another is the site a local developer created a few years back for a 1923 Craftsman home he rescued from impending teardown, then moved a short distance and renovated. And the third is a site for a home whose history is still in progress, a rather dramatic renovation project we’ve seen along the south end of Cali Ave. Very nice of these folks to share the houses’ history with the rest of the world!