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Summary for 4432 35th AVE / Parcel ID 1324039013 / Inv # DPR103

Historic Name: West Seattle Stadium Common Name:
Style: Modern, Other Neighborhood: West Seattle Junction
Built By: Year Built: 1938
 
Significance
In the opinion of the survey, this property appears to meet the criteria of the National Register of Historic Places.
In the opinion of the survey, this property appears to meet the criteria of the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Ordinance.
The Works Progress Administration (WPA) completed the infrastructure for the West Seattle Stadium in 1938 as part of the project to construct the adjacent West Seattle Golf Course and Recreation Area at Camp Long. The original covered wooden grandstand on the northern side of the field remains however concrete bleachers replaced the open wooden bleachers on the southern side in 1961. The city had acquired the site for the golf course in 1935 from the Puget Mill Company, which had owned the land for more than half a century. After its establishment in 1853, the Puget Mill Company had constructed four major sawmills by 1880 and had acquired over 100,000 acres of timberland in the Puget Sound area, including much of West Seattle. West Seattle first gained fame as the landing point of the Denny Party in 1851, however residential and commercial development was slow to come to the area due to its topography and geographic isolation. This problem was partially solved with the establishment of ferry service from Seattle to the east shore of Duwamish Head in 1888. A trolley car line built on trestles replaced the ferry in 1902, and connected with several streetcar lines, which eventually extended service throughout West Seattle. With improved access, West Seattle developed rapidly and was eventually annexed in 1907. However, the Puget Mill Company continued to retain ownership of this large parcel well after the surrounding areas were platted into homesites. In the summer of 1930, the West Seattle Commercial Club petitioned the City Council for a new municipal golf course in West Seattle, together with an offer of a site at 26th Avenue SW and SW Roxbury Street. Two months earlier, a second municipal golf course had opened for play beyond the northern limits of the city. Jackson Park Golf course opened on May 12, 1930 exactly fifteen years to the day after the first municipal golf course had opened at Jefferson Park on Beacon Hill. Residents of the north end had petitioned the Parks Board to develop a second facility due to the increasing popularity of the game. By the mid-1920s, there were twelve private golf courses in King County but only the one public course at Jefferson Park. The Parks Board initially rejected the idea of a third municipal course, partly due to the opposition from private golf clubs, which were beginning to experience financial difficulties due to the Depression. By 1935, all disputes had been resolved, and the City Council had appropriated $44,100 from the general fund to buy 207 acres from the Puget Mill Company. Conditions on the deed required that the city procure the assistance of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) to develop a municipal golf course. Created in 1935, the WPA consolidated and superseded several earlier programs, including the Civil Works Administration (CWA) and the Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA), both of which were established in 1933. In its first six years of existence, the WPA allocated 78% of available funds for projects involved with public works, construction and conservation of natural resources. The remaining 22% of the funds were used for a wide range of community services, including education, recreation and the arts. This was one of the largest projects completed by the WPA for the Parks Department, comprising approximately one-third of the $1.1 million allotted. In October of 1935, H. Chandler Egan of Pebble Beach, California was hired to design the course, a year before he died. The plan developed by January 1936 called for an 18-hole golf course in the level valley area and a recreation area on the wooded slope west of the fairways. This area would feature field archery, horseshoes, softball fields, tennis courts, roller hockey, a pistol range, fish ponds, a swimming pool and field house, a 3,500-seat covered grandstand on each side of a football field, a track, and a parking lot for cars. As early as 1912, there had been plans to build a stadium in West Seattle. Two businessmen, William Pigott and Frank T. Hunter, offered to acquire a site at the northern end of the peninsula and excavate it as necessary if the Parks Department would build a combination amphitheater/stadium for West Seattle. The Olmsted Brothers landscape firm had recommended the site for its magnificent views across Elliott Bay and for the second-growth timber, which enhanced its appearance. The Parks Board initially agreed to fund the project, and excavations proceeded. However, the Parks Department decided the site was not large enough for stadium purposes and did not possess the funds to purchase additional land. Mr. Pigott opposed construction of a ball field with bleachers as a less expensive alternative, and the project was abandoned. When plans developed for the West Seattle Golf Course, stadium supporters saw an opportunity to revive the project. In the interim, the Civic Ballfield, a 35,000-seat venue, had been built in the late 1920s as part of the Civic Auditorium complex on lower Queen Anne Hill. However, this was the only facility of its kind at the time. The overly ambitious golf course and recreation area scheme was well beyond the amount budgeted for golf purposes. However, WPA workers began clearing and grading land for the recreation area once they were done with the fairways. By this time, Parks Board Commissioner Archie Phelps had envisioned a different use for the wooded slope in its natural condition. He thought it would make an excellent camp for the Boy Scouts of West Seattle. Phelps stopped the development of the recreation area and enlisted the support of Superior Court Judge William G. Long in realizing this vision. In 1937, the Parks Board authorized a change in the name to the "West Seattle Golf Course and Recreation Area," and Clark Schurman, a chief guide at Mt. Rainier and Scoutmaster, was chosen to design the camp, including construction of a climbing rock. Initially, there were efforts to include the athletic field facilities as part of the development of Camp Long, however Mr. Schurman and Judge Long successfully opposed these efforts. The planned stadium was then relocated to the northwest corner of the site, where a garbage dump was located. The WPA excavated the slope along the eastern side of 35th Avenue SW in order to provide the fill needed to cover the garbage dump. Once the site was filled and graded, the football field was created within an oval running track initially covered with cinders from Harborview Hospital, and two 800-seat stands were completed. On the northern side of the field, a covered wooden grandstand was constructed with showers and locker rooms located underneath. On the southern side, open wooden bleachers were built. The West Seattle Athletic League played the first football game on the new field in 1938, but a shortage of WPA funding delayed the completion and the official dedication of the West Seattle Stadium until 1939. The golf course opened the following year in May of 1940, but the clubhouse was not completed until 1942. For two year, golfers were forced to use the facilities underneath the stadium. During the later years of the Second World War, the Armed Forces leased a two-acre site, which included the grandstands. The Army used the existing buildings and constructed a number of temporary structures as well. Over the years, the stadium was heavily used for football games, track meets and other local events. By the early 1960s, the south grandstand was badly deteriorated and in need of replacement. The architecture firm of Stoddard & Huggard designed the new concrete bleachers, which seated almost 2000. Completed in 1961, the new structure featured a rifle training range beneath the stands. For most of his career, George W. Stoddard had practiced alone, and had designed large homes, clinics, banks, and apartment houses. Stoddard also designed a number of public structures, including the 1947 Memorial Stadium, the 1950 Aqua Theater at Green Lake Park, and the 1950 south stands at the University of Washington’s Husky Stadium. In 1955, Stoddard went into practice with Francis Huggard, a partnership, which lasted into the early 1960s. Renovated in the early 1970s, the original north grandstand is striking for the simplicity of its design and the beauty of the wood. It is the only remaining wooden grandstand in the city. Both the north and south grandstands are significant for their design and for their associations with the Works Progress Administration and with the development of the West Seattle Stadium.
 
Appearance
Originally completed in 1938, this facility occupies a large site east of 35th Avenue SW between SW Avalon Way and SW Snoqualmie Street. A wide running track surrounds an athletic field at the center of the site with a covered wooden grandstand on the north side and open concrete bleachers on the south side. Completed in 1961, the concrete bleachers replaced the original wood-frame open bleachers. A large scoreboard is situated at the eastern end of the running track. Originally, a smaller stand of open bleachers lined the western end of the track but has since been removed. Completed in 1938, the wood frame grandstand faces south and has a rectangular plan, which measures 234 feet by 30 feet. Sixteen posts evenly spaced along the length of the stands support the overhanging beams and trusses of the side gable roof. A rustic horizontal wood siding covers the end walls on the east and west elevations as well as the rear wall on the north elevation. A wooden wall clad with vertical board extends along the front of the stands the full length of the principal south elevation and wraps onto the side elevations. Eight aisles separate the stands into seven sections of wooden bleacher seats with a staircase at the center, which leads to double exit doors at the rear of the building. At the bottom of the stairwell, the entrances to the women’s and men’s restrooms are located on the eastern and western walls, respectively. An internal stairwell begins at the rear of the stands and leads to a side gable dormer at the center of the southern roof slope. Locker room facilities are located under the stands and accessed by two single door entrances on the east elevation. The west elevation has an overhead metal door within a large opening at the northern end. Across the field, the open bleachers face north with a rectangular plan, measuring 188 feet by 47 feet. This reinforced concrete structure is smaller than the original wood frame building, which measured 300 feet by 20 feet. Twelve pairs of evenly spaced concrete piers support the poured concrete tiered seating area. Concrete block walls set between the piers enclose the rear south elevation as well as the east and west side elevations situated below the overhanging seating area. A concrete wall lines the rear of the seating area, while railings enclose the other three sides. Six aisles separate the stands into five sections of metal bleacher seats installed on the concrete terraces. Stairs along the east and west elevations provide access to the stands. Two staircases within the stands lead to tunnels with gated exits at the rear of the building. Restroom facilities are located under the stands at the western end of the building. The "Roger Dahl Rifle Training Range" is also located under the stands. A single entrance door to this facility is situated west of center on the south elevation. Both the architecturally distinctive north grandstand and the more utilitarian south bleachers retain excellent physical integrity.

Detail for 4432 35th AVE / Parcel ID 1324039013 / Inv # DPR103

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status:
Cladding(s): Concrete, Vertical - Boards, Wood - Drop siding Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Gable Roof Material(s): Asphalt/Composition
Building Type: Recreation and Culture - Sports Facility Plan: Rectangular
Structural System: Concrete - Poured No. of Stories: one
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Community Planning/Development, Entertainment/Recreation, Other
Integrity
Changes to Plan: Intact
Changes to Original Cladding: Intact
Major Bibliographic References
City of Seattle DCLU Microfilm Records.
King County Property Record Card (c. 1938-1972), Washington State Archives.
Sherwood, Don. Seattle Parks Histories, c. 1970-1981, unpublished.

Photo collection for 4432 35th AVE / Parcel ID 1324039013 / Inv # DPR103


Photo taken Nov 17, 2000

Photo taken Nov 17, 2000
App v2.0.1.0