House Histories of the Fremont Neighborhood in Seattle

Fremont is easily reached from downtown Seattle by traveling along the west shore of Lake Union.

Fremont is easily reached from downtown Seattle by traveling along the west shore of Lake Union.

Fremont in Seattle was one of the city’s first neighborhoods with its own identity.  It was founded as a land development, like a suburb, with the name of Fremont taken from the home city of two investors who came out from Nebraska.  In 1888 these men formed a business partnership with local investors to develop the site in a very advantageous location, reachable from downtown Seattle via a streetcar line along the west side of Lake Union (Westlake Avenue).

Information about Seattle’s historic neighborhoods like Fremont can be found on the Department of Neighborhood’s Historic Preservation page.  There is a database of historic properties by address, or you can put in the neighborhood name such as Fremont, and see all of the buildings which have been “surveyed” (reviewed for historic info).  The “context statements” like the one for Fremont,  are mini-histories which were developed during a grant-funded project to survey and identify historic properties.  Here is one paragraph from the context statement for Fremont:

The early Fremont Bridge was a wooden trestle.  This 1903 view to the north as we cross the bridge into Fremont shows the lumber mill in the foreground and B.F. Day School on the horizon.  Photo courtesy of HistoryLink Essay 3309.

The early Fremont Bridge was a wooden trestle. This 1903 view to the north as we cross the bridge into Fremont shows the lumber mill in the foreground and B.F. Day School on the horizon. Photo courtesy of HistoryLink Essay 3309.

The historic settlement and development of the community of Fremont can be largely attributed to its advantageous geographic location. This setting almost directly north of the original Seattle townsite along the heavily wooded northwest shore of Lake Union was also connected to Salmon Bay and Puget Sound to the west by way of a slough or narrow stream – known as “the Outlet” – making it a convenient and accessible site for early Euro-American settlement and industries dependent on water-borne transportation. Centered between other settlements in Ballard to the west and Edgewater, Latona, and Brooklyn (now the University District) to the east, Fremont became the natural path for commerce, movement of logs and later, train and streetcar travel.     (Page 8 of context statement for Fremont, “Settlement, Land Use Patterns and Platting History.”)

Edward C. Kilbourne was vitally involved in early development in Seattle, including streetcar lines.  Photo from Bagley's History of Seattle, 1916.

Edward C. Kilbourne was vitally involved in early development in Seattle, including streetcar lines.

The local investor who assisted in the development of Fremont was Edward C. Kilbourne, who was also a major developer of electric street car lines.  He favored Fremont in the route so that he could advertise house lots for sale in Fremont with the advantage of transportation to the site.  In the 1880’s some people would paddle a canoe across Lake Union to get to Fremont and other communities on the north shore of the lake.  Kilbourne had that route covered, as well, as he was the owner of a twelve-passenger steamer, the Maude Foster, which carried people back and forth across Lake Union.

Beginning in 1889 Kilbourne’s streetcar line ran from downtown Seattle up Westlake Avenue to Fremont.  At Fremont there was a transfer point to continue travelling in any of three directions: to Ballard on the west, to Green Lake or to Guy Phinney’s zoo (Woodland Park Zoo) to the north/northeast, or eastward to the University District.  This was how the Fremont neighborhood became known as the Center of the Universe: you had to go there first before you could go anywhere else.

Valarie has researched the history of this house for the display at the Fremont Branch Library in May 2015.

Valarie has researched the history of this house for the display at the Fremont Branch Library in May 2015.

The rich history of the Fremont neighborhood will be celebrated all during the month of May 2015 at the Fremont Branch Library, 731 N. 35th Street (one block east of Fremont Ave N.)

The Fremont Historical Society has researched and developed the historical info which was first identified during the survey of residential housing in Fremont in 2009.  During this month of May 2015 the exhibit at the library will feature four house histories, a display about the architecture of the library building, and a map of the neighborhood showing the locations of early houses.

Although I (Valarie) am not a resident of Fremont I have greatly enjoyed being a volunteer with the historical society, a fun group of people.  There will be a reception on Saturday, May 9th, from 11 AM to 12:30 PM at the Fremont Branch Library where you can meet the historical society folks and chat with them about the exhibit.  I’ll be there, and I hope to see you there, too!

Posted in Architecture, Houses, Library exhibit | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

How Birds Fly

Birds exhibit at Museum of FlightFrom earliest times, people have been fascinated by how birds fly.  Seattle’s Museum of Flight is presenting a special exhibit on the “mechanics” of flight (bird anatomy) and the inspiration which birds have given to man’s efforts to become airborne.  The How Birds Fly exhibit is at the Museum of Flight now through September 4, 2015.  Check the museum website for open hours, parking info and admission prices.

How Birds Fly is presented in partnership with the Burke Museum and a bird photographer, Dr. Peter Cavanaugh of the University of Washington in Seattle.  The photographs of birds in flight are alongside anatomy which highlights “how they do it,” and placed in the exhibit together with man’s best efforts at imitation of bird flight via mechanical means.

God created the birds, and we can admire and enjoy His creation along with the assurance that those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles (Isaiah 40:31.)

Posted in Nature and wildlife | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Pacific Northwest Regional Architecture

In the Pacific Northwest, modern architecture has been described as Northwest Regionalism.  From the 1930’s to the 1970’s the University of Washington in Seattle was the incubator of architects and a modernist movement.  In their work these architects expressed the Pacific Northwest love of natural materials such as wood, and careful thought in the placement of a building to show its relationship to natural settings of trees and terraces.

Dr. Jeffrey Karl Ochsner, University of Washington.

Dr. Jeffrey Karl Ochsner

On Saturday, April 25, the downtown Seattle Public Library will host a lecture by University of Washington professor and architectural historian Dr. Jeffrey Karl Ochsner on the topic of regional modern architecture.  Dr. Ochsner’s lecture will focus primarily on single-family residential buildings in Seattle and some small institutional buildings such as medical clinics.  Dr. Ochsner will talk (very fast!) from 1 to 2:30 PM and then the last half-hour from 2:30 to 3 PM will be reserved for questions from the audience.

The downtown Seattle Public Library is located at 4th and Spring Streets.

The downtown Seattle Public Library is located at 4th and Spring Streets.

The lecture will be held Saturday, April 25, from 1 to 3 PM in the library’s Microsoft Auditorium on Level 1 (enter from Fourth Avenue and the auditorium is straight ahead.)  The library is located at Fourth & Spring Streets and has a parking garage.  Look for me (Valarie) in the front row at the lecture!  I have heard Dr. Ochsner speak many times, and each time I come away with a better understanding of our Pacific Northwest Regional Architecture.

Posted in Architecture, Events and holidays | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Mock Family and Maple Leaf School

A 1938 Seattle Engineering Dept. map of the city, showing the annexation dates of different neighborhoods.  A "jog" can be seen at the northeast corner, where the city limits were at NE 65th Street.   Northeast Seattle was outside the Seattle City Limits until the 1940's. Image courtesy of UW Special Collections.

A 1938 Seattle Engineering Dept. map of the city, showing the annexation dates of different neighborhoods. A “jog” can be seen at the northeast corner, where the city limits were at NE 65th Street. Northeast Seattle was outside the Seattle City Limits until the 1940’s. Image courtesy of UW Special Collections.

During the hot-weather week of August 12, 1910, The Seattle Daily Times newspaper carried reports of fires across the State of Washington, and one fire which struck closer to home, to the northeast outside of the Seattle City limits.

The news article reported that Lores L. Goodwin, described as living in the McLaughlin Tract, drove his car to downtown Seattle to request aid in fighting the fire.  That is how the newspaper became aware that residents of the remote northeast district, today’s Wedgwood and Meadowbrook, had been able to beat back the flames of the night before.

The August 12, 1910 news article reported that two other fire-fighting neighbors were C.E. Thorpe who owned forty acres of timbered property along 35th Ave NE at NE 80th, and William Mock at NE 95th and 35th Ave NE.  It was believed that a brush fire had gotten started in the Maple Leaf Valley (the route of Lake City Way NE at about NE 85th Street.)  The fire burned in a northeasterly direction across the logged-off area which later became the Morningside Heights plat.  The fire jumped the road northward across NE 95th Street, onto what is now the site of the Northeast Veterinary Clinic.  The Mock’s house on the east side of 35th Ave NE seemed threatened but as of the night of August 11th, the men were able to stop the fire there at the intersection, and the Mock house was saved.

Continue reading

Posted in Meadowbrook, School histories | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Wilson’s Exposition Heights

The pergola in Pioneer Square, downtown Seattle, was constructed in 1909 as a shelter for streetcar riders.

The pergola in Pioneer Square, downtown Seattle, was constructed in 1909 as a shelter for people waiting to ride the streetcar out to the AYP Exposition on the campus of the University of Washington.

The Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, a world’s-fair event, attracted people to Seattle even before the fair’s opening date of June 1, 1909.  When news of the Exposition plans became known in 1906, people from all over the USA began coming to Seattle to get in on job opportunities and real estate development schemes, in hopes of capitalizing on the AYP Exposition’s publicity and attendance.

This blog post will tell about some families who came to Seattle in the years leading up to the AYP Exposition and how they became part of the growth of northeast Seattle.

Continue reading

Posted in boundaries, Meadowbrook, Plat names, School histories | Tagged , , , , , , | 7 Comments

The AYPE and the Growth of Northeast Seattle

The Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition of 1909

The Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition of 1909

The Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition (AYPE) was a world’s fair held in 1909 on the campus of the University of Washington in northeast Seattle. After the move of the university to its present site in 1895, the AYPE of 1909 was the event which did the most to cause the opening and growth of new residential areas in northeast Seattle.

This blog post will tell about the effect of the AYPE upon the growth of northeast Seattle, when real estate developers hoped to capitalize upon the publicity of the AYPE to help them sell house lots in new neighborhoods.

Continue reading

Posted in Events and holidays, Land records and surveys, name of the neighborhood, Plat names | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Wedgwood’s NE 85th Street Dividing Line

In 1858-1859 William H. Carlton led a survey team and drew this map of Township 26, north Seattle from 85th to 205th Streets.

In 1858-1859 William H. Carlton led a survey team and drew this map of Township 26, north Seattle from 85th to 205th Streets.

On September 2, 1858, a team of surveyors stood at what is now the center point of Seattle’s Wedgwood neighborhood on 35th Ave NE at NE 85th Street.  The survey team consisted of two chain carriers (men with a measuring device like that used to measure yardage in football games), two ax men who helped chop through underbrush, and the leader of the team listed as compass man, William H. Carlton.

Carlton’s hand-written field notes tell that the men set a post at this intersection because it was an important marker as they walked the east-west line between Township 25 which had already been surveyed from downtown Seattle out northward as far as 85th, and Township 26 which Carlton’s team surveyed in 1858 to 1859.  That line between the two townships is now NE 85th Street.

This blog post will tell why NE 85th Street is an important line and why the two halves of Seattle’s Wedgwood neighborhood (north and south of 85th) are somewhat different.

Continue reading

Posted in boundaries, Land records and surveys, streets | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments