Venturing into Remodeling in the 1940’s to the 1950’s in North King County, WA and Government Improvements

Keith’s, grandmother, Amarilla Urton died in 1942 and he got a little money from her estate. I wonder if that money was used to remodel our house in north King County. My parents were savers having gone through the depression and were experiencing the rationing of World War II, so I am sure they planned this carefully.

They purchased the house on 24th Avenue in 1942 with a FHA mortgage and moved there in order to start their family. It was not a big house and probably was one of the war houses?  Yes, he saved all the paperwork about the house even the for sale sign. Apparently the house was damp and needed these improvements for health reasons.

Keith, my dad, not only invented things, he also did carpentry, plumbing and house remodeling. He didn’t do this all by himself, he had help from my Uncle Boardie and my grandfather Robert Boardman who were plumbers by profession. They were his in-laws.

He also hired a H.K. Rowe to do some of the work like finish the interior of the house, electrical, insulation, sewer and the furnace.  Mr. Rowe was our neighbor. It looks like Ace Construction Co. was also employed to help in the remodeling.

This house remodeling was done in three phases:

Phase I:

  1. Raising the house and building a basement in April 1944 for which he had to get approval from the mortgage company.  I find this fascinating that they were brave enough to do this raising of our home.
  2. Move the utility room to the basement to enlarge the kitchen which will improve the usefulness of the house.
  3. Move the chimney to the south side of the house with consideration for future enlargement of the living room.
  4. Later the fixing up of the room below the living and dining room and making it a rec room with an extra bedroom.
Raising the house for a basement

Raising the house for a basement

Raising the house

Raising the house with help from the in-laws

The laundry got washed even with the mess.

The laundry got washed even with the mess.

What a mess!

The basement, what a mess! It would be very cool and a great place to play.

Phase II:

Adding on to the south end of the house increasing the size of the basement and upper floor which would expand the living and dining room area and move the kitchen eventualy result in a rec room and bedroom under the dining and new kitchen area. This work was done late 1940’s and early 1950’s.  Fixing up the interior was a big part of this project.

South End Extension

South End Extension

Our Addition - Mom peaking out of the window

Our Addition – Mom peaking out of the window

The old kitchen door gets closed up.

The old kitchen door gets closed up.

Munchkin among the lumber for the extension

Munchkin alert, one is playing among the lumber for the extension

Phase III:

Building a garage and elephant pit (for working on cars from below) on the north side of the house mid 1950’s.

Building the Garage

Building the Garage

In about 1947 the City of Seattle began the process of improving our streets with branches and lateral sewers which involved assessments to be paid by the homeowners. In 1947 a notice arrived about a trunk sewer system with 3 pages of description about where these improvements would take place.  It listed the streets on one page, in detail, and then the additions on another. This was a huge improvement based on Resolution #14168.



The public hearing would take place on September 9, 1947 at 2 pm in the City Council Chambers, Room 513 County-City Building.  Petitions and protests needed to be filed the day before and would go to the Streets and Sewers Committee for consideration at the open meeting on the 9th. If you wanted to know more you went to the City Engineer to see the details of the plan.  Total costs would amount to $60,000.00 which would be contributed from the Seattle Sewer Bonds 1946 Fund.

The blog Wedgwood in Seattle History has a nice post on How Wedgwood came into the city limits of Seattle, August 20, 2012 with some cool annexation maps of various neighborhoods acquired by Seattle.  Hayes Park was annexed by 1941.  However the city limits of Seattle were at 85th then later moved to 145th where they are now butting up the City of Shoreline which was incorporated about 1995.

In 1950 the property owners received notice for adding fire hydrants only – Resolution #14265 and the public hearing would be held on March 8, 1950 at 10 am.

The next phase of improvements was paving the streets adding sidewalks, with parking strips. I remember the big water hoses and the sprinklers to cure the cement, I highly recommend not riding your bike over the hoses it might prove to be painful.

Yes, I remember the rough roads, lots of rocks, puddles and mud.  I went everyone in my pedal push car resisting learning how to ride a bike till later.

Driving everywhere even on rough roads

Driving everywhere even on rough roads – before the improvements

I did not remember they widened the road…love the mailboxes in the street.

Road work begins

Road work begins

Paving improvements started in about 1955 with a public hearing before the Sewers and Street Committee on Tuesday, September 20th, 1955 at 2 pm. The total estimated cost would be $419,051.82 of which $31,900 would come from the City Street Fund and $950.00 from the City Water Fund.

Two meetings followed in 1957 amount paving improvements with hefty assessments of $565.65 cents which could be paid by the property owner in installments. Hayes Park and Wedgwood appear in the first listing and then Wedgwood disappears in the next listing for Additions, which I find a bit confusing.  I get the feeling they were re-evaluating the assessments so I don’t know for sure if the amount above of $565.65 was the final amount or only a portion?

Then in July of 1958 another announcement came for the same “by paving, together with sewers, water mains and hydrants, grading, drainage were necessary and constructing sidewalks.” Public hearing would be July 15, 1958 at the City Council Chambers. Not only did the City Treasure send a bill but the mortgage company also got involved.

If my memory serves the paving took place in the mid 1960’s for our area in North Seattle. I do have full copies of the City Notices if anyone is interested, just leave a comment.

About BJ MacDonald

Interested in travel, really into genealogy and researching my family history, classic novels and movies, fantasy and science fiction, photography, history and more... Here is a tip. Make sure you are commenting on the blog you were visiting and the post you were interested in. My blogs are listed by hovering over my pictures and clicking. Clicking one of them will take you back to the correct blog. You can try me here:
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5 Responses to Venturing into Remodeling in the 1940’s to the 1950’s in North King County, WA and Government Improvements

  1. You have captured those tumultuous days in the 1940s and 1950s when the north Seattle areas were transformed from what had been a rural area outside of the city limits, into a part of the city with improved streets and sidewalks! Some people really squawked and said the City was putting in “unnecessary streets!” But the street grid had always existed, it’s just that for the Wedgwood neighborhood, the streets did not get put through until the 1950s. Those were the days!


    • BJ MacDonald says:

      You post was very interesting and I wanted to connect to it. You seemed to understand the whole situation better. I have tried to find more photos but the Seattle Municipal Archives are not coming up with what I want. Looking at the City Engineering plans would be really interesting. Any smart kid me fell off my bike over one of those huge water hoses and hit my head, OUCH! We went from being so rough out there in the North end to much fancier with the new paved roads. I didn’t see any letters or comments that Dad might have protested it so I a not sure how he felt about it. Maybe he was too busy remodeling the house to care. Bonnie

      Liked by 1 person

      • I did find some protest letters regarding annexation and a lawsuit about 30th Ave NE which was in dispute because it was not laid out properly. That is in my article about regrading. Then, in the article about the beginnings of Wedgwood School, I found people whose property was taken by eminent domain and they just accepted it as for the public benefit. The wartime sacrificial attitude continued somewhat.


      • BJ MacDonald says:

        This is all so very interesting. I wish I had paid attention but I was just too young and busy with growing up. I cannot remember if it was 1st or 2nd grade that I started at Wedgwood Elementary. I used to walk up 81 or 82nd to get to the school. I had pigtails and the guys liked to pull them. HA! I only have what my Dad had in his possessions and papers so I have not really done any research. Thanks for the photos on your posts they have been helpful. Our city continues to evolve and change I notice so much as I drive the back roads. Thanks for contributing. Bonnie

        Liked by 1 person

      • I regret to say that I did not pay attention, either. I have no memory of the Picardo Farm or a lot of other things. My parents first house was 2231 NE 82nd Street in the Hayes Park plat. It was a two-bedroom cottage but has been rebuilt now. I had just started kindergarten at Wedgwood School in 1957 and then we moved to 8717 25th Place NE. The story of our time at another house, 10049 35th Ave NE, is told in my article about the day that President Kennedy was assassinated. I went to Maple Leaf School that year.

        Liked by 1 person

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