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Summary for 925 34th AVE / Parcel ID 9184700160 / Inv # DPR058

Historic Name: Madrona Playfield Shelter House Common Name:
Style: Tudor Neighborhood: Madrona
Built By: Year Built: 1939
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) constructed this architecturally distinctive shelter house in 1938-39 for the City of Seattle as one of the first permanent improvements to the park. In 1927, the city had acquired the property for the playfield with most of the funding coming from a Local Improvement District. The site was located across the street diagonally from Madrona Elementary School. The Seattle School District had completed the three-story brick building in 1917 as an addition to a wood frame school building constructed in 1904. In 1889, George and Emma Randell platted part of their homestead in this vicinity as the Randell Addition. When the School District purchased a block in the addition the following year, the existing barn on the site was converted for use as the first neighborhood public school. In 1890, a company headed by J.D. Lowman established an electric trolley line, first called the Union Trunk Line, and developed Madrona Park along the shores of Lake Washington at its terminus. At that time, streetcar lines often terminated at a popular attraction so as to encourage real estate development along the length of the line and to increase ridership outside of regular commuting hours, especially on weekends. Initiated by community petitions, the Parks Department purchase of the playfield site adjacent to the school followed a policy originally developed by the Olmsted Brothers landscape firm. In 1903, the city had hired the Olmsted Brothers to prepare plans for a comprehensive park and boulevard system, including suggestions for improvements to existing parks. This was supplemented by an additional report in 1908 to include the large areas annexed by the city the previous year. In their recommendations, the Olmsted Brothers advocated for the creation of playgrounds located near schools so teachers could direct the children’s activities. The idea of public recreation facilities in parks had only become popular late in the 19th and early in the 20th centuries, and the Olmsted Brothers were at the forefront of the movement. Implementation of this plan began almost immediately, however no new playgrounds were developed in the Madrona neighborhood despite the growth in the demand for such facilities. After the playfield site was acquired in 1927, it was cleared and graded, and drainage and water systems were installed. The Parks Department’s first modern concrete tennis courts were built here in 1930. However, the playfield remained largely undeveloped until the later 1930s when the Parks Department received the assistance of the Works Progress Administration (WPA). 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. In 1938, the WPA began construction of a brick shelter house and completed the project the following year. Beginning in the later 1920s, the Parks Department had constructed brick shelter houses at many of the city’s playgrounds and playfields. These buildings housed large rooms for organized recreation activities in addition to public restroom facilities. Office space for recreation instructors was also provided. The Parks Department continued to construct new shelter houses and larger field houses into the later 1930s due to the availability of labor and funding from state and federal relief programs, such as the WPA. The construction of any new park buildings was otherwise halted until the later 1940s when the financial difficulties of the 1930s and the shortages of labor and materials due to the Second World War had finally ended. This building is very similar in design, materials, and massing to the other WPA shelter houses built in the Seattle area at the same time. These include structures at Highland Park and Van Asselt Playfields and Victory Heights Playground. This building is significant for its design and for its associations with the Works Progress Administration and with the development of Madrona Playfield.
Completed in 1939, this brick shelter house occupies a site east of the tennis courts at the northern end of Madrona Playfield. The Tudor Revival building faces west towards the tennis courts and contains a large recreation room at the center flanked by a women’s restroom at the northern end and a men’s restroom at the southern end. The side gable main block of this one-story building has a side gable entrance wing only at the northern end. Aligned along the rear east elevation, this wing gives the rectangular plan structure a slightly L-shaped footprint. On the east and west elevations of the main block, a hip roof projecting center bay has a large opening framed by wide brick piers. These openings contain multi-paned metal sash windows, which extend nearly to the ground. Metal screens cover these openings along with all the other window openings on the building. On the principal west elevation, entrances into the recreation room flank the wide center bay. The original wood doors embellished with incised lines remain extant within recessed openings. A narrow horizontal window is situated below the roofline at the northern end of the elevation, while a large vertical window is situated at the southern end. Both openings contain the original multi-paned sash. On the rear east elevation, long narrow window openings flank the wide center bay. Set high on the wall below the roofline, these four openings also contain the original multi-paned sash. The entrance to the women’s restroom is located on the west elevation of the small northern wing. The north elevations of both the main block and the wing feature long narrow window openings set high on the wall. The entrance to the men’s restroom is located east of center on the south elevation of the main block between a large vertical window on the west and a narrow horizontal window on the east. Both restrooms retain the original doors and multi-paned windows. A large low brick chimney straddles the peak of the gable roof at the northern end of the recreation room where a fireplace is located. This architecturally distinctive building retains excellent physical integrity.

Detail for 925 34th AVE / Parcel ID 9184700160 / Inv # DPR058

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status:
Cladding(s): Brick Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Gable Roof Material(s): Metal - Standing Seam
Building Type: Other Plan: L-Shape
Structural System: Unknown No. of Stories: one
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Community Planning/Development, Entertainment/Recreation, Other
Changes to Plan: Intact
Changes to Original Cladding: Intact
Changes to Windows: Intact
Major Bibliographic References
Sherwood, Don. Seattle Parks Histories, c. 1970-1981, unpublished.
Erigero, Patricia. Seattle Public Schools Historic Building Survey Summary Report. Seattle, WA: Historic Seattle PDA, 1990.

Photo collection for 925 34th AVE / Parcel ID 9184700160 / Inv # DPR058

Photo taken Aug 23, 2000
App v2.0.1.0