West Seattle, Washington
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.
Another second-Thursday event that’s happening online tonight since in-person is not possible – the Southwest Seattle Historical Society–presented 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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:
#10 – HERBOLD, TAVEL LEAD DISTRICT 1 VOTE
August 6, 2019 – 103 comments
First results in the 3-candidate primary race for the District 1 seat on the Seattle City Council.
#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.
#8 (tie) – CITY PLANS TO REDUCE SPEED LMITS
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.
#8 (tie) – NEW 99 BUS LANE ‘PROBLEM’ ACKNOWLEDGED
September 27, 2019 – 111 comments
A bus lane was added to a stretch of NB 99. Uproar ensued. This was one of our followups.
#7 – THE PLAN TO REDUCE PM COMMUTE SLUGGISHNESS
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)
#6 (tie) – BIG POWER OUTAGE
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.
#6 (tie) – FIRST POST-VIADUCT WEEKDAY COMMUTE
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.
#5 – DISTRICT 1 VOTE-COUNTING CONTINUES
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.
#4 (tie) – SLUSHY
February 12, 2019 – 132 comments
First the snow, then the melt.”
#4 (tie) – SNOW STARTS
February 8, 2019 – 132 comments
A “wall of snow” moved in. Here’s how things shook out.
#3 – WINDSTORM TAKES OUT POWER
January 6, 2019 – 141 commments
Windy weather cut the electricity to about 8,000 customers.
#2 – WHITE NATIONALIST GROUP’S FLYERS STREWN IN WEST SEATTLE
January 6, 2019 – 142 comments
Multiple West Seattle neighborhoods were littered with weighted bags containing literature for a white-nationalist group.
#1 – GENERAL ELECTION RESULTS, NIGHT 1
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.
If you’ve passed by the “Stone House” at 1123 Harbor SW lately, the changes to its facade might have caught your eye – they caught ours. More than nine months have passed since we first reported that the Southwest Seattle Historical Society hoped to save the well-known stone-studded cottage by moving it to a new site, since the one where it’s stood for 90 years had been sold for redevelopment. City records indicate the site’s new owners are continuing to move ahead with their plan, which calls for the demolition of structures on three adjacent lots, but clearly states that the Stone House is to be relocated per agreement with SWSHS. The agreement on file gives SWSHS until the end of the year to move the house off the site. We asked local entrepreneur and preservationist John Bennett, who’s been involved with the plan, about its status. He tells WSB, “We are scouting a location and working out the logistics of physically moving a 90-year-old stone house. This project is being taken on by the Southwest Seattle Historical Society in their ongoing efforts to preserve the history of our great city. … This is a complicated project, but we are determined to save this amazing piece of West Seattle history.”
As for what’s now being displayed on the facade, Bennett explains, “The art on the front of the house is a quick facelift to show everyone that it has not been forgotten.”
BACKSTORY: This 2002 seattlepi.com story has it.
That’s one of the items that were on display as Peace Lutheran Church in Gatewood celebrated its 75th anniversary. 1945 would have been the church’s first full calendar year – from the announcement of today’s celebration, some history:
Peace Lutheran Church was founded just as World War II was ending, choosing a name that expressed its hope for the future. The congregation organized in November 1944, and held its first service as a new congregation the first Sunday in December 1944, in a portable classroom at E.C. Hughes School. Using materials reclaimed from former army barracks, members built a chapel on 39th Ave SW and SW Thistle, dedicating it in 1946, Ten years later, the congregation, in a major expansion of its original building, dedicated a new sanctuary which is in use today.
The church’s Fellowship Hall was full of photos and other memorabilia before today’s service:
The celebration continued after the service with a luncheon. One more note: Churchgoers wanted to point out Donna, the crossing guard, helping people get safely across Thistle (not far from the scene of an early-morning crash):
When today’s impeachment-inquiry witness Gordon Sondland, a Northwest hotelier who is current US Ambassador to the European Union, first hit the spotlight in October, a Seattle Times story noted that Sondland’s parents were longtime operators of a dry cleaners in West Seattle. We did some looking around for more on that but he faded from the foreground for a while and we shelved the research. But Sondland’s appearance has renewed interest, and several readers asked us about the location of his parents’ cleaning business. Multiple references, including his mother Frieda Sondland‘s obituary, say it was called Fauntleroy Cleaners. There’s no current business with that name; we found an archived March 1962 newspaper ad (bottom of that image) for Fauntleroy Cleaners, listing its address as 4509 Wildwood Place, the brick building in the heart of Fauntleroy’s Endolyne business district. Another archived newspaper page from earlier that year, however, showed a different name for that cleaners. The obituary for Sondland’s father Gunther Sondland says they operated the cleaners for almost 30 years. We can’t find anything mentioning whether the family lived in WS for any of that time; Gordon Sondland graduated from Mercer Island High School in 1975.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
As a community-owned-and-operated neighborhood center, Highland Park Improvement Club is one of a kind in West Seattle.
Statewide, it has a rare designation too. In a proclamation read at HPIC’s 100th-birthday party today, the Secretary of State’s Office noted that it’s one of fewer than two dozen 1919-founded corporations still in existence (out of 3,000+ founded that year).
But what the centennial celebration was truly about was heart – HPIC’s mission “to be the heart of the neighborhood.”
The party was open-house style indoors at HPIC (1116 SW Holden) except for about 45 minutes of presentations, appreciations, and reminiscences, which we recorded on video:
Becca Fong emceed – here she is with newly re-elected City Councilmember and Highland Park neighbor Lisa Herbold showing a mayoral proclamation that HPIC’s 199th anniversary of incorporation (originally the Dumar-Outland Improvement Club), November 28th, will be Highland Park Improvement Club Day in Seattle:
(“That’s Thanksgiving,” somebody called out. “We have lots to be thankful for!” was the rejoinder.)
The stories shared were not just warm memories but tales of how the club was revived ~20 years ago when an aging, dwindling membership had trouble figuring out how it could sustainably carry on into the future. But they did, and HPIC’s current standard-bearers are confident it’ll last “another hundred years.”
HPIC trustee Kay Kirkpatrick acknowledged HPIC’s presence on Coast Salish land and thanked Duwamish board president Lupe Barnes for her presence at the party.
Newly re-elected County Councilmember Joe McDermott, a third-generation West Seattleite, recalled early in his political career driving someone to vote at HPIC, briefly expressing nostalgia for the days of in-person voting.
He also congratulated HPIC for a King County 4Culture grant facilitating some of the renovations/repairs that have helped the building weather the years.
The speaker who really brought down the house was grande dame Martha Mallett, who said she got involved in the late ’50s at age 30, “you do the math.”
“I’ve got so much I want to tell you,” she said after ascending to the stage.
She singled out old friends in the crowd, and paid tribute to HPIC leaders before and after her, from the founders who she said bought the site for $10, to the current leaders who have overseen improvements including a kitchen upgrade and wi-fi.
She also spoke of connecting with now-retired city neighborhood-district coordinator Ron Angeles, who followed her onstage:
His own Highland Park roots go back to moving there as a 5th-grader. He lives outside West Seattle now, but he assured HPIC, “You guys are the ENVY of other neighborhoods.”
HPIC’s current president Nicole Mazza was the final speaker.
She recalled moving to Highland Park a dozen years ago and having since met at least a hundred neighbors she knows by name. “That happens in Highland Park. … This place has a heart, has a soul.”
This is a party that was a year in the making (as well as, obviously, 100 years in the making!), with HPIC counting down by spotlighting a different decade each month at the first-Friday Corner Bar events.
The decades of history were also detailed in banners by Highland Park’s own Digital Genie, Dina Lydia Johnson, displayed during the party along with other exhibits looking back.
News of the decades was captivating – like a clickbait-style headline from the early 20th century, “Sicko Hearing About Flappers? Then Don’t Rea This.” Other headlines and document excerpts on display were a reminder that “the more things change, the more they stay the same” – meeting notices circa 1940, with “Highland Park district transportation problems to be discussed.” In 1967, a mudslide on Highland Park Way, which was hit with one again in just a few years ago.
Historic events of the past decade were noted as well, including the late-’00s fight against a proposed misdemeanor jail that the city ultimately agreed with Highland Parkers didn’t need to be built.
The 75th and 90th anniversary parties were noted as well – though nothing was likely as grand as today’s centennial celebration. As emcee Fong said onstage, “Through it all, (the club) has been there to sustain the neighborhood.”
And the sustenance will be mutual as long as people keep walking through the doors. With the neighborhood continuing to evolve – across the street to the west, modern townhouses replaced a small church – they no doubt will.
HPIC membership info is here.
The folks at Highland Park Improvement Club know how to have fun – it’s the neighborhood community center with events from a monthly pop-up bar party to an annual noisemaking New Year’s Eve parade. And they are excited to be getting ready for a really big event – HPIC’s centennial celebration this Saturday. What you see above is one of the games you’ll be able to play at the party. It won’t be a pretentious past-centric sitdown … but rather an 11 am-3 pm open house (with a few “short talks” at 1 pm) with lots to see and do. HPIC has been counting down all year, with each monthly first-Friday Corner Bar event celebrating a specific decade. Those banners will be on display, along with other items from HPIC’s history. No admission charge. Just bring yourself, your family, friends, neighbors, and help HPIC honor the past while looking to its future. HPIC is at 1116 SW Holden.
Easy Street Records proprietor Matt Vaughan has a stack of stories to tell, and that was the big draw at today’s Champagne Gala Brunch benefiting the Southwest Seattle Historical Society. The organization’s Log House Museum has been featuring a music-history exhibit, so there was synergy.
The items auctioned during the brunch at Salty’s on Alki (WSB sponsor) included a big-ticket item – a poster from Eddie Vedder‘s legendary semi-secret solo show at Kenyon Hall. That went for $5,400. But back to Matt Vaughan’s storytelling:
Easy Street Records owner Matt Vaughan has some amazing tales to tell and you can hear for yourself at the Southwest Seattle Historical Society‘s Champagne Gala Brunch on November 2nd. Just days left to reserve your ticket – here’s what SWSHS wants you to know about this year’s brunch:
Guests at the Champagne Gala Brunch will witness West Seattle history in the making. Guest speakers Matt Vaughan (Music Historian and owner of Easy Street Records), Peder Nelson (Co-Curator of the Sound Spots exhibit at the Log House Museum) will be interviewed by John Maynard, (Robin and Maynard Show on KNXX).
They will speak to the importance of recognizing the music history of the Duwamish Peninsula. Matt will tell the stories of the great musicians who have passed through West Seattle, resulting in a unique intersection of music and culture. A limited edition Eddie Vedder poster from his first solo concert (at Kenyon Hall) will be auctioned.
After a meal at Salty’s overlooking Elliott Bay (vegetarian options available), there will be a live one-of-a-kind West Seattle-themed auction. Some of the auction items include:
Become the “Man or Woman of the Hour” with a collectable Eddie Vedder Poster: Vedder’s first solo concert took place in West Seattle’s Kenyon Hall. You could become the owner of the iconic limited-edition poster (with guitar pick) from that 2008 semi-secret show, billed as a “Into the Wild” screening. In addition, there will be a variety of collectible show posters from other bands available in this music-themed event of the year.
Becoming a Master of Mural Art in the Junction: Assist mural restoration artist Bob Henry in painting one of the beloved Junction murals. Then, learn about these amazing public art pieces with 20 of your closest friends. Historian Clay Eals will host this unique walking tour. Also includes a framed limited-edition poster of the West Seattle murals.
Ice Scream, You Scream, We All Scream Your Own Husky Deli Ice Cream: Create your very own ice cream flavor at Husky Deli. Not only will you get to create the flavor, you get to name it and be available for purchase in store! Celebrate with an ice cream launch party with 20 of your closest friends at this iconic West Seattle location.
Light Up the Night with the Menashes: The Menashe family’s Christmas lights (over 350,000 of them!) are unforgettable. Offering an exclusive party of four to attend a Menashe family Christmas party, this package includes a family photo.
Lastly, there’s a chance to win the Golden Ticket – a Holland America cruise. Purchase the Golden Ticket at the Log House Museum or at the Gala.
Admission: Gala ticket price is $95 and space is limited! If you would like to purchase tickets online: loghousemuseum.org/blog/2019-champagne-gala-brunch To purchase your tickets in person or over the phone, please contact the Log House Museum at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-350-0999.
The Southwest Seattle Historical Society has announced a new project – “War on the Homefront”:
The Southwest Seattle Historical Society (SWSHS) is conducting an exciting new oral history project. Staff at the Society’s Log House Museum are interviewing the West Seattle High School classes of 1944 and 1945. These classes had the unique experience of having their high school years during the Second World War.
Seattle is a strategic military location, both now and during World War II. Seattle’s southwest district is a particularly strong historical backdrop for the experience of wartime Seattle due to its placement between the waterfront and Boeing. As we lose period sites and markers, it is urgent now than ever to document the imprint of this period in history. Through oral histories, the SWSHS is asking: what was it like to live in Seattle in a time of war? High school is a formative time in a young person’s life – interviewing the classes that experienced wartime during their years of high school provides a particularly rich snapshot of those years.
Several interviews have already been conducted, during which these now 93 and 94-year-old West Seattle alums shared their experiences from rationing, USO programming, to wartime jobs. Jim Bonholzer related how he and his classmates would pool their gas ration stamps together to rent a U-Haul in order to go skiing in Snoqualmie.
Nancy McPhee (shown in both photos above) told of her time as a popular USO hostess versed in all the latest dances and entertaining servicemen. Bob Windom, a doctor’s son, shared that he would go on calls with his dad at night during blackouts, which meant driving without lights on through West Seattle neighborhoods. These and so many more stories and vignettes help us understand a critical time in our history at a local, and very personal, level.
Interviews will be conducted through the rest of the year and early 2020 and will be turned into a future exhibit. The interviews will also be added to the permanent collection of the Society, which already includes over 10,000 documents, archives, oral histories, and artifacts.
In order to preserve their collection; collect stories; and share local history through exhibits, tours, and special events, the SWSHS needs support. You can help by visiting loghousemuseum.org/get-involved/donate. This project is partially funded by a grant awarded to the SWSHS from 4Culture.
If you have any questions, please contact Registrar Rachel Regelein at the Log House Museum, email@example.com, 206-350-0999
ADDED: Thanks to Forest for pointing out a video interview with Nancy McPhee from 2014:
For the first time in a while, the city Landmarks Preservation Board has a new West Seattle nomination to consider – that 90-year-old pump-station building at 3214 SW Spokane. We received the announcement this morning:
Seattle’s Landmarks Preservation Board will consider the nomination of the SW Spokane Street Pump Station at 3214 SW Spokane Street in Admiral on Wednesday, November 20 at 3:30 p.m. The meeting will be held in Seattle City Hall (600 4th Avenue, Floor L2) in the Boards & Commissions Room L2-80.
The public is invited to attend the meeting and make comments regarding the nomination. Written comments are also accepted and should be received by the Landmarks Preservation Board at the following mailing address by 3:00 p.m. on November 19:
Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board
Seattle Department of Neighborhoods
PO Box 94649
Seattle, WA 98124-4649
A copy of the Landmark Nomination is available for public review at the West Seattle Branch Library, (2306 42nd Avenue SW) and the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods office in Seattle City Hall, 600 4th Avenue, 4th Floor (206-684-0228). The nomination is also posted on Seattle Department of Neighborhoods website under the heading of “Current Nominations.” (Editor’s note: Here’s a direct link, as well as below:
A landmark nomination provides a physical description of the building, object, or site, and information on its history, current and historic photos, site plans, maps, drawings, and more. To learn about the nomination and designation process, visit our webpage.
The nomination document is laden with historical info and photos, but what it doesn’t explain, so far as we could tell in a quick browse, is why this building’s been nominated now, so we’re checking with Seattle Public Utilities about that. The current list of city-landmarked sites includes other public-works buildings such as the historic substation structure at West Seattle’s Dakota Place Park.
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:
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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.