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Summary for 5900 Lake Washington BLVD / Parcel ID 2324049007 / Inv # DPR089

Historic Name: Seward Park Inn Common Name: Seward Park Cultural Arts Office/Annex
Style: Tudor Neighborhood: Seward Park
Built By: Year Built: 1927
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.
A private concessionaire constructed this architecturally distinctive Tudor Revival building in 1927 on the circular entrance drive at Seward Park. For fifteen years, J. Frank and Catherine C. Redfield operated their refreshment business, the Seward Park Inn, on the first floor and resided in the upper story apartment. Originally, the peninsula was known as Graham Peninsula after Walter Graham purchased it in 1863. In 1890, the real estate developer William E. Bailey purchased the land from a subsequent owner, and it became known as Bailey Peninsula. In the early 1890s, Edward O. Schwagerl, the Superintendent of Public Parks, proposed selling Volunteer Park, then known as City Park, to fund the purchase of the Bailey Peninsula for a new "Southeast Park." However, this plan was not realized partly due to the fact that the peninsula was considered to be even further out in the wilderness than Volunteer Park and fairly inaccessible. 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. The first proposal on the list of the Olmsted Brothers was a recommendation to acquire the still heavily wooded Bailey Peninsula before it was developed. At the time, the peninsula was located outside the southern city limits situated well to the north at South Hanford Street. A new boulevard on the western shore of Lake Washington could connect the proposed park with the southern boundary of the city. In 1908, the Olmsted Brothers supplemented their original plan with an additional report, which included the large areas annexed by the city the previous year, including this area of the Rainier Valley. The Baileys withheld development of the peninsula in anticipation of selling it to the city. However, condemnation proceedings became necessary after the two parties could not agree on a fair price. In 1911, the city paid $322,000 for the peninsula with funds from the 1910 bond issue and named the new park after William H. Seward, who had acquired Alaska for the United States in 1867. The city also hired the Olmsted Brothers to prepare landscape plans for the new park. Seward Park was one of 37 individual parks and playgrounds for which the Olmsted Brother prepared detailed landscape plans between 1904 and 1930. As envisioned by the Olmsted Brothers, Seward Park would be designed as a water and forest oriented park with piers for boats to dock. Four miles of drives along the bluffs above the shoreline would provide scenic views of lake and mountains, however the focus of development would be on access from the water. Twelve miles of winding paths would connect various amenities, which would be clustered at the northern end for the convenience of boaters. These included picnic groves, summer houses, a dancing pavilion, bathing beaches and bathhouses, piers, and children’s play equipment. At the time, the peninsula was almost an island with only a narrow neck of land connecting it to the mainland. The Olmsted Brothers proposed construction of a land bridge to better connect the peninsula with the new lakeshore boulevard, already under development. The first improvements were made in 1913 when a path system was established through the forest. However, the lowering of Lake Washington in 1916 due to the construction of the Ship Canal changed the focus of development from the northern to the southern end as vehicular access from the mainland improved. The drained marshes at the formerly narrow neck were also filled to create a broad meadow at the park entrance. By 1919, boaters could dock at newly built piers and enjoy picnics, hiking trails, and a children’s play area. Over the next ten years, a number of additional improvements were made, including construction of picnic and stove shelters, comfort stations, a privately operated boat pavilion, and a concession stand. These wood frame structures were constructed as temporary amenities until more permanent improvements could be built. In 1927, the beach area at the northern end of the meadow was developed, including the completion of the first phase of a masonry bathhouse. The same year, J. Frank and Catherine Redfield constructed the Seward Park Inn, a Tudor Revival refreshment building, on the entrance circular drive. Many private concessionaires operated within their own buildings on park property, however this building was one of the largest and most substantial ever built within a Seattle park. In the early 1920s, J. Frank Redfield had operated a confectionery business in the Sanitary Market Building at the Pike Place market in addition to working as a fireman for the Seattle Fire Department. After constructing this building in 1927 at his own expense, Redfield continued to work as a fireman but assisted his wife in their refreshment business. The Redfields operated the Seward Park Inn and lived in the upstairs apartment for the duration of their fifteen-year lease. By 1943, the Redfields had moved away after the end of their lease, but the Seward Park Inn continued to operate as a refreshment business. The upstairs apartment became the residence of the park foreman and remained in use as such until 1968. Designed by Alban Shay in the popular Tudor Revival Style, this attractive building resembles some of the larger residences built at that time. Upon his graduation from the University of Pennsylvania in 1922, Alban Shay worked for several firms in New York before moving to Seattle to join the firm of Bebb & Gould in 1924. Between 1927 and 1935, Shay conducted an independent practice in Seattle. This building would have been one of his early designs after establishing himself in business. Shay’s use of the Tudor Revival Style reflected the influence of the Penn program, where he would have been familiar with the work of eclectic residential designers in Philadelphia. In 1935, Shay entered into a four-year partnership with architect Paul Thiry, who had recently returned from a yearlong trip around the world. After his practice with Thiry ended in 1940, Shay spent the next twenty-five years working on his own until his retirement in 1975. With its distinctive Tudor Revival detailing, this building is significant for its design and for its association with the development of Seward Park.
Completed in 1927, this two-story wood frame building occupies a site on the eastern side of the circular drive at the entrance to Seward Park. A children’s play area immediately adjoins the structure on the south. The distinctive Tudor Revival building faces west and is set into the hillside along a portion of the rear east elevation, which partially covers the ground floor level. The high hip roof over the rectangular plan main block continues over the gable roof porches, which extend the length of the side elevations and project ten feet beyond the principal west elevation. Overall, the main block measures 35 feet by 39 feet, and the porches measure 10 feet by 49 feet, creating a U-shaped footprint. Between the projecting porches on the west elevation, the half-timbered upper story overhangs the brick clad first story. Six small brackets embellish the overhang above three large openings at ground level, which originally contained double entrance doors. The outer openings retain the original glass and wood doors, however the center opening has been covered with a wood panel. The upper story has a large window opening centered between pairs of leaded glass casement windows at either end. Within the large opening, narrow leaded glass casement windows flank a wider leaded glass window fixed at the center. The gable roofs of the projecting porches have flared eaves and wide gable ends covered by half timbering. Along the perimeters of the porches, paired wood posts rest on low brick piers and support the overhanging gable roof. A tapered brick chimney is situated near the western end of the south elevation and extends well above the southern slope of the main block’s hip roof. Under the porch on the first story, two window openings alternate with two single door entrances within the brick clad wall. The western opening has no glass and has been boarded over from the inside. The eastern opening between the doors retains the glass within a pair of casement windows but is boarded over as well from the inside. Both doors have plywood panels on the exterior covering the windows. The upper story of the south elevation is set within the slope of the porch’s gable roof. Three pairs of leaded glass casement windows are arranged along the rear wall clad with the same wood shingles covering the angled side walls. The upper floor of the north elevation has the same opening within the porch roof but a slightly different configuration for the three pairs of casement windows. In two of the three pairs, the leaded glass has been replaced with single panes of plain glass. Clad with brick, the ground floor level has two individual leaded glass windows at the center and double entrance doors at the western end. The rear two-thirds of the porch has been enclosed with metal screens on the north and west and a concrete block wall on the east. A secure storage area is situated within the rear one-third of the enclosed area. On the rear east elevation, a set of stairs leads up to small wooden deck, which accesses a center entrance door at the second story level. Narrow sidelights with imitation divided lights flank the modern door. The upper story has pairs of casement windows at either end mostly filled with plain replacement glass. This elevation has a simple stucco exterior in contrast to the rich finishes found on the other elevations and a shingled shed roof dormer with two small windows facing east. Despite the various porch, window and door alterations, this architecturally distinctive building retains very good physical integrity.

Detail for 5900 Lake Washington BLVD / Parcel ID 2324049007 / Inv # DPR089

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status:
Cladding(s): Brick, Other, Shingle Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Gable, Hip Roof Material(s): Asphalt/Composition
Building Type: Commercial/Trade - Restaurant Plan: U-Shape
Structural System: Balloon Frame/Platform Frame No. of Stories: two
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Community Planning/Development, Entertainment/Recreation
Changes to Original Cladding: Intact
Changes to Plan: Slight
Changes to Windows: Slight
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.
Sherwood, Don. Seattle Parks Histories, c. 1970-1981, unpublished.

Photo collection for 5900 Lake Washington BLVD / Parcel ID 2324049007 / Inv # DPR089

Photo taken Oct 27, 2000
App v2.0.1.0