This residence is an intact example of a Modernist Post & Beam house. Built in 1957 is associated with the 1950s-era development in the Montlake area and is a contributing resource to the Montlake NRHP Historic District. In 1958, the owners of this house were Christopher L. Spier, a manager at King Broadcasting, and his wife, Patricia.
The architect, Arnold Gangnes (1918-2003), a British Columbia native, received his architecture degree from the University of Washington in 1942. After serving in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, he received his master degree in architecture from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1946. He opened a practice in Seattle in 1947 and quickly began to receive press and awards for his innovative designs of modern dwellings such as this one. In the late 1950s, Gangnes began working on larger-scale, commercial and institutional projects. He was very involved in professional and civic activities, particularly the AIA and the Association for Retarded Children, for which he served in various positions at the local, state and national levels. In 1975 President Gerald Ford appointed Gangnes to the U.S. President's committee on Mental Retardation. He considered his work in the field his most important and he traveled throughout the U.S. and Europe as a consultant and lecturer on the topic of specialized handicap design. Many of his projects were related to helping the disabled community, such as the Center for Disturbed Children (1960) at Western State Hospital in Steilacoom and three award-winning “Halfway Houses” for the Fircrest Hospital Campus (1969).
Montlake is generally described as extending from the Washington Park Arboretum west to Portage Bay/15th Avenue E., and from the Montlake Cut on the north to Interlaken Park. The area is a significant and cohesive collection of residential architecture typical of early 20th century Seattle and is eligible as a NRHP historic district under Criterion C. Construction occurred primarily between 1910 and 1940, with a variety of Craftsman and revival styles ranging from modest cottages and builder's houses to high-style architect-designed residences, impressive institutional buildings, and notable parks and natural features. There are few intrusions of newer buildings. In the early 1960s, construction of SR 520 and the unfinished R.H. Thomson Expressway bisected Montlake, but the neighborhood retains its basic integrity as a pre-World War II Seattle neighborhood.
Montlake was incorporated into the City of Seattle in 1891. Although the first plats (Union City 1st and 2nd additions) were filed by Harvey Pike in 1869-1871, development did not really begin until plats were filed by John Boyer (Interlaken, 1905) and H. S. Turner (1907). Montlake Park (north of SR 520) was platted in 1909 by the developers James Corner and Calvin and William Hagan. With the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition came a streetcar line on 24th Avenue E. and an impetus for development. In 1916, the Lake Washington Ship Canal was completed and the Montlake Bridge linked the neighborhood to the university area in 1925. A small commercial district grew along the car line.
The 1903 Olmsted Parks and Boulevards Plan of 1903 surrounded Montlake with parks. Montlake Boulevard (then call University Boulevard) connected Lake Washington Boulevard to the A-Y-P grounds. Washington Park, the eastern boundary, was acquired by the City in 1900 and developed as an arboretum in 1936-41. At the southern edge is steep, forested Interlaken Park and boulevard.
By 1915, the neighborhood had developed enough to require a temporary school building; the permanent structure opened in 1924.Soon afterwards came a playfield and shelter house (1933-36) and a library (1944, replaced 2006). Other noteworthy structures include the Seattle Yacht Club (1920), the NOAA Northwest Fisheries Center (1931), the Museum of History and Industry (1952) and St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church (1962).
Major Bibliographic References:
King County Tax Assessor Records, 1937-2014.
Becker, Paula. Seattle Neighborhoods: Montlake--Thumbnail History. HistoryLink File # 10170, accessed 12/2/2013.
Gould, James W. Montlake History. http://www.scn.org/neighbors/montlake/mcc_history.Jim_Gould.html
Polk Directory of Seattle, 1938-1958.
Smith, Eugene. Montlake: An Urban Eden, A History of the Montlake Community in Seattle. La Grande OR: Oak Street Press, 2004.