LARGE-SCALE PLANNED residential communities have spawned so rapidly in the past 20 years on farmland and hillsides around King County that we forget just how long such communities have been around and how much they shaped close-in city neighborhoods.
Magnolia's Carleton Park dates from 1915. Its tidy mix of '20s and early '30s English Tudor and Georgian, Spanish and American Colonial Revival homes line the slopes and bluffs above Magnolia Boulevard, joined by streamlined moderne and ranch-style brick homes of the '40s and '50s.
Ambitious real-estate promoter Arthur Phinney named the Carleton Park Plat for his father, Guy Carleton Phinney, whose own grandiose estate dreams of the 1890s ended up as the city's Woodland Park. Following in his father's footsteps, the son platted 800 tracts on acres of logged land extending from West Raye Street to Puget Sound and from 32nd Avenue West to 45th Avenue West. He built himself a grand home, complete with swimming pool, and set up a short-lived real-estate office at the corner of Viewmont Way West and West Parkmont Place.
But he was overextended financially, and his development quickly slipped into receivership. World War I was in full swing and purchase of lots and house-building did not start in earnest until the mid-1920s. It picked up steam in the late '20s and early '30s, despite the Depression.
While some of the more pretentious homes along the west edge, dubbed the "Gold Coast," were architect-designed, most along "Mortgage Ridge" were designed by draftsmen and speculative builders for a growing population of middle-class homeowners. Most reached back into history for ideas - quaint brick or clapboard facades, stone or terra-cotta entrance portals, pitched roofs punctuated with dormers, and meticulous green lawns with perimeters of rhododendrons, juniper and flower beds.
Six of them will be featured on the Holiday Tour of Homes Saturday, Dec. 7.
Two are Georgian Revival in style. They share some characteristics, including brick exterior walls, central entrances with fluted columns, and symmetrical plans with living and dining rooms balanced on either side of central stair halls. Yet they are of very different scales and reflect distinct economic levels and social positions.
The grander of the two sits on three manicured lots above Magnolia Boulevard and was built in 1927 for the Bleitz family of the local funeral home. At the time, it was one of about 20 houses in the scrubby landscape of the new development, when the boulevard was, according to the late city parks historian Don Sherwood, a 20-foot-wide "dusty, bumpy, patched country road." From the living room, the proud owners could watch ships come and go in Puget Sound and observe the skyline of the growing city in the distance.
The neighborhood gradually filled with homes and a community began to form. There was a Carleton Park Improvement Club, and the music and art group of Carleton Park often met at the Bleitz home in the 1930s. In 1942, new owners moved in. In 1972, courtesy of a depressed local economy, Hugh and Teel McGough became the third owners.
For Teel McGough, it was love at first sight of the nearly 5,000-square-foot, four-bedroom, three-bath house. But the couple couldn't afford the hefty listing price, which was more than $100,000. In the months that followed, "the price kept coming down, and the weeds kept getting higher and higher. We kept coming back and looking at it, but with three small kids and no money, it was impossible. Finally, on Labor Day weekend, we made a $58,000 offer and it was accepted. We couldn't believe it."
While they have made no major interior changes, they have rebuilt porches and balconies, built new brick walls, rear stairway and driveway, bricked walkways, replaced an aging and cracked cement fish pond with tile and brick, and returned the landscaped grounds to a meticulous setting for the architecture. With nearly 25 years in the house, Teel McGough is still as giddy with delight as a school girl when she looks around and says, "Everything about this house is wonderful."
More typical of Carleton Park homes is a 1932 Georgian brick, at Viewmont Way West and West Armour Street, by architectural designer Fred J. Rogers for Mr. and Mrs. A.H. Lind. Off a small entrance and stair hall were the living and dining rooms (in reverse locations to that of the grander home). While both builders used Batchelder art tile for fireplace surrounds, the difference in scale and complexity reflected the economic and social status of the first owners. And while the Bleitz family had a ground-floor ballroom, the Linds had a rustic log-cabin recreation room in their basement, with maple floors and a river-rock fireplace.
Matt and Kristine Donovik had just finished renovating a Dutch Colonial down the street when they learned this 4,000-square-foot, 3-bedroom, 2-bath house was for sale. They loved the Honduras mahogany woodwork and trim, the rough textured-plaster walls, the fireplaces and the traditional style. Over five years, they totally re-landscaped, repaired the area around the swimming pool, re-roofed, upgraded plumbing and finished the basement. Then came a remodel of the kitchen.
After tackling the long list of "must do's" came the fun of fitting rooms with furniture, fabrics and accessories. With Kristine Donovik's busy interior-design practice as well as a family, it's taken her three years to deal with her own house.
She has done it with gusto - mixing furniture from their previous house, shopping the Seattle Design Center, and finding homes for pieces she says "I inherit" through design work with clients. The living room combines Chinese-patterned draperies and slipcovers, a bright red sofa, and boldly patterned black-and-white carpet. Asian screens and furnishings add serenity and tie the room together. There are faux bamboo pieces, a birdseye-maple coffee table and lamps with unusual bases, such as a Japanese drum and a birdcage.
Dining-room colors are more muted, with pine furniture and a kitchen tansu that serves as a china cupboard. Gourmet cooks who love to entertain, the couple had the kitchen remodeled with maple cabinets, granite counters and backsplashes and Mexican tile floors.
A small powder room off the hall has preserved its Tudor-arch tiled shower room, but a new polished black-granite sink and curved mahogany vanity have replaced the original sink. French floral wallpapers turn the room into a botanical wonderland.
Donovik echoes McGough's delight about her Magnolia home. "It's a wonderful house architecturally. It has a lot of integrity. We've tried to preserve that."
Lawrence Kreisman is director of "Viewpoints" Seattle Architecture Tours and author of six publications on regional architecture and historic preservation. He writes regularly for Pacific Magazine. Greg Gilbert is a Seattle Times photographer. ----------------------------------------------------------------- A Holiday Tour of Homes
MAGNOLIA-TOUR HOMES WILL be decorated for the holidays during the 1996 Holiday Tour of Homes, sponsored by the Association for Catholic Childhood. The tour will be Saturday, Dec. 7, from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (no tickets sold after 3:30 p.m.). Tickets are $15 in advance, $17 the day of the tour, and are available at Our Lady of Fatima Parish Social Center, 3219 W. Barrett St., and Around the Block Gifts and Interiors, 3206 W. Lynn St. in Magnolia Village (advance sales only). A Christmas-crafts boutique and tea house will serve refreshments at the social center. The association is a volunteer organization supporting family and children's programs administered by Catholic Community Services.