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Summary for 700 N 50th ST N / Parcel ID 0725049001 / Inv # DPR107

Historic Name: Woodland Park Zoo Foreman's Residence Common Name:
Style: Arts & Crafts - Craftsman, Arts & Crafts - Prairie Style Neighborhood: Green Lake
Built By: Year Built: 1911
In the opinion of the survey, this property appears to meet the criteria of the National Register of Historic Places.
This one-story wood frame dwelling was constructed in 1911 to serve as the residence for the foreman or caretaker of Woodland Park. In 1899, the Parks Department acquired the 180-acre Woodland Park from the estate of Guy C. Phinney, a wealthy lumber mill owner and real estate developer. In the late 1880s, Phinney paid $10,000 for 342 acres of land along what we now call Phinney Ridge and down the slope to Green Lake and kept more than half of it for himself. He then spent $40,000 converting his land into an elegant English-style estate named Woodland Park, complete with a large domed conservatory and formal gardens, and generously opened his estate to the public as long as they obeyed his conspicuously posted rules. Since the location was considered far from the center of town, Phinney also installed a streetcar line down the hill to the town of Fremont. Phinney’s untimely death in 1893 at the age of 41 left his estate unfinished. Six years later, his widow sold the property to the city despite significant controversy over the $100,000 asking price and the distant location, and opposition by Mayor Thomas J. Humes. In 1903, the city hired the Olmsted Brothers landscape firm to prepare plans for a comprehensive park and boulevard system, including suggestions for improvements to existing parks. This move was largely brought on by the public interest generated for the planned Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition and through the purchase of Woodland Park and the acquisition of Washington Park, two large tracts of mostly undeveloped land. A general plan for the landscape development of Woodland Park was included in the initial report prepared by the firm, but a more detailed plan with 65 drawings was not completed until 1910. Within four years, the park had been almost entirely reconstructed following the detailed plans of the Olmsted Brothers, which incorporated many of the existing features. These plans included a zoological garden for the upper area of Woodland Park and athletic fields and a picnic grove for the lower eastern half. The Olmsted Brothers also sited a service area for the park in a location off of North 50th Street at Linden Avenue North. As was the case with other large parks such as Volunteer Park, a house for the park’s foreman or caretaker was constructed in 1911, and maintenance shops were built in 1917 in a service yard to the east of the Fremont Avenue North entrance. This was in the vicinity of the site recommended by the Olmsted Brothers. The modest bungalow featured Prairie Style design details. Although the buildings were sited so as to be as inconspicuous as possible, an obvious effort was made to provide architecturally attractive facilities for one of the city’s most important park. Eventually, the dwelling became an office for the Parks Department’s Maintenance Division Shop area, together with the other buildings in the service yard. This ended in the mid-1970s with the expansion of the zoo under the Forward Thrust program. Activities not related to the zoo were removed from the zoo grounds, and the Parks Maintenance Shops were converted to support services solely for the zoo. The residence now serves as the office for the zoo’s maintenance division. With its Prairie stylistic features, the residence is significant for its design and for its association with the development of Woodland Park.
Completed in 1911, this one-story single family dwelling occupies a site at the southwest corner of the large maintenance yard along the southern margin of the Woodland Park Zoo. The wood frame Bungalow has a rectangular plan main block with a small wing, which extends from the eastern end of the north elevation. Its Prairie stylistic features include a strong, blocky form with a low-pitch hip roof and overhanging boxed eaves, a symmetrical and balanced façade composition, and a design with a strong horizontal emphasis. The structure has a high brick foundation above concrete footings below the ground level. The exterior of the building has a pebbled stucco surface finish with the exception of the southeast corner of the building clad with plywood panels and the two projecting bays at either end of the principal south elevation clad with large shakes. All of these finish materials appear to be later alterations although this has not been confirmed as yet. These bays frame a recessed area across the center and contain pairs of 6/1 double hung wood windows separated by wide wood mullions. Within the recessed area, multi-paned sidelights flank the center entrance door, which opens onto a concrete porch with wide concrete stairs. This entrance configuration is set within an arbor set flush to the wall between two half-height posts with ball finials. The west elevation has a multi-paned double hung window near the southern end and an entrance door near the northern end. Multi-paned windows also wrap the northwest corner of the building, which may have contained an open porch at one time. The western half of the north elevation also has two large windows and a small window above a stairwell down to an entrance into the partial basement. The projecting wing at the eastern end of the elevation has a single multi-paned window. The east elevation contains a small window set high on the wall centered between two large 8/1 double hung windows. A tall brick chimney straddles the roof ridge near the western end of the building. Despite the apparent alterations, this distinctive building retains good physical integrity.

Detail for 700 N 50th ST N / Parcel ID 0725049001 / Inv # DPR107

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status:
Cladding(s): Other, Stucco, Plywood Foundation(s): Brick, Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Hip Roof Material(s): Asphalt/Composition
Building Type: Domestic - Single Family Plan: L-Shape
Structural System: Balloon Frame/Platform Frame No. of Stories: one
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Community Planning/Development, Conservation
Changes to Windows: Intact
Changes to Plan: Slight
Changes to Original Cladding: Moderate
Major Bibliographic References
Sherwood, Don. Seattle Parks Histories, c. 1970-1981, unpublished.
The History of the Zoo, Woodland Park Zoo Website (

Photo collection for 700 N 50th ST N / Parcel ID 0725049001 / Inv # DPR107

Photo taken Nov 27, 2000

Photo taken Nov 27, 2000
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