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 (Nov. 2020)

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 Woodlawn Avenue N on the west.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed our start, a core group of volunteers is moving this project forward. One volunteer has developed a user-friendly database where our volunteers can input field survey and research data for all the properties in the proposed historic district. Several volunteers have tested the database and field survey process. We hope to have the field survey completed by the end of the year, and we hope to begin the research collecting phase soon.

How can I participate?

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

Join Historic Wallingford! Not a Historic Wallingford member? Learn more about joining or renewing your membership here.

Participate! Historic Wallingford is planning small information sessions via Zoom. We’d love to host a meeting of you and your neighbors to discuss the historic district effort and neighborhood history. Interested in organizing a meeting in your neighborhood? Let us know – info@historicwallingford.org.

Join the team! Historic Wallingford relies on a network of volunteers to assist with research and to walk the neighborhood to observe and record details about the older buildings. Both tasks require a brief introductory training. The information gathered by volunteers will be used in the National Register historic district application. To inquire about ongoing volunteer efforts, email info@historicwallingford.org.

Contribute! Historic Wallingford is a 501c3 organization and can accept tax-deductible donations online 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!

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, raise awareness of the importance of building and neighborhood design features, contribute to the maintenance of historic buildings, 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 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.

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. Early steps in the North historic district process have 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 are leading 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 retained their original character. 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, at least 51% 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?

Our historic district effort depends on volunteers, and the pandemic slowed our start to the process. Nevertheless, we anticipate completing the field survey and beginning online research by the end of 2020. While our progress with research will be challenged by the pandemic-related closures of area libraries and archives, we hope to complete online research by mid-2021.

What’s next?

After the work on the North historic district (Areas A and D) is completed in late 2021, Historic Wallingford will begin work on Area C1.  This area is between N 39th Street on the south and N 45th Street on the north, between Eastern Avenue N on the east and Ashworth Avenue N and Interlake Avenue N on the west. Like the North historic district, these boundaries are a starting point and may be revised as the research is done. Because we will have learned a great deal while doing the North historic district, it will hopefully take a little less time to construct the application for Area C1, but it still will take about 18 months to complete.

Following the work on Area C1, we may either proceed with Area C2 or with Area D, depending on the encouragement we receive from volunteers from these areas. Possibly, with enough volunteers we may be able to undertake both areas at about the same time since we will have much more experience by then.

We have heard from residents living west of Stone Way and north of N/NE 55th Street that they would like to be considered for inclusion in the historic district. Such further work will depend on the enthusiasm of volunteers from those areas.