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Summary for 1247 15th AVE / Parcel ID 2925049087 / Inv # DPR098

Historic Name: Volunteer Park Shelter House Common Name:
Style: Arts & Crafts, Arts & Crafts - Craftsman Neighborhood: Capitol Hill
Built By: Year Built: 1910
In the opinion of the survey, this property appears to meet the criteria of the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Ordinance.
This architecturally distinctive shelter house was completed in 1910 as part of the Olmsted-designed improvements to Volunteer Park. In the early decades of Seattle’s existence, Capitol Hill was beyond the city limits, remote and inaccessible, heavily wooded and far from the center of the town of about 2000 residents. In 1876, the recently incorporated city purchased a forty-acre tract at the very top of the hill from James M. Colman, a sawmill engineer who later became a prominent real estate developer, for $2000 without specifying the purpose of the purchase. Presumably, the land had been logged of its stand of old growth forest, leaving behind bare patches between the stumps and smaller trees. This tract would later become one of the city’s preeminent parks, known initially as "Lake View Park" in 1887, then "City Park," and finally Volunteer Park in 1901, honoring those who had volunteered for the 1898 Spanish-American War. Further land acquisitions brought the size up to its present-day 48 acres. The Water Department also took an active interest in this hilltop park as a desirable location for a reservoir to provide gravity service to Seattle’s population. The reservoir was completed in 1901 as part of the initial phase of the new Cedar River Water System, which also included Lincoln Reservoir further south on Capitol Hill and Queen Anne Tanks No. 1. The same year, a streetcar line was established along the park’s eastern boundary, 15th Avenue East, and real estate developer James Moore began to plat and improve his 200-acre tract as the Capitol Hill Addition. Millionaires’ Row, then the city’s preeminent place to live, also developed along the four blocks of 14th Avenue East immediately south of the park. As the Capitol Hill residential neighborhoods developed and increased the demand for reliable water service, a metal standpipe was built in 1906 to provide additional gravity pressure. 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, with Volunteer Park first on the list. From 1904 to 1912, extensive formal improvements to the park were made, following the detailed plans of the Olmsted Brothers firm, which called for a "metropolitan appearance" due to the park’s close proximity to the downtown hotel and business district. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976, Volunteer Park is recognized as possessing the most fully realized design of all the Olmsted plans created for the Seattle parks, boulevards, and playgrounds system. This unique structure, one of the oldest in the Seattle parks system, was constructed in 1910 following the recommendations of the Olmsted Brothers. It was purposely sited adjacent to the children’s wading pool and play area so as to provide restrooms and shelter for the park’s younger users. Parents or guardians could also sit in the shelter of the loggia and still attend to their children nearby. The fine detailing and construction as well as the unusual design make it one of the more architecturally interesting buildings of its type in the Seattle park system. With its Craftsman-influenced stylistic features, this building is significant for its design and for its association with the improvement of the park under the direction of the Olmsted Brothers firm.
Located immediately east of the conservatory at the northern end of 48-acre Volunteer Park, this 1910 one-story wood frame structure overlooks a broad lawn sloping east down to the children’s wading pool and to the play area beyond. A long gabled loggia, 58 feet in length, connects the two buildings, each measuring 12 feet by 15 feet, with their simple stucco exteriors and distinctive clipped gable or jerkin head roofs. The men’s room occupies the southern end while the women’s room is in the northern. The bathroom interiors retain the original wood trim, however modern fixtures have replaced the original plumbing. Craftsman influenced details include exposed rafter tails, wide bargeboards, and restroom entrances covered by small gabled roofs with arch braces in the gable end supported by elaborate brackets. On the north and south elevations of each building, there is a small louvered window opening. There are also modern maintenance doors at the rear of the interior elevations of the end buildings. Set at intervals along both sides of the loggia, slender paired columns on concrete bases support cross braces, which, in turn, support the roof. Extending the length of the rear west elevation is a bench with a slatted seat back, supported by paired wood brackets extending from the columns. The floor of the loggia is set with patterned brick and concrete. Known in the past as the Pagoda Shelter House, this structure is in fairly good physical condition, but deterioration includes some rot, loss of paint, and graffiti. The wood shingle roof of the structure also needs replacement, as it appears to be only the second over the original roof.

Detail for 1247 15th AVE / Parcel ID 2925049087 / Inv # DPR098

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status:
Cladding(s): Stucco, Vertical - Boards Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Gable - Clipped Roof Material(s): Asphalt/Composition
Building Type: Other Plan: Other
Structural System: Balloon Frame/Platform Frame No. of Stories: one
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Community Planning/Development, Entertainment/Recreation
Changes to Original Cladding: Intact
Changes to Windows: Intact
Changes to Plan: Intact
Major Bibliographic References
City of Seattle DCLU Microfilm Records.
King County Property Record Card (c. 1938-1972), Washington State Archives.
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 1247 15th AVE / Parcel ID 2925049087 / Inv # DPR098

Photo taken Jul 14, 2000
App v2.0.1.0