[NOTE: Prior to the relocation of the Pioneer Houses to this location, the subject site included a two-story, wood frame commercial building that was clad with rustic siding, had a post & pier foundation and exhibited tall, narrow two-over-two window sash. This property appears to have dated from the earliest period of development along Ballard Avenue (1888-1900) and was demolished ca. July 1968.]
This set of similar small dwellings was relocated to this site in the Ballard Avenue Landmark District in 1976. Both houses were originally located on Lot 51, Block 8, Maynards Plat at the NW corner of Seventh Avenue S. and Lane Street in the neighborhood that is now known as International District. In the mid-1970s, the two old dwellings were threatened and in danger of demolition. They were donated to Historic Seattle Preservation & Development Authority and moved to the current site, within this locally protected historic district. They were adapted and rehabilitated to serve a commercial purpose. Some reconstruction of portions of the roof framing and porches did occur. Historic multi-pane double-hung windows remain in place. The exteriors (but not the interior spaces, features or finishes) are very well-preserved and protected as part of the local historic district and Historic Seattle holds a façade easement. The houses are currently undergoing a major rehabilitation project in order to adapt them for modern restaurant purposes [12-15-2015].
The two relocated houses are commonly known today as the “Pioneer Houses” and appear to be the oldest intact residential properties remaining in Seattle. They exhibit highly intact historic building fabric and exceptionally well-preserved vertical plank construction structural systems. According to historic photographs they were constructed sometime prior to 1880 and given tax records - as well as extant historic building fabric – they could date to the late 1850s. They were originally constructed as a set on a site within the geographic area where the earliest significant Euro-American settlement occurred adjacent to the mouth of the Duwamish River. Most interestingly, the original site was within the donation land claim and subsequent plat owned by one of Seattle’s most important and influential pioneers - David S. and Catharine Maynard.
The original building lots are known to have remained in the ownership of David S. Maynard and his wife Catharine until 1871. In 1871, that property was acquired by (or possibly given to) St. John’s Lodge F & AM, Seattle’s first Masonic order established in 1860. Additional research and investigation utilizing St. John’s Lodge records must be undertaken to determine whether the buildings existed prior to the change in ownership. The houses are well documented at their original tidelands location in historic images dating to the early 1880s, as well as on subsequent Sanborn insurance and Baist’s real estate maps. [Note: Their original site was at the SW corner of Ninth Avenue (now 7th Avenue) and Lane Street. One of the houses was moved a short distance to Lane Street in c.1905 and adapted for commercial/apartments uses.]
The structural/exterior walls and interior partitions are constructed with 1 to 1-1/2 inch thick vertical planks of varied widths, which are clad on the exterior face with dropped siding. The interior faces are clad with horizontal boards (which were stripped of wallpaper in 1976); however, the vertical plank structural members are clearly visible throughout the current interior spaces and within the attics. The houses both exhibit a typical small rectangular 23’ x 25’ footprint, one & ½ story side-gable roof form with a rear shed wing and include intact interior stairwells. The houses each originally included a central hall passage plan -- a typical settlement era plan type -- however some partitions were removed in order to adapt the houses as part of the relocation effort. Furthermore, Building 2 (moved from Lane Street to the rear of the current site) did exhibit visible portions of the original brick masonry chimney, which had been preserved and stabilized as part of the relocation work. Those brick masonry units suggest a potential early settlement construction date, as they are quite similar to the under-fired, very orange and soft brick that was fabricated on-site at Fort Steilacoom during its construction in 1857-58. [Note: All of the chimney masonry was recently removed as part of the current rehabilitation project.]