This house is significant due to its association with the Arima family and the Japanese American community in Seattle. First, the house functions as a reminder of the early actions by Japanese Americans that contributed to their strength and presence in Seattle. The Arima family’s circulation of the North American Times encouraged the cohesion and self-awareness within their community. Second, the general presence of Japanese American families in this neighborhood contributed to the social and ethnic diversity that currently predominates in Beacon Hill and South Seattle. Finally, the occupants of the house maintained professional practices in the downtown and industrial areas, which signifies the historical role that the Rainier Valley has assumed as a transportation and commercial corridor connecting the residential neighborhoods in South Seattle to downtown, the International District, and the industrial districts.
This single-family residence is located in North Beacon Hill. It was constructed in 1913; and, by 1938 or 1939, Sumio and Fujio Arima were living in the house. The Arimas, who were Japanese American, remained at this residence until 1942, the year many Japanese in the Pacific Northwest were incarcerated. Eleanorr M. Scott and Tumiko Nishinaka owned the property during the late 1930s and early 1940s; however, the 1942 Polk Directory lists both the Arima family and Richard and Margaret Titus as living at the residence during this time. Richard Titus worked as a mechanic; and, by 1944, the Polk Directories only record the Titus family as residents. By 1964, Harley and Michiko Parshall purchased the property. The Polk Directories list Mrs. Hirde Clow as a resident from 1966 through 1967 and Esequiel and Mary Jaugvi as residents from 1967 through 1969. Esequiel was an employee at the nearby Veterans Affairs Hospital.
Prior to moving into this house, Sumio and Fujio Arima lived at 4034 Cascadia Avenue South with Sumio’s parents, Sumikiyo and Tamaki Arima. Sumio was manager of the North American Times (Hokubei Jiji), one of two leading Japanese language newspapers in the Nikkei community. Sumio’s father was editor and publisher of the newspaper. Prior to working at the North American Times, Sumio studied painting in New York with John Sloan and returned to Seattle to work at his father’s newspaper.
Substantial residential and commercial development in Beacon Hill occurred when a transportation corridor connecting the Rainier Valley to Downtown Seattle and Seattle’s industrial district was constructed along Rainier Avenue. Development in the valley was facilitated by logging during the 1880s, the operation of the Rainier Valley Electric Railway in the 1890s, and the Jackson and Dearborn Street re-grades in the 1900s. Milling was the primary commercial industry during the last part of the nineteenth century although some agricultural activity existed. As residential development increased, Rainier Avenue gradually became the principal commercial corridor connecting the residential neighborhoods of South Seattle to downtown, the International District, and Seattle’s industrial districts. World War II brought additional building growth related to the wartime industry, as well as the influx of defense workers to nearby Boeing and the Duwamish shipyards.
Beacon Hill has historically been a more economically and socially diverse neighborhood than Mount Baker to its east. There was less enforcement of residential deed restrictions and a greater availability of smaller, more affordable housing. One of the first land owners of Beacon Hill was George Riley, an African American from Portland, Oregon. George Riley, organizer of the Workingmen’s Joint Stock Association in Portland, arranged the organization’s purchase of property on Beacon Hill, which was platted in 1871 as Riley’s Addition. Furthermore, the northern end of Rainier Valley, which was originally settled by German immigrants, acquired the historical nickname “Garlic Gulch” during the early twentieth century due to the growing strength and predominance of its Italian American community.
In addition to the Italian American community in northern Rainier Valley, the Japanese American community grew and expanded southwards to Beacon Hill during the first two decades of the twentieth century as a result of relatively less restrictive immigration laws. While the 1889 Alien Land Laws excluded non-citizens from owning land, they were able to purchase property under the names of their second generation family members. While the Immigration Act of 1924 inhibited further Japanese immigration, they continued to expand their families and businesses in Seattle. However, when President Roosevelt issued his Executive Order 9066 in 1942, the Japanese Americans in the Pacific Northwest were sent to internment camps and their properties and businesses were usually confiscated. After World War II, formerly incarcerated Japanese Americans returned to Seattle, successfully rebuilding their social networks and businesses and again emerging as a significant force in Seattle.
Beacon Hill’s diverse beginnings were reinforced by its landscape features, including Jefferson Park located at the center of Beacon Hill. Originally named Beacon Hill Park, Jefferson Park has exerted a profoundly positive influence on the development and social cohesion of the Beacon Hill neighborhood through its sustained use by local residents. Originally acquired by the City of Seattle in 1898, it was integrated into Seattle’s Olmsted system of parks. In 1915, the first public golf course west of the Mississippi opened at Jefferson Park. From 1919 to 1941, the year before many Japanese Americans were interned in the Northwest, the Japanese-American Language School in Seattle used the park for its annual picnics. Japanese Golf Association held annual tournaments beginning in 1931. African Americans, Japanese Americans, and Chinese Americans organized golf clubs during the 1940s and 1950s because they were excluded from white clubs; they used Jefferson Park as their home course.
The Jefferson Park community center and golf course remains open to the public and the Beacon Hill neighborhood continues to be an ethnically diverse, working-class community. Its businesses and public spaces, including Jefferson Park and Dr. Jose Rizal Park, reinforce this diversity.