Home Page
Link to Seattle Department of Neighborhoods home page

Seattle Historical Sites

New Search

Summary for 615 W Highland DR W / Parcel ID 173280-0394 / Inv #

Historic Name: Ohrbeck, Phyllis, House Common Name:
Style: Colonial - Colonial Revival Neighborhood: Queen Anne
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.
In the opinion of the survey, this property is located in a potential historic districe (National and/or local).
This house is a modernized version of the Colonial Revival style, designed by Edwin Ivey and Elizabeth Ayer, the city’s first prominent woman architect. Its design reflects its date of 1939, by which time several local architects had begun to reflect the ideas of Modernism in their work. It features basic Colonial Revival elements (the symmetrical arrangement of multipaned windows with shutters and a central entry with an arched hood), but with no eaves and overall updated feel. Elizabeth Ayer graduated from the University of Washington in 1921, the fourth graduate, and the first woman graduate, of the new architecture program. She soon went to work for Edwin J. Ivey, who was to become her mentor. In the 1920s she worked in New York City and traveled to Europe, keeping in frequent contact with Ivey. Upon her return to the firm, their designs continued to be traditional, but, by the late 1930s, her designs became freer and less formal. Following Ivey’s death in an automobile accident in 1940, she continued the practice with another employee of the firm, Rolland Lamping. They designed numerous homes, increasingly emphasizing function rather than stylistic elements and successfully adapting traditional models to modern functional needs. After practicing for fifty years, Ayer retired in 1970. She died in 1987, after a successful and prolific career that paved the way for future woman architects. Although the permit lists the first owner as William S. Mangrum, secretary-treasurer of the Rainier Lumber & Millwork Company, it is not clear that he ever lived in the house. The first known resident owner was Clarence A. Black, secretary of the Black Manufacturing Company, and his wife Mary, who lived here from approximately 1938 into the 1940s. In 1945, the house was purchased by Mrs. Jane Black, the widow of Joseph C. Black, the president of the manufacturing company. She and her husband had previously had a house built down the street, at 222 W. Highland Drive, designed by the prominent architect, Andrew Willatsen. (That house was demolished in 2004.) Later owners of this house were Carl G. Strand (1951), Ron and Naomi Johnson (1950s) and Jack and Jerry Ann Wilson of Wilson, Inc. (1967). Thomas Ohrbeck, a division manager of Western International Hotels, and his wife Phyllis bought the house in 1968; Mrs. Ohrbeck remains there today.
This three-bay Colonial Revival house has a hipped roof with minimal eaves, a dentil course at the eaveline and clapboard cladding. The façade is symmetrical, with a center entry with no porch or portico, but a simple concrete stoop topped by a shallow arched hood with dentils, typical of the style. Two-story fluted pilasters mark the building corners. The entry is flanked by two small divided-light oval windows and two 12-over-12 double-hung windows with shutters. Similar windows, in an 8-over-8 configuration are found on the other elevations. A detached two-car garage is at the east side.

Detail for 615 W Highland DR W / Parcel ID 173280-0394 / Inv #

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status:
Cladding(s): Wood - Clapboard Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Hip Roof Material(s): Wood - Shingle
Building Type: Domestic - Single Family Plan: Rectangular
Structural System: Balloon Frame/Platform Frame No. of Stories: two
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture
Changes to Plan: Intact
Changes to Windows: 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.
Polk's Seattle Directories, 1890-1996.
Ochsner, Jeffrey Karl, ed. Shaping Seattle Architecture, A Historical Guide to the Architects. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1994.

Photo collection for 615 W Highland DR W / Parcel ID 173280-0394 / Inv #

Photo taken Sep 29, 2004
App v2.0.1.0