This residence is significant due to its association with H. Dolores Dasalla Sibonga and illustrates the strength and cohesion of the Filipino community during the middle of the twentieth century.
This single-family residence is located in Columbia City. The house was constructed in 1959 at an estimated cost of $12,500. It was first occupied by Martin J. and Dolores Sibonga, who lived in the house through 1969. The Sibongas were extremely active in Seattle’s Civil Rights Movement and the Filipino community. In the late 1960s or early 1970s, they purchased Filipino Forum, which is not in print. Dolores Sibonga (b. 1931) began her career in journalism; but, in 1973, she became the first Filipina lawyer in the United States. In 1979, she became the first minority woman to serve on the Seattle City Council, and she remained there for twelve years. Mrs. Sibonga remains an active figure in public affairs in Seattle.
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.
While relatively few ethnic minorities lived outside of the Central District during the early twentieth century, Japanese Americans and Italian Americans successfully developed strong communities in Beacon Hill and Rainier Valley. In addition to the Japanese and Italians, Filipino immigrants began moving to South Seattle through immigration privileges resulting from the special political relationship between the United States and the Philippines after the 1898 Spanish-American War. Filipinos tended to fall outside of immigration, housing, and work exclusion laws, such as the Chinese Exclusion Act and Executive Order 9066. Filipino migrant workers were also needed to fill a labor shortage caused by such exclusion acts. For these reasons, their communities increased in numbers, social cohesion, and economic success. This trend continued through World War II, when many Filipino men enlisted and brought back War Brides. While Filipino families lived in South Seattle prior the 1960s, it was not until the passage of the Open Housing Ordinance by the Seattle City Council in 1968 that housing covenants and severely restricted neighborhoods became legally open to non-whites. Only after passage of this ordinance did significant numbers of Asians, Filipinos, African Americans, Latinos, and others move to South Seattle. The Rainier Valley exhibits the cultural diversity that the Open Housing Ordinance facilitated.