Seattle Now & Then: The Kenney Home

(click to enlarge photos)

KENNY-HOME-then-mr
Seattle’s famed architects John Graham and David John Myers joined to design the Kenney Home. This view, prior to 1927 when the Seattle Streetcar Co. trestle was removed, looks north from the corner of SW Othello Street and 47th Avenue SW. (Courtesy Richard Wilkens)
NOW: Descendants Stuart and Michele Kenney pose at the same intersection, sans trestle. The former Ashton Grocery building, shown in the “then” view, remains, at left.
NOW: Descendants Stuart and Michele Kenney pose at the same intersection, sans trestle. The former Ashton Grocery building, shown in the “then” view, remains, at left.

The Kenney Home on the western slope of the southern West Seattle ridge was both proposed and first funded by an immigrant couple who never saw it, Jessie and Samuel Kenney. Samuel died in 1894 and Jessie six years later. Her will confirmed the couple’s philanthropic plans for a “home or retreat for such infirm persons of both sexes of above sixty (60) years … who, by reason of poverty, are … unable to adequately provide for themselves, and where such persons, irrespective of their religious or political views, shall be gratuitously supplied as far as may reasonably be, with the shelter, care and comforts of a home, which shall be known as ‘The Samuel and Jessie Kenney Presbyterian Home.’”

The very top is missing here because I shot this a few years ago from a moving car window. Paul
The very top is missing here because I shot this a few years ago from a moving car window.  I see that the color of the tower has changed between this uncertainly dated “now” and Jean’s recent repeat.  Paul

As we might confirm from the featured photo, when the Kenney Home opened its neo-colonial landmark in 1909, the nearby forest of 100-foot firs still rivaled its Independence Hall-like tower at breaking the skyline. Our “then” looks north from the intersection of West Othello Street (crossing left-right) and 47th Avenue. In this long block, 47th has been developed with a 40-foot-high trestle, which carried the Seattle Electric Company’s streetcars over a gully that reached from a spring on the Kenney Home campus to the Puget Sound waterfront. While the Kenney Home was being constructed, the streetcar line was extended from the Junction on California Avenue to the ferries at Fauntleroy and beyond to a neighborhood jovially called Endolyne (end of the line).  [Here we will interrupt this feature with another of the same block.  It first appeared in Pacific on April 9, 2000. ]

z Ashton-on-Otherllo-then-WEB

z OTHELLO-St.-WEB

Along with this admired landmark’s tower, the new common carrier was a great convenience to the neighborhood and often was referenced in classified ads and other published instructions. For instance, a Seattle Times “Club Meetings” listing for June 4, 1920, advised that the “Social Service Department of the Women’s Century Club will give its annual tea and entertainment for the old women at the Kenney Home. Bring Basket Lunch. Leave Pioneer Square at 11 o’clock.” The “old women” reference reminds me that it was not so long ago that a “retirement community,” in today’s preferred parlance, was regularly called an “old folks’ home.” Whatever the label, the Samuel and Jessie Kenney Home was one of our local firsts.

This classified for a "big view lot on bluff between Lincoln Beach and Kenny home" appeared in the Times for December 19, 1915.
This classified for a “big view lot on bluff between Lincoln Beach and Kenny home” appeared in the Times for December 19, 1915.
This early social note from the Times for Nov. 26, 1908
This early Thanksgiving note from the Times for Nov. 26, 1908 may be the first news bit to treat of the “inmates” – all sixteen of the early birds – then at the Kenny Home. 

This Saturday, June 25, The Kenney will be open to all of us. On hand to welcome visitors to this benefit for the Southwest Seattle Historical Society will be the founders’ great-great-great nephew and niece, siblings Stuart and Michele Kenney. Also on hand with historical photographs and memorabilia, revealing how The Kenney has been expanded and renovated over its 107 years, will be experts on the subject from the Society. John Kelly will be there, too. A West Seattle historian who moved to The Kenney in 2008, John is an old friend from whom I often take helpful instructions. He explains, “I coast along here at 95. My grandmother lived until 107, and I expect to be here for a while. So think positive, Paul.”

The historical society’s fourth annual “If These Walls Could Talk” home tour, focused on The Kenney, will run from 3 to 5 p.m. (Tickets are $10 for members, $15 for non-members.) More info: loghousemuseum.info.

 

This may be a bit hard to read, but click it with your mouse several times and for some it may enlarge enough to negotiate. It is an early description of the Kenny Home when it was still in planning.
This may be a bit hard to read, but click it with your mouse several times and for some it may enlarge enough to negotiate.  Print in The Times on July 21, 1907,  It is an early description of the Kenny Home when it was still in planning.

Although it would have been a walk, especially for some living in the Kenny, you could approach the retirement home by taking the waterfront trolley to the beach-side terminus south of Alki Point.

z South-Alki-trolley-stop-web

First appeared in Pacific, August 25, 1991 - a quarter-century ago!
First appeared in Pacific, August 25, 1991 – a quarter-century ago!

WEB EXTRAS

Anything to add, boys? Yes Jean, and at the top of this week’s Edgelinks  is something we did a while ago on the Seattle City Archives.  Your “repeat” shows City Archivist Scott Cline and Assistant City Archivist Anne Frantilla posing in the archive.  This coming Tuesday,  the 21st, Cline is giving a public presentation of examples from the archives, and he will explain how they help us understand the history of Seattle.  I’ll be there and I think Ron will as well.  Can you get away from school Jean and join us?

THEN: The clerk in the city's old Engineering Vault attends to its records. Now one of many thousands of images in the Seattle Municipal Archives, this negative is dated Jan. 30, 1936. (Check out www.cityofseattle.net/cityarchives/ to see more.)

THEN: Built in 1893, West Seattle School kept teaching until ruined by the region’s 1949 earthquake. (Courtesy Michael Maslan)

THEN: The Gatewood Craftsman Lodge was built on a road, in a neighborhood, and near a public school all named for the developer Carlisle Gatewood, who also lived in the neighborhood. The three women posing in the third floor’s open windows are the Clark sisters, Jean, Dorothy and Peggy, members of the family that moved into the home in the late 1930s.

THEN: In 1852 many of Seattle’s first pioneers removed from Alki Point by dugout canoe for the deeper and safer harbor along the east shore of Elliott Bay (our central waterfront). About a half-century later any hope or expectation that the few survivors among these pioneers could readily visit Alki Beach and Point by land were fulfilled with the timber quays and bridges along Spokane Street. (Courtesy Seattle Municipal Archive)

THEN: The Seattle Times in its lengthy coverage of the then new Seattle Steel in the paper’s Magazine Section for Sept. 10, 1905 – the year this photograph was recorded – noted that “the plant itself is a series of strong, substantial, cavernous sheds, built for use, not for beauty.” (Courtesy, MOHAI, the Museum of History and Industry)

THEN: Looking southeast from above Alki Avenue, the Schmitz Park horizon is serrated by the oldest trees in the city. The five duplexes clustered on the right were built 1919-1921 by Ernest and Alberta Conklin. Ernest died in 1924, but Alberta continued to live there until well past 1932, the year this photograph was recorded. (Seattle Municipal Archives.)

THEN: The Craftsman bungalow at 1910 47th Ave. S.W., shown in the 1920s with an unknown adult on the porch and two tykes below, is now 100 years old. The house beyond it at the southeast corner with Holgate Street was for many years clubhouse to the West Seattle Community Club, and so a favorite venue for discussing neighborhood politics and playing bridge. (COURTESY OF SOUTHWEST SEATTLE HISTORICAL SOCIETY)

=======

A FEW MORE FEATURES FROM OUR PAST & THE NEIGHBORHOOD

=====

First appeared in Pacific, May 19, 1985,
First appeared in Pacific, May 19, 1985,   Click-Click to Enlarge.

=====

Appeared in The Times first on January 23, 2000.
Appeared in The Times first on January 23, 2000.

=====

Alki-Beach-logs-ne-m-64th-WEB

Alki-Beach-NOW-ne-fm-64th-WEB

Alki-Beach-lk-ne-fm-near-64th-WEB

=====

 

 

First appeared in Pacific on Jan. 9, 2000.
First appeared in Pacific on Jan. 9, 2000.

=====

Denny-Low Cabin Alki MR web

Alki-Cabin-Lowdown-11142004-web

Alki-Cabin-LOWDOWN-now-WEB

=====Maynard-home-st-7-24-1988-WEB copy

=====

 

Alki-Beach-w-Bandstand-web

Alki-bandstand-NOW-web

 

First appeared in the Times on Oct. 17 , 2004.
First appeared in the Times on Oct. 17 , 2004.

2 thoughts on “Seattle Now & Then: The Kenney Home”

  1. The Kenney Home feature was welcome. But there is a small error regarding the Seattle Electric’s extension. It did not serve the ferry at Fauntleroy because there was no ferry then. I don’t have a documented date, but I do not think that the Kitsap County Transportation Company began service until the 1920s. Certainly the streetcar line’s route curved away from Fauntleroy Cove along the path of today’s Fauntleroy Place SW remaining up the hill from what became the ferry landing.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s