Festive Wedgwood in December 2019

A customer tries on a tree at Hunter Tree Farm.

The Wedgwood neighborhood in northeast Seattle abounds with delights of the holiday season in December 2019.  Wedgwood’s walkable business district has coffee shops offering holiday goodies, great gift ideas from local shops, and opportunities for charitable giving.

Check out the gift ideas at Wedgwood’s newest locally-owned shops near the corner of NE 85th Street:  AR Workshop offering crafts and classes: Blue Poppy Floral with gifts and flower arrangements; and Luu’s Cafe for snacks and lunches.

The holiday season in Wedgwood’s business district features Hunter Tree Farm where the smell of the fir trees will put you in a festive mood.  Enjoy the lights and decorations while chatting with the members of the Hunter family who return each year to their tree sales site at 7744 35th Ave NE.  Hours of operation are 9 AM to 9 PM daily.

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An Immigrant in Wedgwood: Gerda’s Story

Wedgwood neighborhood in northeast Seattle. Map courtesy of HistoryLink.

Perry & Gerda Frumkin were among the young married couples who found a new home in northeast Seattle in the post-World-War-Two years of 1945 to 1965.  Northeast Seattle was at that time a region where developer Albert Balch had acquired enormous tracts of vacant land available for building “starter homes.”

In the early 1940s, Albert Balch built a plat of 200 houses called the Wedgwood Addition, located on the west side of 35th Ave NE between NE 80th to 85th Streets.  The Wedgwood name for the neighborhood grew gradually in the nearby business district with the Wedgwood Tavern (today’s Wedgwood Ale House) being the first to use it.

By the time of establishment of an elementary school for the neighborhood in 1954, the name “Wedgwood School” was chosen and the neighborhood gained its Wedgwood identity.

Wedgwood School opened in 1953 with all-portable classrooms while the permanent building was under construction.

After World War Two ended in 1945, soldiers returned from war, got married, began having children and looked for homes suitable for families.  Housing development in northeast Seattle then became so rapid that schools could not keep up with the population explosion.  The large numbers of children born from 1946 to 1964, called the Baby Boom generation, were at first crowded into existing schools like Bryant and Ravenna.  New schools like View Ridge and Wedgwood began with portable classrooms until permanent buildings could be constructed.

This blog article will tell the immigrant story of Gerda, and will tell how Jewish couples like Perry & Gerda Frumkin were part of the move of the young married population out into northeast Seattle in the 1940s and 1950s.

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Immigrants, Houses and Growth in Northeast Seattle

The growth of Seattle is the story of waves of immigrants responding to historic events and economic opportunities in the young city.  This blog article is about people on 40th Ave NE around NE 70th Street in northeast Seattle in the 1920s and 1930s when there were many immigrants from Holland and Germany, as well as from other places such as Russia and Japan.  We will trace the life of one man, William Rose from Germany, whose story represents the immigrant experience in Seattle.

Like William Rose, some immigrants had stopped off at other places in the USA before finally coming to Seattle, a place with economic opportunity and cheap land in the early 1900s.  We will see how northeast Seattle was thinly settled until the 1940s when the area was developed with housing for the increasing population during World War Two.  The developer of View Ridge and Wedgwood, Albert Balch, played a key role in building houses in northeast Seattle in the post-World War Two years.

The William Rose house at 6810 40th Ave NE was built in 1925.

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The Trees of Autumn in Wedgwood

The flame ash street trees along 35th Ave NE in Wedgwood have been vibrant with color in the autumn season of 2019.

October 2019: Looking southward on 35th Ave NE at the corner of NE 94th Street, with Fiddler’s Inn at center and Fire Station 40 at right.  Photo by Valarie.

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October 2019 in the Wedgwood Neighborhood of Seattle

The Wedgwood neighborhood in northeast Seattle is rich with colorful trees in the autumn season, including the drive along 35th Ave NE with its street trees.  Oranges and yellows abound, set off by pumpkin decorations.

Two traditional activities in October in Wedgwood are the pumpkin patch and the trick-or-treat in the business district on Halloween.

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The Business District of Wedgwood, Then and Now

Evans Thriftway opened in 1957 at a remodelled IGA store at 8606 35th Ave NE.

Those of us who grew up in the Wedgwood neighborhood of northeast Seattle tend to be nostalgic about businesses and buildings of bygone years.  Some types of businesses which once were in Wedgwood, such as Dairy Queen, 7-Eleven stores and small gas station markets, no longer exist.

Some buildings in the commercial district of Wedgwood have been remodelled and re-used by a succession of businesses, until finally being torn down and replaced, as was the grocery store building at 8606 35th Ave NE.

There have been many changes in the business environment in Wedgwood in the decades since the neighborhood was created in the 1940s.  Wedgwood now has some kinds of businesses which didn’t exist in the 1940s, such as a tanning salon and a yoga studio.

By 2007 the old grocery building at 8606 35th Ave NE was at the end of its useful life. It stood vacant while a redevelopment project was on hold.  Finally in 2012 the Jasper Apartment building went up on this site.

Some of the commercial buildings in the Wedgwood business district wore out and were replaced out of necessity.  The former grocery store building at 8606 35th Ave NE was used by a nonprofit agency for a while, then was torn down and replaced by a four-story apartment complex, the Jasper, completed in 2012.

Up until the plans to build the Jasper, Wedgwood neighborhood activists had been unaware that the zoning allowed for a four-story building on 35th Ave NE in Wedgwood.  It was this controversy which began in 2007, which set off the process of trying to come up with a plan to preserve the business district of Wedgwood.

The overpowering, tall Jasper Apartment at 8606 35th Ave NE was the shock which set off neighborhood activism for better zoning regulations.

We have to accept changes over the passage of time, but what we should not accept is the current lack of support for the business district in Wedgwood – support that should come from the City of Seattle in proper zoning of business blocks to preserve commercial use.

This blog post will describe the current status of “zoning” which means the regulations on what can be built, as to height of buildings and use for residential or commercial occupancy.

The construction of the Jasper, pictured at right, set off a Wedgwood community project which was meant to bring about enhancement of the business district via improved zoning, but these recommendations were never implemented by Seattle City Council.  In the upcoming election I urge all Wedgwoodians, and all residents of Seattle, to vote for new City Council representatives who will respond to the need to support neighborhood businesses.

Copyright notice:  the text and photos of this article are protected under Creative Commons Copyright.  Do not copy without permission.

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The Early Community in the State Park Plat in Wedgwood

In the early 1900s almost no one lived in what is now the Wedgwood neighborhood in northeast Seattle, due to the area’s lack of access to water, its remoteness and the lack of roads.

Wedgwood neighborhood in northeast Seattle. Map courtesy of HistoryLink.

In the 1870s, Capt. DeWitt C. Kenyon, a Civil War veteran from Michigan, came to Seattle and made a homestead land claim of 160 acres on both sides of the present NE 75th Street.  Land records tell us of the boundaries of the Kenyon claim, but we don’t know exactly where the Kenyon’s log cabin home was located.  Possible locations include the present site of Nathan Eckstein School at 3003 NE 75th Street.

After living in Seattle for about twelve years, Capt. Kenyon moved on to California.  In 1888 Capt. Kenyon’s north Seattle homestead claim property was sold to a young land speculator, Charles H. Baker.   But Baker’s investment never did yield a profit for him; house lots did not sell well due to the remote location and the ups and downs in the Seattle economy in the 1890s.

This blog post will tell how Baker’s investment land, named the State Park plat, was populated by just a few families by 1910.  A few more people came to Wedgwood in the 1920s and 1930s.  Finally the Wedgwood area really began to grow in the 1940s due to the wartime demand for housing for workers, and development of the first Wedgwood houses by Albert Balch.

Looking at the houses along 31st and 32nd Avenues NE gives a representative history of the phases of Wedgwood housing from the early 1900s to today.  We know that some of the earliest houses in Wedgwood were located here, just north of the (future) Nathan Eckstein site, and that these streets did not get completely filled up with houses until the 1950s.

Copyright notice:  text and photos on this article are protected under a Creative Commons Copyright.  Do not copy without permission.

The house at 3202 NE 75th Street, highlighted in the foreground, is for sale in 2019. Looking southward across NE 75th Street, we see the Nathan Eckstein school site. Both properties were on homestead claim land until 1888. Photo courtesy of Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

 

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