Tuesday, March 12th, 2019. Kirkland, Washington. As traffic screams by on Kirkland Way south of NE 85th Street I pull into a gravel parking lot to get a better view of an old white house on the east side. When I’d passed it the previous weekend I wondered why I hadn’t investigated it before. I don’t go down that particular road much.
The house was clearly old with some odd newer accessories like the rickety deck. King County Assessor’s records say it was built in 1918. A quick look through online documents revealed that this was associated with, and possibly built by, an old Kirkland family, the Wolds. Thanks to Kirkland historian Matt McCauley for recognizing the surname.
This grand old house, which would have been large for its time, sits on a little bluff looking west at Lake Washington. McCauley said a local organization has a photo from the 1920s taken from this house showing ships in the lake. It must have had quite a view.
This upper window with its cheery blue trim almost looks like silhouettes of cartoon characters… with a strange purple tie and some sort of texting and driving warning.
What a place this must have been in its prime. You can just imagine Norman Rockwell-like turkey dinners in the family-filled dining room with a 1942 Willys Americar parked outside.
This is the north side of the lot, soon to become more soulless boxes. Our region is obsessed with human hamster hutches, building trendy boxes on tiny lots. I dread and already loathe what will likely come next as 101 years of this home’s history is scraped away and the trees are all torn down. Its wild residents will be evicted and have to scurry to already occupied neighboring land.
“Who knows if this will be here tomorrow?” I thought. I decided to take a quick walk up the driveway to document this piece of Kirkland history for posterity’s sake.
At least two types of Christmas lights still hang off this funny deck.
The front of the house. How quaint, how rare. This is a dying breed. There are only about 73,000 Americans who are as old as this house or older. That’s about the population of downtown Denver. Very few of them are likely to remember 1918. But this house does.
Looking west towards Kirkland Way and Lake Washington. Across the street is a dated commercial building that seems to be the hub for a moving company. Look at the stately old evergreen draped over the right part of the photo. This might be the last time you ever see it.
Evidently there have been problems here. Squatters, perhaps. Maybe it was a party house. It’s deemed unsafe.
This beautiful little tree and its elder siblings will likely soon be gone.
Some sort of overgrown creek runs across the south border of the property. I also noticed water running down the driveway. Looking at a map, this house straddles two addresses, 131 and 135. But its original address was 205 Cedar Street. It sits between busy Kirkland Way and idyllic Cedar Street.
For some strange reason I was glad to be there that particular day. I had to be there. It was like it was calling to me.
This foray into the past prompted me to think about another house almost as old. Behind the Zip Market on the west side of Market Street is an early 1920s house that seems to be in reasonable shape. It has an upstairs and downstairs with a huge backyard. The backyard has some sort of massive shelter in it that looks like you could store a ship underneath. Right next door is the sickly green wall of the Zip Market and assorted Himalayan blackberries.
To contrast this 1920s home with a neighbor, this is the palatial spread across the street. Kirkland is seeing these old cute homes torn down and giant, modern structures put in their place. It’s a wonder the smaller house is still there.
Kirkland doesn’t have a lot of old homes left as developers are inhaling our history and building boxes. Some of our oldest homes don’t have any historic protections. They can be torn down before anyone notices or has a chance to save them. This jewel, whose name escapes me at the moment, was built the year Washington became a state, 1889. Bless the people who care for this landmark.
Fast forward to the afternoon of Friday, March 22nd, 2019, today. I just happened to mention “the old white house above Kirkland Way” at work. I was told, “they’ve torn half of that down.”
What??!!! I ran over there after work and this gruesome scene was seared into my corneas. No wonder I had such an urge to photograph this place just 10 days ago.
No……… once again a piece of Kirkland’s history fades silently into the past without many noticing and even fewer caring.
The Seattle area had temperatures in the high 70s this week which is exceedingly odd. It was warm enough today and sunny until about 30 minutes before I got off work. Immediately upon exiting my car to take these photos it began to rain.
No one was on site. The mechanical executioner assigned to this home’s destruction was silent. Yet the house had been disemboweled, a gigantic gash leaving its once private insides exposed to the elements.
Besides the wise trees that seemed to be trying to guard it from prying eyes, the first thing I noticed was the cool old door just hanging into space. Why aren’t such elements salvaged before the house is torn down? I feel so strongly about this that I made a call to find out who the demolition company is and left them a message asking what I have to do to rescue any old architectural features, like doors and doorknobs, even if I have to dig them out of the rubble.
It’s like it’s missing half its face, a wounded sentinel staring westward, knowing another volley will come yet still standing proudly.
Besides the revolting swastika, which was originally called in Sanskrit “conducive to well being” before the Nazis got a hold of it, this is a fascinating cross section showing how the house was built. Look at that old wood. It would have been so much better if someone would have salvaged and repurposed some of it.
This also reminded me of what houses could look like in a strong enough earthquake. We have five active volcanoes in Washington, two of which are highly dangerous, Mt. Rainier and Mt. St. Helens. Earthquakes could trigger them and vice versa.
Some of us remember the May 1980 eruption of Mt. St. Helens well. That was a beautiful Sunday morning. When we woke up the next day it was like we’d landed on the moon because everything was covered in ash.
I took a few pictures trying to read the title of the book and to see what else is in there. Is it a Tom Clancy book? A light, a stuffed animal, a laundry basket…
It just now occurred to me which book that is. That’s Till Armageddon: A Perspective on Suffering by Billy Graham! That is profound. If you’ve never read or listened to Billy Graham, you’re missing out.
No one is exempt from the touch of tragedy: neither the Christian nor the non-Christian; neither the rich nor the poor; neither the leader nor the commoner. Crossing all racial, social, political, and economic barriers, suffering reaches out to unite mankind.Billy Graham, Till Armageddon
Billy Graham wrote that in 1981. The premise of the book is that no one is exempt from suffering, but God can use suffering and provide comfort and solutions. He also discusses how our present sufferings ultimately won’t compare with the coming glory.
Ironically, Billy Graham was born in 1918, the same year this house was built. He graduated to glory just over a year ago.
Probably every one of those nails was driven by hand.
Is that a stuffed dog? A fake pineapple? Who gave who the card that came in the yellow envelope? I noticed two photos ago that the white paper begins “Lord.” I can’t make out the green paper. There is another book buried in there. Who were you? Why were you suffering? What are you seeking?
Note the dangling mouse.
101 years it stood. Had it not been neglected it might still be here. Tonight part of it is. Tomorrow there might be no trace.
This link says this property was sold for $800,000 in July of 2015.
Rare development opportunity in the City of Kirkland! RM 3.6 zoning allows for detached, attached or stacked dwelling units for maximum density. Close to the interstate. All utilities on site. Easy access to property from Kirkland Way and surrounded by multi-family units.
And that’s exactly what keeps happening: maximum density. Our tax burden is so heavy and property values so through the roof that we keep building on tiny lots reaching towards the sky. Alarmingly, our overtaxed infrastructure hasn’t hardly grown with the development boom. The same crowded roads are expected to handle tens of thousands more people and their many vehicles. They call this progress.
There was one bright spot during this sorrowful goodbye. Do you see it?
Bursting from the western slope, a clump of daffodils laughs like it’s still 1955 and the family’s coming to grandma’s for meatloaf and apple pie. I wanted to rescue them, to transplant them to a safer place. But now I realize that they are laughing in the face of Armageddon.
As the old trees groan in anticipation of tractors and chainsaw blades and the ground realizes it will soon be bearing a much heavier burden, these daffodils are a reminder of happier times. They are a final burst of defiance and a reminder that one day nature will reclaim this land.
101 years this house lasted, a century and a year. In 1918 German U-Boats were sinking ships, the Spanish flu pandemic began, and curiously, the Ottomans and Germans found themselves surrounded by Allenby’s British and French forces at the Battle of Megiddo. Tel Megiddo in Greek is Ἁρμαγεδών, most commonly known in its corrupted version as Armageddon. Besides being a place and the prophesied location of a hellish future battle, it can be defined as an event of great destruction.
205 Cedar Street is quietly enduring its Armageddon as its neighbors race by and barely notice.
The reality is that old houses that were built a hundred years ago were built by actual craftsmen, people who were the best in the world at what they did. The little nuances in the woodwork, the framing of the doors, the built-in nooks, the windows—all had been done by smart, talented people, and I quickly found that uncovering those details and all of that character made the house more inviting and more attractive and more alive.Joanna Gaines
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