Category Archives: Residential

Housing in all forms

Concrete Fantasia, Spanaway

I really admire those folks with passion and commitment to their art. This roadside attraction at 18212-18414 22nd Avenue, Tacoma (Spanaway) is an example of such personal drive. It is on a private residence with good visibility from the street. The property fronts on both 22nd Avenue (the rose) and 183rd Street Court East and my Roadside America App tells me the work is called Concrete Fantasia.

The Bubbleator from the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair


To go to the World of Tomorrow at the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair, you would take the Bubbleator. It was a Plexiglas covered elevator that provided the riders (up to 100!) experience what it would be like in a bubble because of the way the light was refracted. The Bubbleator had originally been installed for the fair which the KeyArena Building is now, and it was later moved to the Seattle Center (Armory) and then taken out of that building by 1984.  Wikipedia says “While boarding the Bubbleator, passengers were commanded by an ethereal female voice to “Please move to the rear of the sphere”, or the “Martian type” male elevator operator would say, “Step to the rear of the Sphere” in a creepy sci-fi type voice. The soundtrack for the Bubbleator was conducted by Attilio Mineo and released as Man in Space with Sounds.[2]

The top part of the Bubbleator was purchased on bid and is now at a private residence in Des Moines. Dear husband and I stopped by to see it and snap some photos, but of course left the owners to their privacy. It’s not easy to impress dear husband, but he really liked this one! (and he also liked the Hobbit Hole from the day before.) It had been a greenhouse, but appeared to be empty when we went by though I hear that it might be a recording studio. There are some photos of it here and here. To see it in action see this news report. And there is a heartwarming story here.

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The Duck and the Houseboats of Lake Union

A row of houseboats

To celebrate our wedding anniversary dear husband and I took the Seattle Duck Tour, which translates to after years of asking I wore down my husband and we went on the Duck Tour. Part of the Duck Tour includes a brief dip into Lake Union. Houseboats are cool because they are houses that float! I mean seriously how great is that. They have been on Lake Union since the late 1800s and there is so good information about them here. Of course the most famous of the Lake Union houseboats is the one featured in the movie Sleepless in Seattle. We got a glimpse of that though it was far in the distance. Anyway the tour was a blast and we saw parts of Seattle that weren’t that familiar to us. And the nice people that run the tour told us about relatively inexpensive parking, so that was a bonus.

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Soap Suds Row, Snohomish


We had an early start to the morning today, so we kept going up to the City of Snohomish because my dear husband adores going through antique stores. I walked the town, mostly avoiding the antique stores and ended up at the visitor center. The visitor center lady provided walking tour guides which told me about Soap Suds Row, a row of five mill houses used by the women who laundry for the mill workers and loggers. The homes, which were constructed in 1889, are darling little white cottages in a line. Four of the five have been restored and it is my understanding that they are rented to senior citizens, perhaps low income.



On the same block on the same side of the street is the 1887 Gingerbread House at 223 Avenue A. The walking tour tells me it is the most photographed house in Snohomish County. It is really a delightful residence, The Gingerbread House and the Soap Suds houses are part of one of Snohomish’s two historic districts.



Perkins House, Colfax, WA


The drive out to Pullman, WA from Tacoma is a long one and I especially don’t like doing it over a weekend (one day there and one day back). But it was time for dear daughter to come home and off we went. I mentioned that I wanted to stop at Colfax on the way home to see a log cabin. The website I found said “Perkins House, Colfax, built in 1886, an original log cabin.” So I figured the Perkins House was a log cabin. I imagined it would take five minutes to walk around a small cabin, snap a couple of pictures and be on our way.

But when we got there it turned out to be an amazing house and a log cabin, and it was open to the public. Dear daughter happily agreed to a tour (muttering that it was my mother’s day present) and our guide took us through the entire property, sharing the history. Really, it was fascinating, well worth the stop. The property was placed on the national historic register in 1972.

We learned that Mr. Perkins founded Colfax and the local saw mill. He, his wife and their four children lived in the log cabin (built in 1870, the oldest standing building in the county) for a while, but in 1880s moved into the lovely Victorian house. We also got to hear an early record player and listen to the honey bees that live in the wall. We especially loved the wallpaper, which was mostly reproduced based on the original. Oh, did I mention, there is an outhouse with the traditional moon on the door? Our volunteer guide was terrific, so pleasant and knowledgeable. He was also patient with our many questions.


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Judge Wilson House in Lakewood

15997589223_b0cde1332d_k(1)After a trip to the Lakewood History Museum, I went off on their driving tour beginning with the Judge Wilson House (a private residence). The map can be found here.

Per the driving tour map:

The Judge Wilson House, a Gothic Revival two-story structure, was built ca. 1885, the same year the Western Steel Company built a plant in the vicinity hoping to make the area, known as Lakeview, the new Pittsburgh of the west. Judge Wilson was the superintendent of the short-lived company which closed by 1893.


505 Broadway

viewI was lucky enough to attend a meeting today in the Skyroom of the 505 Broadway Building in Tacoma. It is a lovely condominium building constructed in 2009. At the building’s entrance are two stone lions. And there is a model of the building in the lobby.

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Lincoln District’s Tulip House

13959709833_3ff50b5041_bThere is a house near Lincoln High School that if full of red and yellow tulips, currently in full bloom. It is startling the number of tulips! What a labor of love that I appreciated seeing this fine Easter Day!

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The Russell Apartments

13895520896_912f160b09_bThe Russell Apartments at 1313 Fawcett Avenue have seen better days. They were built in 1929. Obviously they are in poor condition either awaiting demotion (most likely) or rehabilitation.





Waiting for new development

Lone TrailerThis once splendid trailer is the last man standing in an ex-trailer park north of Highway 512 and East of South Tacoma Way. I could still see the individual pads where the mobile homes once sit and my husband pointed out where each unit’s power was. And there are a couple of rundown buildings that I suspect were the park’s office and perhaps a laundry facility.  I wonder why it was deserted and dear husband opined that maybe it was cleared away for redevelopment and then the market collapsed. Perhaps.

Lone Trailer in ParkCapture