This house is significant due to its early occupancy by an African American family during the early twentieth century. At this time, most African American families lived in the Central District. John Hopkins’ residency in this house was an anomaly for the time period, particularly in the Mount Baker neighborhood, and was a harbinger of the social and ethnic diversity that would eventually predominate in Mount Baker and South Seattle.
This single-family residence is located at the southern end of Mount Baker. It was constructed in the early twentieth century. By 1910, John Hopkins, an African American laborer, occupied the house and lived there through 1913. From 1926 through 1941, Emil and Aiono Seppala owned the house. In 1943, Maurice Talcott and his family were residents; and, from 1948 through 1951, Henry Gustafson was the principal occupant. The Polk Directories show that the Talcotts returned to the house from 1955 through 1959. In 1960, the house was purchased by Mrs. Pearl H. Pople. In 1963, Wallace Murray was the principal resident; and, by 1964, the house was occupied by Lloyde Schuyler. From 1965 through 1966, James M. Holder was resident; and, from 1967 through 1969, Clyde E. Moore was the primary occupant.
The Mount Baker neighborhood comprises two north-south tending ridges located southeast of downtown Seattle along Lake Washington. Initial development of the area occurred early in the twentieth century, later than the Rainier Valley and Downtown Seattle areas. Development was initially impeded by Mount Baker’s geography during the mid-nineteenth century and was then stimulated by the construction of the Rainier Avenue Electric Street Railway along the Rainier Valley in the 1890s. The streetcar was paramount in facilitating travel to downtown Seattle.
The platting of Mount Baker occurred in three phases or additions: the York Addition in 1903 by George M. and Martha Taggart, the Dose Addition in 1906 by Charles P. Dose, and the Mount Baker Park Addition in 1907 by the Hunter Tract Improvement Company. The Mount Baker Park Addition represents the core of the neighborhood and is its primary, character-defining feature. Mount Baker Park is one of Seattle’s earliest planned subdivisions, and most residences were constructed between 1905 and 1929. They reflect a variety of eclectic and Northwest-based architectural styles and include designs by many prominent local architects. Mount Baker was established as primarily residential neighborhood for upper-income white families. The Hunter Tract development company targeted these families by adopting deed restrictions and setting minimum size and price standards for each house. The careful design of the Mount Baker Park Addition’s lots, streets, boulevards, and parks reinforced its exclusivity. However, the platting and landscape plans of George F. Cotterill and Edward O. Schwagerl were significant as they integrated the hill’s natural topography into their design. In doing so, they honored the ideals of Seattle’s Olmsted System and the local government’s city planning efforts.
Due to the same exclusion laws that affected most minorities, African Americans did not begin to have a significant presence in Mount Baker or South Seattle until the 1940s. In the 1950s and 1960s, many families began moving out of Seattle’s established black neighborhoods. However, 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 the Mount Baker substantially increased. Today, the neighborhood is home to a more ethnically diverse population than in the past. This middle- to upper-income neighborhood remains predominantly residential, and it retains much of its planned character.