This home is significant due to its early association with Italian American and African American families. Its occupancy reflects both the early strength of the Italian American community in North Rainier Valley and the gradual movement of African Americans to South Seattle. Its early occupancy also reflects the racial diversity that is characteristic of Rainier Valley today.
This single-family residence is located in the northern end of Rainier Valley, just east of Rainier Avenue. The house was constructed in 1906; and, beginning around 1920, Domenico and Mary Fuda owned the property. The Fudas, who immigrated to the United States from Italy, remained in the house through 1949. For approximately one year in 1920, the Fudas were joined by Louis and Adelaide (or “Addie”) Buckner, an African American family that eventually moved nearby to 2649 S Irving Street. After the Fudas moved out of the house, Mrs. Rose Haening became occupant for a period around 1951; but, by 1953, Jason J. Devlin, a landscape architect, was the principal resident. He remained in the house through 1958; and, from 1959 through 1965, Lee F. Scheller owned the house. From around 1965 or 1965 through 1969, Mrs. Josephine Reuhl, was the principal resident.
Substantial residential and commercial development in South Seattle and the Rainier Valley occurred when a transportation corridor connecting the Rainier Valley to downtown and Seattle’s industrial district was constructed along Rainier Avenue during the late nineteenth century. 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.
Early Italian migrants moved to the Pacific Northwest to work at the coal mines in Renton, Newcastle, and Black Diamond. Once settled, Italian Americans began operating farms, including Fred Marino and Joe Desimone, who were involved in organizing the Pike Place Market. During the growth period from 1900 to 1910, additional Italian migrants moved to Seattle for jobs in building and road construction as well as the city’s re-grading activities. During this period, the Italian American population grew, and the 1910 census documented approximately 45 percent of Italian Seattleites who lived in south downtown and north Rainer Valley. North Rainer Valley and north Beacon Hill became known as “Garlic Gulch,” and the community was centered on Rainier Avenue, between Massachusetts and Atlantic Streets. This block was the principal commercial area, while residences and institutional buildings, such as Colman School, Mount Virgin Roman Catholic Church, and St. Peter’s Catholic Church, were located southward on Rainier Avenue, as well as in the nearby Beacon Hill and Mount Baker neighborhoods.
Due to the same exclusion laws that affected most minorities, African Americans did not begin to have a significant presence in South Seattle until the 1940s. However, it was not until the 1950s and 1960s that large numbers of families were able move out of Seattle’s established Black neighborhoods. Furthermore, it was not until the passage of the Open Housing Ordinance by the Seattle City Council in 1968 that the ability of non-whites to relocate to the Rainier Valley substantially increased.