Posted in Alki History Trail

Weather Watch Park – 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.

Spruce Tree outlasted everything

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.

Chief Sealth Words of Wisdom
Schmitz house and garden layout
Schmitz house was here
Retaining wall of yard noted on diagram still survives

Across the street from this area on the water side is Emma Schmitz Memorial Overlook.

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.

Stairs to beach at Emma Schmitz Overlook

The water is rushing off in the photo above from the wave you can see in the next.

Spray on stairs

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.

Survivor house
Old cottage on way to WW Park

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.

O’Farrell House near WW Park

To my delight they had a plaque telling us how old the building was.

History is there for the finding

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.

Looking north at WW Park and neighborhood

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.

Weather Watch Park monument has old photos and history
The Mosquito Fleet supported this southern Alki community
WWII soldiers on leave at Weather Watch Park in the 1940s.
Old photo of the Corner Market

Here is a current photo of the Market which is kitty corner to the park.

Corner Market Today is a restaurant

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.

To the north of the park is this older building

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.

WW Park Beach where pier was for ferry

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.

Our Brick

Follow along on the trail by going to this directory of all 24 stops on the Alki History Trail at this link —-> Trekking the Alki History Trail

Posted in Alki History Trail

The Between – Alki History Trail

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.

Crow along Beach Drive – they are everywhere

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.

New houses – old gate pillars
Ornate pillar on Beach Dr

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.

Beach Cottage
Older Cottage on Beach Drive
Original mansion peeking from behind an equally old tree

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.

Painted Lady – Satterlee House

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.

Sister house to Painted Lady
Victorian Homes thru wires & over modern 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.

Century old house across Beach Dr from Painted Lady

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.

Another Beach Drive Crow Sighting

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.

Crow-Raven sculptures
Raven sculpture House

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.

Strange creature on carport

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.

Best Fish & Chips long gone


Quesnel’s Restaurant article

Quesnel’s Restaurant – was house on right

Follow along on the trail by going to this directory of all 24 stops on the Alki History Trail at this link —-> Trekking the Alki History Trail

Posted in Alki History Trail

Cold Weather House – Alki Trail

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.

Duwamish Rock & Green River Trail bridge
North Wind Weir – rock is end of navigable Duwamish River

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.

Gate on Beach Drive
Gate on Beach Drive
Old House on Beach Drive
Old House on Beach Drive

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.

Resort Lodge was here years ago.
Resort Lodge was here years ago.

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.

New House & 1930s Brick homes
New House & 1930s Brick homes
Totem on new home
Totems on newer home

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

Peavey Saw Mill - Beach Drive
Peavey Saw Mill – Beach Drive

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.

Shore Drive - Dec 2016
Shore Drive – Dec 2016
Beach Drive & Shore Place
Beach Drive & Shore Place

Follow along on the trail by going to this directory of all 24 stops on the Alki History Trail at this link —-> Trekking the Alki History Trail