This house is significant due to its early occupation by someone of Spanish-Filipino descent. Edward Cortez’s presence reflects the early migration of Filipinos into the United States, as well as their community’s eventual significance in South Seattle. The house’s subsequent occupant history also reinforces the significance of the Rainier Valley as a transportation and commercial corridor, connecting the residential neighborhoods in South Seattle to downtown, the International District, and Seattle’s industrial districts.
This single-family residence is located in Mount Baker. It was constructed in 1922 and was first owned by Donald G. and Dorothy B. Eggerman. Edward Cortez, who was of Filipino-Spanish descent, was a boarder with the Eggerman family from around 1929 to 1931. Dorothy Eggerman remained in the house after her husband’s death until 1956. In 1956, Paul and Martha Rollins purchased the property. The Polk Directories show that Paul worked as a physician in Downtown Seattle during this time period. In 1965, the Rollins sold the house to Gene B. Brandzel, who remained there through 1969.
The Mount Baker neighborhood comprises two north-south tending ridges located southeast of downtown Seattle along Lake Washington. Initial development of the area occurred early in the twentieth century, relatively later than the Rainier Valley and Downtown Seattle. Development was initially impeded by Mount Baker’s geography during the mid-nineteenth century and was then stimulated by the construction of the Rainier Avenue Electric Street Railway along the Rainier Valley in the 1890s. The streetcar was paramount in facilitating travel to downtown Seattle.
The platting of Mount Baker occurred in three phases or additions: the York Addition in 1903 by George M. and Martha Taggart, the Dose Addition in 1906 by Charles P. Dose, and the Mount Baker Park Addition in 1907 by the Hunter Tract Improvement Company. The Mount Baker Park Addition represents the core of the neighborhood and is its primary, character-defining feature. Mount Baker Park is one of Seattle’s earliest planned subdivisions and most residential development occurred from 1905 and 1929. The houses reflect a variety of eclectic and Northwest-based architectural styles and include designs by many prominent local architects. The neighborhood was established as a residential neighborhood for upper-income white families, and the Hunter Tract development company targeted these families by adopting deed restrictions and setting minimum size and price standards for each house. The careful design of the Mount Baker Park Addition’s lots, streets, boulevards, and parks reinforced its exclusivity. However, the platting and landscape plans of George F. Cotterill and Edward O. Schwagerl were significant as they integrated the hill’s natural topography into their design. In doing so, they honored the ideals of Seattle’s Olmsted System and the local government’s city planning efforts.
As in many neighborhoods in Seattle, Mount Baker had restrictive housing covenants that prevented the lease or ownership of houses by non-whites. While relatively few ethnic minorities lived outside of the Central District during the early twentieth century, Japanese Americans and Italian Americans successfully developed strong communities in the nearby Beacon Hill and Rainier Valley neighborhoods. However, very few lived in Mount Baker during this time period. In addition to Japanese and Italian immigrants, Filipinos began moving to South Seattle through immigration privileges resulting from the special political relationship between the United States and the Philippines after the 1898 Spanish American War. Filipinos tended to fall outside of immigration, housing, and work exclusion laws, such as the Chinese Exclusion Act and Executive Order 9066. Filipino migrant workers were also needed to fill a labor shortage caused by such exclusion acts. For these reasons, their communities increased in numbers, social cohesion, and economic success. This trend continued through World War II when many Filipino men enlisted and brought back War Brides. While Filipino families lived in South Seattle prior the 1960s, it was not until the passage of the Open Housing Ordinance by the Seattle City Council in 1968 that housing covenants and severely restricted neighborhoods became legally open to non-whites. Only after passage of this ordinance did significant numbers of Asians, Filipinos, African Americans, Latinos, and others move to South Seattle. Today, Mount Baker is home to a more ethnically diverse population than in the past. This middle- to upper-income neighborhood remains predominantly residential, and it retains much of its planned character.
While Edward Cortez might have worked as a laborer for the Eggerman family, the early occupation of the house by someone of Spanish-Filipino descent is relatively unusual in Mount Baker. Cortez’s presence also reflects the early migration of Filipinos into the United States, as well as their community’s eventual significance in South Seattle. The house’s subsequent occupation by Paul Rollins, who worked in Downtown Seattle, also reinforces the significance of the Rainier Valley as a transportation and commercial corridor, connecting the residential neighborhoods in South Seattle to downtown, the International District, and Seattle’s industrial districts.