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 was once called 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. For a while there were gas stations on three of the four corners of NE 95th Street, some small stores and a barber shop at the northeast corner.
To the east of the intersection of 35th & 95th there was a small grocery & pharmacy. West of the intersection, in mid-block on NE 95th Street Mrs. Curtis had her Maple Leaf Gardens floral business.
Gradually in the 1940s and 1950s, with the development of Albert Balch’s Wedgwood neighborhood centered at NE 85th Street, the residential population grew more there and businesses began to cluster around NE 85th. That intersection ultimately became the heart of Wedgwood, while the intersection of NE 95th Street lacked further business development. Over time there were fewer businesses at NE 95th Street, rather than more.
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 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.
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 the church group 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 a veterinary clinic at 9505 35th Ave NE.
The beginnings of car-oriented businesses at this intersection
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 Naval Air Station at 7400 Sand Point Way NE.
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.
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 moved from NE 95th Street southward to an office in the burgeoning business district in Albert Balch’s Wedgwood. This move 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
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 storefronts in the Morningside Heights building are often vacant.
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 leased 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, 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.
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. This article tells the story of the 1937-1938 effort to photograph all taxable structures in 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.