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Summary for 5948 39th AVE / Parcel ID 8113100530 / Inv # DPR009

Historic Name: Brighton Playfield Shelter House Common Name:
Style: Tudor Neighborhood: MLK @ Holly Street
Built By: Year Built: 1932
In the opinion of the survey, this property appears to meet the criteria of the National Register of Historic Places.
This architecturally distinctive brick shelter house was completed in 1932 to serve the upper western half of Brighton Playfield. Until 1907, the Brighton and Hillman City areas of the Rainier Valley remained outside the Seattle City limits and just south of the independent town of Columbia. In the late 1880s, realtor J.W. Edwards had initially platted the area into five-acre garden farm parcels. However, extensive residential development did not occur until after 1900 when Clarence D. Hillman replatted the area into city-sized lots and blocks. As residential density increased, neighborhood demands for a playground and park grew. The 1908 Olmsted Supplemental Plan proposed a "Graham Avenue Playfield" in the vicinity of South Graham Street and Rainier Avenue South as part of the Seattle park system. 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. Implementation of the report began almost immediately, however initial efforts in the Rainier Valley were focused on the acquisition and development of the nearby Seward Park peninsula. After a massive petition by the Brighton and Hillman City communities in 1911, this unimproved 14-acre site was purchased in 1913 with proceeds from a 1912 voter-approved bond issue. Unfortunately, there were no funds for the development of the challenging site. Located to the northwest of the site originally selected by the Olmsteds, the stump-filled property had remained undeveloped due the presence of a large ravine with a stream running through it. It was not until the early 1930s that the community finally took action by forming a Local Improvement District to install a sewer system and develop the still vacant park property. As a result, the stream was enclosed in a trunk sewer and the ravine filled and graded. This shelter house was constructed in 1932 at the upper western side of the park near the tennis courts and the children’s play area. Designed in a simplified Tudor Revival style, this shelter house was one of eight similar shelter houses constructed in Seattle parks in the late 1920s and early 1930s. These buildings housed large rooms for organized recreation activities in addition to public restroom facilities. Office space for recreation instructors was also provided. Construction of these shelter houses at the Lower Woodland, Jefferson Park, Washington Park, Lincoln Park, Maple Leaf, Ravenna Park, Brighton and Gilman Playfields followed a policy to build only structures that would be pleasing in design and permanent in nature. This building, substantially rehabilitated in 1973, is significant for its design and for its associations with the development of the Brighton and Hillman City neighborhoods and Brighton Playfield.
Completed in 1932, this brick shelter house occupies a site along the higher western side of Brighton Playfield. The Tudor Revival building faces south towards the tennis courts and contains a large recreation room at the center flanked by a women’s restroom at the eastern end and a men’s restroom at the western end. The side gable main block of this one-story building has side gable entrance wings at each end aligned along the rear north elevation, creating a T-shaped footprint. A gable roof extends from the center of the north elevation and covers a freestanding brick addition situated some ten feet beyond the rear of the building. The principal south elevation has a gabled center entrance bay with a corbelled recessed opening. The original wood door within the opening is situated below a small metal sign that reads "OFFICE." Long narrow window openings flank the wide center bay. Set high on the wall below the roofline, these openings have been covered with tongue and groove vertical board. The side walls of the main block each have an additional covered opening to the south of center. The entrances to the restrooms are situated on the south elevations of the smaller end wings. Unlike many other similar facilities, the entrances retain the original doors within the openings. The end and rear walls of these wings have single window openings covered with plywood. The rear north elevation of the main block has a modern center entrance door flanked by long narrow window openings covered with tongue and groove vertical board. The south elevation of the freestanding addition has a single large double door opening now covered with plywood. The otherwise blank brick exterior of this addition has been painted. It appears that some portions of the original brick exterior of the shelter house have been repaired while others have been replaced with a more typical brick. These cladding alterations are more prevalent on the upper walls of the building and at the corners. Nonetheless, this architecturally distinctive building still retains good physical integrity.

Detail for 5948 39th AVE / Parcel ID 8113100530 / Inv # DPR009

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: T-Shape
Structural System: Brick No. of Stories: one
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Community Planning/Development, Entertainment/Recreation
Changes to Windows: Extensive
Changes to Original Cladding: Slight
Changes to Plan: Intact
Major Bibliographic References
Sherwood, Don. Seattle Parks Histories, c. 1970-1981, unpublished.

Photo collection for 5948 39th AVE / Parcel ID 8113100530 / Inv # DPR009

Photo taken Oct 27, 2000
App v2.0.1.0