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Summary for 1461 Magnolia BLVD / Parcel ID 2021200005 / Inv # DPR059

Historic Name: Magnolia Park Comfort Station Common Name:
Style: Tudor Neighborhood: Magnolia
Built By: Year Built: 1927
In the opinion of the survey, this property appears to meet the criteria of the National Register of Historic Places.
In the opinion of the survey, this property appears to meet the criteria of the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Ordinance.
This architecturally distinctive comfort station was constructed in 1927 as one of the first permanent improvements to Magnolia Park. The city had originally acquired the property for the park in 1910 through the same condemnation proceedings used to procure the right of way for Magnolia Boulevard. At the time, there were few city services or facilities in Magnolia, which hindered real estate development. Although the city annexed the Magnolia peninsula in 1891, there was little residential or commercial development until the 1920s and 1930s primarily due to its topography and geographical isolation. However, most of Magnolia’s housing stock dates to the period between 1930 and 1960. The Magnolia peninsula is made up of two hills separated by a valley, once known as Paradise Valley. In 1857, Naval Geographer George Davidson had named the southwest corner of the peninsula Magnolia Bluff after mistaking the extensive groves of madrona trees for magnolias. In the 1850s, the first land claims were staked in the Interbay area between Magnolia and Queen Anne with Salmon Bay on the north and Smith Cove of Elliott Bay on the south. By 1860, farming was beginning to spread up and over Magnolia with scattered settlements of farmhouses among the fields. In 1881, a lighthouse was established at West Point. Ten years later, the Great Northern Railroad was routed through the Interbay area, improving access to Magnolia. The railroad also built extensive facilities at Interbay, including the longest pier on the West Coast. In 1895, the City of Seattle donated land in the northwest corner of the peninsula to the Department of War for the creation of Camp Lewis, which was largely developed between 1898 and 1908. In 1900, the army garrison was renamed Fort Lawton to honor Major General H.W. Lawton killed in the Spanish-American War the previous year. Also in 1900, George F. Cotterill, Assistant City Engineer, published a guide map of the 25-mile system of bicycle paths, which he had developed by walking about the city. With the assistance of volunteers, Cotterill had based the route on the grade and to take advantage of the scenic beauty. By 1898, Seattle’s 55,000 residents owned some ten thousand bicycles, creating a great demand for such a system of bicycle paths. The first automobile arrived in Seattle in 1900, however it was more than a decade before its popularity began to surpass that of the bicycle for recreational touring. In Magnolia, the bicycle path proceeded southwest from Interbay along the route of Thorndyke Avenue West and then followed the top of the bluff before terminating at Fort Lawton. In 1903, the city hired the Olmsted Brothers landscape firm to prepare plans for a comprehensive park and boulevard system, including suggestions for improvements to existing parks. This move was largely brought on by the public interest generated for the planned Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition and through the purchase of Woodland Park and the acquisition of Washington Park, two large tracts of mostly undeveloped land. In their 1903 report, the Olmsted Brothers utilized some of the existing bicycle routes in their proposal for a sweeping system of boulevards, including much of the route through Magnolia. In 1908, the Olmsted Brothers supplemented their original plan with an additional report, which included the large areas annexed by the city the previous year. The later report contained a recommendation for an 85-acre "Magnolia Bluffs Park" lining much of the route of the boulevard along the top of the bluff. In the vicinity of the Wolf Creek ravine, the park would extend north to include the full length of the ravine. Implementation of the report began almost immediately, however not always as envisioned by the Olmsteds. The city delayed acquisition of land for Magnolia Boulevard until 1910 because the largely undeveloped area was not considered a priority. In 1905, a streetcar line had been established to Fort Lawton from Interbay via the northern end of the peninsula, and developers such as D.P. Eastman platted new residential subdivisions in the first decade of the 20th century. However, most of Magnolia retained its character as a rural community of dairy and chicken farms at a time when the rest of the city was experiencing rapid urban growth. It was not until access improved in the 1910s and 1920s that residential and commercial development began on a larger scale. The pace of development accelerated after the construction of the Magnolia Bridge in 1930. Within two years of the acquisition through condemnation proceedings, work commenced on the new boulevard, including clearing, grading, and finishing with a macadamized surface. However, Magnolia Boulevard remained unpaved until the early 1950s. A sixteen-acre site on the eastern side of the Wolf Creek ravine was included in the acquisition of land for the boulevard, which was later developed as Magnolia Park. Despite the fabulous views from the edge of the bluff, few permanent improvements were made to the park property until 1927 when this comfort station was constructed. Designed in the Tudor Revival style, this comfort station was one of a series of new comfort stations constructed in Seattle parks in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Located in prominent parks in fashionable residential neighborhoods, these comfort stations were notable for their attractive designs in various period revival as well as modern styles. Construction of these comfort stations at Leschi, Kinnear, Mount Baker, Magnolia, Woodland and Ravenna Parks followed a policy to build only structures that would be pleasing in design and permanent in nature. With its slate roof, this building is particularly distinctive for the craftsmanship of its work and for the attention to detail in the design. With its distinctive Tudor Revival stylistic features, this unique building is significant for its design and for its association with the development of Magnolia Park and the surrounding neighborhood.
Completed in 1927, this architecturally distinctive comfort station occupies a site towards the southern end of Magnolia Park. This park is located between 32nd Avenue West and Magnolia Boulevard West to the south of West Howe Street. Covered by a slate roof, the side gable main block has side gable entrance porches, which create a T-shaped footprint. Situated at the base of a short slope below the sidewalk along the eastern side of the park, the building faces west and contains a women’s restroom in the southern end and a men’s restroom in the northern end. Tudor Revival stylistic details include a stucco exterior with a brick clad base and brick quoins at the corners, brick tabbed door and window surrounds, and half timbering in the gabled ends. Wide bargeboards also cover the slightly overhanging rakes of the gable ends, and wood finials with drop pendants ornament the peaks of the main block’s gable ends. Single door entrances to the restrooms are situated within the gabled wings accessed by shallow arched entrances on the eastern and western sides. The restrooms’ original paneled doors remain within the openings on the inner walls of the main block. The northern and southern end walls of the wings each have a large window opening covered with a decorative metal grate. The principal west elevation features two bands of three louvered window openings centered within each half of the building. The rear east elevation has a similar window configuration but also contains an entrance door at the center, which provides access to a maintenance area. This exquisitely detailed building retains excellent physical integrity and is very well maintained in great condition.

Detail for 1461 Magnolia BLVD / Parcel ID 2021200005 / Inv # DPR059

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status:
Cladding(s): Brick, Other, Stucco Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Gable Roof Material(s): Slate
Building Type: Other Plan: T-Shape
Structural System: Unknown No. of Stories: one
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Community Planning/Development, Entertainment/Recreation
Changes to Plan: Intact
Changes to Original Cladding: Intact
Changes to Windows: Intact
Major Bibliographic References
Sherwood, Don. Seattle Parks Histories, c. 1970-1981, unpublished.
Seattle Department of Parks. Annual report/Department of Parks. Seattle, WA: 1909-1955.

Photo collection for 1461 Magnolia BLVD / Parcel ID 2021200005 / Inv # DPR059

Photo taken Oct 31, 2000
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