Commemorating 418 NW 65th Street

Share Your Memories – A West Woodland neighborhood history enthusiast is creating an anthology of memories commemorating 418 NW 65th Street and needs your help.

The announcement yesterday regarding the sale of 412-418 NW 65th Street saddened many in the neighborhood. In response, the blogger behind Vintage West Woodland (https://vintagewestwoodland.wordpress.com/) is creating an anthology of memories to commemorate the businesses that once called this address home.

You’re invited to submit your stories, essays, photographs, and art featuring your experiences at these businesses, including 418 Public House, Reading Gaol Pub & Grill, Hagar’s, and more.

Memories will be shared on Vintage West Woodland for neighbors to enjoy! Interested in participating in this project? Please email your stories, essays, photos, and more by July 28, 2016 to westwoodlandneighbors@gmail.com.

Thank you for supporting this project!

 

The accidental neighborhood historian

After my baby boy was born, I filled long hours with walks around my neighborhood. Not the kind that simply take you from point A to point B, but walks where I would loose myself in the trees, flowers, and architecture of the neighborhood. The questions started during a spring stroll in March 2013. Why does that home look like an old grocery store? Why is 5th Ave NW wider than the rest of the roads in the neighborhood? A digital camera became my constant companion and the photos of buildings, roads, and other neighborhood landmarks were researched during baby boy’s nap time.

It didn’t take long to realize I knew nothing about my neighborhood.  I didn’t even know I lived in Ballard. Armed only with curiosity and a laptop, I began my research. During one walk I photographed an apartment building near NW 65th Street with the words “The West Woodland Apts.” etched in stone above the front entrance.  Why would a building about a mile from West Woodland Elementary School share the same name?  A quick online search of “West Woodland” revealed a photo of the Woodland Theater. My first discovery, and another question.  Why do these locations all have “Woodland” in their name?  The hunt continued.

DSCN3332

The West Woodland Apartments at 6512 5th Ave.NW.

I shared the discoveries with my neighbors and in return they sent more locations for me to research.  Long time locals thanked me for collecting their memories and photos. A few wondered if West Woodland would be forgotten in our rapidly changing city.

I love my hobby.  The research is exciting and I enjoy giving back to the community I call home – West Woodland, Ballard.  When you’re out on your next walk, look beyond the pealing paint, the angular addition, or that overgrown hedge. It’s worth the effort to uncover Seattle history hiding in plain sight.

Connecting with Paul Dorpat & Jean Sherrard

I’ve been reading the ‘Now & Then’ column since I was in Elementary School.  Every Sunday while my sister Sandy and brother John fought over the funny pages, I would grab Pacific Magazine out of the middle of the Times and flip to the back page.  The old photos of Seattle were mesmerizing.  I knew I was holding something special, so I carefully cut each one out and saved in a photo album my Mom kindly purchased for me.

Fast forward to 2015, the photo album has long since been discarded, but I continued to read ‘Now & Then’ online. One sunny Sunday scrolling through the archives, I realized West Woodland had never been highlighted. I mustered up the courage and sent an email to Paul Dorpat, my childhood hero.  When he called me a week later, I totally gushed on the phone. Absolutely star-struck.  I collected myself after a few minutes and got down to business. “Please write a column about West Woodland!”, I said.  He agreed and the rest is now history.

ST - 03 27 2016 - Pierce

The Ghosts of Seattle Past

ghostsThe Ghosts of Seattle Past is an anthology and art installation designed to preserve memories of place – gathering spots, restaurants, shops, art venues, and community institutions lost to rapid development in Seattle.

The project started with editor/curator Jaimee Garbacik, mapmaker Josh Powell, and designer Jon Horn conducting interviews with community members, inviting the public to share places they miss.  The team also created a digital map where anyone could pin and note their memories of a lost space, you can find the map HERE.

The team will be using the map as a reference as they create hand-drawn maps featuring everywhere Seattleites miss. The art installation includes an atlas of essays, photography, and art from those who wish to commemorate a lost space.

The Ghosts of Seattle Past team is collaborating with Chin Music Press to compile and publish an anthology of the most striking and representative pieces of the art installation. The book will come out in or before 2017, but in the meantime this labor of love is ongoing.

They are hoping the public continues to share stories and art to be included in this project. Their goal is to make sure that as many different voices are represented as possible from all of Seattle’s communities.

Would you like to participate?

They’re looking for essays, people to interview, or any artwork or photography they can print to help preserve the city’s collective memories. If there is someone who you think would be a good fit for our project, they would also like for you to share their contact information.

Many of the places we love are disappearing, please help in creating something that lasts.

Contact Information:

Cali Kopczick
Editor, Chin Music Press
cali@chinmusicpress.com
(360) 531-3337

The #27 Trolley Line

Walks through the neighborhood usually turn into a history lesson for anyone with me. The old buildings all hold stories waiting to be uncovered and shared.  Clues to our neighborhood’s past are everywhere – embedded in the sidewalk, under vinyl siding, or shared in the memory of a longtime resident. When we are looking, with our eyes and ears, we find clues that provide a peek into the past.

I was one of the many volunteers photographing pre-1960 homes this past February as part of the Ballard Historical Society’s mapping project. My assigned route took me from 8th Ave NW to 14th Ave NW, where I met David Smith, owner of Blowing Sands Glass Studio.

with address 2016-02-06 14.07.54

David showed me around his building, sharing bits of history he had gathered using old property records and photos obtained from the Puget Sound Archives.  As I was leaving he showed me the old City of Ballard street name plaque embedded in the sidewalk outside his shop and our conversation turned to trolleys.

Pre-1907, 14th Ave NW was Railroad Avenue and the #27 trolley ran the length of the street, taking passengers north to East Sloop Street, today’s NW 70th Street.  There was a “T” or turn around at NW 70th Street so the trolley was able to face forward on the way back into town.  Photo of the #27 trolley below, courtesy the University of Washington.  Current view of this location can be found HERE.

Ballard trolley

Trolley lines were important in the development and expansion of early Ballard.  The northern frontier neighborhoods, including Loyal Heights & West Woodland, owe their growth to the introduction of the trolley line.  Most roads in the area were not paved until the 1930s, making travel dirty and difficult.  Trolleys made the rural north end accessible to those wanting to buy property or a home of their own.

1915 Trolley map

Note the 14th Ave NW railway Bridge that once connected Ballard and Interbay.  Courtesy Seattle Department of Transportation.

As I walked home along 14th Ave NW, I wondered what our city would be like today if the trolley rails had not been torn up and replaced by gasoline powered buses in the 1940s. The convenience of commuting from Ballard to Fremont, Queen Anne & beyond, car free, no parking problems, makes the trip sound down right delightful.

The future of 14th Ave NW includes a park that will provide much needed green space in park starved Ballard.  This two block outdoor oasis, stretching from NW 59th to NW 61st Street, will become the front yard for neighbors who live in the many condos and townhomes lacking outdoor access. Perhaps someday the park will stretch south, following the trolley line, creating a refreshing refuge for years to come.

Learn more about Seattle’s Trolley History HERE and the 14th Ave NW Park HERE.

 

 

New York Library Makes Thousands of Photos Available Online

This week the New York Public Library released thousands of its public-domain items — including maps, posters, manuscripts, sheet music, drawings, photographs, letters, ancient texts — as high-resolution downloads, available to the public without restriction.

The general public, including those of us who live in Seattle, can now access thousands of amazing high-resolution photos for free. Previously users would have to make a request and pay a processing fee.

I did a quick “public domain only” search, using Seattle as my search term, and 32 results appeared, including this amazing lithograph of early Seattle by Henry Wellge, dated 1884.

seattle 1884

This is a great resource for researchers, or a great way for the rest of us to kill an hour or two.  To access materials click HERE.

1947 Aerial of the West Woodland Neighborhood

This aerial photo of the West Woodland Neighborhood is dated April 25, 1947 and comes to us courtesy Ron Edge. Thank you so much for this amazing contribution Ron, it is a wonderful gift for the community.

What I love about this photo is the old brick West Woodland Elementary is still standing at the corner of 4th Ave NW & NW 58th Street. The Market Street spur, connecting NW 55th Street to NW 46th Street in Fremont had not yet been constructed and NW 55th Street was still a small two lane neighborhood road.

Aerial from above Ballard to Fremont - West Woodland April 25, 1947 (1)

I have saved the photo to Google Drive so that you can download a high resolution copy and examine closer to truly appreciate this amazing photo! Let me know what you find as you are searching the photo. Link to Photo HERE.  Please note, file size is 16 MB.

Thank you again Ron!

A trip to Hooverville

A little over a year ago, I had a series of phone conversations with Vern Vellat, West Woodland Elementary class of 1941.  During those calls, Vern shared stories about growing up in the West Woodland Neighborhood during the Great Depression.  One of those stories is detailed below.  

WWE class of 1941

West Woodland Elementary School, Class of 1941.  Vern can be found in the last row, second student from the right.  

The stock market crash in October 1929 helped trigger a devastating depression that dominated the Northwest for nearly a decade. The economic downturn gradually affected more and more people.  By the time President Hoover left office in 1933, 13 million people in the United States were unemployed.  Some unemployed became transients, searching for jobs and food.  In Seattle, unemployment was 11% in April 1930, rising to 26% by January 1935. 

shack 1939 seattle municiple archives

Photo of 6th Ave shacks, dated 1939, courtesy Seattle Municipal Archives, item #39279

Vern’s family lived at 508 NW 62nd Street in a modest two bedroom home.  During the Depression his sister, her husband, and her children moved in, as well as a neighbor friend who’s father had to leave Seattle in order to find work.  At any given time 12+ people might be calling this address home.  Money was tight, but Vern’s Dad slowly enhanced the home in order to relieve the population pressure.  Vern’s family was not unique in this regard, many families in the neighborhood would “double up” in order to guarantee a roof over their children’s heads during this period.

Verns Family

Photo of Vern Vellat’s Family, date unknown, outside his home at 508 NW 62nd Street.  

On a Sunday in 1933, Vern’s eyes were opened to the extent of unemployment in Seattle. His Dad drove him to ‘Hooverville’, located on the waterfront near the former location of Seattle’s Skinner & Eddy Shipyards (SODO Neighborhood).  Hooverville was littered with shanties, shacks, and shipping crates.  Any reusable building product was conscripted to help make homes for the unemployed.  Trip intent?   Hire a former fellow machinist for two days at $3.00 per diem.  This was considered a bonus rate only given to friends and family.

hooverville king county archives

Photo of Hooverville, dated 1932, courtesy King County Archives, Photo ID: 90.2.1794

Vern shared with me that there were six classmates’ families that had started their own businesses during the Depression.  Hiring was slow and business was slower. Finding a job to pay rent, buy food, and care for your family was paramount.  Several of Vern’s older friends graduated from Ballard High School and immediately signed up for Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).  The CCC provided jobs working in National Parks, road construction, and much more.  

Also, three West Woodland Neighborhood Dad’s went to work for Work Progress Administration (WPA).   The WPA work-relief program employed more than 8.5 million people, with an average salary of $41.57 a month, building bridges, roads, public buildings, public parks and airports.  The Seattle WPA was housed in the old Irving School building, located at 14th Ave NW & NW 52nd Street, near Gilman Playground.  The original school building is long gone, this location is now home to the Seattle Gymnastics Academy.  More information about this school can be found HERE.  

East side school - 14th and 52nd street

Photo of Irving School, dated 1938, Courtesy MOHAI, Image No. 24411.  

Businesses on NW 65th came together to help the neighborhood as well. They organized themselves into a group known as the ‘West Woodland Commercial Club’ and would hold monthly meetings at 416 NW 65th Street (now part of the 418 Public House). The club hosted Saturday matinees at the Woodland Theater, two movies would be shown, and during intermission the businesses would give away prizes of food, clothing and coupons for other services. Vern said that each Saturday there would be a long line of people waiting to get into the theater for this event.

Woodland Theater - 1937

Photo of the Woodland Theater, dated 1937, courtesy of the Puget Sound Archives

Stay tuned for future stories from Vern Vellat.  More information about Seattle’s Hooverville can be found HERE.