Spend Saturday, April 9th peering into the glamorous history of Capitol Hill’s Harvard / Belmont Landmark District. Designated in 1980, the district boasts an inventory of impressive estates as well as numerous smaller, but nevertheless charming, homes.
By the early twentieth century, Capitol Hill’s central location yet pastoral streets were attracting affluent families away from the increasingly commercial Frist Hill, arguably Seattle’s first fashionable neighborhood. Horace Chapin Henry, the venerable Seattle businessman and founder of the Henry Art Gallery, is credited with commissioning the neighborhood’s first substantial house. Designed by Bebb & Gould, a prominent Seattle firm responsible for the Seattle Asian Art Museum and the Olympic Hotel, the house was completed in 1901 and featured a five-car garage, a novel amenity for a time when automobiles were just appearing on the city’s streets. The scale of Henry’s home, which unfortunately was demolished in 1936, set an impressive precedent for other affluent Seattleites commissioning homes in the area.
Characteristic of urban development in the early twentieth century, the homes in the Harvard / Belmont district run the gamete in terms of architectural style. Among the buildings of primary significance, however, are numerous residences undoubtedly influenced by the English architect Richard Norman Shaw. While Shaw was essentially an eclectic architect, his projects that held the most influence for American designers were a series of picturesque country houses that derived from a careful study of sixteenth-century English manorial architecture. The half-timbering, hanging tiles, projecting gables, massive chimney blocks, and asymmetry of Shaw’s work can be felt throughout the Harvard / Belmont District, but especially in the M. H. Young House, the C. H. Bacon House, the J. A. Kerr House, and the W. L. Rhodes House
Whether you go for the early-twentieth century gossip, the plethora of beautiful and architecturally significant houses, or just for the walk, the important thing is to go, as you will not want to miss this glance into the fascinating history of the Harvard / Belmont Landmark District.
Tours are approximately 2 hours and run rain or shine, dress accordingly! Advance registration is strongly encouraged; walk-ups are limited to space available for a cost of $25 (cash only/exact change required). For more information on SAF tours, visit their FAQ page (http://seattlearchitecture.org/tours/tours-faq/) or call 206-667-9184.