If you see someone in a chartreuse vest carrying a clipboard in the neighborhood, it may well be a volunteer supporting the non-profit organization Historic Wallingford. Volunteers are recording styles and architectural details of homes in the part of Wallingford now being studied as a potential Historic District to be included in the National Register of Historic Places, an activity of the National Park Service.
The Wallingford community, as well as the city of Seattle, have benefited greatly from past historic preservation designations of key buildings and structures in our neighborhood. Notable are the Good Shepherd Center, The Wallingford Center (originally Interlake Elementary), The NeighborCare 45th Street Clinic (originally Wallingford Fire then Police Station) and parts of Lincoln, Hamilton, and John Stanford (originally Latona Elementary) schools as well as parts of Gas Works Park. The preservation of these historic structures has anchored this classic neighborhood.
As part of a 2001 historic resource survey for the City of Seattle, cultural resource expert Mimi Sheridan said, “Wallingford has an extensive collection of early twentieth-century homes, including some of the city’s best Craftsman bungalow neighborhoods. A survey should be conducted to identify and evaluate them”. In 2005 Thomas Veith conducted a follow up survey for the city to locate at least 500 homes that would be considered worthy of further city landmark research. These surveys were conducted through the City of Seattle Department of Neighborhoods Historic Preservation program.
At the recommendation of historic preservation professionals, a group of community volunteers led by Historic Wallingford, have been developing a nomination for a National Register Historic District in Wallingford. They are reviewing an area bounded by I-5 on the east, Interlake Ave N, on the west, N/NE 50th to the North and N/NE 46th to the south.
To be clear, a National Register Historic District is an honorary designation and quite different from any landmark or historic district designation issued by the City of Seattle.
A National Register Historic District designation:
- Places no legal restrictions on modifications to a property by a homeowner. It will not require an increase in maintenance costs.
- Does not change zoning. Zoning is controlled by the Seattle City Council.
- Offers an opportunity to acknowledge the historic fabric found in that district. It offers an educational tool to increase the awareness of the cultural value of these remarkable houses in Wallingford and encourages homeowners to maintain them and to remodel in ways that preserves their historic character. It offers an opportunity to promote the neighborhood, making knowledge of its special nature available to a wider group of people.
- Offers the opportunity to research deeply the history of Wallingford—both the good and the bad, as part of the nomination process.
Historic Wallingford initiated this effort with a survey in 2019, the Wallingford Historic District Feasibility Study. It was conducted under the direction of well-respected preservation consultants, NW Vernacular and largely funded by 4Culture. A large group of volunteers followed guidelines to determine if a property would contribute to a National Register District. On October 25, 2019, a public meeting was held to explain the results of the survey. From the data, five areas were identified that had a sufficient percentage of contributing properties to potentially qualify as a historic district. Subsequently the area currently being studied was chosen for the initial effort as it contained the highest percentage of contributing properties.
The prospect of nominating additional areas will be determined by community and financial support shown from those areas. This has not been an easy task! Many of you cherish this neighborhood and the sense of place and community we find here. It will take your support and involvement to help keep this nomination effort moving forward. Historic Wallingford is eager to recruit volunteers to do property research, provide leadership and financial support.
For more details on the project and the anticipated project timeline, visit historicwallingford.org/nrhp-north. They invite you to support this effort by donating and becoming a member through their website, historicwallingford.org
If you have old photos and stories of Wallingford, you may be able to assist in the neighborhood research that is ongoing. They welcome any information you wish to share! Contact [email protected] and tell them what you have to share.