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Sketched Nov. 27, 2012

Stop outside the Row House Cafe in South Lake Union to get a feel for how the neighborhood looked 100 years ago. Back then, the streets were lined with cottages like these that housed the laborers who worked in mills and shipyards around the lake.

Erin Maher, who runs the cafe, said the original owner of this trio of homes lived in the blue house on the corner and built the row houses next door for his employees in 1911.

With the neighborhood rapidly becoming a high-tech hub full of mid-rise office and apartment buildings, few of these centenarian homes still stand.

Any chance they’ll be preserved? Probably not. The market forces transforming the area seem unstoppable. To demonstrate the domino effect of progress, Maher pointed out the fate of nearby properties: “That building, gone. That building, gone. That building, gone.”

Another cluster of old homes remains on the corner of Fairview Avenue North and Republican Street, just a block away from the Row House Cafe.