Wallingford Historic District Feasibility Study

Historic Wallingford hosted a public meeting on October 25 to present the results of the Wallingford Historic District Feasibility Study and to discuss possible next steps. The report, produced by preservation consultants Northwest Vernacular, identifies four areas – noted in the study as A, B, C, and D – that are potentially eligible as National Register of Historic Places historic districts. The report, public meeting presentation, and sign board files are linked below.

Historic Wallingford is interested in pursuing these designations and is currently gauging community interest. Please email us at info@historicwallingford.org with any input, questions, or to volunteer for the next phase of the project.

What is the Historic District Feasibility Study?

Image courtesy: Linda Sewell

Historic Wallingford is an all-volunteer neighborhood non-profit organization with a mission to foster an awareness of and appreciation for Wallingford’s history and architecture.

With support from King County’s cultural funding agency, 4Culture, Historic Wallingford is sponsoring a historic district feasibility study to be directed by preservation consultant Northwest Vernacular. The study involves gathering previously compiled histories, historic resource surveys, and neighborhood plans followed by neighborhood walks to observe and document what survives. The social and cultural history of our community is also be a focus of the study, so we may better understand the people who built Wallingford and have called this place home. Historic Wallingford is grateful for the involvement of dedicated volunteers to complete the study.  

Using the information gathered, the study will offer guidance on what areas in the neighborhood may qualify for historic district designation, most likely through a listing in the National Register of Historic Places, which is an honorary designation. Such a designation could stimulate pride in our neighborhood and bring awareness to the value of Wallingford’s historic built environment.

The goal of this is study is to gather information that can guide future preservation and historical interpretation efforts in Wallingford. Objectives include identifying potential historic district boundaries based on the neighborhood’s platting and development patterns and developing a public information and outreach plan to gauge interest in a possible National Register and/or City of Seattle historic district.

Check out our FAQs below for more information.

How can I participate?

Volunteer and member input, involvement, and support will be an important part of this effort. Not a Historic Wallingford member? Learn more about joining or renewing here.

Join the team! Historic Wallingford relied on a core network of volunteers to assist with research and to walk the neighborhood to observe and record details about the older buildings. Both tasks required a brief introductory training. The information gathered by volunteers is being used by Historic Wallingford’s preservation consultant in their analysis of the neighborhood. To inquire about future volunteer efforts, email Rhonda Bush at Rhonda.Bush@historicwallingford.org.

Participate! At least two information sessions are planned – the first was scheduled for Historic Wallingford members and took place on Thursday, June 20 at the Blue Start Cafe and Pub. A second gathering is scheduled for Friday, October 25 and is open to the public. Learn more here. Not a Historic Wallingford member? Learn more about joining or renewing here.

Contribute! Historic Wallingford is a 501c3 organization and can accept tax-deductible donations online – scroll to the bottom of this page – or via check mailed to PO Box 31518, Seattle, WA 98103. Thank you!

By studying Wallingford and those who have shaped its history, we can be better stewards of this place for future generations. We hope the energy and activity of this project will generate community-wide interest and enthusiasm. Please share this information with your neighbors and friends!

Frequently Asked Questions

Why explore historic designation in Wallingford?

Wallingford has one of the largest and most cohesive examples of early 20th century architecture left in Seattle. Currently, there are seven designated landmarks in Wallingford: the Good Shepherd Center, the Wallingford Center (Interlake School), the 45th Street Clinic (Wallingford Fire and Police Station), parts of three schools—John Stanford (Latona), Lincoln, and Hamilton (primarily exterior facades and some interior spaces) – and Gas Works Park. These historic places are reminders of our past and contribute to the sense of place and identity in Wallingford for those people who live and work here.

Without a preservation plan, Wallingford’s historic fabric could be lost to future generations. This feasibility study will help identify what remains in Wallingford that would meet the criteria for a possible historic district.  A historic designation could increase pride in the neighborhood, raise awareness of and about maintaining historic buildings, and attract people interested in a historic sense of place – all of this adding to the vibrancy and livability of Wallingford. As density and development increase, a preservation plan would help direct the change.

Will the feasibility study result in a historic district in Wallingford?

The short-term goal is simply to complete this feasibility study to determine what parts of Wallingford might qualify for historic district designation. The study will offer recommendations on next steps, and any historic designations would only happen as part of a later second phase.

Looking ahead, what if a historic district is established in Wallingford?  How would a historic district designation affect the use of my own property?

There are two kinds of historic districts that could apply to Wallingford: a National Register of Historic Places district and a City of Seattle Landmark District. The National Register of Historic Places is a program of the National Park Service. In Washington State, the program is administered in partnership with the Washington Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation. A National Register district is an honorary designation, and while there are specific criteria that must be met to be nominated, this designation has a threshold that is more likely achievable than others. A National Register district does not affect an owner’s ability to change their property.  This link provides a detailed summary of what it means to list properties in the National Register. The comprehensive National Register application requires that the area’s significance be fully documented and includes a discussion of property integrity. What results is an excellent planning tool to aid and inform the long-term management of growth and development in a way that supports and reinforces the neighborhood’s character while also allowing it to grow and change but perhaps in a more informed way. The information compiled for a National Register district application can also be used to support grant applications to help fund repair and maintenance of structures within the district.

A City of Seattle Landmark District would require design review for both exterior changes to properties within the district and for new construction.  The guidelines would be developed based on the historic character of the historic district. This link provides more information about City of Seattle Landmark Districts. There are some property tax benefits for buildings designated as City of Seattle Landmarks, or for those contributing to a landmark district.

How will the feasibility study be conducted?

Step one involves gathering basic information on building integrity and compiling history that may reveal patterns and cohesions among properties.

  • Integrity is defined as a property’s ability to convey its significance, primarily through its physical features and materials. To determine integrity, a reconnaissance-level survey will be conducted of buildings 50 years or older, specifically focusing on observable alterations to building plan, windows, and exterior cladding. This is a significant task.
  • Boundaries. The National Park Service administers the National Register program and requires there be a justified and documented argument for the historic district boundary. This justification is often the shared plat or development effort that resulted in the shape and character of the neighborhood. Development-over-time plays a part in this justification as well, and so street car lines in Wallingford, for example, will be a factor to consider.
  • Patterns and cohesion will be analyzed as they relates to property integrity of feeling and association. For instance, is there a noticeable character to the historic district that makes it recognizable as such?

Using the information gathered, Northwest Vernacular preservation consultants will analyze the data compiled, consult with city and state preservation offices, and study neighborhood platting and development patterns to determine if there are areas of Wallingford that meet the criteria for designation to the National Register or as City of Seattle landmark district. If it is determined there are qualifying areas in Wallingford, a nomination plan will be developed. Moving forward with a designation will depend on the opinions of the residents and property owners in the proposed designation areas.

The stories of the people involved in the development of Wallingford will be an important component.  Past generations have built this place, is the responsibility of the current generation to take steps for preservation of Wallingford for future generations.

What is the timeline of the feasibility study?

May 2019
1. Grant funding obtained and Northwest Vernacular preservation consultants retained.
2. Announced in May newsletter
3. Volunteer recruitment begins
4. Wallingford plat maps pulled
5. Data is compiled from city and state historic resource databases

June 2019
1. Volunteer training for field observations and plat map research
2. Collecting information on the history of Wallingford
3. June 20: Member Meeting to share progress-to-date and get input

July/August/September 2019
Work with preservation consultants to gather any additional information to aid in their analysis

October 2019
October 25: Host a public meeting to share results of study and gather input on next steps

Get involved to learn more! To join our team, contact Rhonda Bush via email at rhonda.bush@historicwallingford.org.