Based on field work conducted in October 2014, this historic property retains its relationship to the streetscape, historic building form and a sufficient amount of exterior historic building fabric (design features, cladding and/or window sash/openings) to contribute to the distinct character of the University Park neighborhood. This is a particularly well-preserved historic property that appears to possess architectural and/or historic significance. It was constructed in 1928 in the Colonial Revival style, which was prevalent in the University Park neighborhood during this period. The original owner was Otis Bedney Sperlin (c 1878-1947) who was a professor of education at the University of Washington beginning in 1928. Sperlin was born in Indiana. He moved to Tacoma in 1908 where he taught English at Stadium High School. He was principal of Moran School for Boys on Bainbridge Island from 1924 to 1928. Sperlin wrote and edited several books and while in Tacoma, headed the guide department at Paradise Inn on Mount Rainier. He also served as president of the Washington State Historical Society. This original single family residence is now a sorority house annex.
This residence was constructed during the University District’s 1915-1929 developmental era, which saw the greatest expansion of the commercial area and continued growth in the residential areas.
The earlier decade, between 1900 and 1910, was the peak period of subdivision in the area. In 1906 the 20-block University Park Addition north of campus was filed. It became the most affluent and exclusive area in the district. The extension of additional streetcar lines stimulated speculation and housing development north of NE 45th Street. These included a trolley line to Ravenna Park developed by W.W. Beck, and the 1907 extension of a line along NE 45th Street from 14th Ave. NE to Meridian in Wallingford. Virtually the entire District was platted and ready for development by 1910. One distinctive feature of the University Park neighborhood is its very narrow lots. The Moore Investment Company, which platted it, apparently wanted to maximize its profits by creating small lots, most of which were under 4,500 square feet. Fairly substantial houses were still built on these relatively small lots.
The construction of the Lake Washington Ship Canal between 1911 and 1917 stimulated development in the University District. The old Latona Bridge was remodeled in 1916 before the ship canal opened and served the area until a new bridge, called the University Bridge, opened in 1919. The new bridge established 10th Avenue NE (now Roosevelt Way) as the major north-south arterial.
During the 1920s, there was a major construction boom in Seattle and the University District also flourished. By this time the structures built for the AYP had deteriorated, and a new campus plan had been prepared by Seattle architect Carl F. Gould in 1915. Transportation improvements during this time included opening of the Montlake Bridge in 1925, a streetcar and pedestrian trestle over Cowen Park built in 1925 and a streetcar loop between Montlake, the University District, and Wallingford added in 1928.
The construction of single-family homes in the district continued through the 1920s and the area was almost entirely built out by 1930. Most of the development was concentrated in the area north of NE 50th Street and west of Roosevelt Way, in the Park Home Circle north of Ravenna Boulevard and east of 20th Avenue NE, and in the University Park Neighborhood. Craftsman bungalows and Tudor Revival-style houses were popular during this period. By this time, University Park and become an extremely desirable neighborhood for University faculty families, a trend that continued until about 1950.
King County Property Record Card (c. 1938-1972), Washington State Archives
McAlester, Virginia Savage. A Field Guide to American Houses. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2013.
Seattle Times Digital Archives, 1900 – 1984: http://www.spl.org/library-collection/articles-and-research/magazines-and-newspapers
Tobin, Caroline and Sarah Sodt, University District Historic Survey Report: http://www.seattle.gov/neighborhoods/preservation/ContextUniversityDistrictSurveyReport.pdf, 2002.
US Census Reports