In the 1950s the intersection of 35th Avenue NE and NE 95th Street had gas stations on three corners, and a used-car lot as well. This intersection on the northern boundary of the Wedgwood neighborhood once called itself Morningside or sometimes Maple Leaf, in reference to the elementary school on NE 100th Street.
Up until the 1940s, the intersection of NE 95th Street had more “going on” than the intersection of NE 85th Street. With the development of Albert Balch’s Wedgwood neighborhood centered at 85th, businesses began to cluster around NE 85th and that intersection ultimately became the heart of Wedgwood.
The Morningside Heights community
Before 1940 very few people lived near today’s major intersection of Wedgwood on 35th Avenue NE at NE 85th Street, but at NE 95th Street a community had developed in the Morningside Heights plat, located on the west side of 35th Avenue NE from NE 90th to 95th Streets. Morningside Heights had been promoted by real estate developers in the 1920s, so it became the first built-up area of houses in what is now Wedgwood.
One of the “draws” of Morningside Heights was a nearby school, Maple Leaf, which was on the corner of 32nd Avenue NE and NE 100th Street with a new building built in 1926. Families with children settled on the surrounding streets.
In response to the population growth in Morningside Heights, branch-church organizers from the downtown Seattle First Presbyterian Church came out to establish a meeting place. In 1926 the group began to build at the northwest corner of the intersection of NE 95th Street on 35th Avenue NE, and they met there until 1951. The site of the former Morningside Church is now the veterinary clinic at 9505 35th Ave NE.
Development around the NE 95th Street intersection was promoted by local businessmen in the 1930s and 1940s who anticipated growth due to the build-up of the nearby Sand Point Naval Air Station. In 1931 King County awarded a road-building contract to Fiorito Brothers, to build NE 95th Street as a connection from Victory Way (Lake City Way NE) all the way over to Sand Point Way NE. This news caused residents around NE 95th Street to think that their area would soon become a major through-way and an appropriate place for car-oriented businesses.
In addition to the Morningside Church on the northwest corner and a small neighborhood store called Fauld’s on the northeast corner, in the 1950s the intersection of NE 95th Street had a car repair shop, three gas stations and a used car sales lot.
Walt Adams Motor Company
Walt Adams and his older brother Curtis came Out West in the 1930s in search of better economic opportunities, and both became involved in car-related businesses. By the 1940s both men were Wedgwood residents who established the Adams Motor Company, a used-car lot at the southwest corner of the NE 95th Street intersection.
By the end of the 1940s the two Adams brothers were already transitioning into other occupations. Curtis became an accountant at the U.S. Small Business Administration, and Walt established Adams Insurance Agency in 1949, which he operated at first from his Adams Motor Company office.
Today the Adams Insurance Agency, in its third generation of owners, is at 8613 35th Avenue NE. Adams Insurance was the first tenant in that building which opened in 1956. The building is in the third generation of ownership by the Stockton family.
Walt Adam’s business move from NE 95th Street southward to an office in the burgeoning business district in Albert Balch’s Wedgwood showed the trend of growth around the NE 85th intersection and the trend of decline at NE 95th. The NE 95th Street intersection never fulfilled its early booster’s predictions of a busy business district.
Another gas station at the NE 95th Street intersection
In 1948 a gas station was built on the south side of Adams Motor Company, facing 35th Avenue NE. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s it was called Clif’s Chevron Station at 9425 35th Avenue NE, operated by Clifford W. Lotz. In 1968 a new station building was built on the site, Del’s Chevron Station, operated by Delmar Ramsay.
In the 1980s the station was called Larry Roe’s Chevron, until it was torn down in 1988. The corner is now the site of the Morningside Heights apartments which were built in 1994. Today the NE 95th Street intersection has fewer businesses than it had in the 1940s.
Another long-running gas station was on the southeast corner of the NE 95th Street intersection. It was acquired by Roy Johnson and converted to Johnson’s Auto Repair in 1989.
Today his son Jeff Johnson owns the Johnson’s Auto Repair shop at 9418 35th Ave NE. The Johnsons have recently acquired the Spirit gas station at 9500 35th Ave NE as well. These business sites represent the long history of NE 95th Street’s auto-oriented intersection.
Census and City directory records, Seattle Public Library.
The Presbytery of Seattle, 1858-2005, by Robert L. Welsh, 2006. University Presbyterian Church library, 285.1. Info about the Morningside Church at 9505 35th Ave NE. All of the Presbyterian congregations in northeast Seattle, including Lake City, Laurelhurst, University, Wallingford and Wedgwood, were first begun with the help of workers sent out from First Presbyterian in downtown Seattle.
Property records: Puget Sound Regional Archives, Bellevue, WA. The PSRA is the repository of the property records of King County.
“King County paving contract for NE 95th Street awarded to Fiorito Brothers,” Seattle Daily Times, March 17, 1931, page 15.
Thank you to the readers of the “You Know You Are From Wedgwood IF…” Facebook page who inspired this series of gas station articles.