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Summary for 9300 51st AVE / Parcel ID 3426049135 / Inv # DPR062

Historic Name: Matthews Beach Park Bathhouse Common Name:
Style: Modern Neighborhood: North District
Built By: Year Built: 1957
This concrete block building was constructed in two phases between 1957 and 1961 to serve as a bathhouse for Matthews Beach Park. The Parks Department initially completed a comfort station for the park in 1957. Four years later, a large addition to the north end of the building converted it into a bathhouse. The architecture firm of Lamont & Fey designed both portions of the building. The city had acquired the property for the park in 1951 through condemnation proceedings with money from the general fund. The property roughly comprised the northern half of what had once been a small cove. By 1894, the Maple Saw Mill had been established on the northern shore of the cove, which may have been used as a holding pond for logs. When the water level of Lake Washington dropped by nine feet in 1916, land formerly under water in the cove was exposed, filling in much of the curved shoreline. In the early 1920s, John G. Matthews, a lawyer originally from Kentucky, purchased the former cove area and began to plat his land. Matthews built a home on the north end of the cove where the sawmill had once stood, and pastured his horses on a large tract of land north of NE 93rd Street. At the time, this area in northeast Seattle was located in unincorporated King County well beyond the northern limits of the city. Since the annexation of Laurelhurst in 1910, these limits had remained at NE 65th Street. Further annexations did not begin again until the early 1940s. In 1928, the Seattle City Council appropriated funds to acquire the property from Matthews for the purpose of establishing a public bathing beach. At the time, there were no public swimming beaches on Lake Washington north of Madison Park. Community clubs in the north end had previously favored a closer and more accessible site in the Laurelhurst area, which was then developing into an exclusive residential community. However, local opposition to that plan forced the City Council to choose another site. The City Council then approved acquisition of the Matthews property without consulting the community clubs, who vigorously opposed this less attractive alternative. Members of the Parks Board also opposed acquisition of the site because they felt that new property should not be acquired unless it could be properly developed and maintained. Despite the appropriation of funds by the City Council, the site was not acquired, and the matter was unresolved until 1951. By this time, the city’s population had shifted further to the north and to the northeast, pushing into the unincorporated areas. From the early 1940s to the early 1950s, the City of Seattle annexed extensive areas north and northeast of the existing city limits, including the Sand Point neighborhood in 1953. Even before the area was annexed, residents in the north end petitioned the city to establish a public beach on Lake Washington. After acquiring the Matthews property for this purpose in 1951, the Parks Department did not have the funds necessary to develop the site. For three years, the property was leased back to the original owner for continued use as a pasture. By 1954, the lease had been terminated over neighborhood objections, and the beach was open for public swimming in the summer. Inadequate funding delayed constructed of any permanent improvements until 1957 when the comfort station was built. The building’s design allowed for its conversion to a bathhouse facility when funds became available. In 1961, the bathhouse was completed. During this time, other improvements were made to the park, and over the next ten years, additional land was purchased inland and on the waterfront to enhance the park’s amenities. Architects Daniel Lamont and Lester P. Fey designed this Modern building with few embellishments or stylistic details. Lamont and Fey had formed their partnership after the Second World War but had worked together before the war in practice with Arthur Loveless. After his arrival in Seattle about 1907, Arthur Loveless briefly partnered with Clayton D. Wilson and later with Daniel R. Huntington before embarking on an independent practice after 1915. After 1930, Lester Fey, who had worked for Loveless since the early 1920s, became an associate in the practice. Daniel Lamont joined the partnership in 1940 and was largely responsible for designing the 1940-41 Colman Pool at Lincoln Park. The firm dissolved with the onset of the Second World War shortly after the completion of that project in 1941. During the war, Lamont and Fey both worked as superintendents at Todd Pacific Shipyards, Inc., but resumed the practice of architecture at the war’s conclusion. This Modern building is significant for its design and for its association with the development of Matthews Beach Park.
Completed in 1961, this concrete block bathhouse occupies a site within the southeast corner of Matthews Beach Park to the northeast of the parking lot. The one-story Modern building faces east towards a broad grassy lawn bordering Lake Washington. The original comfort station at the southern end of the building had a rectangular plan, which measured 42 feet by 20 feet. Four years after this portion was completed in 1957, the larger northern end of the building was constructed in order to finish the planned bathhouse. This flat roof structure also had a rectangular plan, which measured 86 feet by 20 feet, with two small wings near the center of the east and west elevations. The eastern wing measured 14 feet by 7 feet, while the larger western wing measured 24 feet by 9 feet. Overall, the long, low-slung building measures 128 feet by 20 feet. The exposed roof trusses of the overhanging flat roof rest on short posts set at intervals along the concrete walls lining the east and west elevations. The open areas between the posts serve as long narrow window openings, which are filled with a variety of materials, including vertical slats, brick blocks, and Plexiglas. However, these windows leave the interior of the building mostly open to the elements. Projecting brick piers within the southern halves of the east and west elevations delineate the original northern end wall of the comfort station. On the principal east elevation, the original comfort station has a pair of double metal doors at the southern end and a single wood door towards the northern end. The single door is situated within the northern half of a wide brick surround and adjacent to a brick wall within the southern half. A low brick planter fills the area between the door surround and the original northern end wall. The east elevation of the bathhouse addition has single entrance doors on either side of the projecting wing at the center, which contains the lifeguard office. The wing’s flat roof extends over and covers these entrances into separate shower and dressing rooms for men and women. The wing has overhead metal doors within window openings on all three sides as well as a dutch door entrance on the east elevation. On the rear west elevation facing the interior of the park, the projecting wing has brick end walls, which support the flat overhanging roof. This roof continues across the width of the slightly lower main block and rests on a one-foot wall lined with window openings, creating a monitor or clerestory. A long narrow opening extends the length of the wing below the roofline and above the patterned concrete block wall with a wide wood door at the southern end. Plexiglas covered by a metal grate now fills this window opening. Single door entrances to the restrooms are situated within the wide brick surround south of the comfort station’s original northern end wall. A flat roof supported on metal posts shelters the entrances. This door configuration appears to be a later alteration of the original design and reflects a probable reconfiguration of the interior of the building. The north and south elevations present blank brick walls. This modest yet well-designed building retains good physical integrity despite the apparent alterations.

Detail for 9300 51st AVE / Parcel ID 3426049135 / Inv # DPR062

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status:
Cladding(s): Brick, Concrete - Block Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Gable, Shed Roof Material(s): Unknown
Building Type: Other Plan: Rectangular
Structural System: Concrete - Block No. of Stories: one
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Community Planning/Development, Entertainment/Recreation
Changes to Plan: Intact
Changes to Original Cladding: Intact
Changes to Windows: Slight
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.
HistoryLink Website (

Photo collection for 9300 51st AVE / Parcel ID 3426049135 / Inv # DPR062

Photo taken Nov 03, 2000
App v2.0.1.0