Have you wondered why there’s a mini castle at the corner of 16th and East John Street in Capitol Hill? Being such a young city compared to those located out east, Seattle doesn’t have as many historic apartment buildings. But two years ago, the Anhalt Apartments at this location won a Preserving Neighborhood Character award. This was due to the building, originally built in 1931, getting a complete overhaul while preserving certain aspects of its history. The exterior features of the brick building, such as the courtyard and turreted entryway, and interior public spaces such as the spiral staircase, maintain the original late medieval/English Tudor character and the building is on the National Register of Historic Places. The 24 apartment interiors themselves were revamped to now meet today’s modern style. Another new, thoroughly modern building was also built in the space behind the original building to house 15 more apartment dwellers, and includes limited underground parking. (Helpful when living in a high-density area.)
Over 80 years ago, Fred Anhalt, a previous butcher turned designer & builder, moved from Minnesota and built a number of these castle-like structures in Seattle before the big Great Depression hit. He had wanted his multi-family rental units to really feel like a home, so included aspects such as privacy and a sense of community, and great amenities such as fireplaces, soundproofing, hand-carved wood detail, even electric dishwashers—highly unusual back then. This Anhalt Apartment building was an example of his mature work, being the 2nd to last building he completed before the economic downturn ended his company. Seattle’s AIA (American Institute of Architects) chapter posthumously awarded Mr. Anhalt an honorary membership because of his excellent residential design. The Seattle Times also ranked him among the 150 most influential people in Seattle’s history.
For 40 years, the Group Health company occupied the building after that, having completely gutted the interior for conversion into offices. Then the building sat vacant for 6 years until bought and converted back to 1-2 bedroom rentals during the renovation.
So if you’ve wondered why there are people living in a castle in your neighborhood… well, now you know.