Anne Fleming and Don Fleming Jr. share personal memories of Paul H. Kirk, who designed their family home.
The Fleming Residence by Paul Hayden Kirk, a still-stunning 1951 home in Bellevue, earned the 1953 Honor Award for professional excellence from the Washington State Chapter of the American Institute of Architects; appeared in the 1953 Victor Steinbrueck book, “A Guide to Seattle Architecture 1850-1953”; and ranked No. 28 on the City of Bellevue’s 1992 survey of 50 significant historic, architectural and cultural properties.
It’s also where Anne Fleming and Don Fleming Jr. grew up, with sisters Lee and Mary and their parents. Kirk was their uncle; he designed the home for their mother (his sister) and her family. That means Anne and Don have a uniquely up-close-and-personal familiarity with the revered architect and his classic work:
• Paul’s brother, Blair Kirk, built The Fleming Residence and worked on the 1975 remodel — setting up his table saw right smack dab in the kitchen. “It was a family affair,” Don says. “He’d have lunch with us while he was working.”
• Don knew Paul as a farmer. “He raised cattle on Finn Hill; we’d spend holidays up there.” Adds Anne: “Paul would tell us the name of each cow: all Herefords, blue ribbons.”
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• For The Fleming Residence, Anne says, “They dug the basement by hand so they wouldn’t disturb any trees. (Paul) had a great love for the outdoors, nature and animals.”
• Kirk had polio, but was “quite mobile” when he was younger, Anne says. “We’d take winter trips (to Finn Hill) for a chance to swim,” Don says. “He was an avid swimmer and had an indoor pool as therapy.”
• In the main bathroom in The Fleming Residence, Anne says, “Don and I remember the cedar walls and the light fixture. Paul was pretty unique: He brought woodwork all the way down to the tub.”
• Anne got her own bedroom when she was 14, during the 1965 addition. “Paul said: ‘You girls are going to spend so much time in front of a sink and a mirror,’ so we both had built-in sinks in our bedrooms.”