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Summary for 5900 Lake Washington BLVD / Parcel ID 2324049007 / Inv # DPR085

Historic Name: Seward Park Fish Hatchery Common Name:
Style: None Neighborhood: Seward Park
Built By: Year Built: 1937
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.
Workers from the Civil Works Administration (CWA), the Washington Emergency Relief Administration (WERA) and the Works Progress Administration (WPA) constructed twenty concrete fish rearing ponds between 1934 and 1937 to create a fish hatchery at Seward Park. Originally, the peninsula was known as Graham Peninsula after Walter Graham purchased it in 1863. In 1890, the real estate developer William E. Bailey purchased the land from a subsequent owner, and it became known as Bailey Peninsula. In the early 1890s, Edward O. Schwagerl, the Superintendent of Public Parks, proposed selling Volunteer Park, then known as City Park, to fund the purchase of the Bailey Peninsula for a new "Southeast Park." However, this plan was not realized partly due to the fact that the peninsula was considered to be even further out in the wilderness than Volunteer Park and fairly inaccessible. 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. The first proposal on the list of the Olmsted Brothers was a recommendation to acquire the still heavily wooded Bailey Peninsula before it was developed. At the time, the peninsula was located outside the southern city limits situated well to the north at South Hanford Street. A new boulevard on the western shore of Lake Washington could connect the proposed park with the southern boundary of the city. In 1908, the Olmsted Brothers supplemented their original plan with an additional report, which included the large areas annexed by the city the previous year, including this area of the Rainier Valley. The Baileys withheld development of the peninsula in anticipation of selling it to the city. However, condemnation proceedings became necessary after the two parties could not agree on a fair price. In 1911, the city paid $322,000 for the peninsula with funds from the 1910 bond issue and named the new park after William H. Seward, who had acquired Alaska for the United States in 1867. The city also hired the Olmsted Brothers to prepare landscape plans for the new park. Seward Park was one of 37 individual parks and playgrounds for which the Olmsted Brother prepared detailed landscape plans between 1904 and 1930. As envisioned by the Olmsted Brothers, Seward Park would be designed as a water and forest oriented park with piers for boats to dock. Four miles of drives along the bluffs above the shoreline would provide scenic views of lake and mountains, however the focus of development would be on access from the water. Twelve miles of winding paths would connect various amenities, which would be clustered at the northern end for the convenience of boaters. These included picnic groves, summer houses, a dancing pavilion, bathing beaches and bathhouses, piers, and children’s play equipment. At the time, the peninsula was almost an island with only a narrow neck of land connecting it to the mainland. The Olmsted Brothers proposed construction of a land bridge to better connect the peninsula with the new lakeshore boulevard, already under development. The first improvements were made in 1913 when a path system was established through the forest. However, the lowering of Lake Washington in 1916 due to the construction of the Ship Canal changed the focus of development from the northern to the southern end as vehicular access from the mainland improved. The drained marshes at the formerly narrow neck were also filled to create a broad meadow at the park entrance. By 1919, boaters could dock at newly built piers and enjoy picnics, hiking trails, and a children’s play area. Over the next ten years, a number of additional improvements were made, including construction of picnic and stove shelters, comfort stations, a privately operated boat pavilion, and a concession stand. These wood frame structures were constructed as temporary amenities until more permanent improvements could be built. In 1927, the Seward Park Inn, a Tudor Revival refreshment building, was constructed on the circular drive at the entrance, and the beach area at the northern end of the meadow was developed, including the completion of the first phase of a masonry bathhouse. In 1930, the Parks Department began to develop a drive along the entire shoreline of the peninsula in response to public demand. Two years later, two identical brick comfort stations were constructed along the drive at the northern and southern ends of the peninsula. However, the construction of additional improvements largely came to an end until the later 1940s with the exception of those projects completed by state and federal unemployment relief agencies, such as the Works Progress Administration (WPA). In June of 1934, a suggestion to turn Lake Washington into a "Fisherman’s Paradise" began negotiations towards the establishment of ten fish rearing ponds in Seward Park. These negotiations resulted in an agreement between the Parks Department, the Outdoor Sports Council and the Washington Emergency Relief Administration (WERA) to provide the labor and funding for the project. Once the project was completed, the State Game Department would provide salmon fingerlings from their hatcheries. The Outdoor Sports Council provided $1,900 in cash and constructed steel forms worth $750 for the ponds. The Civil Works Administration (CWA) and the Washington Emergency Relief Administration (WERA) began construction of the first ten fish rearing ponds and pump station in 1934, however the WERA completed the work in 1935 when the CWA was disbanded. The same year, the Works Progress Administration prepared plans for ten additional ponds as well as the necessary residences and support facilities. However, construction did not begin until 1936 and was not completed until 1937. Established in November 1933 to provide relief work for unemployed persons through public work projects, the CWA functioned simultaneously with the Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA) and to some extent with the same personnel. In March 1934, the CWA was liquidated, and its functions and records were transferred to the Emergency Relief Program of FERA. In 1935, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) consolidated and superseded several earlier programs, including the CWA and the FERA. The WERA was a relief agency operated by the Washington State government from 1933-37. In addition to creating work for the unemployed, WERA also provided other public welfare assistance, including aid to the aged, the homeless, and the impoverished. Eventually, the WPA completed the ten additional fish rearing ponds, two caretakers’ houses, a pump house, a garage, and a feed house over the next several years. The WPA also landscaped the area and constructed roads and paths throughout the hatchery site. Under the management of several agencies, the fish hatchery remained in operation until the mid-1990s. The twenty concrete ponds are significant for their design and for their associations with Depression-era relief agencies and with the development of Seward Park.
Completed in 1937, this facility occupies a hillside area at the midpoint of the eastern side of the Seward Park peninsula west of the perimeter road. Twenty circular concrete ponds occupy the majority of the wooded and fenced site with access provided by a series of paths and a winding road. Other structures include two single-family residences, one with a carport and the other with a detached garage, a concrete block garage with an attached pump house within a metal structure, and a building, which housed a garage, feed house and restrooms. This concrete block structure replaced the original log frame and stone masonry feed house with a small turreted corner tower. Another wood frame garage and storage building is no longer extant as well. A long frame pump house is located along the Lake Washington shoreline across the perimeter road to the east. A small rocky waterway, which runs through the lower portion of the site, served as an outlet stream for the ponds. A decorative stone bridge crosses the small waterfall at the road’s edge. The ponds are situated in a seemingly haphazard arrangement on several terraced levels. On the northern half of the site, three are grouped at the lowest level, three more are at the next level, and four are at the highest level. On the southern half of the site, seven are situated near one of the two residences, while three are located on the hillside below this dwelling. The ponds measure 41 feet in diameter with 6-inch concrete bottoms and low concrete walls, which are 2½ feet in height. The ponds are not currently in use and display various levels of deterioration and degradation, including some concrete spalling, infiltration of vegetation, and the loss of supply pipes and other accessory equipment. The residences and service buildings also show signs of deterioration and a general lack of maintenance. However, the facility overall has not been significantly altered and retains very good physical integrity.

Detail for 5900 Lake Washington BLVD / Parcel ID 2324049007 / Inv # DPR085

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Structure District Status:
Cladding(s): Concrete Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): None Roof Material(s): None
Building Type: Other Plan: Other
Structural System: Concrete - Poured No. of Stories:
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Agriculture, Community Planning/Development, Conservation, Entertainment/Recreation, Other
Changes to Plan: Intact
Changes to Original Cladding: Intact
Major Bibliographic References
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 5900 Lake Washington BLVD / Parcel ID 2324049007 / Inv # DPR085

Photo taken Nov 21, 2000
App v2.0.1.0