Perry Polson House – 103 Highland Drive
This house, at a prominent location on Queen Anne's South Slope, was completed in for Perry Polson, owner of the Polson Implement Company, the Polson Logging Company and the Polson Realty Company. It is notable not only for its architectural significance but for having remained in the Polson family, in highly intact condition, for nearly one hundred years.
Perry Polson's father Olaf came from Sweden in 1868, settling in Iowa before coming to Whatcom County. He became a prominent farmer in La Conner and his two sons, Perry and John, established a hardware store there. Perry Polson got his start in 1885 in LaConner selling agricultural implements and farm equipment. He moved to Seattle in 1893. During 1897-98, he sold picks, shovels, and other equipment to gold miners headed up to the Klondike as well as selling farm equipment. His name is associated with the Polson Building on Western Avenue and Columbia Street.
The house was constructed in 1904–1906. The city-wide historic resources survey of the 1970’s attributed the design to Kerr and Rogers, although it also been attributed by the Polson family to being designed by Josenhans and Allen. The house has seen few changes. An adjacent concrete garage, designed by prominent architects Saunders and Lawton, was added in 1913.
The house is prominently sited at a high point above Highland Drive. It sits on approximately 1/3 acre and because of its elevation, has unobstructed views of Elliott Bay and downtown Seattle. It is set back from the street with a driveway in front; the garage is at the northeast corner of the lot. The house has a side-gable form with complex massing, including a projecting hip-roofed bay on the front, a gabled rear wing and a turret on the south (rear) elevation.
It's detailing is primarily Craftsman, although the turret shows a Queen Anne influence. Cladding is brick on the first floor with shingles above. The roof has deep open eaves and brackets. The entry porch on the north has a shallow gabled roof supported by square posts. To the east is a three-sided bay, with a 16-over-one sash in the center, with leaded beveled glass. Above the entry is a striking tripartite window with stained glass. Other windows are predominantly one-over-one double hung sash, with some arched windows with transoms. The decorative gabled dormer on the front has four small casement windows, stickwork in the gable end and flared bargeboards. Above the entry is a section with dentils and pairs of decorative brackets. A veranda with round Tuscan columns extends along the west and south elevations. The south elevation has a gabled wing with a gable over the porch, three large arched transomed windows on the second floor and four one-over-one windows in the gable end. The conical turret at the southeast corner rises two floors up from the first floor base; it has five-over-one windows on each floor. The east elevation has a gabled dormer with four one-over-one windows, stickwork and flared bargeboards; below is a lattice porch and a secondary entry.
The Polson house contains approximately 5,400 sq. ft. of interior living area: 2,000 on the first floor, 2,280 on the second floor, and 1,120 in the attic. The basement has an additional 1,750 sq. ft. The elaborate interior, including carved wood, painted ceilings and extensive hardware, is intact. Its elevator, installed in 1906, may be the first in a Seattle residence. The foyer and the principal entertaining rooms on the main floor are finished in white oak, with particularly fine box beams in the dining room. Canvas hung ceilings were decorated by painter Franz Zallinger who later worked for B. Marcus Priteca in the decoration of the Pantages Theater and Coliseum Theater. They range from traditional English and French florals in the drawing room and heraldry in the library to Art Nouveau and Arts & Crafts borders and trim in rear parlor, dining room, and stair hall.
For Further Reading
View a November 2003 Seattle Times article about the Polson family seeking a new owner who will value its historical significance.