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Posts Tagged ‘demolition’

How will we know it’s us without our past?

John Steinbeck

There is a Bothell I used to know. It is an increasingly distant memory, a mist flickering on the moors of my imagination. What remains of that Bothell amounts to the dying embers of a fire that is being stamped out by an oversized boot called Progress.

In the early 20th century, progress was a large house for the Ericksen family, Bothell pioneers. Gerhard Ericksen was a state legislator whose legacy lives on although most people don’t know his role in the building of Bothell. The Ericksen family only owned this house for a few years. Then it became home to a different family who stayed for quite a while.

The Bothell the Ericksens helped build was not a city that decimated its natural resources and constructed seas of soulless boxes priced beyond what many could bear. It was a Bothell that coexisted with much of its natural environment, that built individual homes with sufficient space between them.

This is summer 2019. Unable to bear the high property taxes any longer, and with property values going through the roof, the strained owners of our eclectic beloved shopping center sold out to developers. An out of state company headquartered in Atlanta stepped in.

Fences went up, buildings started coming down. I was told that the City of Bothell didn’t have the money to save any historic buildings at Country Village on the Bothell-Everett Highway south of Canyon Park. The developer did not respond to questions.

The free-roaming chickens were rounded up and rehomed. People started to take mementos from Country Village without permission. There were online auctions and some of us asked what protections the ducks would be given. We were assured that the duck pond would stay, but that did not mean a thing for the surrounding land that the ducks have nested and lived on for generations.

Have you ever watched Disneyland burn? That’s how losing Country Village feels. For decades we shopped there, ate there, fed ducks there until they banned it, saw Santa there, sang songs there, took photos of the reindeer there. Country Village is where people went for haircuts, Moso bags, toys, antiques, Pirate Day. You could stop by for no other reason than to sit on a bench near the pond and enjoy a bag of kettle corn.

There was a peace there. Malls don’t have this peace. Urban shopping centers don’t have this lifeforce. The feathered fowl, the willow tree, the aging arches and old wagon lent themselves to a calm in the frenzied Seattle metro bustle. No matter how busy it was, you could hear yourself breathe.

On this sweltering day I stepped inside the northern arch to photograph one of the buildings that, to my amazement, was left standing. A security guard approached and related how people were waltzing into the property despite signs indicating that we needed to go no further than where I was. A red dragonfly hovered above his car as we talked at length. Who were you really, dragonfly?

Above is one of the two buildings that I learned would be left standing until April 2020. If someone does not move the buildings by then, they too will be lost forever. So I put the word out– free houses! But there they stand, and now it’s October. They have less than six months to live unless we find a kindhearted soul to save them.

This is the front of that old building. I stood there and stared into the ragged trellis of 2 X 4s designed to protect its interior. But for how long?

How long have these houses stood here unmolested? And now they waste away in hopes of a savior, a moving truck, new land to live the rest of their lives. I remain perturbed that there has not been an organized effort to save them. There are so few like them left.

I still have books I bought in these buildings as a kid.

The Ericksen House served as Whitehouse Antiques in recent years. They had quite the collection of candy and chocolate in addition to metal signs and antiques. Visitors would wind their way through its midsection, then clomp downstairs to circle the basement where, inevitably, someone would always trip at an unexpected step down. Then you’d clomp upstairs past the records on the wall and visit the old bedrooms that were either too hot or too cold.

In an era of big box homes with tiny to no yards, it’s disturbing that a historic beauty like this could go the way of the dodo. Experts tell me that because of vandalism and remodels much of the interior isn’t original. But the bones are still there. And it’s still significant. And it’s still one of a kind.

Descendants of the Ericksens marched in the 2019 Bothell Fourth of July Parade.

This is now October 2019. The former Country Village site looks like someone scraped away all of its trees and creatures and structures with a merciless metal spatula. Someone meaning Progress. This is what’s happening throughout King County as forests are being razed for huge developments, like the travesty in Black Diamond where thousands of cookie cutter homes will transform that wild, tiny mining town into Anywhere, USA.

The land regulations that allow this alarming displacement of wildlife and construction of myriad buildings that are grossly unsuited to the surrounding habitat are supposedly environmentally sensitive. “People need somewhere to live” they tell me. Why do they have to wipe out the local biome and pack people in like sardines? “We need affordable housing,” they say. Then why can’t longtime locals like myself even afford half of one of these supposedly affordable units?

This is the land where we ban plastic straws but tear down acres of proud ancient trees without regard for the inhabitants who’ve been there for thousands of years. There is no empathy for the mountain beavers, coyotes, deer, possums, raccoons, bears, birds, fish. Many of the new inhabitants have no connection to the surrounding environment or local history.

What’s that in the distance? To the right?

What’s that to the left? Oh. The same generic buildings that will soon fill the entire site. That seem to be dominating the Seattle metro area. That are consuming the I5 corridor from Chehalis to Bellingham.

This is what’s left of the duck pond. The rest of their habitat has been destroyed. I don’t know how ducks will be able to roam a high density complex of concrete freely, but Progress knows.

Look north and there it is, its footings being sheared away by loud machines. The Ericksen House is still standing proudly in the face of impending destruction. It’s nightmarish seeing this, and only this corner, of the village left.

It seems illogical, implausible, impossible that in a community as collectively wealthy as Bothell that we cannot find enough of us to band together and save this.

This is not a sinkhole. Not literally. But these buildings will be sucked into the sinkhole of Progress next spring without intervention.

The arch that used to say “welcome” now serves as a billboard for the demolition company.

Near. Far. But near could soon be so much farther that we’ll never see it again.

Will the road signs have to be changed too? Or will they stay and remind us of what Progress has cost?

As if there weren’t enough of these on the former back lot already, here are over a hundred more… along with thousands up and down the Bothell-Everett Highway. As an out of town visitor said, this road seems to have turned into a nonstop block of high density from downtown Bothell to Everett. Where is the wildlife supposed to go? Where are the lower to middle class people supposed to go?

After taking that photo I looked south. This cloud looked like a hand, a tidal wave, an angry face, or perhaps, if you tilt your head to the left, a mighty angel sheltering something with its wings.

If buildings could talk, these two might be reciting lyrics from the ’80s, the decade Country Village was born.

My defenses are down
A kiss or a frown
I can’t survive on my own…

Send me an angel
Send me an angel
Right now…

Above is the Ericksen family plot in the Bothell Pioneer Cemetery near UW Bothell, established 1889. Like the house they built so long ago, their graves face east, hoping for new life.

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History is a guide to navigation in perilous times. History is who we are and why we are the way we are.

David McCullough

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©2019 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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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.

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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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©2019 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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Tonight the unmistakable crunch of backhoe on wood and metal led to taking these last intact photos of the house on the northeast corner of 10th and Market in Kirkland.

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This dated home, 4 10th Avenue, was built in 1955 according to King County records. Next door to some swanky newer buildings, it’s sat empty for a while and seemed to be an unkempt rental house before that. I’d often thought about how cute it would be with a little care. Every year blackberries explode near the curb and hang over the sidewalk.

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Once upon a time, a World War II veteran and his industrious wife raised three children here or so I would like to believe. You could imagine the laughter within the walls and the stories the previous occupants could tell. Now it looks like three days after an EMP attack when neighbor begins to turn on neighbor in a quest to survive.

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The backhoe stopped for a moment to allow a direct glimpse into the carnage. While the condition of the property has long been out of character in what’s become an expensive, attractive neighborhood, it’s still depressing to see it go. Most of the older homes around here are being torn down and even some historic homes nearby are in danger of being lost forever.

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The older homes like this that are being lost are often replaced with much larger multistory boxlike structures that don’t have the character of the originals. This demolition is also a reminder of the loss of affordable housing in the region.

To many leaders, affordable housing is packing human beings like sardines into apartment buildings with little noise protection or privacy. Not terribly long ago, affordable housing was actually being able to buy a quaint little house with a yard for your kids and large dog to play in. Now the middle class struggles to even achieve that as they are tapped to subsidize others’ housing.

Average rent in Seattle for a one bedroom unit is over $1600 now. The median home price is over $550,000. That’s more than half a million. It’ll burst at some point, and then we’ll be asking why we built monstrosities with 2000 more square feet than we actually needed. On treeless lots, unnecessarily destroying wildlife habitat, while we claim to be so environmentally sensitive.

And quirky little ’50s homes with trees and bushes and a little garden in the back will start looking mighty appealing again. If there are any left.

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There is something permanent, and something extremely profound, in owning a home. -Kenny Guinn

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©2016 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

 

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Midday today I ran by the Totem Lake Mall in Kirkland, Washington to see what had been torn down. See my post below for more information on why this 1973, long-neglected piece of property is experiencing such radical change.

When I pulled in, a large number of cars were parked in the southwest corner of the lot. I couldn’t figure out why when big machines were actively pulling down parts of the building. I looked inside– and 24 Hour Fitness was still open! It was surreal to see people running on treadmills and lifting weights as part of the building they were in was being actively demolished. It was well-planned and perfectly safe, but somewhat apocalyptic.

Peeking in the main entrance of the lower mall hoping for a last glimpse of its innards, I was shocked to see the upper mall. The middle back section of the lower mall had already been removed. Get used to this view, folks, because the new mall is going to feature a central gathering place like this in the middle of the lower mall. Can’t wait for our first flash mob.

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Here’s the view around the back.

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As I was standing here I could see the original wood structure and the pungent smell of that wood hung in the air.

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Soon this corridor will be gone too, replaced by a large mixed residential-commercial complex. This is the upper mall. Trader Joe’s will get a brand new space, but unfortunately, Janell’s Gluten-Free Market will be moving to Woodinville.

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Also, check out this cool Facebook page local historian Matt McCauley shared, You know you are from Kirkland if…. This provides a clever way for those associated with the area to share their thoughts on the big changes in the community right now.

The changes at the Totem Lake Mall, even though they’re positive, have awoken a lot of nostalgic feelings. So I’m throwing in Twenty One Pilots’ Stressed Out as an ode to our childhoods. For the record, I know the best is yet to come even if sometimes we pine for the days of He-Man, Apollo Creed, and big personalized plastic combs in our back pockets.

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©2016 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com

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