This house signifies the early social and financial success within the Japanese American community prior to its internment during World War II, as well after their return from incarceration. The Miyamoto family’s activism in business and education contributed to the strength and self-awareness of the local Japanese American community. The Miyamotos’ residency in this house was also a harbinger of the social and ethnic diversity that would eventually predominate in South Seattle. The occupation of all of this house’s former occupants also illustrates the historical and contemporary role that the Rainier Valley assumes as a transportation and commercial corridor connecting the residential neighborhoods in South Seattle to the downtown and industrial districts.
This residence is located on the northern end Beacon Hill neighborhood. It was constructed in 1918; and, the Polk Directories show that, by 1921, Kakashiro and Saki Miyamoto were the principal residents. The Miyamotos, a Japanese American family, were tenants in the house through 1934. By 1938, it was occupied by Mrs. Pauline A. Andelfinger, Charles E Andlefinger, and Franklin L Andelfinger, a clerk at the United States Customs. Mrs. Andelfinger remained at the house until 1941. Forrest W. and Helen Burke then occupied the house for one year around 1942. By 1943, Brooks F. and Irene M. Payne were the principal residents, and Brooks worked as an operator at the Crown Zellerbach Corporation. In 1948, three residents occupied the house: Michael Emill, Andgeline Tomich, and Mrs. Antonia M. Vukelic. In 1951, the property was vacant for a period; but, by 1953, it was inhabited by Illa and Clyde L Archer, Jr., an inspector at Boeing. The Clydes lived there through 1954 when Mrs. Antonia Vukelich returned to the house. The following year Mrs. Vukelich was joined by Ugo Furini, an employee of the Consulate of Italy, and his wife Augustina. Mrs. Vukelich remained in this house through 1959; and, in 1960, Walter J. and Birdie A. Johnson purchased the house. Walter worked as an electrician for the Port of Seattle, and the Johnsons lived in the house through 1969.
Kakashiro Miyamoto founded Jackson Furniture Company but died around 1929 or 1930. The Miyamoto’s son Shotaro Frank Miyamoto (b. 1912) lived at this residence as a student through 1934. He was the author of a seminal study “Social Solidarity Among the Japanese in Seattle,” published as a Masters thesis at the University of Washington, and subsequently reissued by UW Press. He became a long-time professor of sociology at the University of Washington.
Substantial residential and commercial development in Beacon Hill occurred when a transportation corridor connecting the Rainier Valley to Downtown Seattle and Seattle’s industrial district was constructed along Rainier Avenue. 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.
Beacon Hill has historically been a more economically and socially diverse neighborhood than Mount Baker to its east. There was less enforcement of residential deed restrictions and a greater availability of smaller, more affordable housing. One of the first land owners of Beacon Hill was George Riley, an African American from Portland, Oregon. George Riley, organizer of the Workingmen’s Joint Stock Association in Portland, arranged the organization’s purchase of property on Beacon Hill, which was platted in 1871 as Riley’s Addition. Furthermore, the northern end of Rainier Valley, which was originally settled by German immigrants, acquired the historical nickname “Garlic Gulch” during the early twentieth century due to the growing strength and predominance of its Italian American community.
In addition to the Italian American community in northern Rainier Valley, the Japanese American community grew and expanded southwards to Beacon Hill during the first two decades of the twentieth century as a result of relatively less restrictive immigration laws. While the 1889 Alien Land Laws excluded non-citizens from owning land, they were able to purchase property under the names of their second generation family members. While the Immigration Act of 1924 inhibited further Japanese immigration, they continued to expand their families and businesses in Seattle. However, when President Roosevelt issued his Executive Order 9066 in 1942, the Japanese Americans in the Pacific Northwest were sent to internment camps and their properties and businesses were usually confiscated. After World War II, formerly incarcerated Japanese Americans returned to Seattle, successfully rebuilding their social networks and businesses and again emerging as a significant force in Seattle.
Beacon Hill’s diverse beginnings were reinforced by its landscape features, including Jefferson Park located at the center of Beacon Hill. Originally named Beacon Hill Park, Jefferson Park has exerted a profoundly positive influence on the development and social cohesion of the Beacon Hill neighborhood through its sustained use by local residents. Originally acquired by the City of Seattle in 1898, it was integrated into Seattle’s Olmsted system of parks. In 1915, the first public golf course west of the Mississippi opened at Jefferson Park. From 1919 to 1941, the year before many Japanese Americans were interned in the Northwest, the Japanese-American Language School in Seattle used the park for its annual picnics. Japanese Golf Association held annual tournaments beginning in 1931. African Americans, Japanese Americans, and Chinese Americans organized golf clubs during the 1940s and 1950s because they were excluded from white clubs; they used Jefferson Park as their home course.
The Jefferson Park community center and golf course remains open to the public, and the Beacon Hill neighborhood continues to be an ethnically diverse, working-class community. Its businesses and public spaces, including Jefferson Park and Dr. Jose Rizal Park, reinforce this diversity.