If you’re like me, when you first visited Madrona (for me it was while house-hunting) you fell in love with its beautiful old homes, stately Cascades views and its wooded setting. After all, if you didn’t care about these qualities you could’ve found much more house at much lower cost by buying a suburban palazzo out in Issaquah.
One day last spring, I walked past a 1904 Craftsman home I had long admired only to see it being razed to the ground. The new owner intended to install a swimming pool and cabana in its place. I blogged about this incident in Another Seattle Craftsman Comes Crashing Down. The shock of this loss of such a beautiful old home in my neighborhood led me to explore what safeguards are in place to maintain and preserve our old housing stock. The unfortunate answer is that presently there is little that can be done. The destruction of this home and its replacement use was perfectly legal.
That being said, there are important ways to work within the community to educate our Madrona residents about the value of historic home preservation. At the February Madrona Community Council meeting, Beth Chave of the Department of Neighborhoods-Historic Preservation, introduced the issue to her audience asking it to consider the differences between a neighborhood like Madrona and one like Issaquah. Madrona has a long and full history, it has scores of fine old homes and woods and Cascades views. All of these constitute a treasure and we residents are stewards of that treasure. If we ignore or forget what we have then we stand a good chance of losing it.
So it is incumbent on us to learn about Madrona’s architectural heritage. In order to appreciate this historic legacy, we must inventory and study these great public buildings, Queen Anne Victorians, Ellsworth Storey homes and Craftsman bungalows. To paraphrase the historian George Santayana: “those who do not understand their history are doomed to lose it.”
Ellsworth Storey’s Epiphany Church
chapel credit: Alyssa Burroughs at
Myron Ogden House credit: David Wilma
I’m pleased to note that there are two neighborhood buildings which have already been designated historic landmarks:
Charles Bussell House
credit: David Wilma
There should be more, and I’d like to encourage this process by calling for interested residents to join me in studying our Madrona architectural heritage. Some of the ways we could do this are:
1. choose a local public building and research its history and propose it for city landmark status.
2. work with private homeowners who wish secure landmark status for their homes.
3. compile a historic survey of neighborhood homes.
If you’d be interested in joining this effort or if you know of a homeowner interested in gaining historic designation, please contact me via e-mail at this site. Madrona needs your help if we are to preserve our local homes and heritage.