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Summary for 923 NW 54th ST NW / Parcel ID 2768300695 / Inv # DPR025

Historic Name: Gilman Playfield Shelter House Common Name:
Style: Tudor Neighborhood: Crown Hill/Ballard
Built By: Year Built: 1932
In the opinion of the survey, this property appears to meet the criteria of the National Register of Historic Places.
This architecturally distinctive brick shelter house was completed in 1932, a year after the Parks Department acquired the property with funds from a Local Improvement District (L.I.D.) in 1931. After the original Donation Land Claims were filed in the early 1850s, this area was eventually divided into farm tracts known as Farmdale. In the late 1880s, Captain William Ballard formed the West Coast Improvement Company to develop 720 acres on the north shore of Salmon Bay. Platted as Gilman Park in 1888, this development, with its easy access to the waters of the bay and Puget Sound, quickly attracted settlers and industry, particularly lumbering and fishing. When the municipality was incorporated in 1890, the city council changed the name to Ballard. The same year, a rail link was established with Seattle. Ballard remained independent until 1907 when voters, concerned about an adequate water supply and problems with sewage and school funding, approved its annexation by Seattle. At that time, Ballard’s population of 10,000 made it the seventh largest city in Washington. As part of its annexation, Ballard was promised increased municipal services, including additional parks and recreational facilities. The 1908 Olmsted Supplemental Plan gave top priority for playground siting to Ballard and West Seattle, and proposed a "Market Street Playfield" to be located south of NW Market Street between 9th and 11th Avenues NW as part of the Seattle the park system. In 1903, the city had hired the Olmsted Brothers to prepare plans for a comprehensive park and boulevard system, including suggestions for improvements to existing parks. This was supplemented by an additional report in 1908 to include the large areas annexed by the city the previous year. Unfortunately, high demand but limited resources prevented the Parks Department from realizing all of the Olmsted recommendations. In 1927, the Gilman Park Community Club led a petition drive to acquire property for neighborhood playground through the L.I.D. process. The site selected was just south of the Olmsted’s proposed "Market Street Playfield." It took four years to complete the process to acquire the property, however improvements to the park began almost immediately. Within a few years, the park had been filled and graded, a drainage and water system had been installed, and athletic fields, tennis courts, a wading pool, a children’s play area, and a shelter house had been constructed. This shelter house was constructed in 1932 in the middle of the park between the athletic fields on the north and the tennis courts and the children’s play area on the south. Designed in a simplified Tudor Revival style, this shelter house was one of eight similar shelter houses constructed in Seattle parks in the late 1920s and early 1930s. These buildings housed large rooms for organized recreation activities in addition to public restroom facilities. Office space for recreation instructors was also provided. Construction of these shelter houses at the Lower Woodland, Jefferson Park, Washington Park, Lincoln Park, Maple Leaf, Ravenna Park, Brighton and Gilman Playfields followed a policy to build only structures that would be pleasing in design and permanent in nature. This building, substantially rehabilitated in 1973, is significant for its design and for its association with the development of Ballard and Gilman Playfield.
Completed in 1932, this brick shelter house occupies a midpoint site within the southern third of Gilman Playfield. The location is just south of the vacated NW 53rd Street right-of-way and north of the wading pool and children’s play area. The Tudor Revival building faces north towards the ballfields and contains a large recreation room at the center flanked by a women’s restroom at the eastern end and a men’s restroom at the western end. The side gable main block of this one-story building has side gable entrance wings at each end aligned along the rear south elevation, creating a T-shaped footprint. Originally, the three entrance doors at the center and ends of the principal north elevation flanked two sets of three vertical window openings. However, the window opening adjacent to the west of the center entrance was later filled with in-kind materials but seamlessly executed. Vertical board shutters cover four of the remaining window openings while the fifth has been covered with a plywood panel. The side walls of the main block have narrow covered window openings set high on the wall to the north of center. The entrances to the restrooms are situated on the north elevations of the smaller end wings. Modern metal gates have replaced the original wood doors. The end and rear walls of these wings each have a single narrow window opening set high on the wall and covered with plywood. On the rear south elevation of the main block, a hip roof projecting center bay has a large boarded over opening framed by wide brick piers. Shallow stairs lead up to the opening, indicating the presence of an entrance into the recreation room at one time. However, this opening originally contained multi-paned metal sash windows, which extended nearly to the ground. Long narrow window openings flank the wide center bay. Set high on the wall below the roofline, these openings have been covered with tongue and groove vertical board. A large low brick chimney straddles the peak of the gable roof at the eastern end of the recreation room where a fireplace is located. Due to the extensive window alterations, this architecturally distinctive building retains only fair physical integrity.

Detail for 923 NW 54th ST NW / Parcel ID 2768300695 / Inv # DPR025

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status:
Cladding(s): Brick Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Gable, Hip Roof Material(s): Metal - Standing Seam
Building Type: Other Plan: T-Shape
Structural System: Brick No. of Stories: one
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Community Planning/Development, Entertainment/Recreation
Changes to Windows: Extensive
Changes to Original Cladding: Intact
Changes to Plan: Intact
Major Bibliographic References
Sherwood, Don. Seattle Parks Histories, c. 1970-1981, unpublished.

Photo collection for 923 NW 54th ST NW / Parcel ID 2768300695 / Inv # DPR025

Photo taken Oct 31, 2000
App v2.0.1.0