It was a rather eventful meeting this month, but not in all the ways you might expect. Although at least it began as expected with the meet and greet at 5pm. One resident of the neighborhood by the name of Ron brought in this fantastic book called "Homes and Gardens of the Pacific Coast, 1913" and generously shared its contents with us. It features exterior and interior photographs of a selection of homes all around Seattle, including Capitol Hill, followed by a brief description. Take for instance the home of Seattle's one time kingpin impresario John Considine who's other claim to fame was a gun battle with Seattle's chief of police. Considine not only survived, but he was acquitted of all charges. He and his wife went on to live at 18th and Madison in 1913, just on the outskirts of Capitol Hill. You can click through the slideshow to see the book's intro and images of the Considine home. More after the slideshow...
Unfortunately, just briefly before we planned to conduct official business, someone sprayed pepper in the library and the staff had to evacuate us. We stood on the corner and brainstormed an alternate location while we waited for additional attendees to arrive. We eventually landed at the upper mezzanine of Cafe Solstice at 10th and Thomas. All told, 13 people attended. But by this point, it was nearly 7pm so we didn't quite get all the way through our agenda for the month, but here's what we managed to discuss...
Business began with our usual round of introductions. The most notable of these was one of the latest additions to our board of directors, Zach Works (third from left). Zach is a recruiter for Nintendo of America making him a good fit as our director of outreach and participation. In his personal time, he is an active member of the 54-40 Doc Maynard chapter of E Clampus Vitus, an amateur historical organization dedicated to the history of the American West. Their activities include the maintenance of the graves of Doc and Catherine Maynard and Mary Ann "Mother Damnable" Conklin at Capitol Hill's Lakeview Cemetery. We are very excited to have him on board with us.
Since joining us, Zach has already hit the ground running. He contacted the UW History department to see about whether any students might be interested in volunteering with us. They responded enthusiastically and we are looking forward to bringing some students on board in the very near future! Aside from this, Zach will be putting together small promotional flyers to hand out at outdoor festivals.
After word got around about our ambition to install plaques on our landmarks, Michael Malone, chairman and owner of Hunters Capital, reached out us to us back in April about his own ambition to put plaques on 16 Auto Row buildings in the neighborhood, 7 of which belong to Hunters Capital. Nicholas Efthimiadis who handles special projects and market research for Hunters Capital is overseeing the project. After discussing the matter with them at length, we are pleased to report that we will be collaborating with them. And It makes perfect sense too because their project is very similar to ours and has very little potential for overlap.
According to Malone, their goal is to highlight some of the architecturally interesting pre-war auto row buildings on Capitol Hill, contact the owners and engage them in a simple building identity program to include a small bronze plaque (on the right), written history of their building with original use and owner, architect, etc. They also plan to create a linked website and Auto Row Tour with the overall goal of heightening awareness and appreciation of these buildings and their history to their current owners and the public. Of the 16 buildings, only one has city landmark status and a second is on the National Register of Historic Places. That's where our projects mainly differ. We are exclusively focusing on landmarks. Otherwise, CHHS vice president Rob Ketcherside, who's leading the project, proposed that we model our plaques on the design used on the landmarks in Ballard Ave historic district. Etched steel with an historical photo followed by text.
However, in order to tie our project closer to the Hunters Capital project, the CHHS landmark team (Rob and Kristi) decided to focus first on landmarks roughly south of the Link station. This would be about 10 plaques -- about a third of the neighborhood's landmarks. The major theme here would be simply geographical.
This first set of landmarks and National Register sites would give us the opportunity to address many additional themes that were suggested at the April CHHS meeting as well. Auto row, Pike/Pine, churches, and gay history would all be represented.
We will also be opportunistic. If CHHS members have connections to ownership of specific landmarks who want to participate in the first round, please let us know. We can expand or replace to get it included.
Over the next few months Rob and Kristi will begin reviewing and collecting material for the plaque text and photo. During the summer the team will also reach out to the manufacturers of Ballard's plaques to check on current pricing, and compile ideas for funding sources.
Standards and Guidelines for Preservation & Development
The goal of this discussion was to determine what CHHS should advocate for and what the specific standards and guidelines for that advocacy should be. CHHS president Tom Heuser proposed that we should advocate for both existing and potential landmarks as well as new development that compliments them and the overall historic character of the neighborhood.
We started by discussing some existing standards for landmarks, such as minimum age requirements (25 years for the city, 50 years nationally) and the rest of the standards of the city landmarks board. Due to the late start of the meeting though, we didn't get much further than this. So instead we discussed ways in which we could set this policy outside of the meeting. These included the following:
1. Hiring someone to survey historical assets in Capitol Hill in order to determine what we should focus on.
2. Contacting SW Seattle Historical Society to ask how they went about a survey they once had conducted.
3. Writing up a complete proposal detailing potential standards and guidelines and submitting this document to the community for feedback rather than engaging the community to help write it from scratch.
Tom proposed that there eventually be two routes to becoming an official CHHS member.
1. Volunteer work, or
2. A minimum $10 payment for the year. Money would go towards food at monthly meetings and otherwise toward website costs.
Currently, potential benefits of membership may include last minute access to tickets for Seattle Architecture Foundation tours.
We will send notice when we are ready to take on members in an official capacity.