Around Seattle’s neighborhoods there are old houses which embody the history of the city’s development and growth. In Seattle’s fast-growing years of the 1880’s it seemed that carpenters were everywhere and today we can still see examples of early, carpenter-built wood-frame houses.
In 1975, two of the city’s oldest houses were threatened with demolition. These small vertical-plank wooden houses, typical of the 1880’s, were in Seattle’s International District at the corner of 7th & Dearborn Streets. This is one of the oldest areas of the city, located east of Pioneer Square and the central downtown business district.
A bank which wanted to expand into the site at 7th & Dearborn (today’s KeyBank) offered to donate the houses and help cover the cost of moving the structures if the Historic Seattle organization could make arrangements to relocate the houses.
Historic Seattle moved the houses to the then-newly created Ballard Avenue Landmark District in 1976, where the houses were compatible with early Ballard dwellings. After relocation, the exteriors were restored and the interiors remodeled for adaptive reuse.
The Pioneer Houses at 5341 Ballard Ave NW were sold with a preservation easement requiring the owners to maintain the exterior appearance of the houses, which are now used as professional offices.
On Saturday, May 23rd, local architecture historian and preservation consultant Kate Krafft will give a presentation detailing her research findings about the house building method called Vertical Plank Construction (VPC). This method was used for the Pioneer Houses which were moved to Ballard.
VPC is a relatively fast, easy and cheap construction method, often used for temporary buildings that could easily be dismantled and occasionally for small permanent dwellings. The presentation will be followed by a tour of the nearby Pioneer Houses.
Saturday, May 23rd, 1 to 2 PM, followed by a tour of the Pioneer Houses.
Ballard Branch, Seattle Public Library
5614 22nd Avenue NW, Seattle, WA 98107