Update: House on the Hill

I’ve posted, in the past five years, images of this house that has been abandoned for years in the South Park area of Seattle. I made a trip down there a couple of weeks ago and took these images. Since I last visited the house it has suffered through two arson/meth related fires.

While I was taking these images a  small, wiry guy came up behind me and said ‘Hi’. Through our conversation, I learned he was the night watchman for the owner of the Marina and storage facilities along the Duwamish River. We talked for about 20 minutes. He was quite a character. He has lived in the area for years. He gave me a history of the house or as much as he knew. He witnessed both fires, one set by a person cooking up some meth on the second story wooden floor. The house is actually for sale, as a tear down of course. I tried walking in the house a few years back and the debris was waist high and probably a mine field of syringes; I stopped after a few feet and bailed out of the window I came in from, which I think was the kitchen in the back. Besides, I really didn’t know if there was someone living upstairs-addicts or homeless people.

So, for a little history that was shared with me:

After WWII the house was used as ‘transitional’ housing for Japanese Americans that were interned during the war. They transitioned from the camps to this house in an effort to reintegrate; most of the property they owned prior to internment was lost, sold or confiscated.

Sometime after that a couple bought the house and stayed in it for years. The couple were a bit eccentric, but one of their hobbies was coin collecting. Apparently they hid this collection ( valued in excess of $100,000 back in the 60’s-70’s) in a box somewhere in the house. The man died first, leaving his widow to deal with the house, which soon became too much for her as she aged. So, she moved out, but could not find the box of coins. As time passed, for reasons unknown to me, the house fell into disrepair and ultimately declined into a mess. The lady  would return from time to time, looking for the box of coins, to no avail.

After the second fire, the people living in the area( like the night watchman-old timers) went in looking through the debris to see if the box of coins had burned, surfaced or whatever. They did find the box, but it was empty. It was assumed that one of the homeless people who had wandered in, had found the box, after the fire, and walked away with a pocketful of dreams.

A rich and tragic history for what was once one of the better homes, with quite a view, in South Park.

4 thoughts on “Update: House on the Hill

  1. That is quite a tale, regarding the past use….the house does have an owner, Helen Dexter, so it is hard to understand why she hasn’t done something before now, unless no one wants to buy and rebuild on the property. As you mention, the property at 1437 S. Donovan Street is currently for sale, Kidder-Matthews listing says $630,000. City housing inspectors have been out there multiple times. http://web6.seattle.gov/DPD/permitstatus/Project.aspx?id=69159

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There was an offer on the house in the recent past by a company. The hang up was that the adjacent lot is owned by someone who does not want to sell. Without the adjacent lot, for parking etc. the land the house sits on was not desirable to the potential buyer. The land is zoned to allow businesses. I don’t know why Helen Dexter has held on so long. Interesting story that I will keep an eye on things. Thanks for your research and input. Share if you dig up anymore!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree. The house sits in one of the highest points in South Park. Not spectacular views, but nice territorial views and of Seattle to the north. There is a young woman who has a blog called Vanishing Seattle. She has been working tirelessly documenting properties that are scheduled for demo, mostly gentrification. Many of the homes are older and developers swoop in and grab them. The same thing is happening to many small business properties around the city.

        Liked by 1 person

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