ABOUT THE AUTHORJames W. Gould 21 Jan. 2000
Jim Gould is a retired professor of history and international relations at Scripps College, Claremont CA, who often visits his daughter and his three grandsons who live in the Kay House at 23d and Louisa. He can't resist finding out the history of any place he visits. Finding no written history of Montlake, he began recording what he could find.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The citation numbers were accidently stripped off during the transmission of the article by email. We apologize.
THE MONTLAKE NEIGHBORHOODby Jim Gould
Geographically Montlake is situated at the natural crossroads north of the center of Seattle, where any path leading north must pass the narrow isthmus between Lake Washington and Lake Union, and at the easiest east to west passage between the lakes must go. The natural outlet of Lake Washington was far to the south, from the Black River into the Duwamish, but a small brook flowed down at this location into the swamp at the south end of Portage Bay, forming a natural portage that is roughly where Route 520 now goes.
Known as the Montlake area since 1909, the boundaries are roughly the Montlake Cut (with University beyond) at the north, the Arboretum (with Broadmoor beyond) to the east, Interlaken (with Capitol Hill beyond) south and south west, and Portage Bay and "Five Corners" (Roanoke beyond) to the west.
Given its strategic location it is not surprising that there was an Indian settlement here. The Duwamish tribe of the Southern Lushootseed group of the South Coast Salish indians were located generally in this area. They had a portage from Lake Washington to Lake Union called Sxwacugwit, literally, "portage"in the Puget Sound Salish language. This was a critical passage from the coast into the lakes and river system all the way up to Issaquah and beyond. Just east of the mouth of the Arboretum creek, called Slalal, or "fathom" was the Duwamish village Hikw'al'al, or "Big House", the potlatch lodge of boards at Edgewater Park. Offshore, on today's Foster Island was the Indian burial ground, Stitici, where wooden coffins were placed in trees. Opposite it on the north shore of Union Bay was the campsite with the endearing name of "Dear Me", Adid. The wet flatland of today's Montlake Playground, at the south side of Portage Bay was called Spatxad.
The last Indian family to live in Montlake was Cheslahud's, the lake guide "Chodups John" or "Lake John", who had a cabin and a potato patch at the foot of Shelby St. as late as 1900. We have a photo taken about 1900 of Lake John in his huge canoe, carved from a whole red cedar log, loaded with his family and their gear. Some disdainful white campers gave Cheslahud the name Chodups, or Flea John because they had to shake the fleas out of their blankets and sit up at night by the campfire when they travelled with the Indian up the Sammamish River to Squawk Lake (Sammamish). John was remembered by Sophie Frye Bass in her mixture of English and Chinook trade words:
John was a Lake Indian. His illahee [land], which was given to him by his cloish tillicum [good friend], "Dave Denny", was on Portage Bay, Lake Union, at the foot of what is known now as Shelby Street. There he had his cabin and a small potato patch. He buried his chickamin [money] at the base of stumps. Back among the stumps he built his "sit down" house, of which he was very proud and which we would not allow any one else to use.
The descendants of the Lake Indians moved to Suquamish reservation on Puget Sound.
The Indians were here in 1853 when the future Civil War General George B. McClellan, then a Captain of the Engineers, spotted the strategic character of the location, and proposed building a canal between the lakes. This was only a year after the first white man's cabin was built on Elliott Bay by the Borens. It would be another 65 years before the great Montlake Cut was opened to ships, but the dream was always there.
In 1854 pioneer Thomas Mercer adopted McClellan's idea of uniting the lakes, and gave the names to the two bodies of water, Lake Union on the west, and Union Bay on the east. Perhaps an Indian trail ran across the isthmus, where the first road north out of Seattle was cut by loggers. In 1860 Harvey L. Pike began digging "The Ditch" from Lake Union to Union Bay by hand, using pick and shovel, but soon gave up. It would be 25 years before anyone dug enough of a gap to let some of the water from Lake Washington, which was nine feet higher than the west end, flow through to float logs and small boats. This first canal was achieved by a company headed by Judge Thomas Burke in 1885, using Chinese laborers. This became known as The Portage Canal. The Museum of History and Industry was built on the north side of the canal, so that one can see the approximate wall of the canal from the library windows in the basement, or by going to the southeast corner of the main (north) parking lot. The narrow east end of the canal is shown in a photo taken in the 1890s from the south side, looking west toward Laurelhurst and Ravenna.
To carry wagon and foot traffic over the canal a wooden bridge was built, about whose rickety character travellers complained. Seattle expanded rapidly, and by 1864 Pike had laid out a little town on the isthmus between Union Bay and Lake Union which he called Union City. This was not annexed to Seattle until 1891, but still gives this part of Montlake its official geographical designation in land records.
In 1871 Pike sold the rights to the canal to the Lake Washington Canal Company which tried to get federal support. Lacking this, they built a half mile long tramway to transport coal that had been brought up Lake Washington to the east side, and reloaded on barges on Portage Bay. This was soon abandoned, and the tracks torn up in 1878, when the coal mines found a rail outlet to the Sound via Renton. Among the promoters who tried to get the Federal government interested in a ship canal was our great-great uncle Henry Villard, who was so confident of federal takeover that he got his Northern Pacific Railroad to hire an engineer to survey the route.
Three big changes came in the first years of the 1890s: The northward relocation of the Yesler sawmill and the University, and the expansion of the city to include the Montlake area. The first development came as a result of the Seattle fire of June 1889. Yesler, whose lumber mill had burned down, moved his operation to the north side of Union Bay, and connected it with a narrow-guage railway up Ravenna. This meant that the nearby forests were probably logged off by 1890. There were still sawmills operating in the area as late as 1897. Pictures of the isthmus dated about 1900 show all but a few snags removed, and one shows a meadow with cows grazing in the north side of the Hamblin/Shelby neighborhood.
The annexation of Union City to Seattle occurred in 1891. There are few structures still standing from this era. The only certain one is at 2600 E. Helen, built about 1890, perhaps the oldest house in Montlake. Nearby at 2516 E. Helen is another, built about 1900. The second oldest house is 2445 E. Valley, built in 1895.
The second big change was when University of Washington relocated from downtown to the area just north of the isthmus in 1895, beginning in 1894 with the construction of Denny Hall.
In 1897 the successful marketing of the pneumatic bicycle tire, replacing the bumpy hard rubber ones, caused a great fad in bicycle riding in Seattle. Miles of trails were laid out, including a circum-city loop that came up the west side of Lake Washington, turning east through Montlake, along the line of Interlaken Parkway. As a resting point nearby Cottrell's map shows a "proposed lunch station" . This was built soon afterward, at 2000 18th St., probably in the great loop of Interlaken Blvd. below the Louisa Boren Park. A photo taken about 1910 shows "Good Roads Lunchroom" under a gable roof with an adjoining rustic open porch, two stories high. A sign on the store reads "Ham & Eggs 20 cents", an attraction to early morning cyclists. The Good Roads Club, originally the Queen City Bike Club, founded in 1896, sponsored the spa, serving sandwiches, coffee, and soft-drinks. On a huge granite boulder on the south side of this bend the Pioneer Association placed in 1915 a plaque in memory of the city's founder, Louisa Boren, to whom the park of 6.8 acres was dedicated in 1913.
Finally, in 1898, the Federal Government took over the old Portage Canal route, and still retains the rights, roughly along route 520, including the Fisheries Building.
Advance plans to celebrate the Gold Rush in 1907 were to cause the greatest transformation of this area. The actual Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition did not take place until 1909, on the University campus, but the site was chosen by 1904 at least. This coincided with the city's approval of the greenbelt plans of the famous landscape firm Olmsted Brothers in 1904. This included two boulevards from the city, a "Valley Drive" from Madison St., and an approach parkway across the isthmus. Work on the Valley Drive began in 1904, with the Olmsteds complaining about the lack of a plan for the surrounding park. But by 1906 the Park Department called the route its "most important" one, a model of what the city system of the future. It became so popular with motorists, carriages, horseback riders and walkers that they had to put a mounted policeman on patrol, replaced the next year by a motorcycle.
In 1905 the city created the 60 acre Interlaken Park on the north slope of Capitol Hill, linking Roanoke Park on the west and Washington Park on the east along the original bicycle route. The name Interlaken was taken from the city in Switzerland between lakes Brienz and Thun, which this location between Lakes Washington and Lake Union reminded the developers J.E.Boyer and G.L.Seibert. Boyer himself built what is still the most attractive home in the area, where Interlaken Park overlooks Washington Park, at 1617 Boyer E. This mansion designed by R. Lambert in 1903-4 has a Prairie Style look with the horizontal lines of its broad eaves, and a rugged Romanesque Revival feeling of the great arch, and rustic stone exterior.
Boyer laid out the plan for the Interlaken neighborhood in Dec. 1905, and even got the city to pay him a handsome $18,300 for nearby 8 1/4 acres for park* Surrounding it is a cluster of six houses in classic New England Shingle Style: south of the Boyer House at 2612 Garfield, and one east at 2695 Interlaken, to the west on both west corners of 25th and Interlaken, at 2150 ( until recently Norma & Ken Nelson's house) and 2161 (Stacy and Chris Noveselick House), and next door at 2155. Nearby are other excellent architect-designed homes, the two Tudor style houses at 2139 and 2143 Interlaken, and a Mission style house at 2610 Interlaken. This fine collection of ten houses is great candidate for protection as a historic district.
Boyer's Interlaken Land Co. offered lots for $1,500 to $2,500 in 1905, and houses $2,000 to $5,000 west of 25th, and $3,000 to $10,000 to the west, perhaps reflecting the higher elevation and views on the hight to the west.
The area lower down from Interlaken soon became an obvious candidate for development. In 1908 the estate of Alfred Adler laid out what it called the Montlake Park Addition, evoking the images of the Cascade Range viewed across Lake Washington. The estate's agents James M. Corner and Calvin H. Hagen called the main street Montlake Boulevard, and gave it a central green strip. They also donated a couple of acres of park at each side of the isthmus, facing Portage Bay and Union Bay.
Development of the Montlake area began at once, filling it with the characteristic Craftsman bungalows, and later, Builders Tudor cottages. Among these standard plan houses is some notable architecture. At 1824 and 1854 25th are a couple of nice bungalows built in 1910, the former a double gabled stone faced bungalow. Along the nose of the ridge above the Montlake School on 23d is a cluster of unusual houses that could form a historic district. It includes the Prairie Style Hews House designed in 1915 by student of Frank Lloyd Wright, Andrew Willatsen at 2021 E. Lynn, and Mission style house next to it.
There are other clusters of nicely designed houses facing the water on the Montlake Parks, like the Renaissance Revival mansion designed by Bebb & Gould for the family of the builder of the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, Daniel J. Houlihan (1915) at 2159 Shelby. Next to it, a fine Shingle Style mansion of the Warme family belongs to "Lost Seattle", a victim of parking space for the Museum of History and Industry when the 520 highway was built.
The Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition on the University campus in 1909 had been the great magnet for new development of Montlake. Few of the fair's buildings remain today, only Fine Arts, Cunningham, Parrington and Denny, but the grand axis of the campus, oriented toward Mt. Rainier, still guides us today, preserved by the design of Seattle's most prominent architect, Carl F. Gould (1873-1939), who had laid out the University campus in 1915, and designed its lovely Neo-Gothic library. The longest-lasting contribution, however, was the construction in 1909 of a double tracked trolley line from Capitol Hill down 24th, up Montlake Blvd. to the fair grounds. One side of 24th had been paved a few years earlier, and in 1931 concrete paving was put between the tracks to widen surface traffic. The tracks were torn up in 1957, and the trolleys replaced with the #43 bus, still the main public transport to downtown Seattle.
Almost a reaction against the advent of the auto and the trolley, the horse lovers kept loyalty to the steed. About 1909 they raised almost $10,000 to build a raceway for "speeding" of harness buggies along today's Azalea Way. However, the fad had worn off by 1913, and the course was closed in 1919 after a bridge had rotted away. South of this, the Madison Ave. trestle had been replaced by a huge earthen viaduct, which created a natural amphitheater for sports, like baseball. But this had to compete with the dumping of garbage, which continued until 1935 when the Health Department complained about the closing of the "largest garbage fill in the city". The rest of the future park was still undeveloped in 1919, when some golf enthusiasts offered to lease it for a private golf course. The Park Board refused on the grounds that it would not be open to the public, so the proposers created the Broadmoor development around their own course, with access to the area through the public domain. Meanwhile, the former World War I naval training facilities on the north side of the canal were developed after the war into a golf course, running along the shore from Portage Bay to Union Bay.
The rapid growth of the population of Montlake may be judged from the fact that the city had to put up temporary school houses in 1914. Parents had objected to children climbing the hill through the Interlaken woods to the Stevens School. So, in 1914 the town bought the block of 22d between Calhoun and McGraw for $18,514, and hired West Coast Construction Co. to put up a one room building. This Portage School, as it was called for the canal, had Martha Betz as its first teacher, for grades One through Three. The next year there were four wooden prefabs lined up along 22d. In 1924 the present two story brick Colonial Revival building was built by the city, and the name changed from Portage to Montake School. This was designed by the city's principal school architect, MIT trained Floyd Narrimore (1879-1970). Duane Dietz, the expert on Seattle architecture, noted that Narrimore's design is unusual in departing from the normal heirarchical plan of school buildings. I'd like to think this was the architect's tribute to the democratic character of the neighborhood.
In 1910 serious work began to build a navigable canal from Lake Washington to Portage Bay, but abandoning the old Portage canal route in favor of the present one. This work finally came about when Congress appropriated 2 3/4 million dollars for locks for a county-built canal. So, in 1910 King County started building a watergate at the east end to control the water level of Lake Washington. A coffer dam was built at the west end, and the Erickson Cut excavated. In 1916 the lower dam was broken, and the height of Lake Washington dropped nine feet, exposing new land all along the shore, soggy and muddy. After the channel had been cleared and lined, a grand opening was held on the Fourth of July 1917.
The most interesting commercial traffic through the new canal was the Pacific whaling fleet of the American Whaling Co. came through the cut to its owner's winter docks at Bellevue, and returned to sea each year.
The University built the first stadium in 1920 just north of the new cut, but access was limited. To provide walkway for the spectators of the first UW game with Dartmouth in 1920, barges were tied together across the water from Montlake. A timber bridge was built in 1916 over the canal to carry auto traffic, similar to the one over the earlier Portage Canal, which was filled in. The northern bridge was replaced in 1925 by the present Gothic landmark, designed by Blaine & Associates. Another nice bridge in Montlake is the rustic arch which carries Interlaken Blvd. over 26th Av. next to the Boyer Mansion, built by the city in 1912. The previous year the park department built a lovely brick pedestrian bridge over the Valley parkway to cover a sewer aqueduct, designed by the noted architects Wilcox & Sayward.
One consequence of the lowering of the level of the lake was to enlarge and connect the old Indian burial ground on Foster Island to the mainland. But much of the spoil from the canal, and the approach channel had been dumped around the island's edges, and onto the marsh. The city bought some of the land from the Foster family, and the island itself from a developer in 1917 for $15,000. The Seattle Gun Club started a trap shooting area there in 1920 until the state intervened, forbidding shooting within a mile of the lake.
The first commercial development in the area appeared after the first World War. The Interlaken development had excluded all commercial buildings, but Montlake did not, and soon a series of retail establishments were built along 25th, beginning on the very border of Interlaken, at the very back of the Nelsons' lovely Shingle style house at 2150 Interlaken. At the southwest corner of Boyer and 25th was a row four one-story shops. These were torn down by 1938 and replaced by one of the four gas stations, this one Standard Oil of California. It was not until 1971 that this was finally torn down and dedicated as open space known as "The Boyer Pocket Park", in 1976.
The principal commercial area was established in its present location, on both sides of 24th St. between Lynn and McGraw. This included an attractive movie theater, a branch library as well as retail stores and doctors' offices. A secondary area was developed just south of the old Portage canal bridge at the junction of Montlake Way and Blvd., Roanoke and 23d Steets.
The park facing west onto Portage Bay became the home of the Seattle Yacht Club. The Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition had plans for a casino on the southwest shore of the isthmus where the old canal emptied into Portage Bay. This site was acquired by the Seattle Yacht Club in 1919. The anniversary of the formal dedication of the clubhouse on May Day of 1920 has become the traditional "Opening Day" of the sailing season. Gradually the shoreline was filled, and thirteen poplars planted in the West Montlake Park, while the Yacht Club extended moorings out into Portage Bay.
An amusing picture of life of a boy growing up in this middle class suburb in the twenties is presented by Bellman's new book.
Montlake filled quickly in the twenties with single family residential homes. The styles are remarkably uniform, but individually distinctive. The American version of the Indian bungalow is common, with all of its Craftsman variations. Second most popular is the brick clad Builders Tudor style. Colonial Revival is also popular.
The side streets of Montlake appear to have been paved in 1926. In the interwar period the vacant lots filled up with more Craftsman bungalows, but the dominant style for residences was the Builder's Tudor style, with its steep gables, rough brick and timber cladding. Increasingly the national Colonial Revival style was taken up, particularly in the somewhat larger houses like the George Kay House. But there were some unusual exceptions to these three major influences. In 1922 a little known architect H. Blogg designed a "Welsh Cottage" style house at 2008 26th street for the M. Samuels family. The growth of the medical school led to construction of some big medical fraternity houses, like the Phi Chi House at the prime view location at the corner of the West Montlake Park and the new canal, at 1800 E. Shelby. The Great Depression did not end building at once, and some fine houses were built about 1930, like the Gunby House on the bluff at 118 Roanoke, in a Northwest wood style done by J. T. Jacobsen, the muralist of the Suzzallo Library. The waterfront was the usual site of the more pretentious houses, as along Lake Washington Blvd., where there are several turreted Tudor houses and California Mediterranean homes of this era.
The Great Depression put an end to most new building for the whole decade, lasting through World War II, from 1935 until 1945. However, the U.S. government was responsible funding for three major changes in Montlake: the Arboretum, the Fisheries Building and the Montlake Playground.
Montlake's great park is the University Arboretum, which shelters the west side of the neighborhood. Forestry Professor Edmund S. Meany had tried to establish an arboretum on the new campus in 1894, but the Exposition had cut into the plans, as had the development of the campus itself. Finally, after World War I a place was allocated on the north shore of the old Portage Canal. All that remains of this are two ancient cherry trees and a few conifers in a hidden strip of park south of the alley behind E. Hamlin St. All but two of the flowering cherries were moved to the quad of the University, where they became the springtime showpieces until they were condemned to the chainsaw because of their age in 1998. That area north of the canal was converted into a golf course, which was gradually taken over by the University medical center.
Meany's arboretum kept getting pushed farther and farther away from campus. It was not until the Great Depression that the city finally gave up its favorite dump site, and the University reluctantly accepted responsibility. In the early twenties President Henry Suzzallo had proposed "wedding" the need for a Forestry/Botany classroom with the Park Department's clearing weed trees on the northeast part of the park. This had the blessing of the Chamber of Commerce, but was resisted by Howard Parrish of the Seattle Star, who thought Ft. Lawton a better site for the arboretum. The city put some unemployed to work on clearing in 1926, but no real progress was made until the depression WPA funds came through in 1936.
The "wedding" of university and park finally took place in 1934, when an agreement for establishment of the arboretem was reached between the University and the city. The Seattle Garden Club did pay the Olmsted Bros. $3000 for a new master plan. The First Lady of America and other members of President Franklin Roosevelt's family visited the new arboretum in 1938: His daughter Anna Roosevelt Boettiger, wife of the editor of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and the President's mother Sara Delano Roosevelt. That same year 2000 firefly larvae were released in a ceremony honoring the invalid daughter of an official of the Department of Agriculture who had proposed the idea of introducing them to the Northwest.
Another federal initiative began the transformation of the old Portage Canal. In 1929 the U.S. Bureau of Commercial Fisheries built a laboratory in the unfilled canal bed east of Seattle Yacht Club. The Park Department approved Noble Hoggson's idea (1932) of an aquarium to be built in the "canyon" east of the building, on the site of the old canal locks, but this fell victim of the Depression, and never built..
A third neighborhood benefit from the government largesse was the Montlake Playground. In the late twenties the community, led by a realtor's wife, Mrs. Russell Brackett, organized a petition to establish a recreation area. This was in response to concerns of the Garfield High School principal and PTA about juvenile delinquency and crime in the neighborhood. They picked a location at the Dahlia Farm of Mrs. J. W. Wheeler east of the "Three Corners" junction of Lynn and Boyer Sts., on the south shore of Portage Bay. Despite Mrs. Wheeler's objections to being paid only 40 cents a foot, and houseboat owners who protested that they would have to move, Montlake prevailed, and City Council approved after an emotional debate. This was appealed to the Supreme Court, which said it had no jurisdiction over playgrounds. But with the start of the Depression, the city could not come up with the money, so the community taxed itself $16 to $20 apiece to pay Mrs. Wheeler and other owners. With continued pressure from Montlake the city appropriated $10,000 for materials, and got WPA funds to cover the labor. The Montake Recreation/Community Center was dedicated in 1935, including an archery range which was moved from Washington Park. It took further community protest to get the houseboats removed.
The Montlake Community Club was the permanent legacy of this fight. (date of founding?) It carries on actively today, after 65 years, with monthly meetings to which all of the local residents belong, now 1200 households. Meetings attract from six to 200 attenders, depending on the issue. It puts out a monthly newsletter, "The Montlake Flyer: A newsletter for the entire Montlake community", now in its 34th year. By the end of the thirties the commercial zone was established as we see it today, but with more varied occupants and services. We have a detailed inventory of the commercial district in 1938 thanks to a survey done by the city Assessor, now preserved in the Bellevue Community College. At the north was a Moorish style canopy supported by brick pillars on the Texaco gas station, which had an lube garage to the south, and signs offereing "E C Towing Service", "Clean Comfort Station", "Goodrich Tires" and "Car Washing". This attractive station was torn down and replaced by 1942 with a more modern International style structure topped with a fluted cylinder supporting the Associated Oil company's insignia, a two foot tall flying "A". Just south of this in 1938 was a Safeway, essentially the same brick building that is there in 1999, but with the front on 23d opening with plate-glass windows, on which specials were posted, such as, "Tomato Juice 6/25 c", in our photo. The entrance, at the right, was covered by an apron awning. After the war this became Roy's Thriftway, run by Ron and Patti Knowles, and today's SuperFoods Hop-In.
In the main commercial district in 1938, there were the following on the east side between Lynn and McGraw: On the corner was Jake's Drug Store and soda fountain; the Montlake Library; then the two story Gothic arched facade of the Montlake Theater; a cleaner's "Montlake Dye Works"; a barber shop; Van De Kamp's Dutch Bakery, Dyson Hardware featuring "Fuller's Paints"; and on the corner Piggly Wiggly Market.
On the opposite side of the street at the corner of Lynn was Montlake Market, advertising Lipton's Tea and Coca Cola; Interlaken Beauty Parlor, with a stiped barber pole; Kefauver's Grocery and Meats, with a white delivery truck out front; Montlake Lunch and Delicatessen, selling "Beer, Wine, Coca-Cola & Mixers"; the entrance to two offices upstairs, physician and surgeon Dr. Givens over the Deli, and dentist Dr. Gresham over the Price-Rite store with the slogan "It's the Price that counts"; a shoe repair shop; and on the corner the drug store. The drug store closed after the druggist shot and killed a man who tried to rob him.
That makes 17 different services, all within a block. But even this concentration was an innovation compared to businesses that used to be scattered all over older neighborhoods.
A wartime project of some local fame is the Franzke Garden. Prof. Albert and Gertrude Franzke bought the second house south of Roanoke at 2571 W. Montlake Place in 1938. The back yard dropped off steeply into the Portage Bay marshes bordering the northwest corner of the Montlake Playfield. Franzke began terracing his slope and bought the lot to the west to dig the peat for raised berry beds. He soon used the high water table to create a pond, which he stocked with trout. We have a photo of people ice skating on the pond in mid-winter, and there are enough there to make it look as if it were a community recreation. The garden was ruined by the buckling of the peat under the weight of fill placed there during construction of route 520.
The most exciting contribution of World War II to the scenery of Montlake was the almost permanent addition of a beautiful sailing ship anchored in Portage Bay. The British A. E. Guiness beer magnate brought his 257 foot four masted schooner "Fantome" down from Alaska. Fearing capture by the Germans on the outbreak of war in 1939, took it into a neutral port. It stayed just west of the northern pier at the end of Shelby St. throughout the war, until the fifties, when it was sold and sailed off to the east, where it finally sank in the Hurricane Mitch in 1998.
The Montlake Canal finally got some use for ocean-going vessels during World War II. We have photos of ships like the Mojave going under the open bridge. With overseas travel ended by the war, the yacht owners got some local entertainment going with the first annual Christmas regatta in 1942. The end of the war was celebrated with a regatta in June 1946, and an international Maritime Conference.
The most important addition to Montlake in the postwar period was the establishment of Boyer Children's Clinic. The concern for children with cerebral palsy had begun during the war by Dr. Hulatt J. Wykoff, who established the first clinic at 14th and Madison. In 1948 the Kiwanis helped buy the former First Presbyterian Church building at the northwest corner of 23d at 1850 Boyer. It opened and was dedicated to Wykoff in 1949. This was replaced in 1993 by the two story brick building with an octagonal tower designed by Ibsen Nelson, and completed by Bassetti-Norton. At the Boyer entrance is a lovely marble statue of a mother and child, done by sculptor Dr. Joe King. (Check on new birthing center?)
In 1950 the Arboretum planned an exhibition hall at the foot of Helen St., and moved the old horse barns and maintenance buildings from that site to Ward St. When the foundations were being built it was discovered that an estimated 325,000 cobble stones had been removed from Madison St. and dumped there.
The finest architectural contributions to Montlake have been made by the Seattle World's Fair architect Paul Thiry (1904-93), especially the Museum of History and Industry and St. Demetrios Church. The museum, popularly known by its initials as MOHAI, was designed in 1948-50 in Modernist style of large plate glass windows under a flat roof, on the north edge of the former Portage Canal, and completed in 1952. Five acres of land had been acquired in 1946 by the Seattle Historical Soceity from the U.S. government. It has been added to several times, and the approach taken away by the 520 Freeway. A maritime exhibit was added on the southeast corner in 1958, and natural history room 1961, and a 500 seat McEachern Theater in 1971. On the grounds are some curiosities: an ancient bonzai tree (north entrance), a World War I five inch Mark 7 naval gun (1915, northeast), and a large bell (west). A proposal to move the museum downtown, made in 1999, threatens to remove an important cultural asset of the neighborhood.
Montlake is curious in its lack of churches. One explanation by a local leader is, "Nobody goes to church". Then one quickly adds that some people go to the university church, and to others outside of Montlake, but not here. As we noted above, the Boyer Clinic first used the building of the First Presbyterian Church sunday school at 23d and Boyer. The only church ever built here is on the site of the Wheelers' Dahlia store, on the north side of Boyer. This is St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox church, built in 1964-8 to Thiry's design. Thiry has used the traditional octagonal design of early Byzantine churches, with modern concrete to create an unusual modern structure. But few of its parishioners live in Montlake.
An international architectural landmark is the Japanese Tea Room and Garden. In 1957 the Japanese Consul Yoshiharu Takeno appealed to Japanese cities to establish it here. Seattle's sister city Kobe contributed first, and Tokyo donated the design work of K. Inoshita and Juki Tida, and the Teahouse. The beautiful garden was dedicated in 1960. Destroyed by arsonists in 1973, the Teahouse was shortly replaced, and is still the glory of the Arboretum in Spring.
Some of the most innovative domestic architecture has been built in the postwar period below the Interlaken Park overlooking Portage Bay. The designer of the Space Needle, Victor Steinbrueck was the architect of a modern flat-roofed house for Alden Mason in 1952 at 2545 Boyer, now overlooking the 520 grade.
The commercial district of Montlake changed considerably after the war. Perry Kelly opened his "Big K Bar-B-Q" in the fifties on the west side of 24th, at 2505, serving French Dip sandwiches and prime rib. When this closed in 1976, it was taken over by Chiltern Bros. who moved into the tavern next door, and continued the tradition that has been operated as Grady's Pub & Eatery since Aug. 1990. In the middle of the block, at 230-11, was "Jilly's Cafe//A Tavern", with a facade of diagonal stripes, and a big neon "R" for Rainier beer in the window. North of this, at 2315, was Jay's Cleaners, started by Korean born entrepreneur Jay, who later moved across the street to establish Mont's Market next to his cleaning establishment. On the northwest corner of Lynn was once the art studio of Glen Alps, which became the Daily Grind coffee shop in 1981 when four local woman opened up a neighborhood gathering place, efficiently run by the Englishwoman named Jackson while she earned her PhD. in epidemiology. In 1998 she sold the store to Nancy, who had run the expresso stand outside of the Hop-In Market. Nancy gave this up in 1999, and the space was taken over by the neighbor to the north, Cafe Lago. On the southwest corner was Cunningham's Sporting Goods, succeeded for a short year in the seventies by FarFar's Ice Cream shop, and since then the present Montlake Bike Shop. On the southeast corner was Marty's Montlake Service Station, with a sign, "My name is Marty and love to fix flats", a property that is now the Mason Apartments. Jake's soda fountain and pharmacy at the corner of 24th and E. Lynn was actually called Royal Drug Store, owned by Fannie and Jake Harschfeld, who lived nearby on E. Miller. The Montlake Theater had closed before 1969, and in place of the hardware store an Esso gas station, was built, replaced by a Circle K convenience store, to which Jay's Cleaner moved from across the street. Piggly-Wiggly became today's Mont's Market about 1996 when Jay, the cleaner decided to open an upscale grocery..
Down the street, the Safeway store had been taken over by Jan. 1965 by Roy and Patti Knowles as "Roy's Thriftway"* The art deco flying A was replaced by today's plain red and black Texaco station. In the opposite direction, at 24th and Boren, there were two more gas stations: On the northwest corner was a fine Art Deco Shell station, sadly remodelled in the sixties, and torn down in 1985 for two modern residences.
Montlake is renowned for its ability to rally civic support, but its greatest defeat was at the hands of the interstate highway system. Route 520 is a partly finished monument to that great battle of the early 1960s. The Great Depression had shelved the grand plan for "The Empire Way", to extend along the east side of the city, through Washington Park. But this was revived in a plan for the north-south R. H. Thompson Expressway extending along the east side of Montlake. into a tunnel from Foster Island under Union Bay to Laurelhurst. This was linked with an east-west highway from Roanoke along the line of the old Portage Canal, the waterfront of the Arboretum to cross Lake Washington from Evergreen Point on a floating bridge. The hub clover-leaf interchange was located half a mile from the heart of Montlake, and the expressway would cut off the north third, and demolish several blocks of homes on the east side.
The east west portion of Route 520 was completed in 1963, but the Montlake residents succeeded in defeating the north-south plan, except for the access ramps which stand on huge concrete pillars at the foot of the Arboretum like monuments to the battle. The opposition began when the highway brokers showed up on the doorstep of a University professor of Chinese classics and offered to buy his house. This action, before the highway was ever approved so enraged the scholar that he roused the community to successful opposition* In addition to the severing of the community, other damage was extensive. The entrance to the Mohai had to be reoriented, and a landmark Warme house torn down for new parking spaces. The engineers had already demolished all of the houses west of 26th St. The takings for the highway had a detrimental effect on the property values in Montlake. When the Weitkamps first came in 1965 the area was "on the verge of becoming a slum". The state did not maintain the houses it bought, and rented them to hippies and careless tenants.
Highway construction had closed the Montlake Playground to use for equipment. and dumped so much fill on top of the twenty foot deep peat of the Portage Bay shores that the ground buckled, and ruined Prof. Franzke's garden and skating rink. By 1966 the playground was being filled with gravel from the Metro's Ravenna Sewer Tunnel, which caused annoying dust and noise of dump-trucks. It was not until a 1968 bond issue provided funds that the Montlake Playfield began to be restored. In 1975 a ballfield was laid out at the southeast corner, and an oval track surrounds a Football/Soccer field in the northeast corner, constructed for $224,000. By the following year a new Recreation Center and Gymnasium in Tudor Revival design to harmonize with the nearby houses designed by Harry Rich was built by Zylstra Construction for $347,600*. Ecological concerns have kept the borders of Portage Bay in cattails and brush as a wild life refuge.
On the other side of the community so much soil had been dug out of the east side of 26th St. that it created "The Pit", which filled with water. The residents agitated in the seventies to create a playground here, and finally it was rededicated as the Arboretum's Pinetum, a grove of conifers, and the Montlake Tot-Lot created in 1985 at the end of Lynn and 26th Streets.
The Arboretum lost many acres to the Expressway. The damage to the waterfront is still not fully remedied, where Himalayan blackberries shelter summer vagabonds, but much of the Arboretum waterfront was rescued in 1967 when the U.S. Department of the Interior provided funds for construction of the Arboretum Waterfront Trail. This connected (1971) Foster Island with a boardwalk and pontoons over Marsh Island or Bamboo Island, which had been created by dredging for the expressway, to the Canal Waterfront Trail. An underpass goes from the Fisheries Building under Route 520 to the Montlake Park. Eventually the path is supposed to go all the way to Chittendon Locks.
The appearance of the waterfront on Portage Bay was transformed in the sixties by the construction of covers over the moorings of the Yacht Club.
There are few open building spaces left in Montlake, except along the steep sides of Interlaken, where innovative engineers find ways of cantilevering new houses out over the bluff. One pioneer in the Northwest Shed style is the Stephens House built in 1970 at 2181 Boyer, designed by the Japanese art collector Gene K. Zema (b. 1926).
As Seattle grows the traffic becomes heavier, and this inevitably puts pressure on Montlake to yield space for more freeways. The community successfully stopped an attempt to widen route 520 in the mid-ninties. More recently the Community Club organized other Seattle communities to oppose the construction of a new stadium for the Seahawks. Although this looked like a good deal for the University athletic department, the residents got a sample of the future from a couple of Seahawk games in the present Huskies stadium, and declared that "they didn't want people pissing on their lawns". The deal was defeated.
On the positive side, Montlake keeps getting attractive improvements. The Arboretum has built a new visitors center. In 1983 Bill Couch was able to restore power to all 33 of the Gothic lights on the Montlake Bridge that had been out of commission since the sixties. Earlier we mentioned the new Boyer Childrens Clinic built in 1993.
It is impossible to predict the future, but one can see some important trends. Montlake Playground will continue to flood. Traffic will surely increase. The attractiveness of Montlake's closeness to the city, the university, the water and the arboretum, is sure to put great pressure on property values. Prices are already rising fast. One response is to raise the roof, as the Watts did with the Kay House in 1989. The other is to demolish, as the case of the Shell station, and the Warne Mansion. Perhaps some neglected buildings should be bulldozed. But if Montlake wants to preserve some of its assets, it will be wise to create National Register Districts, and to record the sites of particular value before the bulldozer comes again.
CITATIONS AND REFERENCES
* Junction of Boyer with Lynn. This is the infomal boundary set by the Community Club in mailing to home owners.
* Wall map exhibit "A Change of Worlds", Museum of History and Industry, 1999, compiled from research of T.T.Townsend, 1920; the w is a wh sound.
* l is pronounced hl.
* Exhibit 16 in Exhibit Guide to "A Change of Worlds".
* Museum of History & Industry photo 2228.
* Sophie Frye Bass, When Seattle Was a Village (1947), quoted in Exhibit 16.
* Don Sherwood, "History of Seattle Parks", hereinafter Sherwood, Montlake Blv. 081574.
* Sherwood, Montlake Playfield 092074.
* Sherwood, Montlake Blv.
* Photos of Portage Canal in Paul Dorpat, Seattle: Now & Then (Seattle: Tartu, 1989), #88, 89, 90, pp. 198-204 from Museum of History, and postcards.
* Univ. of Washington Special Collections, in Dorpat III, 88; Dorpat shows three other views of the canal on III:201.
* Mohai photo of Portage Canal looking west, #2 in Audrey Weitkamp slideshow 1999.
* Dorpat III, 89; I, addendum #83.
* James R. Warren, King County and Its Emerald City, Seattle (Seattle: American Historical Press, 1997), p. 109; Villard was married to William Lloyd Garrison's daughter Fannie, sister of WLG Jr.
* Jan M. Eakins, "Interlaken Neighborhood 1867-1920", Goucher College term paper , p.5, 1995 history of house at 2025 E. Newton, copy in city Landmarks file, "Interlaken".
* Mohai photo 1129.
* Landmark records, Arctic Bldg.
* Sherwood, Montlake Blvd.
* Asst. City Engineer George F. Cottrell map 1900, copy in Audrey Weitkamp's slideshow to Montlake Community Club, #7; Weitkamp also lists photo #10 of large stumps in Interlaken, which I have not seen.
* Mohai photo c. 1910 in Weitkamp slideshow # 13.
* Sherwood, Interlaken .
* Sherwood, "E. Montlake/McCurdy Pk." 073074.
* Sherwood, Montlake Blv. Centerstrip.
* Sherwood, Washington Park, 09167, p. 2.
* Sherwood, Interlaken Park, sheets 1,4.
* Date from Landmarks file; architect from "Montlake" neighborhood study c. 1975; see Historic Seattle house tour May 1999.
* Eakins, pp. 7,8.
* 1905 poster cited by Weitkamp #18.
* Sherwood, "E.Montlake/McCurdy Pk." 080174; "Montlake" #11.
* Photos of bridge in Dorpat #91, pp. 204-5.
* Engineering Dept. photos 10016, 10020.
* 10 Sept. 1957, Eng. Dept. photos 19145-7, 2.
* Sherwood, Washington Park, p. 2.
* Ibid., p. 3.
* Weitkamp # 14; photo 1914 in School Archives.
* Jeffrey K. Ochsner, Shaping Seattle's Architecture (Seattle: U. of Washington, 1994), pp. 202, 199, 327.
* Sherwood, W. Montlake Park.
* 26 Aug. 1916 photos of breaking of coffer dam in Mohai collection; Lane and Murray Morgan, Seattle: A Pictorial History (Seattle: Downing Pub. Co., 1982), p. 156; Dorpat, Seattle Now & Then (Seattle: Tartu, 2d. ed., 1984), # 83.
* Photo in Mohai collection; Dorpat #91, p. 205.
* Weitkamp, # 23.
* Dorpat #91, p. 204.
* "Montlake" Urban design elements; photo of opening June 1925 in Mohai.
* Sherwood, Interlaken p. 4; photo in "Montlake", Urban design elements.
* Photo in Ochsner, p. 142.
* Sherwood, Washington Park, p. 2.
* Ibid., p. 3.
* Seattle Engineering Dept. photo 4956, 12 April 1924.
* Seattle Eng. Dept. photo 1 Dec. 1938; Weitkamp # 53, 54.
* James R. Warren, The Centennial History of Seattle Yacht Club (Seattle: The SYC, 1992), pp. 72-83.
* Full cit.: Bellman, Montlake (1998).
* Engineering Dept. photo Jan. 1926 shows E. McGraw at 19th looking west unpaved, while Feb. 1927 photo shows Calhoun looking west from 25th paved with new sidewalks.
* "Montlake" #2.
* "Montlake" #12.
* "Montlake" #9; Ochsner p. 178.
* Sherwood, Washington Park, p. 4; map McCurdy Park "("Canal Reserve") Arboretum (U.W.)".
* Univ. of Washington Alumni Bulletin, March, 1999; the location is east of 2734 Montlake Blvd.
* Mohai photos 8951 13,326 show the course sometime in the late thirties-forties; Weitkamp # 59, 61, 63 show it persisting to the sixties.
* Sherwood, Washington Park, p. 5.
* Sherwood, W. Montlake Park.
* Sherwood, Montlake Playfield, p. 1.
* University of Washington Archives photos 4497, 4499; Weitkamp # 24-27.
* Weitkamp #28; Mohai photo Union City Parcel S Canal Reserve.
* Weitkamp #29.
* Weitkamp #30.
* Weitkamp #31-32.
* Weitkamp #45-47.
* Weitkamp #34-37.
* Seattle Sunday Times rotogravure, 26 Aug. 1945, quoted by Weitkamp.
* Mohai photos 6328, 12851 taken in the fifties.
* Warren, History of SYC, p 135, with photo p. 137.
* Seattle Engineering Dept. photos in Dorpat III #91, p. 205.
* Warren, p. 146.
* Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 21 June 1946, photo at Mohai.
* Boyer Children's Clinic, "History", rev 10/96.
* Sherwood, Washington Park p. 3.
* Ochsner, p. 248.
* Sherwood, E. Montlake/McCurdy Pk. 073074.
* Sherwood McCurdy Park map.
* Photo in Ochsner, p. 251.
* Sherwood, Washington Park, p. 5.
* Photos in Ochsner, p. 276, "Montlake" #8.
* Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 7 June 1991.
* Photo July 1968 in Weitkamp # 8.
* Weitkamp #39.
* Weitkamp #41.
* Weitkamp #40.
* Weitkamp #49.
* "The Montlake Flyer", Jan. 2000, p. 1.
* Weitkamp #51.
* Weitkamp #31.
* Engineering Dept. photo Jan. 1958, BII L13; Weitkamp # 57.
* UW photo WW 9161 is an artist's rendering of the proposed plan superimposed on Pacific Aerial photo, 1960; Weitkamp 70.
* Audrey and William Weitkamp interview 4 Jan. 2000.
* Mohai photo of Pat and John Warme House c. 1955; Weitkamp #64.
* Engineering Dept. photos of demolition 2-9 May 1962, 20996-7, 21531-9, 21554-1, 11, 7.
* Weitkamp #69; Sherwood Montlake Playfield p. 1..
* Sherwood, Montlake Playfield, p. 2.
* Plan in Sherwood, Montlake P.F. 445.
* Plan 26 Nov. 1985 in Sherwood Montlake file.
* Sherwood, W. Montlake Park.
* Ochsner 355; photo in "Montlake" #6.
* Seattle Times, 20 Jan. 1987.