(click to enlarge photos)
The designers and/or carpenters of this slender house may have taken care to give its front porch a stairway both wide and high enough to pose a large group portrait, perhaps of Delta Gamma Sorority’s charter membership. It was the first local sorority to receive a charter from a national organization. The lobbying, which began in 1900, was rewarded on May 15, 1903, the last day of Delta Gamma’s annual convention held that year in Wisconsin. One year later the coeds were living here at 4730 University Way.
The Greek letters Delta and Gamma are signed on the tower of the featured photo at the top, which seems otherwise useless, since there is neither room enough nor light for either a crow’s nest study or a co-ed’s bed chamber. The photograph’s source, the Museum of History and Industry, gives this University District scene an annum of 1904. The neighborhood was then still more likely referred to either as Brooklyn or University Station. The latter was named after or for the trolley that carried students and faculty to the new university from their remote residences in spread-out Seattle. The former was the name first given the neighborhood by James Moore, Seattle’s super developer, in 1890, the year the future University District was first successfully platted. There was then no knowledge of the coming surprise: the University of Washington. The name Brooklyn was embraced as a cachet pointing to another suburb (Brooklyn) that also looked across water (the East River) to another metropolis (New York.)
Columbus Avenue was the name that Moore gave to the future University Way. This was soon dropped for 14th Avenue, until 1919 when the University Commercial Club joined the neighborhood’s newspaper, the University Herald, to run a contest for a new name, which University Way easily won. Brooklyn Avenue and 14th Avenue were Seattle’s first fraternity/sorority rows. In early December of 1904, the Seattle Times reported, “The Beta Chapter of the Delta Gamma Sorority of the state university gave a dancing party at its new clubhouse on Fourteenth Ave. N.E. Friday.”
University Way, especially, was a sign of the city’s and its university’s then manic growth. Other Greeks soon joined the co-eds of Delta Gamma at addresses north of N.E. 45th Street in Moore’s then new and only two-block-wide University Heights Addition, which had been platted in 1899. Seven years later, and directly to the east of University Heights, Moore opened his much larger University Park
Addition. In this 1904 featured look east from the Ave. we can see that University Park is still a forest. After 1906 it was increasingly stocked with homes for the University of Washington’s growing faculty and Greek community. Many of the students’ ‘secret societies’ first got their start in University Heights, often in mansion-sized houses larger than Delta Gamma’s, which were profitably let go for the developing businesses along University Way. Typically the Greek houses eventually moved to nearby University Park.
After several moves, in 1916 Delta Gamma reached its present location at the northwest corner of NE 45th Street and 21st Avenue NE in 1916. Twenty years later it ‘moved’ again while staying put. In 1936 the sorority’s house was sold and rolled across 21st Avenue from the northwest corner with NE 45th Street to the northeast corner to become the house for the Phi Sigma Kappa Fraternity. It was later named the Russian House, for its popular Russian studies and “Russian Only” rule. Across 21st Avenue, NE. at the recently vacated northwest corner, the sorority built again, this time the grand Arthur Loveless-designed 80-year-old Delta Gamma house. In sum the sorority has now held to this corner for a century.
Anything to add, guys? Yup Jean – from the neighborhood where once we sometimes hung out, and the greater neighborhood where we still live with our lakes. First Ron Edge comes up with about twenty links (again, all of which have their own links, which inevitably include some duplicates), and I will follow Ron’s list with another string of clips – sometime after I have walked the dog. It is now 3:54 AM. And so depending on Guido’s performance, I may wait until tomorrow (Sunday) afternoon to add the promised string.