Residential Ballard is generally described as extending from the 8th Avenue NW to the east and the bluff to the west, and from NW 85th Street on the north to NW 65th Street to the south. The area primarily contains single family houses, but also includes a collection of mutli-family dwellings, commercial buildings, schools, churches, and other buildings. Most of the historic buildings in Ballard are modest cottages and builder's houses, and were not architect-designed. Building styles include, but are not limited to, Victorian (primarily Queen Anne), vernacular, Craftsman, American Foursquare, Colonial Revival (including variations), Tudor Revival, Minimal Traditional, and Ranch. The historic building fabric of Ballard is threatened by a rapid pace of development.
The City of Ballard was incorporated in 1890. It was the first community to incorporate after Washington achieved statehood in 1889. Although population increased rapidly, north Ballard was still relatively rural. In 1907, primarily due to lack of adequate water for its population of 15,000, Ballard citizens voted to be annexed to Seattle to ensure a good water supply for the area.
After annexation Ballard’s street names were changed to conform to Seattle’s: Ship Street turned into 65th Street, Main Street became 15th Avenue. During the Great Depression and World War II, construction in Ballard nearly ground to a halt, with the exception of some houses built by Earl F. Mench. However, following World War II, fueled by the G.I. bill and the rise of the automobile, Ballard boomed again, and new housing followed. In recent years, the demand for new housing has spurred a tremendous amount of change in Ballard, with old, modest houses being replaced by large box houses and multi-family units. These changes threaten to alter the character and feeling of this historic neighborhood.
Ballard Historical Society Classic Home Tour guides.
Crowley, Walt. Seattle Neighborhoods: Ballard--Thumbnail History. HistoryLink File # 983, accessed 6/1/16.
King County Tax Assessor Records, 1937-2014.
McAlester, Virginia Savage.
A Field Guide to American Houses (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Alfred A Knopf Press, 2013.
Oschsner, Jeffrey Karl
Shaping Seattle Architecture: A Historical Guide to the Architects. Seattle, WA: University of
Washington Press, 1994.
Passport to Ballard: The Centennial Story. Seattle, WA: Ballard News Tribune, 1988.
It is unclear who was the original owner or builder of the house; a Seattle sewer permit records suggest that the Swedish Church was owner of record for the other early houses on the block, and possibly also owner of 2015, but this is inconclusive. The earliest documentation of ownership or occupancy is of Ethel Verna Soper renting or owning the house in 1938. Ms. Soper was a nurse who worked for Ballard Hospital; she emigrated to Seattle as a single woman via Victoria, British Columbia in 1918 and lived as a lodger at various locations in downtown Seattle and Ballard. The next occupants of record were Ludwig Arnold (born 1915) and Lois M Gerber (born 1917), husband and wife living in the house as of 1940; Ludwig employed as a helper at a plywood shop. Ludwig had come to Seattle via Colorado where he was born; living with his Swiss-born parents in south Seattle in 1930, and with his wife Lois in Ballard at 519 West 54th in 1937. Neighbors on 61st in 1940 included people from Minnesota, Nebraska, and Kansas, as well as Washington; occupations included laborer, field worker, long distance operator, dental assistant, and painter. In comparing census records from 1930 and 1940, there was a lot of change on the street—very few families were present on the street in both censuses. The Gerbers themselves left quickly, moving to 7345 Mary Avenue NW in 1943 and staying there until 1957, Ludwig working as an electrician. The Gerbers moved to Reno, Nevada in the early 1970s and Ludwig died in Sparks, Nevada in 1991. In the mid-1950s several individuals—G.W. Howard, Edward Quist, Gordon Granger, and Sigrid Johnson—are named as owners of the house, but City Directories do not indicate that any of them actually lived there.