(click to enlarge photos)
The Capitol Hill neighborhood landmark, the Littlefield Apartments at the corner of 19th Avenue East and East John Street was timed as 58 years-old in a Times story about its 1968 sale to Arthur Kneifel. For his $120,000 Kneifel got a classic brick apartment house with twenty-eight units. Less than a year later, Kneifel got his cash back and $38,000 more when he sold the Littlefield to B. A. Nuetzmann.
Through the Littlefield’s early years of enticing renters, its classifieds in The Times used many of the stock descriptions for such a distinguished residence. When West and Wheeler, one of the real estate gorillas of the time, announced in 1916 that “this pleasantly located, new brick veneer building has just been placed in our charge,” the unfurnished two-and three-room apartments rented for $18 to $27.50 a month. And in 1916 it was possible to see some light because of the neighborhood’s turn-of-the-century clear-cutting. One could then still rent a Littlefield unit with a “view of Lake Washington,” a gift from the sawyers.
Through the 1920s, West and Wheeler described this property as “quiet and homelike,” “beautifully furnished,” in “perfect condition,” “modern,” and “reasonable” to rent. In the mid-20s the realtors promoted “overstuffed furniture” with coil springs in the apartment’s furnished flats. In late 1931 a modern and “completely refinished” 3-room front corner apartment was offered for $37 a month. It was a depression-time bargain – for the still employed.
The Littlefield’s more steadfast residents aged with it, and increasingly following World War Two. their names started appearing in The Times death notices. For instance, on May 6, 1947, the Times noted that Mrs. Laura Price, 86 years old and a member of First Baptist Church, had died. Four years later Littlefield residents Mr. and Mrs. Leonard Leighton celebrated their golden wedding anniversary.
The Littlefield, of course, had its run of managers. Perhaps the most unlucky among them was Robert Milender. Twice in 1972 – in June and in July – visitors on the pretense of wanting to rent a unit, instead robbed and pummeled Milender in the manager’s, his own, apartment.
Anything to add, Paul? Yes Jean with your help and a link to our feature on Capitol Hill’s Gable Apartments, which includes several additions – of its own – that will resonate with the Littlefield Apts. as well.
THANK YOU DEAR READERS