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Summary for 5248 16TH AVE / Parcel ID 8823900665 / Inv # 0

Historic Name: Prudential Ins. Co./McKay Residence Common Name:
Style: American Foursquare Neighborhood: University
Built By: Year Built: 1917

Based on field work conducted in October 2014, this historic property retains its relationship to the streetscape, historic building form and a sufficient amount of exterior historic building fabric (design features, cladding and/or window sash/openings) to contribute to the distinct character of the University Park neighborhood. This is a particularly well-preserved historic property that appears to possess architectural and/or historic significance. It was built in 1917 in the American Foursquare style.  Past owners include The Prudential Insurance Company in 1935 and George F. McKay in 1941.

The American Foursquare style appeared on American streets around the turn of the twentieth century and remained popular until around 1930. It was prevalent in the University Park neighborhood during this period. This style promised affordable, utilitarian housing for middle-class families trying to gain the most from a modest lot. Simplistic and practical, American Foursquares are one of the most common housing types of this period. American Foursquare’s origins are rooted in the work of Frank Lloyd Wright who shunned asymmetrical late-Victorian pretension and pioneered a humbler, boxier, more down-to-earth alternative for domestic architecture. Pattern books and mail-order catalogue companies such as Sears, Roebuck & Co., and Aladdin Houses helped promote this new vision by offering kit homes that included American Foursquare plans. The pieces were trucked or shipped by boxcar to cities across the country, which helps explain why American Foursquares were built in neighborhoods near rail lines.

This residence was constructed during the University District’s 1915-1929 developmental era, which saw the greatest expansion of the commercial area and continued growth in the residential areas. The earlier decade, between 1900 and 1910, was the peak period of subdivision in the area. In 1906 the 20-block University Park Addition north of campus was filed. It became the most affluent and exclusive area in the district. The extension of additional streetcar lines stimulated speculation and housing development north of NE 45th Street. These included a trolley line to Ravenna Park developed by W.W. Beck, and the 1907 extension of a line along NE 45th Street from 14th Ave. NE to Meridian in Wallingford. Virtually the entire District was platted and ready for development by 1910. One distinctive feature of the University Park neighborhood is its very narrow lots. The Moore Investment Company, which platted it, apparently wanted to maximize its profits by creating small lots, most of which were under 4,500 square feet. Fairly substantial houses were still built on these relatively small lots.

The construction of the Lake Washington Ship Canal between 1911 and 1917 stimulated development in the University District. The old Latona Bridge was remodeled in 1916 before the ship canal opened and served the area until a new bridge, called the University Bridge, opened in 1919. The new bridge established 10th Avenue NE (now Roosevelt Way) as the major north-south arterial. 

During the 1920s, there was a major construction boom in Seattle and the University District also flourished. By this time the structures built for the AYP had deteriorated, and a new campus plan had been prepared by Seattle architect Carl F. Gould in 1915. Transportation improvements during this time included opening of the Montlake Bridge in 1925, a streetcar and pedestrian trestle over Cowen Park built in 1925 and a streetcar loop between Montlake, the University District, and Wallingford added in 1928.

The construction of single-family homes in the district continued through the 1920s and the area was almost entirely built out by 1930. Most of the development was concentrated in the area north of NE 50th Street and west of Roosevelt Way, in the Park Home Circle north of Ravenna Boulevard and east of 20th Avenue NE, and in the University Park Neighborhood. Craftsman bungalows and Tudor Revival-style houses were popular during this period.  By this time, University Park and become an extremely desirable neighborhood for University faculty families, a trend that continued until about 1950. 

Bibliographical References

King County Property Record Card (c. 1938-1972), Washington State Archives

McAlester, Virginia Savage. A Field Guide to American Houses. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2013.

City of Roanoke, VA, Residential Pattern Book, 2008:

Tobin, Caroline and Sarah Sodt, University District Historic Survey Report:, 2002.

This house displays the following characteristics typical of American Foursquare-style houses: cubical-shape, two-stories, square in plan and elevation; hipped roof; deep full-width porch, one story in height, with large square posts supporting a hipped roof; symmetrical window arrangement. Distinguishing features include clapboard cladding; a hip roofed side entry on the south facade; boxed eaves; double-hung wood sash windows with divided uppers and wide wood frames; and French doors leading to the covered porch. The house is situated on a terraced lot with low concrete retaining walls and a well-tended garden. 

Detail for 5248 16TH AVE / Parcel ID 8823900665 / Inv # 0

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status:
Cladding(s): Wood - Clapboard Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Hip Roof Material(s): Asphalt/Composition
Building Type: Domestic - Single Family Plan: Rectangular
Structural System: Balloon Frame/Platform Frame No. of Stories: two
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture
Changes to Windows: Intact
Changes to Plan: Intact
Changes to Original Cladding: Intact
Major Bibliographic References

Photo collection for 5248 16TH AVE / Parcel ID 8823900665 / Inv # 0

Photo taken Feb 04, 2002

Photo taken Oct 01, 2014
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