At long last our efforts towards preserving this value historic landmark are finally coming to a head. For those of you who missed the nomination meeting (pictured above) the vote was strongly in favor of nomination (6 to 1). However, some concerns were raised during the meeting. One, whether the house is associated with Charles Conover in a significant way. Two, whether it retains enough of its original form to convey its significance. Three, whether it physically stands out in the area. Our answer to all three of these concerns is a resounding yes. Scroll through to learn why in our final statement to the board and to see some additional supporting material, but first, in case you wish to join us at the meeting, here's the where when:
Where: Seattle City Hall 600 4th Avenue, Floor L2, Room L2-80 Boards & Commissions
When: Wednesday, June 19, 2019
Time: Meeting starts at 3:30pm, Conover House is scheduled for 4:15pm, but the board agenda is subject to change, so plan accordingly!
Our final statement of support submitted to the board on June 17th.
Capitol Hill Historical Society stands by its prior statement in support of nominating Conover House and all supportive statements submitted separately by Rob Ketcherside, Marvin Anderson, Historic Seattle, and Joan Zegree and further supports designation on the same grounds. Having said that, I will now address some of the concerns expressed during the nomination meeting and include some additional facts thereunder.
Criteria B.) The importance of Charles Conover to the history of the city, state, and nation is well-documented, undisputed, and therefore in no need of repeating. However, some concern was expressed over whether Conover House is associated with Conover in a significant way, so I urge the board to consider the following facts.
The plat within which the house resides (Renton's addition) is the first of many tracts of land that Conover developed in Seattle.
The platting and sale of lots in Renton's Addition is also how Conover met his wife. She was listed as one of the first buyers of land under her maiden name, "Burns," The two were married in 1891.
The two of them raised their son in the house--a fact which their son recounted fondly in the Seattle Times.
Conover expressed in the Seattle Times that he experienced many "joys and sorrows" in the house. His first born son died there as an infant in 1896. His wife also died there in 1914 after a 3-year illness according to the Seattle Times. This further associates him and his family with the house and likely explains why he didn't talk much about it afterward.
The house was his primary residence up until he converted it to apartments in 1925 and sold it in 1926 as is evidenced by city directories. He was also quite selective about his tenants.
Finally, the fact that he rented the house out occasionally (much like an Airbnb) and later partitioned it into apartments simply represents his business interests as a realtor and therefore associates the house with him even more so. He was earning the maximum amount of profit he could earn on his property (i.e. his home) without demolishing it and redeveloping it.
Criteria D.) Covered extensively by Marvin Anderson, Conover House is likely the earliest example of colonial revival in Seattle. This is a huge deal. Also, despite its alterations, much of its overall form, proportion, and original details both inside and out (especially those visible from the street) remain to convey significance--especially for a house of its age. Furthermore, the largely out-of-site rear addition should not be an opposing factor as Eagleson Hall was nominated unanimously despite having an unsightly rear addition.
Criteria F.) Conover House stands out due to its smaller size, its considerable setback from the street, and older age relative to all the buildings immediately surrounding it. This in addition to its excellent condition and retention of many of its original features, are what makes it contribute to the distinctive quality and identity of the neighborhood.
Please view the attached map. It is a map of Renton's Addition and its immediate surroundings constructed from the 1893 Sanborn maps. Using the modern-day aerial maps from Google, I identified structures (outlined in yellow) that closely match the building footprints of those I saw in the current aerial map. Conover House is colored in green. Using this methodology, I was able to determine that possibly only 16 (including Conover House) of out 74 total structures standing in 1893 remain in Renton's Addition today. None are in the immediate vicinity of Conover House.