Wedgwood’s NE 95th Street Gas Station Intersection

In the 1940s 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, population grew in that area, businesses began to cluster around NE 85th and that intersection ultimately became the heart of Wedgwood.

The Morningside Heights community

Maple Leaf School

The Maple Leaf School at 3212 NE 100th Street was completed in 1926.  By the 1920s the number of families with children had grown a lot, partly because of the nearby Morningside Heights real estate development.

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 Ave NE between NE 90th to 95th Streets.

Morningside Heights was opened as a housing development in the 1920s.  Morningside Heights was the first Wedgwood-area housing to be advertised and promoted in an organized way by real estate developers, and 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 faced 32nd Ave NE at the corner of NE 100th Street, with a fine new brick building built in 1926.  Families with children settled on the surrounding streets, including the Morningside Heights plat south of NE 95th Street.

Morningside Church at 9505 35th Ave NE.built 1926

The Morningside Church was built in 1926 at 9505 35th Ave NE.  This photo is circa the year 1938 as part of the King County survey of buildings. In 1951 the church moved to 8008 35th Ave NE and became Wedgwood Presbyterian.  The former site at 9505 35th Ave NE has been a veterinary clinic since 1951.  The building was remodeled in 1968.

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.  At first they met in a wood-frame building in the Morningside Heights plat.  In 1926 the group began to build at the northwest corner of the intersection of NE 95th Street on 35th Ave NE, a site purchased for them by First Presbyterian Church which supported all branch-church efforts.  Morningside Church met in the building at the corner of NE 95th Street until 1951, when they built a new building at 8008 35th Ave NE.  The site of the former Morningside Church is now the veterinary clinic at 9505 35th Ave NE.

The beginnings of car-oriented businesses at this intersection

George’s Garage was nearest to the northeast corner of the NE 95th Street intersection in 1939.  Photo courtesy of Puget Sound Regional Archives, original property records.

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 an east-west connection from Victory Way (Lake City Way NE) all the way over to Sand Point Way NE.  The road-building 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 1940s 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.

Adams Motor Company was a used-car lot which faced NE 95th Street at the southwest corner of the intersection. Walt Adams worked with this business until he started an insurance office in Wedgwood. Photo courtesy of the Puget Sound Regional Archives.

The Adams Insurance Agency at 8613 35th Ave NE in Wedgwood.  Photo by Valarie.

By the end of the 1940s the two Adams brothers were already transitioning into other occupations.  Curtis Adams 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 at NE 95th Street.

Today the Adams Insurance Agency, in its third generation of (unrelated) owners, is at 8613 35th Ave NE.  Adams Insurance was one of the first tenants in the Copestick Building which opened in 1956.  The building itself is now in the third generation of ownership by the Copestick-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 the predictions of its early boosters, that the intersection would become a busy business district.

Other gas stations at the NE 95th Street intersection

The Morningside Heights Apartments at 9425 35th Ave NE. The building has storefronts at sidewalk level but they are often vacant.  Photo by Valarie.

In 1948 a gas station was built on the south side of Adams Motor Company, facing 35th Ave NE.  Throughout the 1950s and 1960s it was called Clif’s Chevron Station at 9425 35th Ave 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.

The Chevron Station at 9425 35th Avenue NE, present site of the Morningside Heights apartments, was torn down in 1988.  Original property card and photo courtesy of the Puget Sound Regional Archives, repository of the property records of King County.

Johnson’s Auto Repair at 9418 35th Ave NE in Wedgwood.  Photo by Valarie.

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 Roy Johnson’s 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.

Before becoming Johnson’s Auto Repair, there was a Union Gas Station at 9418 35th Ave NE. Photo courtesy of the Puget Sound Regional Archives original property records.

Sources

The gas station at 9500 35th Ave NE as seen in 1972.

Census and City directory records, Seattle Public Library.

The Presbytery of Seattle, 1858-2005, by Robert L. Welsh, 2006, in the library of University Presbyterian Church.  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.

Neighborhood names:  “Maple Leaf” is now the name of a north Seattle neighborhood just south of Northgate.  The names of Morningside Heights (a plat) and the Maple Leaf School in northeast Seattle, became supplanted by the names Wedgwood and Meadowbrook.

Spirit gas station 9500 35th Ave NE.December 2017

The present Spirit Gas Station at 9500 35th Ave NE.  Photo by Valarie.

Property records:  Puget Sound Regional Archives, Bellevue, WA.  The PSRA is the repository of the property records of King County.

“King County Land Use Survey,” HistoryLink Essay #3692 by Paula Becker, 2002.

“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.

About Wedgwood in Seattle History

Valarie is a volunteer writer of neighborhood history in Seattle.
This entry was posted in businesses, gas stations and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Wedgwood’s NE 95th Street Gas Station Intersection

  1. Janice Dobbs says:

    Thanks for the memories! I grew up next door to Cliff Lotz’ Chevron. I just had some auto repair done at the Spirit Gas Station in Ballard and learned that Spirit is also right over there where I used to live (9419 35th NE). We had a beautiful view of the Cascades as well as the Union Gas Station and the newspaper shack.

  2. So glad you enjoyed this article.

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