Continuing the Maple Creek Legacy

The story of the Maple Creek ravine in Wedgwood is that of dedicated conservationists who passed along the legacy from generation to generation.  Beginning in the 1930s Dr. & Mrs. Philip Rogers held their fifteen acres as a nature preserve.   In the 1950s they began looking for other like-minded people to share it with.

The Rogers original estate house, built 1937 in the Maple Creek section of the Wedgwood neighborhood.

Like many young couples after the close of World War Two, Bob & Martha Cram settled in Seattle and searched for a home where they could raise a family.   Bob & Martha dreamed of building their own house but they searched all over north Seattle without finding a location that seemed right.   In the meantime Bob, a war veteran, accessed the servicemen’s benefit program called the GI Bill so that he could attend art school in Seattle and become a commercial artist.   For income, Bob and a friend formed the Ken & Bob Ski School and taught ski lessons.

Two of Bob’s ski students were sons of Dr. & Mrs. Philip M. Rogers (Annah.)  Annah was very interested in nature, natural products such as herbal medicine, and the development of a home as a retreat, ideas which were expressed in the Arts & Crafts movement in housing.   The Rogers had built their house in 1937 on fifteen densely-treed acres in the northeast corner of what is now Wedgwood, off of 42nd Ave NE in an area called the Maple Creek ravine.   In the 1950s the Rogers decided to sell some plots of land for income, but they wanted to sell only to those who would cherish the natural environment as they did.   They placed restrictions on building projects.   No bulldozers were allowed during construction, because Annah Rogers believed that “you can’t do anything impetuous with a No. 2 shovel.”

Through their association with the Rogers family Bob & Martha Cram were invited to look at a wooded lot on the edge of the ravine, which they bought for $4,000.   Then came the struggle to design and build a house which the Crams would be able to afford.   One architect set forth a design with a livingroom of 10 x 12, which the Crams knew would be too small for their growing family.

The Cram house: Northwest Modern style by Carl Gould, Jr, architect

Bob & Martha waited and saved more money, then contacted Carl Gould Jr., son of the famed founder of the UW School of Architecture.   The Crams asked Carl Gould Jr. to design a house with simple construction that they could add onto in later years, and the Cram’s house was completed in 1958.   Like other Maple Creek houses of the 1950s and early 1960s, the Cram’s house was Northwest Modern in architectural style and was set deeply nestled in a grove of trees.

The Crams were active in preservation of Maple Creek though they were defeated in a 1992 court challenge; they were not able to prevent subdivision of the original Rogers homesite into smaller lots with no trees.   In subsequent years the Crams and other neighbors put some of their own property into a land conservancy so that the ravine, with its stream and trees, would remain intact.

More than fifty years have passed with the Crams and their neighbors as stewards of the Maple Creek ravine, and now there are few original homeowners left.   In 2009 the time came for Bob & Martha Cram to move into retirement and transfer their Maple Creek home to others to enjoy.   Just as the Rogers did with their property fifty years ago when they looked for like-minded purchasers, the Crams found a buyer for their house who will continue to protect the Maple Creek legacy.

In 1992 Bob Cram drew this cartoon to illustrate the need to preserve trees in the Maple Creek ravine area.

About Wedgwood in Seattle History

Valarie is a volunteer history writer for northeast neighborhoods in Seattle, Washington.
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