The Quarterdeck and a brief history of Magnolia

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With our new listing at the Quarterdeck, we wanted to share with you some historical notes about Magnolia . . .

First, the big mistake. In 1855, federal surveyors making their way through Puget Sound noticed the huge trees on the yellow 300-foot cliffs and named the hillside after them, calling it, “Magnolia.” Except they were Madronas, not Magnolias. Oops.

That never got corrected. The next year, Dr. Henry Smith came up from Olympia and claimed “Smith’s Cove.” In the 1880s, the railroad found its way over, made it there, the city annexed Magnolia in 1891, and the largest pier on the Pacific coast was built there in 1903.

A tract of rich farmland known as the “Pleasant Valley,” which is not the subject of the song Carole King wrote for the Monkees (that was New Jersey), ran from about Howe St to Emerson, and from 28th Ave West to about 36th or so.

Touching the NE corner was a 35-acre tract of undeveloped land owned by Thomas Eyanson, a leading clothing manufacturer who lived in Eastlake. In 1945, the Navy built 46 two- and three-family houses on the east slope overlooking Salmon Bay, and with views of Mt. Rainier and Mt. Baker, for 130 returning vets and their families.

In 1967, the Seattle Housing Authority sold the site in eleven tracts to developers who announced a comprehensive plan for development of the site. They formed the Magnolia Crest Association, with the goal of making it the “Nob Hill of Seattle,” agreeing to architectural conformity, to put utilities underground for “elegance,” and to pool funds for mutual expenses. Building began at a furious pace.

The owners of the Quarterdeck met with some hiccups, but when it was opened to the public in December 1975, it met with great response; it was fully leased within just a few months. A display ad in the Seattle Times proclaimed, “We’ve got features enough to fill this page – but rather than do that – do yourself a favor and drive to 2500 W Manor Place!” A swimming pool, sauna, apartments fitted with wood-burning fireplaces and spacious decks, visitor parking; these were spectacular apartments for the time, and they’re still pretty darned nice!

Condominium fever came to Seattle, and in 1980, the legal work of converting the Quarterdeck was completed. However, market conditions were less than favorable, and sales began in earnest in 1982 as, in the words of the marketers, “The Quarterdeck declares mutiny on inflated prices and high interest rates!!”

A generation later, the Quarterdeck is in the process of a modernization project that will ensure happy condo living for years to come: new siding, updated interiors and common areas . . . surrounded by Lawton and Magnolia Manor parks, ten minutes to Old Ballard or the Queen Anne hilltop, five to Discovery Park or Magnolia Village.

Our new listing in the Quarterdeck will be held open from 1-4 on Sunday, October 28. Find out more at our website.

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