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Summary for 5901 W Green Lake WAY W / Parcel ID 0725049002 / Inv # DPR052

Historic Name: Lower Woodland Park Comfort Station #1 (1924) Common Name:
Style: Arts & Crafts - Craftsman, Tudor Neighborhood: Green Lake
Built By: Year Built: 1924
In the opinion of the survey, this property appears to meet the criteria of the National Register of Historic Places.
In the opinion of the survey, this property appears to meet the criteria of the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Ordinance.
This architecturally distinctive building was completed in 1924 to serve as a comfort station for the adjacent Automobile Tourist Camp. In 1899, the Parks Department acquired the 180-acre Woodland Park from the estate of Guy C. Phinney, a wealthy lumber mill owner and real estate developer. In the late 1880s, Phinney paid $10,000 for 342 acres of land along what we now call Phinney Ridge and down the slope to Green Lake and kept more than half of it for himself. He then spent $40,000 converting his land into an elegant English-style estate named Woodland Park, complete with formal gardens, and generously opened his estate to the public as long as they obeyed his conspicuously posted rules. Since the location was considered far from the center of town, Phinney also installed a streetcar line down the hill to the town of Fremont. Phinney’s untimely death in 1893 at the age of 41 left his estate unfinished. Six years later, his widow sold the property to the city despite significant controversy over the $100,000 asking price and the distant location, and opposition by Mayor Thomas J. Humes. In 1903, the city hired the Olmsted Brothers landscape firm to prepare plans for a comprehensive park and boulevard system, including suggestions for improvements to existing parks. This move was largely brought on by the public interest generated for the planned Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition and through the purchase of Woodland Park and the acquisition of Washington Park, two large tracts of mostly undeveloped land. A general plan for the landscape development of Woodland Park was included in the initial report prepared by the firm, but a more detailed plan with 65 drawings was not completed until 1910. Within four years, the park had been almost entirely reconstructed following the detailed plans of the Olmsted Brothers, which incorporated many of the existing features. These plans included a zoological garden for the upper area of Woodland Park and athletic fields and a picnic grove for the lower eastern half. Over the years, additional facilities and amenities were added in various portions of the park. In 1922, the Parks Department opened an Automobile Tourist Camp on the plateau at the northern end of Woodland Park, overlooking Green Lake. By the early 1920s, automobile vacation trips had become very popular, especially with college students, who enjoyed camping out and roughing it. As demand for public camping sites increased, cities and towns, newly aware of the burgeoning tourist trade, began to provide camping facilities and to welcome visitors. Like many others, this camp offered a Community or Hostess House, where guests could relax on a wide veranda or in front of a large open fireplace. There were also stove shelters, and shower and laundry facilities as well as almost two hundred picnic tables. Various local organizations provided entertainment for the tourists, including concerts, dances, and movies. The first year, almost five thousand cars used the facility, which charged fifty cents per car per day. In 1924, this Craftsman-style comfort station was constructed at the camp with income generated from tourist fees. That year, the camp enjoyed its greatest popularity when 12,000 cars were registered. However, the demand steadily decreased in each of the following years until the Parks Department decided to close the camp in 1928. As the need for camping facilities diminished, the demand for the use of the camp area by local organizations and state groups for large picnics increased. Maintenance costs and problems as well as policing difficulties also contributed to the decision to close the facility. The Parks Department initially proposed to use the area to construct additional tennis courts or a lawn bowling green. However, the camp area was reopened in 1933 in response to the difficulties brought on by the economic depression of the early 1930s. Eventually, the camp was converted to its present-day use as a picnic area. With its distinctive Craftsman-influenced stylistic features, this building is significant for its design and for its associations with the early Automobile Tourist Camp and the development of Woodland Park.
Completed in 1924, this architecturally distinctive comfort station occupies a site at the northern end of Lower Woodland Park on a ridge above West Green Lake Way North. The one-story wood frame structure has a front gable main block flanked by side gable entrance porches, which create a cross-shaped footprint set on a concrete plinth. A small gabled porch also projects from the center of the rear north elevation. The main block has a smooth stucco exterior below the half timbering in the gable ends. Half timbering also covers the gable ends of the three entrance porches as well as the outer east and west elevations of the two main porches. Craftsman stylistic details include overhanging bracketed eaves and bargeboards with flared ends supported by heavy roof trusses. The building faces south towards a parking area and contains a women’s restroom in the southeast corner and a men’s restroom in the southwest corner. Single door entrances to the restrooms are situated within the open-air porches accessed by entrances on the northern and southern sides. The doors appear to be original but with newer hardware. Each door also has a thin metal or plywood panel covering both sides. Square posts with curved brackets frame each porch entrance and rest on small concrete plinths. A door at the center of the principal south elevation provides access to a maintenance room. Pairs of louvered window openings flank this center entrance. All are set below a wide board lining the bottom of the gable end. On the east and west elevations, the porches have two single louvered openings, while the main block has a band of six louvered openings across the northern end below the overhanging eaves. The rear north elevation has pairs of louvered openings flanking the small porch at the center. Pairs of square posts on concrete plinths frame the entrance to the porch and support the gable roof. Delicate wooden railings enclose the sides of the small porch. The building is currently painted with one color, which obscures the half-timber detailing. Despite some deteriorated wood, especially at the southeast corner and around the southern end, this building retains very good physical integrity.

Detail for 5901 W Green Lake WAY W / Parcel ID 0725049002 / Inv # DPR052

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status:
Cladding(s): Other, Stucco, Vertical - Boards Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Gable, Other Roof Material(s): Asphalt/Composition
Building Type: Other Plan: Cross/Cruciform
Structural System: Balloon Frame/Platform Frame No. of Stories: one
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Commerce, Community Planning/Development, Entertainment/Recreation
Changes to Windows: Intact
Changes to Original Cladding: Intact
Changes to Plan: Intact
Major Bibliographic References
Sherwood, Don. Seattle Parks Histories, c. 1970-1981, unpublished.
Seattle Department of Parks. Annual report/Department of Parks. Seattle, WA: 1909-1955.

Photo collection for 5901 W Green Lake WAY W / Parcel ID 0725049002 / Inv # DPR052

Photo taken Jul 11, 2000
App v2.0.1.0