Has Uptown Forgotten About Schools?

New schools in or around Seattle Center are nothing new. The former Warren Avenue School sat on the current site of the Washington State Coliseum, now KeyArena. When the site was purchased in 1902 the Seattle school enrollment is said to have increased annually by 2,000 children. The school opened in 1903 to relieve overcrowding in the nearby Mercer and Denny Schools (these schools are also gone). Enrollment peaked in 1929 at 734 students. In 1957, Seattle voters approved a proposal for the development of a Civic Center and the World’s Fair. At the time of its closure enrollment had dropped to 250 students as families moved to make way for the fairgrounds. The school district sold the site after the State Supreme Court ruled the state could condemn the property.

Since this time, the Uptown community has been heavily dependent on the rest of Queen Anne for many of its city services. In recent history, Uptown has tried to create its own identity separate from Queen Anne. The Uptown Alliance worked hard to build a voice for their community and I praise them for their tireless advocacy.

This month the Uptown Preliminary Rezone Recommendation Director’s Report was published. In this document, Uptown is called a neighborhood, a regional center, and a district. What is new to hear is that the report calls Queen Anne an “interested neighbor”. I argue that, at this time, Uptown is not an independent entity and Queen Anne is more than a neighbor to Uptown.

The report thoughtfully addresses development standards, the increase of housing supply, transportation and traffic, sensitivity to pedestrians, its connection to Seattle Center, and makes mention of preservation. The report never studies the impact on the school district. The only place the school district is mentioned in the city’s planning efforts is in the Seattle 2035 Comprehensive Plan. Deep in the comp plan, the city calls out potential future discretionary projects. Specific to Queen Anne, the plan highlights Seattle Center; it bullet points the Memorial Stadium relocation, Memorial Stadium site redevelopment, Key Arena enhancement, and the North Parking Lots redevelopment. These are capital projects that the City might undertake or fund in the future. It’s important to stress that Memorial Stadium is owned by the Seattle School District and the funds used for redevelopment would come from the Seattle citizens.

If the comp plan and the Uptown report won’t address the impact on the schools, then the Seattle School District must… but it doesn’t. The projected growth boundary changes are not slated to account for rezones. The Uptown community cannot rely on the Seattle School District to figure this out for them. When Uptown sits at the table with the city to create a vision for their community they need to advocate for the return of their own schools – for their benefit and the benefit of their interested neighbors.

Historical Photos of Uptown’s former Warren Avenue School

Nicole Demers-Changelo is a Queen Anne resident and Board Member of the Queen Anne Historical Society

Remembering Queen Anne’s Neighborhood Grocery Stores:
Mulholland’s Cash Grocery

Owner Esther Mulholland and daughter Shirley in front of the Mulholland Cash Grocery, courtesy of Leslie Pannell Stockdale

Mulholland’s Cash Grocery was in the Uptown area of lower Queen Anne Hill, between Harrison and Thomas Streets, near the old Aasten Grocery, and a block from the Key Arena.

The store was purchased in 1939 from local grocer Rae Nakamura for $1,000 when Esther Mulholland’s husband John was dying of cancer, leaving her to raise three children. Oldest son Bob was 14, and her daughter Shirley and youngest son Jack were still in elementary school. They worked together as a family at the store, with each having a job to do.

It was located at 335 Queen Anne Avenue N. and had been operated as a grocery store since 1910 according to Polk’s city directories. When she bought it, Esther Mulholland paid $15.00 a month for rent. The first year she replaced the linoleum, and purchased a cash register for $51.00, a Burroughs adding machine for $35.70, and vegetable and fruit stands for $3.20 according to her carefully kept store ledger.

How hard was it to run a business in 1940? Given that the rent was $15.00, and total salaries were $4.00 a month the “bad” customer accounts that were long overdue were $12.78. By the end of the year the unpaid customer accounts had grown to $23.12. That is nearly six times the amount spent on monthly salaries.

The store sold fresh produce from the Pike Place Market, and bread and baked goods from Hanson Sunbeam Bakery. Beer came from Olympia, Rainer, and Lucky Lager because it was cheaper than the big Eastern brands. They also carried all the basic canned staples for customers’ convenience.

Page from Mulholland Cash Grocery journal courtesy of Leslie Pannell Stockdale

Oldest son Bob was allowed to miss a lot of class in high school so he could run the register for his mom. Eventually he was drafted into World War II and fought in the Pacific for two years. At that point Shirley was in high school and picked up the slack while Bob went to war.

The youngest son Jack went to Queen Anne High School and the store became a hangout “for young well-behaved boys,” according to the family. Soda pop and candy was very popular. Jack’s job was to sweep out the store inside and out each day.

The Mulholland family lived in a duplex home at 532 – 1st Ave West and because Esther didn’t drive, each night after closing they would all walk home.

According to granddaughter Leslie Pannell Stockdale, “the grocery store enabled the Mulholland family to survive at a very tough time losing their husband, father, and breadwinner to cancer in 1940. It was their livelihood and glued them together as a family. It was a lot of hard work but was always seen as a fun and social center for the family.”

The Mulholland family ran the store until the early 50’s when it was sold. Leslie Stockdale finds a pleasant coincidence that at the same time they started welcoming grandchildren to the family.

 

Alicia Arter is a member of the Queen Anne Historical Society Board of Directors.

John Hay School’s First Custodian (?)

Charles Wilhelm Dahlberg at John Hay School.

 

The society just received this picture of Mr. Dahlberg from his great-grandson Scott Dahlberg. Scott is a 1962 graduate of Queen Anne High School. Charles Wilhelm immigrated to the United States from Stockholm, Sweden where he trained as a boiler maker. Boiler operation was a key function of school janitors, so getting this job in 1905 is not unreasonable. There is some information indicating that Charles Wilhelm continued to serve at John Hay until at least 1940 when he was 83. This photograph makes that highly likely since the girl standing behind Mr. Dahlberg is wearing an outfit that appears to be from that period. Mr. Dahlberg is posing at the southwest corner of the covered outdoor play area on the second John Hay School, the brick building on Boston St. Mr. Dahlberg died in 1944.

According to the Seattle Daily Times of July 25, 1904 Charles Wilhelm and his wife Bessie, received a permit to build a one-and-a-half story cottage worth $1,800 at 1937 7th Ave West on July 23, 1904. They probably moved into their new house some time in 1905, the very same year the school district constructed the first John Hay School. The city directory lists their daughter Esther, a stenographer as living there then.

When they moved in, there was no Willcox Wall or Queen Anne Boulevard. Today, the idea of working class folks building a house on the boulevard would be astounding. It tells a lot about how the neighborhood has changed over the last century or so.

The east elevation of the Dahlberg house today facing the Willcox Wall.

 

Although there is no ambiguity about the date of construction, the city’s side sewer record hints that the house may have been moved and set on a new foundation a few years after its construction. The side sewer map raises this possibility because sewer lines usually get inspected by the city when they are installed. The side sewer record for the Dahlberg house gives the date of inspection as September 27, 1911 well after the date of construction. Also, the side sewer of the house next door to the Dahlberg’s was inspected the same day while three of the houses to the north of theirs were inspected in 1910. Additional research may show that the houses got moved to the west a bit to make room for the Willcox Wall which they all face across a very narrow strip of the street.

The two houses under construction behind the Dahlberg House. Photo taken 3/24/17.

 

A visit to the Dahlberg house today (3/24/2017) set off alarms, because there is a notice in the front yard about the long narrow lot being subdivided into three lots suggested that the old house was set for demolition. A trip to the back yard pleasantly revealed two small houses under construction behind the house, so the Dahlberg’s place may be saved after all.

 

Stay tuned for updates to the Dahlberg story!