Seattle Now and Then: A Wallingford Restoration

4719 Thackeray Place NE.  The 1938 WPA tax photo.
4719 Thackeray Place NE. The 1938 WPA tax photo. (Courtesy Washington State Archive, Bellevue Community College Branch)

Here’s a happy story now increasingly told throughout Seattle.  The names and places vary but the story is the same, and restoration is always in the title.

In this instance Claudia Levi purchased the Wallingford home seen in the second photograph (below), with a mind to restoring it.  She looked no further than the 1937-8 tax photo, printed on top, to determine what her home almost certainly looked like in 1909 when it was built.  Some of the original details were hidden under a cedar cladding that had been added in an effort to “modernize.” Other parts had gone missing, but after three summers of work Claudia Levi had her new old home.

What the house looked like in 1997 soon after Claudia purchased it.
What the house looked like in 1997 soon after Claudia purchased it. (photo by Claudia Levi.)

Certainly it helped that as a member of the Business Faculty at Edmonds Community College, Ms Levi had economic savvy.  And in compliment to her restoration project she also taught a class in using salvage material to rebuild houses.

Claudia Levi’s 1937 evidence (top) comes from the Washington State Archive’s WPA survey of taxable structures from the late 1930s. There is a good chance that Pacific readers living in good old homes that have been altered will find their home “as built” in that collection.  Contact archivist Greg Lange at 425 564 3942, and have your home’s tax number or legal description (addition, block, lot) ready.   Prepare to restore.

A restored 4729 Thackeray Place during the summer of 2009 with a front porch crowded by friends celebrating its centennial.
A restored 4729 Thackeray Place during the summer of 2009 with a front porch crowded by friends celebrating its centennial. (This photo and the others not marked recorded by Paul.)
From left to right:  * On the left riser: Dick Barnes behind the balloons, Candy Barnes, and Claudia Levi  * On the steps clockwise starting left top:  Meg Pasquini, Gina McManus, Andy Williams, Brian McManus, Mazie McManus, Charlie McMansu and Gisela Levi  * On the right riser from top to bottom:  Jane Shapira, Cynthia Williams, Shaun Darragh, Chris Way, and Sam Miller
From left to right: * On the left riser: Dick Barnes behind the balloons (see the bottom), Candy Barnes, and Claudia Levi * On the steps clockwise starting left top: Meg Pasquini, Gina McManus, Andy Williams, Brian McManus, Mazie McManus, Charlie McMansu and Gisela Levi * On the right riser from top to bottom: Jane Shapira, Cynthia Williams, Shaun Darragh, Chris Way, and Sam Miller

Now the owner-restorer, Claudia Levi, (second from the right, below) adds her own testimony to the joy and work of restoration.

I bought 4719 Thackeray Place NE  in 1996.  Well, it was really ugly! All of the beautiful exterior trim and detail was removed or boarded over and it endured so for about 50 years, from the 1940s to 2000 when I had it restored to its original facade.

This was a beautiful house when it was built in 1909 and it was pretty much as built still in 1937.  After 1940 it lost a lot of its original charm in order to “modernize” for a “cleaner” look. The family that had the house from 1940 to 1992, was the longest consistent resident in the home, and they made a lot of the changes to the house.

One can see in the 1996 photo that the top half of the house was boarded over with dark cedar boards, and all of the original street-side windows were modernized.  They put a big picture window downstairs and made the upstairs window smaller to accommodate a big bed under the window.  The two oval windows on the sides of the second floor were simply boarded over.  Well just about everything was boarded over.  I am sure this was done for a heat savings.  It was considered “progress.”  All of the beautiful trim on the inside was also removed.   To restore its original charm the entire home needed work.

As part of the “young-over-zealous homeowner movement” of the 90’s and early 00’s, I brought the house back to its original charm removing its cedar mask.  Through multiple visits to ReStore (1440 NW 52nd St Seattle 206-297-9119) and Second Use Building Materials (7953 Second Ave. S.  Seattle 206-763-6929) the house regained its original exterior look, similar to 1909.  This included replacing both large windows, a new stucco job on the second floor exterior, and a four-color paint job.  There was an extensive interior restoration completed as well during this time.  The house will surely live another century to outlive me – and well you too!

Happy Birthday, 4719 Thackeray Place!  Wishing you another 100 years and more!

In the back yard, left to right:  Meg Pasquini, Jane Shapira, Claudia Levi and Gisela Levi
In the back yard, left to right: Meg Pasquini, Jane Shapira, Claudia Levi and Gisela Levi
A page from Claudia Levi's restoration journal - with timeline.
A page from Claudia Levi's restoration journal - with timeline and Claudia's forefinger.
Concluding with nearby neighbor Dick Barnes no longer behind the balloon.
Concluding with nearby neighbor and raconteur Dick Barnes out from behind the balloon.

4 thoughts on “Seattle Now and Then: A Wallingford Restoration”

  1. Look at that link I put in the website box. My daughter appears have moved into the same house her grandmother had stayed in 70 years before. Because of your article, we now know exactly where to look to find the answer.

    Steven Swift

  2. Steven
    I did not know we had a “website box.” I’ll have to ask Jean about this one. Perhaps you could explain this coincidence with a little more story telling.
    Paul

  3. Hi Paul,

    When looking through a photo album of old photos of my grandmother who lived on Capitol Hill most of her life, I discovered one photo of her standing in front of a house that looked almost exactly like the apartment I was living in at the time, with only minor differences. The windows, house structure, front pillars, and other details were all the same, including the house number! The magnolia tree in her photo is much smaller than it is in my photo 70 years later, of course. We are planning to research more to confirm it is the same house. Here’s my blog entry on it: http://seattleswift.blogspot.com/2009/09/weird-gets-weirder-follow-up.html

    Mary

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