Who Shaped Wallingford? District Stories

This effort is supported, in part, by a grant from 4Culture.

Contents

  1. An Irish Rose in Wallingford: The Story of Margaret Denton O’Hare
  2. People & Places Spotlights
  3. From China to Wallingford: The Clarkson Family on 47th Street
  4. Bread & Basketball: The Buchan Family of Wallingford
  5. Wallingford’s First Multi-Family Housing Boom

The following stories are the result of our team of volunteer researchers who are combing through old newspapers, census records, and Polk directories to document the people and places of Wallingford. The places featured below are located in the proposed Wallingford Historic District North.

These stories are important and give context to both our neighborhood and city development. By researching the homes and commercial buildings’ past occupants, we can feel a little closer to understanding who came before us and imagine what life was like for them as they navigated everyday life.

An Irish Rose in Wallingford: The Story of Margaret Denton O’Hare

Posted March 17, 2022

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Today we’d like to highlight the story of one of Wallingford’s Irish immigrant residents, Margaret Denton O’Hare.

Margaret Healy was born in Ireland around 1886 and immigrated to the United States in 1908. By 1909, she had married James Edward Denton from Illinois who was employed as a streetcar driver. In 1910, the couple were living in a rented home at 322 Taylor St., possibly near the future site of the Space Needle. By the following year, the couple had a son, James Taylor Denton. In 1916, the couple purchased a home in Wallingford at 4608 Corliss Ave N. However, the Dentons did not seem to have had the chance to live in the home together, as James died in 1917 at the age of 39 from heart inflammation and was listed as living at 4904 Rainier Ave. Margaret seemed to have moved into the home, but by the following year, she was living in the parish house at St. Benedict’s Church as a housekeeper. It’s uncertain where her son, James, was living at during this time.

4608 Corliss Ave N, c. 1937

In 1922, Margaret remarried, this time to fellow Irish immigrant John J. O’Hare, who was a steelworker and had come to Seattle two years prior. They lived in the home on Corliss for a short time, before living in Kirkland in 1924, where John worked as a laborer for Young Iron Works, and the couple had two children- Kathleen and Robert. The family moved to Riverton Heights by 1930, just north of the present-day SeaTac airport. John worked as a cement factory laborer and Margaret’s son James worked as a general helper at an airplane factory, possibly at Boeing’s famous Red Barn.

By 1935, the O’Hare family moved back to the house on Corliss, which had been used as a rental property while they were away. James began a career as a teacher and lived in the home for just a few years before marrying Marjorie Goss in 1938; he later became Principal of Denny Jr. High. Margaret and John seemed to have had a complicated relationship, as they divorced by 1940, only to get remarried in 1948. During this time, Margaret was one of only four women in the area that was a divorced head of household, and she supported her two younger children by doing housework at a private home. The O’Hares continued to live in the home on Corliss, including daughter Kathleen who had also become a teacher, until at least 1958, when John passed away.

  • Margaret and John's First Marriage Certificate, 1922
  • Margaret and John's Second Marriage Certificate, 1948
  • 4608 Corliss Ave N in 1958

Margaret’s story shows the resiliency and strength it took to be not only an immigrant woman in the early 20th century, but also a widowed and later divorced mother. With limited options, she was able to carry on through multiple losses and still provide for her children by cleaning others’ homes and renting out her own home. As we continue to uncover the stories of Wallingford’s past immigrant, working class, and women residents, it not only allows us to share a more complete history of the neighborhood, but also serves to inspire us today.

Sources:
U.S. Census: 1910-1940
Polk City Directories
Seattle Post-Intelligencer Newspaper Archives
Puget Sound Regional Archives
HistoryLink.org
Washington Digital Archives


People & Places Spotlights

Posted February 12, 2022

For this first spotlight, we’re featuring the Craftsman home at 4916 Woodlawn Ave N. Built sometime between 1906 and 1911, it is a contributing building in our proposed National Register of Historic Places District Nomination.

As you can see in the photos, not much has changed by way of character-defining features on the outside of the home in the last 11 decades. Through our research of the Polk City Directories and the U.S. Census, we know of four different families that lived in the home between 1916 and 1960. The longest residing family between that time was an immigrant family from Russia who moved into the home by 1919. Lewis Savage, a car factory watchman, and his wife Anna had both immigrated from Russia in the late 1880s, and had made their way to Washington from Pennsylvania by 1901.

In 1920, the couple lived in the home with their adult sons Lewis, an auto mechanic, Joseph, and William, daughter Anna, boarder Jeanne Shreve, an office worker at a dry goods store, and Lewis’ cousin Anthony Kaumas, a lumber laborer. Anthony Kaumas moved out by 1925 and roomer Stanley Bashin (possibly Anna’s brother), a divorced Lithuanian immigrant and tailor moved in. Lewis Sr. passed away by 1929 and the following year Anna was living in the home with her sons Joseph, now a clerk at the electric company, and William, a railroad mail depot worker, daughter Anne, a law office stenographer, and Stanley Bashin. According to the Polk City Directories, the family stayed in the home until at least 1935.

For our second spotlight, we’re highlighting the Nahhas family who lived at 4718 Burke Avenue N and sharing a few Christmas advertisements that were placed in the Seattle Daily Times and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer between 1917 and 1926 by the Nahhas Company.

The Nahhas family was one of four Syrian families that moved onto the 4700 block of Burke Avenue in the 1910s and 1920s. Nemer and his wife Annie immigrated to the United States from Syria in the early 1890s and by 1910 had made their way to Seattle via California. They then purchased the newly built home at 4718 N Burke Avenue where they lived with their four young daughters Sadie, Waslea, Emilen, and Adel until about 1935. Before opening his imported goods store at 302 Pine Street, Nemer worked as a grocer at a store run by himself and two of his neighbors, who were also Syrian immigrants. Both Nemer and Annie gave talks on oriental rugs, which they sold and cleaned at their shop and were involved in raising money for relief aid to send overseas to Syrians, who at the time were enduring hardship under Turkish rule. Annie Nahhas dedicated much of her time to giving lectures and performances on Syrian traditions and customs, as well as current living conditions to the Y.W.C.A., the Seattle Federation of Women’s Clubs, the Seattle Business Girls’ Club, and various Church groups.

Lastly, our third spotlight is this Colonial Revival-style home at 4717 Meridian Avenue, built between 1920 and 1923. As you can see in the photos posted below, the house has had some alterations over the years. Through our research of the Polk City Directories and the U.S. Census, we discovered the story of Florence Teitgen, a graduate of Northwestern University who worked as one of the city’s few women dentists for 35 years. Teitgen purchased this home shortly after it was built around 1924. Florence did not always live in the home and actually rented it out between 1930 and 1933 to several short-term residents including a UW student, a couple clerks, a salesman, a superintendent, a repeaterman, and a civil engineer. From about 1935, Florence’s daughter, Linda Estelle, lived in the home with her husband until their divorce prior to 1940, when according to the U.S. Census, Florence had moved back in. She died in 1951.

Do you have a story to contribute? Email us at info@historicwallingford.org.

From China to Wallingford: The Clarkson Family on 47th Street

Posted June 20, 2021
By Vanessa Chin and Sarah Martin

Editor’s note: Historic Wallingford’s ongoing research into the people and places that have shaped Wallingford is revealing a wonderful tapestry of stories that are reflected in the dwellings, shops, parks, and streetscapes of today’s neighborhood. Mathilda Clarkson was first revealed to us in the 1930 U.S. census, which listed her as a widowed mother of four – all born in China. The following account remembers the Clarkson family who lived in the small Craftsman bungalow at 1422 N. 47th Street for nearly 20 years.   

In May 1921 Mathilda Clarkson, a 35-year-old widow, and her four children boarded the SS Kashima Maru at Kobe, Japan, bound for Seattle. They joined her father, Mans Hellstrand, a retired customs agent and native of Sweden, who had boarded the ship at Hong Kong just days earlier. The family was immigrating to the United States after a lifetime in China and Japan. It is not clear what motivated their relocation, but perhaps the death of Mathilda’s husband, Charles Clarkson, Sr., a British national, in 1917 and the increasing social and political tensions in northern China and Russia during this period were factors. 

Mathilda was born in Shanghai, China, in 1886 to a Swedish father and Japanese mother, Mans and Sumi (Sudzuki) Hellstrand. Her father worked for the Imperial Maritime Custom Service for many years in various Chinese port cities. Little is known about her mother. Mathilda married Charles, and the couple had four children while living in Guangzhou, then a British treaty port city called Canton: Charles (b. 1906), John (b. 1908), Kristina (b. 1909), and Arthur (b. 1911). The family was living in Tientsin, today’s Tianjin, in 1917, when Charles, Sr., left for Seattle, perhaps in preparation for the family’s immigration. He died en route at Shimonoseki, Japan. Mathilda and her family persevered and immigrated to Seattle three-and-a-half years later. 

Mathilda arrived with $7,000 in her possession and presumably used it to purchase the family’s home in Wallingford at 1422 N. 47th Street. The Clarksons lived there until 1940, when Mathilda purchased a house at 5104 Greenwood Avenue N., a block west of Woodland Park. While living in Wallingford, all of Mathilda’s children graduated from Lincoln High School between 1925 and 1931. Arthur, her youngest child, attended Hamilton Intermediate School (now Hamilton International Middle School) during its first years after opening in 1927. The Clarksons participated in community and school activities that earned them mentions in the local newspapers. For example, Arthur was a member of Wallingford Boy Scout Troop 146, becoming Scoutmaster and winning a council award in 1941.

Charles attended the University of Washington, ultimately graduating from the University of Minnesota. He was drafted into the U.S. Army and served during World War II from 1942 to 1946. After high school, John eventually settled in West Seattle and worked for the National Bank of Commerce downtown and later for the State Department of Labor. Like his brother Charles, Arthur attended the University of Minnesota and served in the U.S. Army during World War II. Kristina attended one year of college, but was unable to work and lived with her mother until Mathilda’s death in 1969. Kristina died a few years later.

Mathilda Clarkson and her children were among the very few immigrants from Asia living in Wallingford in the 1930s and 1940s. Their biracial background and British surname likely afforded them opportunities unavailable to other Asian immigrants, such as where they could live. We would appreciate knowing more about the Clarksons and their experiences navigating day-to-day life in Wallingford during that time. Do you have a similar story to share? Let us know at info@historicwallingford.org.

Sources:

1930 and 1940 U.S. Census
Polk City Directories
Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer Newspaper Archives
Puget Sound Regional Archives
HistoryLink.org
Washington Digital Archives


Bread and Basketball: The Buchan Family of Wallingford 

Posted April 10, 2021
By Vanessa Chin and Sarah Martin
Special thanks to Alec Buchan for sharing his family’s photographs. 

Wallingford in the early 20th century was full of families who ran small businesses, and the Buchans are just one example of the rich patchwork of stories our research is spotlighting. This immigrant family from Scotland built the Buchan Baking Company, known not only for its delicious bread but also for its championship basketball team – the Buchan Bakers.

George & Lizzie Buchan

George and Lizzie Buchan (pictured at right) immigrated to the United States with their two children, George Jr. and Elizabeth M. in April 1902. By 1910, the growing family, which now included daughter Bella, lived in Wallingford at 1423 N. 47th Street (pictured below), along with George’s brothers, Andrew and William. The Buchan family lived in this home until about 1920, when George and Lizzie purchased the home at 1422 N. 46th Street (pictured at right and below), where they would live for many years. George’s brother William and his wife Flora continued to rent the home on 47th Street until 1922 when George Jr. took ownership of the property. In 1930, Bella and her husband Theodore, who worked as a salesman for the baking company, purchased the home and lived there for the next eight years. 

George had worked as a baker in Scotland and found a job at a bakery in Buckley where he commuted by train and came home on weekends. His hard work paid off, and by 1919, George opened his own business, the Buchan Baking Company, in downtown Seattle. The Buchan Baking Company built a new plant in south Wallingford at 1601 N. 34th Street in 1925, a building that until recently still functioned as a bakery (pictured at the end). George Jr. eventually took on the thriving business, and in 1951, the Polk directory listed six Buchan family members working for the company: George Jr., his sons George C., Ian D., and Robin as well as John and William. 

In 1948, the Buchan Baking Company was asked by Warren Bud Howard to sponsor his basketball team in the Northwest Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) League. The Buchan Bakers played for 13 seasons and won the National AAU Championship in 1956, beating the famed Phillips 66ers in the title game. The Bakers also won the Northwest AAU title six times and toured overseas as part of US State Department-sponsored exchanges. To see video clips and to learn more about this championship basketball team and its place in Seattle sports history, visit BuchanBakers.com

The Buchan Baking Company grew to include factories in Tacoma and Bellingham, until 1966 when the company was purchased by Oroweat.

Sources:

Buchan Bakers Website: http://buchanbakers.com/history.html 
Buchan’s Bread Website: https://www.buchansbread.com 
City of Seattle Historic Resources Survey Database.
Polk City Directories
US Census, 1910 to 1940


Everything Old is New Again: Wallingford’s First Multi-family Housing Boom

Posted March 14, 2021
Multi-family housing was an important feature of early 20th-century Wallingford. There were apartment blocks, stacked flats, and court apartments all within close proximity to the streetcar lines along Wallingford Avenue, 40th and 45th Streets, and Meridian Avenue. Like today’s buses, the streetcars connected Wallingford to downtown, making the area an affordable and convenient place to live.

One real estate firm, in particular, focused on multi-family housing in the late 1920s. The Landon Real Estate Company, incorporated by W. J. (Jack) and Verah Landon in August 1927, built multi-family residences within sight of their office at 1901 N 45th Street, where they remained for more than 40 years.

The Landon Real Estate Co. developed three 19-unit apartment blocks along 46th Street and Burke Avenue. Landon hired architect H. B. McKnight to design an apartment block at 4515 Burke Avenue N. It opened in 1928 as the Landon Arms apartments and featured 19 “ultra-modern apartments,” with two-, three-, and four-room units. Landon’s Verah Apartments, at 1903 N 46th Street, opened in 1929. This three-story brick structure contained six two-room and 13 three-room suites. It cost $85,000 to build and contained the latest conveniences, including refrigeration and an electric stove, a wall radio, and oil burner heating (Seattle Post-Intelligencer 5/11/1929). Landon completed a third multi-family block in late 1929, the Jack-Lan Apartments, at 1911 N. 46th Street. This three-story building had 13 three-room and six two-room suites (Seattle Times 10/27/1929).

Shortly after opening, the monthly rents in these buildings ranged from $40 to $65. Tenants recorded in the 1930 census included both young and older married couples and multi-generational family groups. They included native Washingtonians, transplants from all over the U.S, and also German-, Norwegian-, and French-speaking immigrants. The occupations of residents included traffic officer, doctor office assistant, telephone operator, teacher, pharmacist, salesman, watchman, baker, deep sea fisherman, clerk, laborer, chiropractor, and millworker. The Landons themselves lived in the Jack-Lan Apartments for many years.  

These apartment blocks are nearing 100 years old and remain an important part of the Wallingford landscape. They are just three examples of several 1920s-era multi-family residences in the neighborhood, and they remind us of the variety of people who have called Wallingford home.