This lasting beach landmark, built in 1908, was once a grocery store.
HERE IS “THE PINK HOUSE,” a beach landmark of which Alki Beach locals — especially those near the sand — feel protective. In our “Then” photo, The Pink House is merely anticipating pink. This is another “tax photo” from the Depression era’s WPA (Works Progress Administration) photographic inventory of every taxable structure in King County. Many properties were exposed as tax-dodgers by the preliminary 1936 aerial survey.
This dappled construction site could not escape attention in 1938, the date inscribed on the photo.
The cottage is under conversion from a beachside cash-and-carry store into a wind-shakened residence. In 1927, it was called “The People’s Grocery.” Somewhat mysteriously, “GRO,” the first three letters of “grocery,” have been cut in half and separated for the home’s new six-window exposure on Alki Beach. The sign’s shipboard remnants have been, it seems, salvaged by carpenters for the new facade. Clay Eals, West Seattle neighborhood activist, wonders: Do the shuffled letters survive under the home’s pink paint?
Who painted it pink? Most likely Susan B. Griffin, a lead gardener at the University of Washington arboretum who lived in The Pink House at 2130 Alki Ave. S.W. for nearly 40 years. Her niece, Katy Griffin, remembers that the master gardener “kept a beautifully maintained home and garden. It has been painted pink ever since I can remember … It was decorated with carefully chosen antiques, with beautiful glassware on the window sills that trembled every time the Metro bus would go by. My aunt delighted in entertaining, and hosted many gatherings.”
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Griffin was also an exceptional landlord for her other properties in the Alki area. Kati recalls that her aunt “treated her tenants like family … she kept a vegetable garden for all of her neighbors to plant and harvest.” It was an inspiration for the community’s P-Patch Program.
The Pink House’s tax card dates its construction to 1908. According to West Seattle’s committed community of historians, this waterfront bungalow was built for Granville and Henrietta Haller’s family, pioneers who in 1883 completed Seattle’s first and largest mansion, Castlemount, on First Hill’s summit near James Street and Broadway.
Thanks to West Seattle researchers Greg Lange, Clay Eals and Matt Vaughan for their help in following the history of The Pink House. Vaughan is the longtime proprietor of West Seattle’s Easy Street Records.