This house is significant due to its early occupancy by an African American. During the first half of the twentieth century, most African American families lived in the Central District. Calvin Rhodes’ residency in this house was relatively unusual for the time period and was a harbinger of the social and ethnic diversity that would eventually predominate in Rainier Valley and South Seattle.
This single-family residence is located in North Rainier Valley and was constructed in 1910. From 1916 through 1926, Calvin Rhodes, an African American laborer, occupied the house. Interestingly, his neighbor at 1714 25th Avenue South was also African American. The house was then vacant for a period in 1938 and 1939. By 1940, Richard G. Verner, also a laborer, occupied the house. From 1940 or 1941 through 1955, Fred R. Marshall was the principal resident. There were then several years of frequent changes in occupancy. In 1956 and 1957, Anthony P. Hedlington was resident. In 1957 or 1958, Edward Wilson lived in the house. In 1958 or 1959, Mrs. Velma L. Smith lived in the house; and, by 1960, Richard Dvdscheus was the principal resident. By 1963, Beverly A. Handy was resident; and. from 1964 through 1967. Joe M. Appalza was resident. The house was then vacant from 1968 though 1969.
Substantial residential and commercial development in South Seattle and the Rainier Valley occurred when a transportation corridor connecting the Rainier Valley to downtown and Seattle’s industrial district was constructed along Rainier Avenue during the late nineteenth century. Development in the valley was facilitated by logging during the 1880s, the operation of the Rainier Valley Electric Railway in the 1890s, and the Jackson and Dearborn Street re-grades in the 1900s. Milling was the primary commercial industry during the last part of the nineteenth century although some agricultural activity existed. As residential development increased, Rainier Avenue gradually became the principal commercial corridor connecting the residential neighborhoods of South Seattle to downtown, the International District, and Seattle’s industrial districts. World War II brought additional building growth related to the wartime industry, as well as the influx of defense workers to nearby Boeing and the Duwamish shipyards.
Due to the same exclusion laws that affected most minorities, African Americans did not begin to have a significant presence in South Seattle until the 1940s. However, it was not until the 1950s and 1960s that large numbers of families were able to move out of Seattle’s established black neighborhoods. Furthermore, it was not until the passage of the Open Housing Ordinance by the Seattle City Council in 1968 that the ability of non-whites to relocate to Rainier Valley and South Seattle substantially increased. Currently, North Rainier Valley reflects the historical movement towards racial integration within Seattle’s neighborhoods as a racially and economically diverse population continues to live in its neighborhoods.