Houses and Immigrants on 37th Ave NE in Wedgwood

The Lobberegt grocery store opened in 1925 on 35th Ave NE at the corner of NE 60th Street.

In 1910 a group of Dutch immigrants began to settle in what is now the Wedgwood neighborhood in northeast Seattle, building their houses on or near 35th Ave NE.  They worked in carpentry, painting, and in small businesses such as tailoring.

As the neighborhood grew in the 1920s, some of the Dutch immigrants, such as the Lobberegt brothers, opened gas stations and small markets on 35th Ave NE.

This blog article will tell about the evolution of houses in the 7700 block of 37th Ave NE where the first house was that of newlyweds Ryk & Anna Spoor of the Dutch immigrant group.

In 1911 Ryk Spoor, a carpenter from Holland, married Anna, a daughter of the Lobberegt family.  Ryk built the house at 7714 37th Ave NE where he & Anna lived until their deaths in 1976.

7714 37th Ave NE, built in 1911 by Dutch immigrant Ryk Spoor.

Today the 7700 block of 37th Ave NE is a microcosm of the history of Wedgwood houses.  There are a few houses remaining on the street, like the Spoor’s house, which represent the earliest era of Dutch immigrants in Wedgwood.  The street also contains mid-century houses built in the 1950s to 1970s, and new-era houses in modern styles.  Houses on the 7700 block of 37th Ave NE represent these three eras, 1900-1940, 1940-1980 and 1980-to the present.

7715 37th Ave NE

The earliest houses in Wedgwood had to be planned for access to well water, because there were no City utilities in the area as yet.  Typically a house would be set on several lots so that there was space for the well, and outbuildings such as a shed for firewood.

In the 1920s houses on 37th Ave NE had gardens and fruit trees, and some people kept chickens.   Often there was a free-standing garage for a car.  Early residents of Wedgwood were car owners because there was no other way to get around.

Paul & Henriet Fox of 7715 37th Ave NE were a typical couple of the 1920s in Wedgwood in that Mr. Fox was an immigrant from Germany, and Henriet was from Holland. Part of neighborhood lore on 37th Ave NE was that in the 1920s-1930s Mrs. Fox’s cow grazed in the pasture on the south side of NE 77th Street at 37th Ave NE where there is now a large apartment complex, Wedgewood Estates.   In early years this property had an absentee owner who seemed to just be holding it as an investment.  With no one using the property, it became the neighborhood pasture and playground.

Wedgewood Estates apartments looking eastward along NE 77th Street. At left is the scarlet oak tree at the corner of 38th Ave NE.  In the 1920s-1930s this site was vacant and was used as a pasture.

In the 1920s the next-door neighbors to the south of Paul & Henriet Fox were Axel & Selma Sjolin from Sweden.  Although records do not show the name of the builder, it is possible that Ryk Spoor built both houses, 7703 and 7715 37th Ave NE.

7703 37th Ave NE (no longer extant)

Mr. Sjolin’s career followed the rise of mechanized transport in the 1920s, as horse-drawn wagons gave way to trucks.  Mr. Sjolin worked as a delivery driver for the Grinnell & McLean Furniture Company at 4315 University Way NE.

Ryk & Anna Spoor’s next-door neighbor to the north at 7718 37th Ave NE, was Klaas Koene from Holland.

Not long after arriving in the USA in 1910, Mr. Koene got a job at Manning’s Coffee Cafe in downtown Seattle, and he worked his entire career there.  Very similar to a later coffee enterprise, Starbuck’s, Manning’s started in the Pike Place Market.  Manning’s expanded to several coffee shops in downtown and some other neighborhoods such as Ballard.

7718 37th Ave NE, home of Klaas Koene

Ryk Spoor probably built houses for some of the other residents on his block.  We also know that in 1947 he built a house for one of his sons at 3605 NE 77th Street.

Becoming part of the 1950s in Wedgwood 

3605 NE 77th Street

As Ryk Spoor moved toward retirement age in the 1950s, he kept up with the changes in the neighborhood.  The house that he built for his son at 3605 NE 77th Street is in mid-century modern style and fits in with the post-World-War-Two houses on 36th Ave NE.

That block, 36th Ave NE between NE 75th to 77th Streets, was not built-upon until the 1940s and 1950s.  It reflects the era of first-time-homeowner houses for young couples starting new lives after the war years.  In contrast to his own early house on 37th Ave NE, the house which Ryk Spoor built for his son in 1947 was hooked up to City utilities and had no need of space for a chicken house or other outbuildings.

Grant McVicar, drawn by Bob Cram for the Wedgwood Community Council newsletter, November 1992.

In his later years Ryk Spoor enjoyed walking down to McVicar Hardware in the newly-developing business center of Wedgwood at NE 85th Street.

At McVicar’s, Ryk Spoor could get a cup of coffee and serve as an in-house advisor where he would chat with customers about their projects.  As a retired carpenter he enjoyed being around the nuts and bolts of the hardware store and seeing young homeowners coming in for supplies.

37th Ave NE grows in the 1950s

With the demand for housing in the 1950s, the empty lots along 37th Ave NE began to fill in.

Typical examples of post-World-War-Two housing are the Lovell houses at 7750 and 7756 37th Ave NE, built in 1951.  The builder was Ellsworth Lovell, a man who grew up on NE 94th Street in the northwest quadrant of what became the Wedgwood neighborhood.  As a teenager in 1926, Ellsworth had helped his father build a new school for the community, Maple Leaf School on NE 100th Street at the corner of 32nd Ave NE.  Ellsworth followed his father into the construction business.

7750 37th Ave NE, Lovell home built in 1951. This house has a garage while the twin house next door has used the space for a family room.

Ellsworth Lovell’s goal was to provide good-quality homes within the reach of veterans of World War Two (GI Loan Program).

7756 37th Ave NE

To hold down costs while creating consistent quality, Lovell prefabricated some components of the houses and used the same simple floorplan.  The plan had flexibility so that some Lovell houses have a garage and others used that space for a family room or additional bedroom.

Lovell could produce as many as 400 homes per year and today these two houses on 37th Ave NE, 7750 and 7756, are classic examples of Lovell houses.

Infill: then and now

7751 37th Ave NE has been replaced by two larger houses

We have become used to seeing early Craftsman-style houses like that of Ryk & Anna Spoor, with 1950s mid-century modern houses alongside of them, as the Wedgwood neighborhood boomed with housing growth.

We may wonder what Ryk & Anna Spoor thought of the newer houses going up on their street in the 1950s.  This process, called “infill,” is still going on today and we are often jarred by seeing newer types of houses alongside older ones.

There’s also been division of large original lots so that on 37th Ave NE there are some lots on which two new houses have been built, where old houses are torn down for the building of larger new ones.

Two new houses, 7751 and 7753 37th Ave NE, in place of the one older house pictured above. Photo by Valarie.

The Ryk & Anna Spoor house which is the oldest house on 37th Ave NE, built in 1911, is in the Craftsman style which was popular until about 1930.  Mid-century modern houses, especially in the 1950s, were often in “ranch” style like the Lovell houses, meaning that they were spread out on one level and did not have formal areas such as a parlor.

The third era of housing styles in Wedgwood

7732 37th Ave NE built in 2011

The original house at 7732 37th Ave NE was destroyed by fire in the year 2010 and a new house has been built in its place.  This new house represents the third era of architectural styles in Wedgwood.

7732 37th Ave NE side view showing clerestory windows on the upper level.

The new-style house at 7732 37th Ave NE has an asymmetrical roofline for practical water drainage, and the upward angle makes it possible to have large windows on the upper level of the house, including clerestory windows under the eaves.  We note that the house is two stories tall so that it has more living space but is not spread out like a one-story house would be.

The siding of the house at 7732 37th Ave NE is not wood but is a new product, fiber cement siding called Hardi board or Hardi plank manufactured by the James Hardie company.

Becoming Wedgwood

The history of the Wedgwood neighborhood can be told via the houses in the 7700 block of 37th Ave NE.  Wedgwood started out as a nameless rural area where there were a few houses which could only be built where the residents would be able to have their own well for water.  Immigrants, especially from Germany, Holland and Sweden, were the first to make their homes on 37th Ave NE.  The neighborhood did not have a name but the residents sometimes referred to themselves as Little Holland or Dutch Hollow.

Original house at 7732 37th Ave NE

Some early names for the Wedgwood area never really “caught on.”  Morningside Heights was a plat name for what is now the northwest corner of Wedgwood at NE 95th Street.

Oneida Gardens was the plat name for the east-of-35th-Avenue area where Ryk & Anna Spoor lived.  The only time this name was officially used was for the apartment complex which opened in 1948.  In the 1980s the apartments were renamed Wedgewood Estates, showing the general sense of the neighborhood name (even if there was controversy over whether to spell it with an extra “e” or not!)

In 1946-1949 some neighborhood activists started a club called Eastwood.  Their intention was to highlight development issues in the blocks to the east of 35th Ave NE.  By 1949 their club had merged with the main activist group, the Wedgwood Community Club, so that “Wedgwood” was meant to include both sides of 35th Ave NE.

The Wedgewood Estates Apartments is one of the few businesses in the neighborhood which still uses the extra “e” in the name. The rental office is at 3716 NE 75th Street, in one of the original brick fourplexes which opened in 1948.

The second era of building in Wedgwood took place in the years after the end of World War Two in 1945, when Wedgwood grew rapidly with new houses.  The neighborhood came fully into the Seattle City Limits by 1954, giving access to City water lines and street paving.  By that year Wedgwood had also acquired its identity. A developer’s name for a plat of houses, Wedgwood, on the west side of 35th Ave NE, had been chosen as the name for the new elementary school, which seemed to solidify it as the name for the neighborhood.

Now in the “third wave” of houses in Wedgwood we see styles of architecture and types of building materials which are new to us.  It can be jarring to see different styles and eras of houses alongside one another.  And yet we know that the neighborhood is more than its house styles, but is comprised of a community of people from many different backgrounds.  We can reach out to neighbors to form community, as we know that Ryk & Anna Spoor did in their era.

Ryk & Anna Spoor fiftieth wedding anniversary in 1961. Seattle Daily times, July 1, 1961, page 11.

More about Wedgwood’s early communities of immigrants:

Johnny Hoetmer 1913-2001

A Dutchman in Wedgwood History – the parents of golf pro Johnny Hoetmer were among the interrelated group which settled in Wedgwood in 1910.

A Garden of Immigrants in Medohart – a cluster of Dutch, German and Swedish immigrants on 38th to 40th Avenues NE south of NE 75th Street.

Immigrants in the Earl J. McLaughlin Plat in Wedgwood — families on the west side of 35th Ave NE at NE 86th and 87th Streets.

Immigrants in the Oneida Gardens Plat in Wedgwood – Swedish families with a poultry business on 42nd Ave NE.

Immigrants, Houses and Growth in Northeast Seattle – the community of early residents on 40th Ave NE.

Names in the Neighborhood: Bryant – partly because of the early establishment of Bryant School, 35th Ave NE between NE 50th to 70th Streets developed as a business district in the 1920s.  The Lobberegt brothers were among those who had stores and gas stations on 35th Ave NE.

Looking eastward on NE 77th Street, we see the northwest corner of 38th Ave NE at left, where the Thuesens once had greenhouses (see photo below). At center is the scarlet oak. At right, south side of NE 77th, is the Wedgewood Estates apartment complex.

Wedgwood’s Mystery Tree Planters – the Thuesens from Denmark had a plant nursery business on 38th Ave NE.  Their greenhouses, shown here as of 1940, were on the northwest corner of 38th & 77th.  The scarlet oak tree is on the northeast corner.  Since no one else lived on that end of the block, it is likely that the Thuesens planted the scarlet oak tree in the 1920s.

Thuesen greenhouses at 7707 38th Ave NE in a photo from the 1940 property records.



About Wedgwood in Seattle History

Valarie is a volunteer writer of neighborhood history in Seattle.
This entry was posted in Architecture, Immigrant heritage and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Houses and Immigrants on 37th Ave NE in Wedgwood

  1. KRAG says:

    Gosh, those old houses were beautiful.

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