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Summary for 5201 Green Lake WAY / Parcel ID 0725049002 / Inv # DPR077

Historic Name: Lower Woodland Park Shelter House Common Name: Recreation Information Office
Style: Tudor Neighborhood: Green Lake
Built By: Year Built: 1929
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 1929 to serve the Lower Woodland Park athletic fields. In 1899, the Parks Department acquired the 180-acre Woodland Park from the estate of Guy C. Phinney, a wealthy lumber mill owner and real estate developer. In the late 1880s, Phinney paid $10,000 for 342 acres of land along what we now call Phinney Ridge and down the slope to Green Lake and kept more than half of it for himself. He then spent $40,000 converting his land into an elegant English-style estate named Woodland Park, complete with formal gardens, and generously opened his estate to the public as long as they obeyed his conspicuously posted rules. Since the location was considered far from the center of town, Phinney also installed a streetcar line down the hill to the town of Fremont. Phinney’s untimely death in 1893 at the age of 41 left his estate unfinished. Six years later, his widow sold the property to the city despite significant controversy over the $100,000 asking price and the distant location, and opposition by Mayor Thomas J. Humes. 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. A general plan for the landscape development of Woodland Park was included in the initial report prepared by the firm, but a more detailed plan with 65 drawings was not completed until 1910. Within four years, the park had been almost entirely reconstructed following the detailed plans of the Olmsted Brothers, which incorporated many of the existing features. These plans included a zoological garden for the upper area of Woodland Park and a picnic grove and two athletic fields for the lower eastern half with a grandstand at the south end. Guy Phinney had developed two athletic fields in his private park, one located at the upper northwest corner and the other at the lower southeast corner. At that time, nearby Green Lake was seven feet higher and 100 acres larger with a shoreline that extended south to North 54th Street. Beginning in 1911, the level of the lake was lowered and the marshy southern end was filled to create the north end of the athletic fields. By 1913, a third athletic field had been created at Woodland Park on the filled land, which was intended to replace the older field in the park’s upper level. However, it was not until 1929 that the upper field was discontinued for zoo purposes. In 1915, a second grandstand was added to the north end of the athletic fields, and in 1929, this architecturally distinctive shelter house was constructed in 1929 with dressing room, shower and locker facilities. Designed in a simplified Tudor Revival style, this shelter house was the first 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. The next great physical change came in 1932 with the construction of Aurora Avenue, a six-lane north-south highway, through the center of Woodland Park. Additional land at the south end of Green Lake was filled with material excavated from the trench through Woodland Park. Between 1936 and 1945, the Seattle School District advocated for the construction of a new civic stadium at the site of the Lower Woodland athletic fields to replace the aging facility at Civic Field in the lower Queen Anne neighborhood. Community opposition eventually forced the School District to build their new Memorial Stadium on the site of Civic Field, which became part of the Seattle Center after the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair Century 21 Exposition. For several years during the Second World War, the Army used the athletic fields as the site of temporary barracks. When a second shelter house was constructed further to the north in 1968, the older shelter house was converted for use as an athletic field scheduling office and a public information office. This shelter house is significant for its design and for its association with the development of Woodland Park.
Completed in 1929, this one-story brick shelter house occupies a site along the eastern margin of Lower Woodland Park. The Tudor Revival building has a gable on hip roof over the main block and cross gable wings near the western end, which form a cross-shaped footprint. Smaller hip roof wings extend from the outer north and south elevations of the gabled wings aligned along the west elevation. Originally, a large recreation room occupied the eastern half of the building, while the restrooms were situated at the western end with entrances in the hip roof wings. The recreation room has been converted to office space. On the north elevation, the eastern end of the main block has a center entrance between two large windows. An identical window occupies the wall at the eastern end of the projecting gabled wing. Wide cedar siding clads the exposed portion of the wide gable end above the window. The hip roof wing at the western end of the elevation has a horizontal window opening set high on the wall adjacent to the entrance to the women’s restroom. On the west elevation, the main block projects beyond the gabled wings and contains a center entrance between four small windows. A small gabled dormer above the entrance has an inset arched panel embellished with cast stone trim and decorative brickwork. The west elevation of each wing has two horizontal window openings on the upper wall below the roofline. The side elevations of the projecting main block have identical windows. On the south elevation, the hip roof wing has the same window and door configuration as on the north elevation. The eastern end of the projecting gabled wing features a wide entrance door, while the eastern end of the main block has a single large window opening at the center. Wide cedar siding clads the exposed portion of the wide gable end above the door. A large chimney embellished with a narrow arched inset panel rises at the center of the east elevation flanked by a large window at each end. Many of the original multi-paned windows have been replaced with modern sash although there are few additional alterations to the exterior. Well maintained, this architecturally distinctive building retains good physical integrity despite the alterations.

Detail for 5201 Green Lake WAY / Parcel ID 0725049002 / Inv # DPR077

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status:
Cladding(s): Brick Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Gable, Hip Roof Material(s): Asphalt/Composition
Building Type: Other Plan: Cross/Cruciform
Structural System: Unknown No. of Stories: one
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Community Planning/Development, Entertainment/Recreation
Changes to Windows: Extensive
Changes to Plan: Intact
Changes to Original Cladding: Intact
Major Bibliographic References
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 5201 Green Lake WAY / Parcel ID 0725049002 / Inv # DPR077

Photo taken Jul 11, 2000
App v2.0.1.0