In the years before a real estate company named and developed Hawthorne Hills, the area was the land claim of a man who was determined to live there even without the legal right to do so.
When Seattle author David B. Williams started his most recent project he never could have imagined that the research, writing and publication of his latest book would take nearly five years. Now Mr. Williams is able to share his wonderful discoveries of the human and natural history of Puget Sound in his book, Homewaters.
“It weaves the stories of people and place across more than 10,000 years of history. This includes warfare, transportation (canoe culture and mosquito fleet), and resource extraction. In addition to addressing salmon and orca, I also explore lesser known, but ecosystem-critical species such as rockfish, herring, kelp, Olympia oyster, and geoducks. Ultimately, my goal is to create a more nuanced and complex picture of this beautiful place and to illustrate that we are at a critical moment where we can work together to make it more habitable for all.” (Quote from the author’s website geologywriter.com)
In these pandemic days we can’t yet attend in-person books talks but the author is giving a number of free presentations via Zoom. By going to his website or to that of the UW Press Events Page, you can see the author’s list of upcoming book talks about Homewaters. The Zoom meetings are free (though sometimes phrased as “purchase a ticket” when you register.) By registering for a Zoom meeting, a link to the meeting will be sent to you.
From the University of Washington Press Blog Page, here is David B. Williams’ story of how he wrote the book Homewaters:
There was not yet a road called Sand Point Way NE when the first commercial activities began at about NE 70th Street on Lake Washington. In the 1880s Edward F. Lee had a boat-building shop there, and Osborn M. Merritt had a shingle mill. Merritt was from Pontiac, Michigan, and the name he chose for his business, Pontiac Shingle Mill, “caught on” as names sometimes do, as a name for the area.
The next business to open was a brickmaking plant owned by the investors group of Thomas Burke, Morgan J. Carkeek and Corliss P. Stone.
With fortuitous timing, the brick plant at Pontiac was set up and ready to operate just before Seattle’s Great Fire of June 6, 1889. The Fire burned a wide swath of downtown Seattle business blocks which had almost all wood-frame buildings. In the rebuilding after the Fire it was ordered that new structures must be built of brick and stone. The Pontiac Brick Company roared into production to make bricks for new buildings in Seattle.
The Pontiac Brick Company was sited for access to clay for making bricks and it was also alongside the tracks of the new Seattle, Lake Shore & Eastern Railroad (SLS&E) which had just been put through in 1887.
Thomas Burke and his railroad co-developer Daniel Gilman planned the railroad line for this very purpose, to access sites of natural resources and commercial production. The SLS&E route has been preserved as today’s Burke-Gilman Trail.
Pontiac at Lake Washington had a lot of activity for a few years. Mr. Lee of the boat building shop served as postmaster for the mail which came by train. There was a Pontiac School for the community’s children from 1908-1911. The school closed as there was not much activity in the area any more.
This blog post will tell how Sand Point Way NE developed as an arterial road because of the Naval Air Station at about NE 74th Street on Lake Washington.
Seattle north of the ship canal has many neighborhoods which derived their names from plats of land development. Sometimes the naming was deliberate, such as Laurelhurst, in which the developers reconfigured the streets and promoted the sale of houses in the community they named and built.
Albert Balch, the developer of View Ridge and Wedgwood, did not deliberately set out to name these neighborhoods. These areas did not have a definite identity before Balch built plats of houses. As the population grew in the 1940s and 1950s, place names gradually evolved.
Wedgwood was a neighborhood of young married couples in those years. They had lived through World War Two in the 1940s and they were experienced in community-organizing such as for civil defense. They applied their organizing skills to their new neighborhood for fire protection, development issues, activities for families and mutual aid in weather events. Gradually the neighborhood began identifying with the Wedgwood name.
Wedgwood is the plat name for a group of harmoniously-designed houses built by Albert Balch in the 1940s, on the west side of 35th Ave NE between NE 80th to 85th Streets. The spread of Wedgwood as a name can be attributed to the first business to use it, the Wedgwood Tavern in 1946. As soon as the tavern adopted the Wedgwood plat name, other nearby businesses took up the name as well.
Chelsea, a vanished place name in northeast Seattle
Like LaVilla which doesn’t exist as a place name in northeast Seattle anymore, Chelsea is marked on the City of Seattle map but no one uses that name now, for what was once a real estate promotion.
We know from our exploration of plat names near today’s Nathan Hale High School, that in the early 1900s landowner Mae Yates gave the name Chelsea to NE 110th Street. The Yates house still marks the corner of 30th & 110th, with Nathan Hale High School now on the south side of the street.
In the 1920s a widow, Carrie Palmer, continued to use the name Chelsea for plats of house lots. Carrie Palmer’s real estate developments were on the east side of today’s Jane Addams Middle School, and she leased out a Chelsea Store at the corner of 34th Ave NE & NE 110th Street.
This blog article will show that in the 1920s “Chelsea” was used to advertise housing in northeast Seattle on or near NE 110th Street, though use of the name has disappeared in present times.
In 1961 residents of northeast Seattle petitioned the City to give them some geographic identity by preserving the name “Meadowbrook.” The Meadowbrook Golf Course at NE 110th Street had closed because the property had been purchased by the Seattle School District. A new high school was to be built on the golf course site and members of the community thought that the school should be named Meadowbrook.
At first it seemed that there was a good possibility of a Meadowbrook High School. Then the school district asserted rules about the naming of schools, that they should be named for presidents or for other figures in American history. Thus the name Nathan Hale, a hero of the American Revolution, was chosen for the high school which opened in September 1963.
The new high school was sited at NE 110th Street closest to the corner of 30th Ave NE. Other portions of the property were used for parking lots and athletic fields. Later developments of the site included a community center building and a swimming pool accessed from 35th Ave NE. Continue reading
Hugh Benton and Victor Palmer were young attorneys who arrived to make their fortunes in Seattle in the early 1900s. In those days attorneys would often expedite property transactions because the category of real estate agent as a profession had not yet been developed. Benton & Palmer were successful both in their law practice and in their own investments in the booming Seattle real estate market.
Hugh & Mary Benton settled at 5560 29th Ave NE in the Ravenna neighborhood, where their family grew to seven children. Hugh’s brother Benjamin lived at 5566.
Adult children of both Benton families occupied nearby houses, such as Hugh & Mary’s daughter Ruth who married Edwin Shidler in 1923 and lived at 5540 29th Ave NE. Mr. Shidler became well-known in the 1930s as the principal of Maple Leaf School on NE 100th Street.
Over many years time the Benton & Palmer families would become developers of housing near NE 110th Street in today’s Meadowbrook, once called the Chelsea neighborhood.
NE 110th Street in the Meadowbrook neighborhood of northeast Seattle is today dominated by two large school buildings: Nathan Hale High School on the south side of NE 110th Street and Jane Addams Middle School on the north side.
Hidden in the history of today’s “school street” is the story of a highway of a century ago, and a neighborhood name, Chelsea. Chelsea referred to NE 110th Street before the present schools were built, Jane Addams Middle School (built 1949) and Nathan Hale High School (built 1963 on the former Meadowbrook Golf Course and Fischer Farm property).
Pictured below is Jane Addams Middle School, looking south with NE 110th Street at the top of the photo. On the far left of the photo is 35th Ave NE. Before the school was built, the housing developments we see here were referred to as Chelsea.
The Civil War of the United States was fought from 1861 to 1865 and yet, 160 years later, we are still fighting issues of the unity and principles of what it means to be an American. Throughout their lifetimes, veterans of the Civil War were instrumental in their promotion of national unity, always active in commemorations such as Memorial Day.
Washington Territory did not send troops to the Civil War but afterward, over many years’ time, Civil War veterans migrated out to Seattle. They were active in public life in Seattle, always patriotic and contributing to their community. Today, the project of Seattle’s Civil War Legacy is to highlight the lives of these veterans and their sacrificial service.
This blog post will outline the life of Edward Lind, a Norwegian immigrant who fought in the Civil War, became part of western migration and came to the City of Seattle. He is buried in Seattle’s Grand Army of the Republic Cemetery dedicated to Civil War veterans.
The Seattle street system provides endless opportunities for puzzling over the “whys” of street names, as it can be difficult to find out who a street is named for. One north Seattle street is clear in its tribute to Roosevelt — but which Roosevelt??? There were two, Teddy and Franklin, who each served as president of the United States.
A new blog by Benjamin Donguk Lukoff called Writes of Way explores the stories of Seattle street names. Here is Mr. Lukoff’s story of Roosevelt Way NE:
“This street runs nearly six miles from the north end of the University Bridge (at Eastlake Avenue NE and NE Campus Parkway) to Aurora Avenue North, just shy of the Seattle city limits at North 145th Street.
Roosevelt Way runs north–south for most of its length, but starting at NE 125th Street, its last 1½ miles cut a northwest–southeast diagonal across the street grid, making it Roosevelt Way North once it crosses 1st Avenue NE between N 133rd and N 135th Streets.
In Seattle’s early years, 1851 to 1889, owners of property could lay out a plan for streets and give them any names they chose. But as the city grew, segments of a street would often have several different names as the street passed through these individually-laid-out plats of property.
The Great Seattle Fire of June 6, 1889 burned a large section of the downtown core but instead of destroying the city, the Fire led to a rebirth of Seattle with explosive population growth. The population jumped tenfold to about 43,000 people in Seattle as of 1890, and doubled again by the year 1900 to more than 80,000 people. (Source: Seattle Municipal Archives Quick Information population statistics).
Within three years of the Fire, four hundred new subdivisions were filed with King County, mainly in or near the Seattle City Limits. Each subdivision had a layout of streets with lots for houses or commercial buildings, and property owners continued to give the streets in their plats, any name that they chose. This resulted in a tangle of street names which were often repeated in different areas of the city. Finally in 1895 City Engineer R.H. Thomson began renaming Seattle streets via City ordinances. The street-renaming project also decreed that streets would be east-west and those that were north-south would be called avenues.