If, for a moment, one squints the eyes and suspends disbelief, this little home on ‘The Ave’ may seem palatial, with guarding turrets, left and right, and a sunlit dome at the rear. Alas, as well arranged as they are for illusions, those accouterments belong to mills near the north shore of Portage Bay, which most likely are closed down. This is a scene from 1937, set in the unwanted languor of the Great Depression.
The subject is pulled from the Works Progress Administration’s photographic survey of every taxable structure in King County. With help only from these property record cards, city directories, and The Seattle Times archives, we can deduce that Clara and Ferdinand Krummel lived here in 1937 with their teenager Paul, and perhaps one or both of their daughters. Paul was among the 586 seniors graduating from Roosevelt High School in 1938, and the ceremony was nearby in the UW’s Hec Edmundson Pavilion. Four years more and the enlisted Paul would be completing a course in aviation mechanics in Texas. In the spring of 1944, the intentions of the eighteen-year-old Gertrude A Nerdig to marry the soldier were published by The Times.
Two years later, in 1946, The Times printed a short obituary for Ferdinand, the then 76-year-old father, describing him as a German immigrant and a retired baker. In the 1930 Polk City Directory the Krummels were living in Ballard and proprietors of the American Girl Bakery at 5431 Ballard Avenue. Most likely the Krummel’s closing of their bakery and move to this modest home in the University District had something to do with both the Great Depression and their age.
The WPA card describes this bungalow as built on a footprint of 875 square feet and divided into five rooms. The card has University Way made of bricks, and the neighborhood’s “use” as “residential-industrial,” as this photo’s melding of mill and domicile is a clear witness. Like almost everywhere then, the neighborhood’s “status” is listed as “static.” This stasis was disrupted in the 1960s when the UW began buying up much of the “lower district.”
The tidy accommodations of the home at the top were built in 1915 (or so claims the tax card), but demolished in 1962 or 1963, and so did not reach their golden anniversary. Paul Krummel, however, kept on until March 3, 2014. In his obituary in The Times, one of his grandchildren describes him as “a loving husband who was often seen holding his wife’s hand.” Another adds that he “loved to dance and had a great sense of humor.”
THE KRUMMEL’S NEIGHBORS IN THE 3700 BLOCK IN 1937
I have to comment, Paul, it’s rare to capture you in one of these photos, but there you are in this week’s ‘Now’ whistling your happy tune! Anything to add? Yes Jean, beginning with a question in return. Can you name the tune? Otherwise, as is our way, Ron Edge starts our response with several CLICKABLE links to other features from the past that treat on “The Ave,” and all of them have subjects within them that elaborate on your and my long-lived interest in, to repeat, both “Town and Gown” north of Portage Bay (and extending south of the bay to include the now razed Red Robin Tavern.) At the bottom, if time allows before our climb to “Night-Bears” (The copyright is guarded with pillows.) we will include more on The Ave.
2 thoughts on “Seattle Now & Then: A Home on ‘The Ave’”
Well, Paul, anything to add? Waiting dear fellow…
Thank you, Paul, for posting this information.. I was alerted to this from my cousin. Ferdinand and Clara Krummel were my great-grandparents and their daughter, Clara (known as Kay) was my grandmother and her son is my dad. I loved learning some things about my family that I didn’t even know!!!