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.
Ballard Historical Society Classic Home Tour guides.
Crowley, Walt. Seattle Neighborhoods: Ballard--Thumbnail History. HistoryLink File # 983, accessed 6/1/16.
King County Tax Assessor Records, 1937-2014.
McAlester, Virginia Savage.
A Field Guide to American Houses (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Alfred A> Knopf Press, 2013.
Oschsner, Jeffrey Karl
Shaping Seattle Architecture: A Historical Guide to the Architects. Seattle, WA: University of
Washington Press, 1994.
Passport to Ballard: The Centennial Story. Seattle, WA: Ballard News Tribune, 1988.
The "castle-style" house at 8020 25th NW was built in 1930. The owner listed on the side sewer permit is K. Karseth but he probably was not the actual owner; the contractor was F. Hagenaars.
According to the Seattle Polk's Directory, the first owners were Icelanders Isak & Jakobina Johnson (1930-38). Isak studied architecture in Denmark before immigrating to Ballard in 1908. The couple raised seven children: Johan, Konrad, Ingolf, Kari, Harald, Marie and another daughter. Marie, a talented vocal student and Ballard H.S. grad died in 1942. One son, a Navy photographer, was killed in 1945. Isak's career as a carpenter, building contractor and architect raises speculation that he may have been the author of the house's unique design. His 1949 obituary noted he was a member of the Icelandic Unitarian Church. Wife Jakobina was a well-known and highly regarded Icelandic writer, translator and outspoken advocate of all things Icelandic. She shows up numerous times in the pages of the Seattle Times: denouncing a Times article that denigrated Icelanders, discussing modern Icelandic lyric poetry at the Sunset Hill unit of Music & Art Foundation program, or an ahead-of-its time article discussing a woman's literary ambition vs. her duty as a homemaker. Through her work as a poetess and translator of Icelandic poetry, the King of Denmark in 1933 awarded her the Order of the Falcon "for her literary efforts on behalf of the Icelandic people". Her journey to Reykjavik for the ceremony involved a three day train trip across Canada, then twelve days by boat, first to Liverpool then Iceland.
The 1939 Seattle Polk's Directory shows the house vacant. The next owners (1940-80) were Leroy L. & Lucy J. Beven; he was a marine engineer. The house was vacant again 1981-86. J. Philley is shown as the resident about 1987-90. There are no listings for the house 1994-96. It is not known when the next owner, Arnhild Knight purchased the house. It was sold to the current owners, Bradley S. & Kristal L. Hale, in 1998. Hale Design & Associates was also listed at that address in the 2000 Polk's.