Seattle's Wilhelmina Apartments, ca. early 20th century
Historic preservationist Diana James thinks it likely that the Wilhelmina first took in renters in 1908.
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The Seattle Times Historical Archive is a searchable database of Seattle Times newspapers from 1900 through 1984. The archive reveals pages as they were originally published, with stories, photos and advertising.
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THIS SHAPELY subject was uncovered long ago in a collection of unidentified negatives. Only recently I discovered that finding its location was easy because the name of this apartment house is signed on the glass front door.
This is an early-20th-century photo of the Wilhelmina Apartments at 1413 Queen Anne Ave. It was then the tallest structure this high on the avenue with views to the city and Elliott Bay. And it was conveniently set at the top of the Queen Anne counterbalance, that exceptional machinery that helped safely pull trolleys up the steep avenue and back down.
Historic preservationist Diana James, with her recent book "Shared Walls" our local authority on apartment houses, thinks it likely that the Wilhelmina first took in renters in 1908, the first year classified ads appear in The Times describing its attractions. "Very choice 2-room apartment, nice, view, modern, high class, no children." In a dozen years or so, the name was changed to Winona.
The Winona first indicates "no objection to children" in the 1920s. A Times classified for 1928 reads "Clean and cozy 2-room completely furnished apartments, situated in good district at the very low rental of $37.50." Following the market crash of 1929, the monthly rate was soon lowered to $25. By 1955 it had doubled to a mere $52, but by then it had no musical name, only an address.
While James doubts one published claim that it was the first apartment on the hill, she admits she has found no older flat that has kept its footprint there. She adds that the building held 12 units and probably two more in the daylight basement. What James could not surmise from the street, the present owner (since the mid-1970s) reveals. There's a detached 15th unit in the rear.
Check out Paul Dorpat and Jean Sherrard's blog at www.pauldorpat.com.