We asked readers to share memories of treasured Seattle landmarks and artifacts that have withstood development. Here's what they said.
Whether nostalgic for the past or embracing Seattle’s change, Seattle Times readers have plenty of stories of neighborhood relics or landmarks that they celebrate for withstanding development.
On Capitol Hill, a Coke machine has been dispensing mystery soda for decades. And in Ballard, the famous Edith Macefield “Up” house drew national attention for its statement against gentrification, conjuring up memories for many of an older Seattle. But those are just a couple of examples.
Reader Doug Whalley said his mother, who was born here in 1914, told him stories of hiking with friends along a wooded path to have picnic lunches at Wedgwood Rock, a giant boulder that stands 19 feet tall in Seattle’s Wedgwood neighborhood. He said that at that time, the rock sat outside city limits.
The boulder is from glacial times and served as a gathering place for Native Americans when the area was a dense forest. Decades ago, local mountaineers used it to practice their rock-climbing skills, before the city imposed a climbing ban in 1970.
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In the 1950s, Whalley said he, too, passed by the “Lone Rock,” as it was once called, as he walked to and from what has become Eckstein Middle School. And his sons carried on the tradition when they attended the school decades later.
Whalley lives about seven blocks east of Wedgwood Rock, which is at 7201 28th Ave. N.E., and his sons live within a few miles of him.
“I enjoy bragging about [my] Seattle connections,” he wrote in an email, “especially with so many newcomers arriving.”
The boulder now has its own Yelp page, where one poster describes it as the “definition of local flavor.” It has a 4.5-star rating.
Reader Jeff Ackles finds comfort in signage on the side of what’s now the Russian Community Center on Capitol Hill. His father and grandfather owned the building at 704 19th Ave. E. beginning in the 1930s, during its formal use as the Roycroft Theatre. Ackles said he worked there while attending Meany Middle School, blocks away.
After World War II, when a large population of Russian immigrants moved into the area, new owners took over the building. They began holding events that promote Russian culture, such as concerts, balls and food bazaars, which remains the center’s function today, according to its website.
Despite the ownership change, and the many decades that have passed, painted words on the building’s brick side read: “Roycroft Theatre; why not wait and see the picture here for less and avoid parking troubles.”
In Licton Springs, reader Christina Purdy said Pilling’s Pond near North 90th Street, between Densmore Avenue North and Ashworth Avenue North, brings the neighborhood charm. The late Charles Pilling created the urban waterfowl reserve in the 1920s, and it has been a bird-breeding site and neighborhood attraction since.
Ruth Quinet said a mural near 709 N. 35th St. is “one of the last vestiges” of the Still Life Cafe, a celebrated coffeehouse in Fremont that has since closed. She founded and ran the establishment until the early 2000s. The building now houses Agrodolce, a restaurant that serves organic Sicilian cuisine.
Quinet said she has seen the neighborhood change immensely since the sale.
“But the mural is still there,” she wrote in an email, “a reminder that there used to be quirky, comfortable, affordable places to eat in Seattle.”
Information from The Seattle Times archives is included in this report.
What are your favorite artifacts of old Seattle? Tell us about it in the comments section.