Residential Ballard is generally described as extending from the 8th Avenue NW to the east and the bluff to the west, and from NW 85th Street on the north to NW 65th Street to the south. The area primarily contains single family houses, but also includes a collection of mutli-family dwellings, commercial buildings, schools, churches, and other buildings. Most of the historic buildings in Ballard are modest cottages and builder's houses, and were not architect-designed. Building styles include, but are not limited to, Victorian (primarily Queen Anne), vernacular, Craftsman, American Foursquare, Colonial Revival (including variations), Tudor Revival, Minimal Traditional, and Ranch. The historic building fabric of Ballard is threatened by a rapid pace of development.
The City of Ballard was incorporated in 1890. It was the first community to incorporate after Washington achieved statehood in 1889. Although population increased rapidly, north Ballard was still relatively rural. In 1907, primarily due to lack of adequate water for its population of 15,000, Ballard citizens voted to be annexed to Seattle to ensure a good water supply for the area.
After annexation Ballard’s street names were changed to conform to Seattle’s: Ship Street turned into 65th Street, Main Street became 15th Avenue. During the Great Depression and World War II, construction in Ballard nearly ground to a halt, with the exception of some houses built by Earl F. Mench. However, following World War II, fueled by the G.I. bill and the rise of the automobile, Ballard boomed again, and new housing followed. In recent years, the demand for new housing has spurred a tremendous amount of change in Ballard, with old, modest houses being replaced by large box houses and multi-family units. These changes threaten to alter the character and feeling of this historic neighborhood.
The Preston Apartments LLC at 6201 15th NW was known as the Del Ray Apartments for most of its life. The building was built in 1928 with ground floor retail shops and two floors of apartments. The twelve units are studio (625 sf) and one bedroom (725 sf) apartments.
The current owner since 2005 is Preston Apts LLC. Burton H. & Ralene P. Walls purchased the building in 1991 from John C. & Erica Harding. Older ownership information was not researched. Search of the Polks City Directory 1939-79 showed the Del Ray Apartments with a steady occupancy of 11-12 residents, generally equally divided between men and women. The 1939 Directory lists only four residents with phones, by 1951 all but one had phones.
The building has had four very long-term commercial tenants over the years. The longest at 39 years is the Family Dairy Store at 6209 (1939-78), run at least in the early years by Harvey W. Kirkbride. The 1939 Directory described it as a "butter and egg store". Walter Hill operated Hill's Barber Shop at 6203 from 1951-75 (24 years); and Harry F. McElhaney started the Fifteenth Avenue Drug Co at 6201 which operated from 1939-59 (20 years). In addition to the long-timers, the 1930s and 1940s saw a beauty shop. The 1950s had the Del-Ray Beauty Shoppe, Aplin Music Store/Accordian & Piano Studio and the grocery space shared with Tsukuno & Co, commissary contractor, for three years. In the 1960s the building leased space to The Marker Buoy sporting goods and the Navy & Marine Recruiter (1960-75). The 1970s added Collector's Corner Antiques, Ballard's Little Gallery.