This residence is significant due to its association with Agnes and Alice Long. Prior to the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 1960s, it was relatively rare for African Americans to live outside of the Central District. The presence of the Long sisters was an anomaly for the time period and contributed to social and ethnic diversity that would eventually predominate in South Seattle and the Rainier Valley.
This single-family residential property is located in Columbia City. The house was constructed in 1906; and, from 1908 until the early 1960s, it was occupied by two sisters, Agnes and Alice Long. The Long sisters were African American. Alice worked as a book keeper while Agnes taught at the Summit, Colman, and Rainier schools. The house was vacant for a period in 1963. By 1964, Robert V. Mannery became the principal resident; and, in 1965, Frank Showers occupied the house. From 1966 to 1968, Ronald L. Coulter was resident, but the house was again vacant by 1969.
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.
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, many African American families were not able to move out of Seattle’s established black neighborhoods until 1950s and 1960s. 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. Gradually, the Rainier Valley became more ethnically and economically diverse and remains so today.