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Summary for 3208 NW 59th ST NW / Parcel ID 1176000305 / Inv #

Historic Name: Sobey, J. House Common Name: Sobey House
Style: American Foursquare Neighborhood: Crown Hill/Ballard
Built By: Year Built: 1904
In the opinion of the survey, this property appears to meet the criteria of the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Ordinance.
The Sobey House was constructed in 1904. James Sobey (b. 1866), born in England, lived in Bermuda before he immigrated with his two sisters to the United States in 1889. The Sobeys arrived in Ballard in 1890 at the height of the post 1889 Seattle Fire boom years. He worked as a boomman, sawyer, and millman for one of the Ballard shingle mills. He survived the Panic of 1893, a deep depression that by 1894 forced the closure of half of Ballard’s ten sawmills. By 1897 the economy had improved enough so that Sobey risked starting his own shingle mill. Sobey Manufacturing Company was one of 13 Ballard lumber and shingle mills operating that year, the most in any town in the state. In the summer 1897, Ballard, the “Shingle Mill Capital of the World” shipped to eastern US markets, 75 train cars full of shingles per six day week. By 1903 Ballard shingleweavers cut 680 million shingles for the year, more than doubling their output in five years. Until 1904 Sobey either lived at the mill or at nearby hotels and apartments. In August 1904, the Pacific Record announced Sobey’s two-story eight-room 32 x 36 foot residence designed by Fisher & Voorhees with “all modern improvements such as hot water heating, first class plumbing, and nearly $400 worth of leaded glass.” In early August 1904, Victor W. Voorhees established his architecture practice in Ballard under the firm name Fisher & Voohees, which the Pacific Record announced on August 13, 1904. The following week the same publication gave notice that the town of Ballard issued Sobey a building permit for a residence designed by Voorhees. The same August 20 issue of Pacific Record also listed two other residences designed by Fisher & Voorhees (D.H. Doe and Brygger houses) but Sobey’s building appears to be the earliest building permit issued for a Voorhees designed building in Seattle and environs. Victor Voorhees, born in Wisconsin about 1876, arrived in Seattle in 1904 and established his practice. The following year he married Phoebe Voorhees (b. ca 1885). Voorhees would continue practicing in Seattle for the next five decades. By 1907, Voorhees started selling house plans by mail order. The prospective developer, builder-contractor, or homeowner could purchase house plans for a ‘Modern Bungalow’ for $25.00 or send 50 cents in silver for a catalog of Voorhees designed house plans. By 1911, Voorhees issued the seventh edition of his “Western Home Builder” house plans catalog. The Sobey House is shown as house # 14A in the Western Home Builder. Voorhees was probably Seattle’s most prolific architect during the first third of the 20th century designing hundreds of buildings including residences, apartments, factories, stores, hotels, cottages, halls, and laundries. Supervised by Sobey, day workers constructed the house. By the end of the 1904 Sobey with his bride Bess (b. ca 1877) moved into their $2,500 home. To travel to downtown Seattle, the Sobeys walked about eight blocks to 24th Avenue NW to catch the streetcar. By 1910, the Sobey household included immediate family of James, Bess, their two daughters Corinne, age 3, Jeanette, age 2, and Bess’s Norwegian 73 year old mother, Carrie M. Thompson. Two servants lived in the house; 25 year old Swede Hilda Jacobson and 16 year old Mabel Larson born in Washington to Swedish parents. James Sobey continued to operate his shingle mill through the 1920s and the Sobey’s lived in the house until 1935, a period of more than 30 years. Later occupants. At the end of the 1930s depression, Ray K. and Betty M. Jones lived in the house. Ray Jones served as the regional credit manager for Sears Roebuck Department Store. During the 1940s and into the 1960s builder Isaak Johnson and wife Jakobina lived in the house. Prior to the 1907 annexation of Ballard to the City of Seattle the address was 804 Crawford Street. The 1979 Historic Resources Survey lists the house at 3206 NW 59th Street. The 1975 Historic Seattle Survey of the Ballard neighborhood listed the "Soby House" as Significant to the City. The 1979 Seattle Historic Resources Survey inventoried the house gave the following description "Architectural distinction." The Sobey House is one of architect Victor Voorhees' first three houses, if not the first house, he designed in the Seattle area. The residence appears to meet City of Seattle Landmark criteria due to the architect, age of the structure (over 100 years old), and minimal alterations. Source: Ochsner, Shaping Seattle Architecture. pp. 68, 70, 353 Pacific Record Feb 6, 1904 p 3 col 2; August 20, 1904 p. 8 col. 2
In mid August 1904 the City of Ballard issued a building permit to James Sobey for a two story 32 x 36 foot residence valued at $2,500 (Pacific Record 8/20/1904). The house was designed by Fisher & Voorhees. In 1917 the south elevation recessed porch was enclosed in glass. The same year a second floor 6 x 22 foot sleeping porch addition was built (permit # 156967). Unknown where this sleeping porch is located. Hip dormers located on west, south and east elevations. Broad roof eaves have brackets. South elevation has a first floor glass enclosed porch with large posts supporting a second story balcony. Balcony overhang has brackets. East elevation has a two story box bay window and an exterior chimney. Double hung windows have decorative leaded glass upper sashes. The house is sited on a corner lot.

Detail for 3208 NW 59th ST NW / Parcel ID 1176000305 / Inv #

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status:
Cladding(s): Wood - Clapboard Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Pyramidal Roof Material(s): Asphalt/Composition
Building Type: Domestic - Single Family Plan: Irregular
Structural System: Balloon Frame/Platform Frame No. of Stories: two
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture
Changes to Plan: Slight
Changes to Original Cladding: Intact
Changes to Windows: Intact
Major Bibliographic References
City of Seattle DCLU Microfilm Records.
King County Property Record Card (c. 1938-1972), Washington State Archives.
Polk's Seattle Directories, 1890-1996.
Ochsner, Jeffrey Karl, ed. Shaping Seattle Architecture, A Historical Guide to the Architects. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1994.
City of Seattle. Seattle Inventory Field Form. 1979.
Voorhees, V.W. Western Home Builder. Sixth Edition. Seattle: 1907.
Sanborn Map Company. Insurance Maps of Seattle, Washington. (New York, Sanborn Map Company, 1916-1919) volumes 1, 3, 4, 5, 6.
Sanborn Map Company. Insurance Maps of Seattle, Washington. (New York, Sanborn Map Company, 1949-1950 update) 11 volumes.
Pacific Record
Historic Seattle Preservation and Development Authority. “Ballard: An Inventory of Buildings and Urban Design Resources.” Seattle: Historic Seattle, 1975.

Photo collection for 3208 NW 59th ST NW / Parcel ID 1176000305 / Inv #

Photo taken Nov 23, 2004
App v2.0.1.0