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Summary for 1902 13th AVE / Parcel ID 3881900195 / Inv # DPR007

Historic Name: Beacon Hill Playfield Shelter House Common Name:
Style: Modern Neighborhood: Beacon Hill
Built By: Year Built: 1951
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.
This modern brick shelter house was constructed in 1951 to replace an earlier comfort station, which served the adjacent children’s play area and tennis courts. The shelter house is located in the northern half of the playfield, which was acquired by the Parks Department in 1909. The previous year, bonds had been issued for the acquisition of new park properties based on the recommendations of the Olmsted Brothers landscape firm. 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. Shortly after its acquisition, the park was improved with the construction of a handball court in 1910 and clay tennis courts in 1914. The southern half of the playfield continued to be under the jurisdiction of the Seattle Water Department until 1925 when it was transferred to the Parks Department. Until that time, the property had been the site of a reservoir originally constructed by the Spring Hill Water Company. Incorporated in 1881, the Spring Hill Water Company was one of several private water companies, which operated in the city before the establishment of the municipally owned system in 1889. In 1886, the Spring Hill Water Company had built a pumping station on Lake Washington at South Holgate Street to supplement their existing water supplies from springs and a creek along the west slope of First Hill. The pumping station delivered water to the reservoir on this site at 14th Avenue South by way of a twelve-inch force main in South Holgate Street. The fire of 1889 proved the inadequacy of this system and led to voter approval of a new municipal water system. In 1890, the city purchased the assets of the Spring Hill Water Company and embarked on a plan to develop a new source of water from the Cedar River. This reservoir became largely obsolete after the first phase of the Cedar River water system was put into service in 1901. By 1912, the reservoir had been abandoned, but the site was not filled and developed into a playfield until 1926, a year after the Parks Department acquired jurisdiction over the property. 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. In 1951, the city hired former Park Board architect Alfors V. Peterson and his partner John W. Adams to design three new shelter houses at Beacon Hill, East Queen Anne and University Playfields. Peterson and Adams later designed the 1964 Fire Station No. 8 on Queen Anne Hill. The shelter houses at Beacon Hill and East Queen Anne are very similar to each other. The modern design of these 1950s shelter houses is in contrast to the earlier buildings, which generally exhibited Craftsman or period revival stylistic features. This building is significant for its design and for its associations with the early private water companies and with the development of Beacon Hill Playfield.
Completed in 1951, this brick shelter house occupies a site along the western side of Beacon Hill Playfield. The one-story building has rectangular plan main block, which measures 42 feet by 17 feet, and a wide projecting wing on the principal east elevation, which measures 26 feet by 5 feet. A side gable roof covers the T-shaped footprint and the recessed northeast and southeast corners. The roof’s deep overhangs on the east and west elevations contrast with the slight overhangs on the north and south side elevations. Cedar siding covers the wide gable ends of the low-pitch roof. The Modern building faces east towards a children’s play area and contains a large recreation room at the center flanked by a women’s restroom in the southern end and a men’s restroom in the northern end. The entrances to the restrooms adjoin the projecting wing on the east elevation and contain modern metal gates. Projecting brick piers walls frame the large multi-paned bay window at the center of the projecting wing. Metal screens cover the original steel sash windows. Entrances to the recreation room are situated on the north and south end walls of the projecting wing. The southern entrance remains intact, however the northern entrance appears to have been covered with plywood. A large low brick chimney pierces the western slope of the gable roof at the rear of the recreation room where a fireplace is located. The north and south elevations each have a long narrow window band lining the upper wall below the roofline. The rear west elevation has a single entrance door near the southern end, which provides access to a maintenance room at the rear of the building. This architecturally distinctive building retains excellent physical integrity.

Detail for 1902 13th AVE / Parcel ID 3881900195 / Inv # DPR007

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status:
Cladding(s): Brick, Wood - Clapboard 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 Original Cladding: Intact
Changes to Windows: Intact
Changes to Plan: Intact
Major Bibliographic References
King County Property Record Card (c. 1938-1972), Washington State Archives.
Sherwood, Don. Seattle Parks Histories, c. 1970-1981, unpublished.
McWilliams, Mary. Seattle Water Department History, 1854-1954: Operational Data and Memoranda. Seattle, WA: Water Department, City of Seattle, c1955.
"$50,000 Orchid Gift Accepted By Park Dept." Seattle Times, May 24, 1951, p. 21.

Photo collection for 1902 13th AVE / Parcel ID 3881900195 / Inv # DPR007

Photo taken Nov 07, 2000
App v2.0.1.0