This house is significant due to its historical association with the Stone family and the family’s fight against Seattle’s discriminatory housing practices. The Stones’ successful legal suit for the deed of their house was one of the earliest civil rights achievements in Seattle. It was also an early indication of the Civil Rights Movement that would change Seattle in the 1950s and 1960s and was a harbinger of the racial diversity that exists in present-day Mount Baker.
This single-family residence is located in Mount Baker. The house was constructed in 1910, and the first residents were Susie and Samuel Stone, owners of Stone Catering Service on Broadway. This house is particularly monumental because the Stones were the first African Americans to succeed in purchasing property in Mt Baker. In 1909, they purchased the lot through an Anglo intermediary. When the developers refused to transfer the deed, the Stones successfully sued the development company in a case that was eventually adjudicated by the State Supreme Court. By 1910, the Stones were able to begin the construction of their house, and they remained residents until 1960. By 1962, Selma and Willmar J. Moe purchased the house. Mr. Moe worked as an employee of Boeing, and the Moes’ remained residents through 1964. From 1965 through 1969, it was occupied by William C. and Margaret Rettie. William worked as a family consultant at Planned Parenthood.
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. Through the 1940s, African Americans were generally confined to East Madison and Pioneer Square neighborhoods, also known as the Central District, due these housing covenants as well as discriminatory hiring practices. However, beginning in the 1950s and 1960s, African Americans gradually began to move out of Seattle’s established black neighborhoods. It was not until the passage of the Open Housing Ordinance by the Seattle City Council in 1968 that housing covenants and severely restrictive neighborhoods became legally open to people of color. Only after passage of this ordinance did significant numbers of Asians, Filipinos, African Americans, and others of color move to Mount Baker and South Seattle. Today, the neighborhood 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.