Not far from the old Alki Elementary School and Weather Watch Park is one of three remaining log homes of the Alki area. This is the Sea View Hall which was built in 1905.
The Alki area at the turn of the century was not what it is today. In those days it was a get away place with beach houses and small resorts. Seattleites that wanted to escape from the busy rebuilding of the town after the fire of 1889 would go out to enjoy the beach and quiet wilderness. Here is a photo I found on Paul Dorpat’s blog and a link to more info.
The other two remaining log cabins are the West Seattle Log House Museum and the Bernard Mansion (long the Homestead Restaurant). It’s logs mostly came from the beach and were built in a vertical position versus the more common horizontal method. The long gone Stockade Hotel was also built with vertical logs. We will discuss the hotel in more details on stop #14. However it has long been gone so no “then” photos.
The top photo is how you see it from the street now. The next couples are of the side showing the small brick garage or play area and then the back if you drive up the hill.
If you are interested in seeing more of this lovely lodge you can periodically see it during home tours. Better yet, it is for rent by the day and sleeps 10. If you find that rental site you can see more current photos too!!
Follow along on the trail by going to this directory of all 24 stops on the Alki History Trail at this link. I will be posting new articles as I sort through my existing photos and go walking for more. —-> Trekking the Alki History Trail
Two years ago I started documenting my adventures of walking the Alki History Trail. The little guide I found at the Southwest Historical Society Log Cabin Museum has 24 stops on it. I got distracted by other projects after I published the 6th stop. That was despite having photographed and walked through to the 13th stop. Guess life just got in the way and there you go.. I was off chasing butterflies and other serendipity moment.
Then this week I got a comment from a reader who found my 8 existing chapters. They showed so much enthusiasm that I remember I had existing material I could get started with. Then who wouldn’t want an excuse to walk around Alki some more?
To help you get refreshed or read the first 6 stops (actually I added one so it is 7) here is a link to my recap post with all the individual links in it. -> Trekking the Alki History Trail
The #7 stop is where the first Alki Elementary School stood.
That is the intersection of 59th Ave SW which turns into Chillberg Ave SW & he cross street of SW Carroll Street (this comes east from the water). That is just a block up from the beach at Weather Watch Park. Yes this little sleepy corner of West Seattle was hopping with the store, ferry service, a school and a cluster of homes and cabins.
The brochure states this about it:
Site of the first Alki School. Children came from over the Alki area. Some walked five miles through flowered covered meadows, but others had to walk around Alki Point on a very slippery plank walkway or avoid dangerous swamps on the way to school.
Guess what? None of that exists today. We have built ourselves houses and roads that cover everywhere except park land.
On History Link here is what it says about this little school.
From 1909 to 1912, younger children went to a double portable on Carroll Street and Chillberg Avenue, the first Alki School. Children ate their lunches in an open shed in back of the school. When the weather was nice, classes were held on the long flight of stairs behind the school at the end of Carroll or in the madrona grove at the top of the stairs.
I did a bit of digging but never could find a photo of the old school, only the replacement that was built on the current site of Alki Elementary came up.
Follow along on the trail by going to this directory of all 24 stops on the Alki History Trail at this link. I will be posting new articles as I sort through my existing photos and go walking for more. —-> Trekking the Alki History Trail
The #6 stop on the Alki History Trail is Weather Watch Park. I started this leg of the trek at Me-Kwa-Mooks Park where up in the back is the place Ferdinand & Emma Schmitz built their home in 1904.
They were pioneers from Duisburg, Germany, and named their 40 acre estate Sans Souci – “without worry.” They piped in water from hillside streams, kept a horse, cow, guinea hens and peacocks, stocked trout in a pond, tended elaborate gardens and an orchard, and raised four children. Emma was strongly opposed to tree removal, so when Ferdinand wanted to cut one down he waited until she’d gone to Seattle for the day. Her Spruce survives to this day.
They loved nature and donated 30 acres to the city in 1908 to form Schmitz Park. This is up on Admiral way quite a distance from their Beach Drive home. They wanted their land to be used as a park. Ferdinand moved to Seattle in 1887 and was the city’s Parks Commissioner from 1908 to 1914.
Pathfinders Elementary School installed the following plaques to commemorate the Schmitz’s and one of Chief Sealth’s quotes on the how the Duwamish view the land.
Across the street from this area on the water side is Emma Schmitz Memorial Overlook.
As you can see it was windy enough to push the surf up against the bulkhead. Around the corner to the north is a set of stairs.
The water is rushing off in the photo above from the wave you can see in the next.
As I wandered up Beach Drive I found this old white cottage that the elements have worked on for a century. I thought it might be empty but it was not.
As I approached Weather Watch Park, I saw this red brick house on the water side of the street. It has all the appearance of an older building from the original community that grew up in this southern outpost of the city.
To my delight they had a plaque telling us how old the building was.
Then I was at the park. It has a weather-vane like monument with photos of the area’s history as well as weather related information.
Here is what the Alki History Trail brochure has to say:
This is the former location of the Village of South Alki. It was one of the landing pints for the Mosquito fleet, a fleet of passenger and cargo vessels that sailed the Puget Sound. The monument has stories of Native American history and early pioneer life. Featured are pictures of some of the old beach homes of Alki.
Here is a sampling of those photos.
Here is a current photo of the Market which is kitty corner to the park.
To the north of the park is another red brick old building. It does not have the historical marker like the O’Farrell House but you can see how it must be from the original business district.
Then there is a little beach that has been cleaned up. It is full of driftwood and one time I came by found a lady playing guitar by the water. Driftwood draws one into it and she was feeling it’s pull.
I have one more story to tell of Weather Watch Park. Back in 1990 I had found this flyer about how the park was going to be built. They were funding it by selling bricks around the monument. This excited me since I am a native of West Seattle and decided to buy my brick.
When I told David about this and was discussing what I wanted on the brick he said…. “Make it David & Robin Adams. We will be married by the time it is built”. You got it, that was how he proposed to me. And to this day the brick is in a great spot of honor there at the park.
The Between is about a mile of Beach Drive from “Cold Weather House” which is at Shore Place and the next stop at Weather Watch Park. There was a lot to be seen in that mile that should be included in my trekking of the Alki History Trail.
Right as I left Shore Place I spotted one of my black crow buddies in a tree. Yes Crows are everywhere in Seattle. This is the perfect climate for them and of course we humans enable them with lots of food opportunities.
Rambling around a neighborhood I find intriguing mysteries. Beach Drive has these newer houses with gate towers that just don’t belong together. Check them out below and see what you think. I just don’t think they were built for this house. Instead all I could find online was an older home was torn down here for this development. No mention of what or why the pillars are for. I am betting they were the grand entrance to a small estate of some sort.
Beach Drive is a pretty densely built area with houses cheek to cheek now. Most are newer but there are plenty of the original survivors to be seen. As now, the mix was humble beach cottages and Victorian style mansions.
Then there is the most famous of the historical houses. It is called the Satterlee House after one of its owners in the past 30 years. Another name for her is “Painted Lady”. That is a term coined in San Francisco for colorful Victorian homes.
She was built over 100 years ago by George Baker, a banker who wanted a summer retreat for his family. His wife, Carrie, ran a vacation bible camp at the home. The Bible school later moved and became Alki Congregational Church, Alki’s first house of worship.
Her current history is over the large front lawn. When it was designated a city landmark and with that came some legal protections. No changes may be made to “the entire exterior of the house, as well as the entire site” without prior approval of the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board.
There is a requirement is a view corridor must be maintained so that passersby on Beach Drive will always be able to see the house. Any new houses in the front lawn area probably would have to be built along the northern edge of the property to preserve a view corridor.
One of her current owners wanted to build houses on this large yard. He sued when he met with these restrictions and eventually lost after several layers of court rulings.
Next to her is another Victorian type house. I had heard once that the two houses were built for sisters but that seems improbable now. How this second house was built remains a mystery but it is still there too but more surrounded by newer homes.
Across Beach Drive from these two century old homes is another mansion build at the same time. This one is beach property to make it even more valuable these days. Seems this was a cluster of rich and famous back around 1900 wanting a get away from the Seattle downtown hustle and bustle.
Close to this area on the water side of Beach Drive I ran into a crow hanging out on a gate. Yes they are everywhere if you look.
Across the street from this I discovered another crow lover. I never talked to them but their sculpure on the front porch tell me they are admirers of corvids.
As you can see it was Christmas when I walked by this area. Notice the OC on the right? That is where the ravens are if you look close.
Another piece of art or statement is a sort of Dr Seuss type creature that is mounted on top of a car port. The weather has not been kind to him but he is hanging in there still making us smile.
As I approached Me-Kwa-Mooks Park I found the house that used to be one of the best Fish and Chips place in West Seattle – Quesnel’s Restaurant. It is long gone now as you can see the building is now just a house. I found two articles around this piece of memory lane for those that want to delve into the details.
Come along for more Alki Trail. The guide’s number 5 stop is call “TUS-bud – Cold Weather House”. The place we seek is Shore Place and Beach Drive SW. Never heard of Shore Place and you will see it is a nondescript little dead-end street now. Here is what it says about it:
A Former creek site where in Native American myth-time, the North Wind and South Wind waged a battle.
The legends of their battle stuck me pretty close since I used to live in a trailer on the Duwamish overlooking where the Salish believe the major battle occurred.
It is now a park and Wiki has an article about it. The West side is Cecil Moses Park and the East side is North Wind’s Weir. Here is what Wiki tells us of the legend:
According to Salish tradition, North Wind stretched a weir of ice across the Duwamish River at this site; no fish could pass, starving the people up the valley, the people of the Chinook Wind who was married to North Wind’s daughter Mountain Beaver Woman. The mother of Mountain Beaver woman survived the starvation, but retreated to the mountain. Mountain Beaver Woman’s son, the child Storm Wind, also survived.
The people of the North Wind warned Storm Wind to stay away from the mountain, trying to keep from him the knowledge of what had happened to his people, but eventually he defied them and found his grandmother living in misery. He heard her story and helped her out of her misery; she, in return, aided him with a flood that shattered the weir and turned it to stone. Storm Wind and his grandmother defeated North Wind, who only occasionally and briefly torments the area with snow and ice.
Before we can get to Shore Place and see where the winds waged war, I had to walk quite a distance from Lowman Park (#4 stop Capsizing). Let me share with you what I found.
To the north of Lowman Beach Drive has a set of “S” curves. The houses on the water side are down an embankment. They are not visible as you drive by in a car. All you see is their garages on stilts and staircases. As I walked along I got to peek down the hill towards the water. These homes ranged from brand new modern boxes, mid-century split level and some lovely 100-year-old houses and cottages.
An older gentleman stopped to talk to me and told me that he lived in one of the older homes. It was a cabin that had been part of a resort 100 years ago. He pointed out a white fence where he said the main lodge once stood.
I have done some research on this area and can’t find anything on the resort but I did confirm that a bunch of the houses were built about 110 years ago. That fits in with other spots along Alki that were first developed as summer homes and resorts. Later on we will visit Rose Lodge (#11 on the list) which is better documented and still stands.
As I exited the curves I came to where a new house was being built. An old house was torn down and a large modern home will replace it. It is flanked by newer houses on the south side and two red brick houses that are from the 30s. The closest house on the south had two rather old totems stacked one on top of the other.
I ran into an article on the Beach Drive Blog about a saw mill that was close to these houses. Here is a link to the post if you want to read up on it. Beach Drive Blog Peavey Mill
Then there was Shore Place. It is very residential. No sign of a creek. No sign of a legendary battle. However, that just shows how time changes everything. We forget that what we see today is transient and prior people’s used the land differently.
To the north of Lincoln Park is a small road that the beach trail joins. This street with houses along the water and ends at another park call Lowman Beach Park. Here is where the Alki History Trail takes us to next.
The guide calls it “Gwul” in the native language which stands for Capsizing. The fourth stop is described as:
This was a name for a creek that followed the same path as present day Lincoln Park Way. The name might have warned about strong currents.
The road down is a bit steep, so the creek that must have run there would be very swift and a canoe near impossible to ride down.
I don’t think the native people would recognize this area now. The creek no longer exists but is part of the storm water drainage. The city has grown up around the area and we rightfully should be concerned about the pollution we cause. So, it has been under construction for 3 years installing an underground water retention tank to protect Puget Sound from our run-off. The feature image above was from a 2012 photo I took around King Tides. The phrase on the sea wall is quite poetic.
But back to construction with the following photos of Lowman Beach today.
Here is what the city said about this project back in late 2013.
King County is going to build a one-million gallon underground storage tank across from Lowman Beach Park on Beach Drive Southwest in West Seattle. The facility will help clean up Puget Sound by storing excess sewage and polluted storm water during storms that would otherwise overflow into Puget Sound.
If you get down on the beach with the construction trailers behind your back there is a bit of nature to be found.
The view to the north shows how developed the area is now with houses lining the Puget Sound. Check out Alki Lighthouse in the distance.
To the South you can see Lincoln Park and Coleman Pool. I captured a ferry coming into the dock behind Williams Point. Gives one an interesting perspective.
Most of these photos were from this fall. In the last week after Christmas I had returned to continue my walk north. Since my first visit the construction has moved into the finishing stage with landscaping and cleanup beginning.
I have to tell a little happy story that occurred as I walked along the beach trail in Lincoln Park and the road to Lowman. On top of a cement drainage lid I saw a very new shiny copper penny someone had positioned to stand up. They wedged it into the screw top there.
I was fascinated by this penny in the middle of a natural setting enough to photograph it. Then I wandered my way down the way, stopping at the beach and doing my usual investigations. A family with a small girl caught up with me. She was so excited because she had found something special. Guess what? It was the penny. Oh what joy that random act of kindness in a shiny penny had given.
Follow my adventure checking out the 24 stops on the “Alki History Trail”.
This fall I swung by the Southwest Seattle Historical Society Log Cabin Museum. They were closed but I found this little brochure. It was right up my alley with a self-guided tour of Alki area historical points of interest.
Thank You to the Alki Community Council and the SW Seattle Historical Society for preparing this gem for us to enjoy.
Here are the individual articles of my trek. Come back for more as I weave my way along the history trail.
Psal-YAH-hus or “Horned Snake Owns It” – The first stop is a rock off of the Vashon Ferry Dock at Fauntleroy Cove. To this day I still have not seen it and read more on why that is a good thing. – Horned Snake Owns It – Alki Trail #1
Chi-HA-ee-dus or “Crowded Head” – Lincoln Park at Williams Point has a salt water pool that was built in 1941 on the natural tidal pool that both the native americans and early settlers used. – Crowded Head – Alki Trail #3
Gwul or “Capsizing” – Lowman Beach Park where at one time a creek flowed down Lincoln Park Way. Lot of change here with construction to protect Puget Sound from water run off. Plus a random act of kindness to enjoy. – Capsizing – Alki Trail #4
TUS-bud or “Cold Weather House” – the destination was not very exciting since it had changed so much but the trek there had interesting sights and history. Cold Weather House – Alki Trail #5
Inbetween – The Between is about a mile of Beach Drive from “Cold Weather House” which is at Shore Place and the next stop at Weather Watch Park. The Between
Weather Watch Park – Village of South Alki of over 100 years ago. It was serviced by the Mosquito Fleet which had a dock where the park is today. Weather Watch Park – Alki Trail #6
Lincoln Park, a large forested city park that faces upon the Puget Sound, is our next stop (#3) on the Alki History Trail. Specifically Williams Point where Coleman Pool stands.
The guide tells us the following:
This name referred to the thick brush that covered the small lagoon. Indigenous place names were very practical in their descriptions of Alki’s geography.
Coleman pool was built in 1941 and donated to the city by the Coleman Family who were one of the first families to settle in the Fauntleroy area. This was after the WPA, CWA and CCC’s helped develop Lincoln Park in the 1930s by clearing underbrush, building trails, seawalls, playgrounds and tennis courts. This lovely rare salt water pool still exists 75 years later. Here is a sign posted by the Whale Trail group. It tells a little bit of the history around the area and the whales that pass by.
Historically, the area was used by the Native Americans and where the pool stands was a natural tide pool swimming hole. The Southwest Historical Society has some information about the area that gives you some more color to the area.
Native Americans appreciated and used Fauntleroy Cove well before white pioneers arrived. A 1915 excavation to widen Fauntleroy Way uncovered evidence of an ancient Native American burial ground near where Fauntleroy Creek flows into Puget Sound. Local residents have found middens of clamshells indicating that Fauntleroy Cove had been a Native American clamming and fishing site into the 19th Century.
At a very low tide one can still see what Native Americans call a ‘spirit boulder’ south of the ferry dock. Native Americans claim that the boulder, Psai-Yah-hus, is the dormant spirit that lives underground and caused landslides and earthquakes. The boulder, slides and quakes are still with us. The Native Americans have long since been gone from the cove.
The mention of the burial grounds near where the creek flows into the sound helps you understand more about why they called the bluff “It has Scorched Face on it” (#2 stop on the Alki History Trail). Until I did this research I thought it was the color of the bluff that we cannot see but now I think it was the ashes on mourners faces.
Another set of clues are here in this quote about the red spirit boulder I can’t seem to find. It is only visible at “Very” low tide. It also talks about how the spirit causes landslides and earthquakes. Yikes!! Do I really want to find this special place?
To give you an idea of what the natural salt water pool surrounded by brush might have looked like, while at Discovery Park I took this photo of a tidal pool surrounded by brush. Crowded Head does explain this look don’t you think?
To make this story complete I have to share the two bird encounters along the way to Coleman pool. First one of my crow family on the driftwood with the Vashon Ferry in the background.
The second is a little Anna Hummingbird in the bushes next to the pool building.
Right across from the supernatural boulder I have difficulty finding is the second stop on the Alki History Trail. It is called “Dxkasus” in the local Native American tongue. This can be found on Map C if you want to get orientated and go check it out.
Here is what the guide says I am looking for – Fauntleroy Cove (knoll east of the Vashon Ferry Dock). It also gives us some information on why it is was called “It has a Scorched Face on it”.
This name may describe the dark stains visible on the bluffs above or it might refer to the ashes smeared on the faces of natives grieving for their buried dead.
This is an odd little area that overlooks the ferry dock. It has two small parks wedged between the bluff and the street that parrallels Fauntleroy Way below. This photo below which is a snip from Google street view gives you an idea of the area. We have developed the area so much there is very little exposed bluff remaining to see if there are dark stains.
At the south end (closest in the snip) is a park with art around the salmon that run up the Fauntleroy Creek. The creek goes under the road in several places. If you follow it to the east you will run into Fauntleroy Park which is a natural area preserved around the creek’s ravine/gully.
As you walk to the north, you will find the small park that someone has named Captain’s Park.
I don’t see it on the city map but it clearly has been there for a while. It has old time benches and a nice view of the dock.
The best part is the bird houses and a monkey statue hanging from a tree.
Rambling without technology always bring sights one might miss in a car. This little excursion did not disappoint. Besides the lovely tree houses and the monkey there was a bright red flower on a bench at the bus stop.
Oh can’t put a good word in for my black feathered friends. Here they are on the dock railing. What a great place to live and forage.
Welcome to my new series which follows along a brochure I found at the Southwest Historical Socity. Above is a photo of the front cover with Cheif Sealth (we are named after him) and the schooner Exact (it brought the some of the first pioneers to Seattle in November 1851).
The first stop on the Alki History Trail is called by the local Native Americans “Psal-YAH-hus.
I live up the hill from the Ferry Dock, so I parked at Lincoln Park and trekked south. Here is what the guide says I am looking for – Red boulder about 100 yards south of the Vashon Ferry Dock at the waterline.
This is what it tells us about this boulder:
For the natives, supernatural forces existed in the Puget Sound. This “Spirit Boulder” was inhabited or guarded by an elk-like serpent with horns. If natives caught sight of it, the serpent could either twist their bodies into knots, or offer healing powers. Superstitious or fearful, the natives chose not to look at it!
Off I went on my brave mission to view the supernatural rock. I walked down the north side of the dock into Cove Park. I figured I could walk under the dock and head south. This part of the beach I need to access is bordered by private homes and that is the easiest access for me.
The tide had gone out and was just starting back in. It wasn’t a very low tide and to my disappointment there was no red boulder to be seen. Could it be my guardian spirits protecting me from looking at the “Horned Snake Owns It” and getting twisted up?
I returned days later thinking the tide was out far enough but again I left with no picture of the red spirit boulder. That was back in September and early October. Every weekend I have been checking the tides and they are timed so the lowest tides are in the middle of the night.
Not a very great way to start my trek but it does lend a bit of mystery to things.
However, on the good side, I did find a flock of crows and got this great shot of underside of the pier. Several of these photos I used in an article on the Fauntleroy Crows and the elusive red boulder.