Home Page
Link to Seattle Department of Neighborhoods home page

Seattle Historical Sites

New Search

Summary for 2417 E Cherry ST E / Parcel ID 7544800245 / Inv # DPR024

Historic Name: Garfield Playfield Shelter House Common Name:
Style: Modern Neighborhood: Madrona
Built By: Year Built: 1958
This concrete block shelter house was constructed in 1958 to serve the children’s play area in the northeast corner of the playfield and the athletic fields located to the south. After the Parks Department acquired most of the property in 1911, it was developed the following year as Walla Walla Playfield. Subsequent land purchases resulted in the present park boundaries. In 1890, real estate developers platted the Walla Walla Addition in the area, which became known as the Walla Walla District. In 1902, the Seattle School District built the Walla Walla School on the north side of East Cherry Street between 24th and 25th Avenues. The following year, 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 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. In the Central Area, the Olmsted Brothers recommended the creation of the "East Cherry Street Playground" on four blocks of land north of East Cherry Street between 25th and 27th Avenues. A "Yesler Athletic Field" was also proposed for the area. Implementation of the report began almost immediately, however not always as envisioned by the Olmsteds. In 1911, the Parks Department acquired a large parcel of land located across the street from the Walla Walla School, renamed Horace Mann Elementary School in 1921. By 1912, the large level area had been graded, seeded and enclosed with the expectation that it would be ready for use in 1913. Construction of a children’s play area and a field house was also recommended, however the nearby Collins Playfield received the new wood frame field house. A smaller frame shelter house at Collins Playfield was subsequently moved to this site, which featured two athletic fields, tennis courts, and play equipment by 1915. In 1923, the name of this park was changed to Garfield Playfield when the new Garfield High School was completed on property to the south. Prior to the construction of the new brick building, numerous smaller wood frame structures had operated as East High School on part of the site since 1920. Over the next forty years, few improvements were made to Garfield Playfield with the exception of several projects completed in the 1930s by Depression-era state and federal relief programs, such as the Works Progress Administration (WPA). By the later 1950s, it was necessary to replace the deteriorated and inadequate shelter house. Designed by Parks Department architect Donald N. Sherwood, this shelter house was completed in 1958. During his career with the Parks Department, Sherwood designed a total of fourteen buildings. 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 into the later 1930s due to the availability of labor and funding from state and federal relief programs, such as the Works Progress Administration (WPA). However, shortages of labor and materials brought on by the Second World War halted construction of any new park buildings for most of the 1940s. Construction of new shelter houses commenced in the late 1940s and continued into the 1960s. However, the materials eventually changed from brick to the less expensive and more durable concrete block. The modern design of the 1950s shelter houses also contrasted with the earlier buildings, which generally exhibited Craftsman or period revival stylistic features. Additional improvements were constructed over the next fifteen years, including a combination community center and gym shared with Garfield High School and Medgar Evers Pool. This building is significant for its design and for its associations with the development of the Central Area and Garfield Playfield.
Completed in 1958, this concrete block shelter house occupies a site near the children’s play area at the northern end of Garfield Playfield. Colorful and imaginative murals cover the otherwise plain concrete block exterior, enlivening the appearance. The one-story building has a long rectangular plan main block, which extends from the center of the east elevation of a smaller perpendicular block, creating a T-shaped footprint. The Modern building faces east and contains a large recreation room at the eastern end and restrooms at the western end. The women’s restroom occupies the northwest corner of the building, while the men’s restroom occupies the southwest corner. The overhanging front gable roof has exposed rafters on the longer north and south elevations and a center beam, which extends beyond the east and west elevations and rests on center posts within the gable ends. Outer beams lining the tops of the longer recessed side walls also overhang the east elevation. On this elevation, concrete block walls flank a large center opening containing an overhead metal door into the recreation room. Board and batten cladding covers the wide gable end of the low-pitch roof. A large low chimney pierces the low-pitch gable roof at the rear of the recreation room where a fireplace is located. On the rear west elevation, painted panels completely cover the original wall surface below the gable end with a board and batten cladding. Entrances to the restrooms are situated at the far eastern ends of the short north and south elevations of the projecting end block. Louvered openings are situated above the single entrance doors. A wheelchair accessible ramp wraps the northwest corner of the building and provides access to the women’s restroom. The longer wall on the north elevation has a center entrance door below a covered transom, which opens onto a small landing reached by a short flight of stairs. A single large horizontal opening at the eastern end contains two windows covered by metal screens. The south elevation has a similar window configuration at the center flanked by an overhead metal door on the west and a single entrance door with a covered transom on the east. With its distinctive paint scheme, this modest building retains good physical integrity.

Detail for 2417 E Cherry ST E / Parcel ID 7544800245 / Inv # DPR024

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status:
Cladding(s): Concrete, Other, Vertical - Board and Batten Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Gable Roof Material(s): Metal - Standing Seam
Building Type: Other Plan: T-Shape
Structural System: Concrete - Block No. of Stories: one
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Community Planning/Development, Entertainment/Recreation
Changes to Windows: Slight
Changes to Original Cladding: Moderate
Changes to Plan: Intact
Major Bibliographic References
Sherwood, Don. Seattle Parks Histories, c. 1970-1981, unpublished.

Photo collection for 2417 E Cherry ST E / Parcel ID 7544800245 / Inv # DPR024

Photo taken Nov 08, 2000

Photo taken Nov 08, 2000
App v2.0.1.0