Wallingford Historic District – North

Image: Linda Sewell

Background

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 leading the effort to nominate parts of Wallingford as an historic district to the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). We are working with a consultant, Northwest Vernacular, who led our Feasibility Study in 2019.  

It was the task of the Feasibility Study to determine which, if any, parts of Wallingford would qualify for recognition as an historic district.

The report identified four areas – noted in the study as A, B, C, and D – that are potentially eligible as NRHP historic districts (in the map below, Area C is divided into two parts, C1 and C2). The report, public meeting presentation, and sign board files are available to you at these links:

The Latest (September 2021)

Based on the input of the WA Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation staff, the public, and a working group of volunteers, Historic Wallingford has opted to first pursue historic district designation for study areas A and D together. This area included the highest percentage of older, potentially contributing properties and allowed for a large district with contiguous boundaries. Since we hope this will be the first of at least three historic districts, we’re calling it Wallingford Historic District – North.

The general working boundaries of this proposed historic district are NE 50th Street on the north, 5th Avenue NE on the east, NE 46th Street on the south, and Interlake Avenue N on the west (revised).

Although the COVID-19 pandemic slowed our start, a core group of volunteers completed
field survey in early 2021 and research in September 2021 for all the properties in the proposed historic district. All data have been compiled in a special-made database that is shared with our consultant, Northwest Vernacular, for analysis. Highlights of the volunteer researchers’ work combing through old newspapers, census records, and Polk directories are posted here.

In July 2021, Historic Wallingford received a 4Culture Projects Grant to support a broader demographic analysis and informational maps that will serve as a cornerstone of the historic district nomination. Results of the analysis of census records between 1910 and 1940 are forthcoming and expected in late 2021.

How can I participate?

Volunteer and member input, involvement, and support is an important part of this effort.

Participate! Two community meetings are planned for late 2021. Watch our website and newsletter for meeting details.   

Share! 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! Do you have memories of Wallingford to share? Let us know: info@historicwallingford.org.

Contribute! Historic Wallingford is a 501c3 organization and can accept tax-deductible gifts online or via check mailed to PO Box 31518, Seattle, WA 98103. Thank you!

FAQ

Why should we nominate parts of Wallingford to the NRHP?

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 the focus of a preservation plan, Wallingford’s historic fabric could be lost to future generations. A National Register historic district designation could increase pride in the neighborhood, illuminate the stories of those who shaped its history, raise awareness of the importance of building and neighborhood design features, contribute to the maintenance of historic places, and attract people interested in an 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.

What if a National Register historic district is established in Wallingford?  How would an historic district designation affect the use of my own property?

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 and detailed information must be submitted to be nominated, this designation is an important way to focus folks on the value of our beautiful homes. A National Register district does not affect an owner’s ability to remodel their property, but it could encourage more sensitive exterior
revisions. Nor can an historic district prevent demolitions, but it may give builders pause and encourage renovations instead.  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 integrity with a brief mention of every single property within the district boundary. What results is a valuable record of our neighborhood and an excellent planning tool to aid and inform the long-term management of growth and development in a way that supports change in an 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.

How will the historic district effort be conducted?

The Feasibility Study identified the basic outlines of each potential unit of the historic district and gave us enough information to establish priorities. The North historic district process has involved gathering basic information on each building’s architecture and history that may reveal patterns and cohesion among properties. Volunteers guided by our professional consultant have led this effort to gather information.

The information gathered will be included in a National Register application and analyzed alongside neighborhood histories to develop arguments of significance.

How are historic district boundaries determined?

The National Register application requires there be a justified and documented argument for the historic district boundary. This justification is based on the concentration of buildings that have maintained their appearance. The edges of the district are where there are more new or modified properties. Development-over-time plays a part in this justification as well, and so street car lines in Wallingford, for example, are a factor to consider. Lastly, a majority of the structures in the proposed district must be deemed contributing, and the higher the percentage, the stronger the nomination will be. It is important to note that the boundaries we have started with are tentative and may be revised depending on the research we do for the nomination application.

What is the timeline of the historic district process?

As of September 2021, the bulk of research and field survey is complete, and our consultant is analyzing the data and compiling the National Register nomination. A complete nomination is expected in late 2021 and will be presented at a public meeting. It will then be submitted to the Washington Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation in early 2022.

What’s next?

Once the North historic district (Areas A and D) effort is complete, Historic Wallingford will begin planning the next district recommended in the Feasibility Study – Area C1. Any next steps will depend on input from the community and a strong core of volunteers willing to lead the effort.