Peavey Sawmill – A bit of Beach Drive’s colorful past

It was about a year ago to the day that I ran into a local historian and West Seattle legend, John Kelly. John was responding to an inquiry I had made regarding an old pier that was once said to serve the Mosquito Fleet at Weather Watch Park.

Good afternoon

I’m responding to your inquiry to Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society. I am a lifelong WS resident as were my parents and grandparents. I am 92, but cannot say I pesonally saw the Floating dock there. However, there are photos, as I recall, at the Log House Museum on 61st.
There is a mural at the WS Junction on the east wall of the Campbell Building, Callifornia and Alaska St.(alley)

My mother’s family camped at Rose Lodge around 1905 just a block or two north of Carrol St.
My father’s family camped about a mile south next to the Peavey Sawmill, which was on the shore between Juneau & Raymond Streets during the same period. Piling remnants are still visible there.

I personally met with John at his apartment in The Kenney to pour over research and photos he’d compiled over the years about the historic Beach Drive sawmill. At low tide, we drove down to the actual site where a local resident was kind enough to allow us access to the beach, where at 92, John had no issue climbing down the rocks and driftwood to the weathered remnants of south Alki’s first industry…


Site of the Peavey Sawmill circa 1905-1925 near the 5200 block of Beach Drive SW. Mr Kelly is seen standing amongst the pilings that once managed the large log booms brought in from tugs.


Mr Kelly mentioned that his uncle owned a summer property alongside of the mill where they would erect platforms & tent shelters for family gatherings on the beach.  Check out the corrugated siding of a mill building behind this reunion of fine ladies.


John’s Aunt Caroline Kelly Houghton & friends photo taken in 1907


Although not quite 100% sure, John believes this next photo is likely a taken out in front of the mill where his family would fish and boat



This tract map of 1912 clearly shows the location of the mill and nearby streets



Mr Kelly wrote a detailed essay regarding the mill for the SW Seattle Historical Society click here to read. Beyond the essay, I recall John telling me about horse stables located across the street from the mill. In the early evening, the horses would pull wagons of finished lumber north along dirt roads to the paved street and electric streetcar line south of Alki Point near Orleans Street. After hours when regular passenger service closed for the day, the trolly line would serve to transport lumber & other commercial freight to Duwamish Head where more conventional transportation could be arranged.

He also made mention of the narrow stairway leading down to the beach from where Juneau street intersects with Atlas. Bears were often seen eating berries along the hillside!

PeaveyJuneauStThe stairs down Juneau Street are long gone but a green belt still exists. Photo taken at the top of Atlas Street.


Scupper, reporting for Beach Drive Blog


Check out the back door on these 100 year olds!

While 2013 featured only one Beach Drive home (and a lighthouse) turning 100, this year needs enough candles for a half-dozen! Check ’em out…




This Lowman Beach Cottage remembers when Lincoln Park was named Fauntleroy Park prior to 1922.





One of my favs to be sure on the 5000 block.





An extensive remodel in 2009 but the bones are unmistakably 1914. Being nestled right up against Emma Schmitz Memorial Overlook, I’m pretty certain it witnessed some pretty swank Schmitz parties!




This gem is so well hidden these days, I had to use a county photo from 2003.


This most northern 100 yo on Beach Drive may have a 1914 sports page in the attic featuring the Boston Braves sweep of the Philadelphia A’s, 1st sweep in World Series history.





Think it knows it was built the same year as the Smith Tower??






This is one of those beauties that sits down from the street south of where the Peavey Saw Mill used to reside on Alki Ave. (now named Beach Drive).


*A majority of these photos were lifted off the King County Dept of Assessments site.


Scupper, reporting for Beach Drive Blog

Sunny flash-back Thursday on Beach Drive

The super fine folks at the the Southwest Seattle Historical Society dug up another vintage photo for us to enjoy…


The caption read: “Beach area below Jacobsen Dr on the left approximate location of Emma Schmitz and the houses on what was the orginal orchard area (of the Schmitz estate).”

I lined up the houses and vacant lots in the photo to put the circa between 1921-25. It appears that the old seawall was quite a bit higher and set back further than the current seawall constructed in 1927.  The one remaining mystery of this historic photo is the house(s) to the far north/left. Are they the houses at the north end of the park or were homes at one time built on the wider strip of land of the park? I’m thinking the cameras were just that much better in the 20’s 🙂



The above photo was taken yesterday at low tide. The kids were splashing around where the old sewer/run-off  structure is now. If you’re thinking the water must’ve been freezing and it must’ve been some sort of a double-dog-dare, think again! I measured the water temp in the shallows to be around 75 degrees…no fool’n!!


As far as the “original orchard” is concerned, a life long resident in the area told me that this is likely the last remaining fruit tree still standing from the original Schmitz family estate (now Mee-Kwa-Mooks park)…




Scupper, reporting for Beach Drive Blog

Retaining wall construction underway along 6000 block of Beach Drive

The long awaited construction project is finally underway along one of the the most historically unstable sections of Beach Drive SW. This notorious slide area has been riddled with controversy before finally being approved for city permitting. Two 12 foot retaining walls with a drainage plan will most likely take several weeks to complete.


An on-looking neighbor commented that this plucked tree was “mainly responsible for holding up the hillside”

The good news is that this potholed and sloped section of Beach Drive will eventually get re-paved! Also appears that an owner located directly below the construction project now has the confidence to plan a new 8071 square foot home


Question is, will this modern answer to holding back the hillside actually stand the test of time? Here’s some historic photos to contend with…


Photo takenOctober 21st 1933 (courtesy of city of Seattle archived photos)


Atlas slide photo taken 1/24/1934 (courtesy of City of Seattle Archives)




Scupper, reporting for Beach Drive Blog


100 years old & looking maaarvalous!

Two Beach Drive beauties are turning over the century this year. According to King County Records, this gal was born in 1913…


Sweetheart, you haven’t changed a bit!


Not sure of the year but check out the ride out front!


The next centurion is actually a remodel that was finished up in 1913 replacing a lens-lantern atop a wooden post. This is an excerpt from Lighthouse Friends .Com

After the government purchased an octagonal parcel at the tip of the point from Edmund Hansen for a sum of $9,999. the present concrete fog signal building with attached, thirty-seven foot octagonal tower was completed on April 29th, 1913, and the station was activated a few weeks later on June 1.



 Photo courtesy of University of Washington archives


Circa 1959 from Washington State Digital Archives

Here’s a few pics of the beacon taken earlier today from the S.S. Scupper. Notice the blue tent out front of the Coast Guard residence. They’re preparing for grand birthday party tomorrow to commemorate the 100 year anniversary. The Log House Museum is also hosting a shin-dig from noon to 4!




Weather is predicted for the high 60’s tomorrow.

 Scupper, reporting for Beach Drive Blog

Beach Drive Arial Photos from 1937!

Was your home still a vacant lot in 1937? You can search King County Map Vault by Section Township Range to see how your lot appeared “back in the day”. Use this reference photo to locate your particular map section…


Jacobson Rd is located in Section 22. Lowman Cove is shared in both 27 & 26

Here’s an example of how present day Mee-Kwa-Mooks Park appeared back when it was occupied by West Seattle pioneers Ferdinand & Emma Schmitz…



Scupper, reporting for Beach Drive Blog 








Did you ever see “Spot Run” on Beach Drive?

If you lived around Beach Drive SW in the 50’s & 60’s, one of these children’s book characters may have been modeled after you!


As it turns out, a famous author named Elizabeth Rider Montgomery lived in this home located in the 4800 block of Beach Drive SW. 


The address has changed around a  little but this is where Elizabeth wrote/collaborated on many of her books.

Moved onto Beach Drive with her husband Norman in 1/8/49

Moved out with second husband on 12/14/1972 (ok, my title insurance background is rearing it’s head again) 

Among many other publications to her name, Elizabeth co-authored on several of the iconic Dick and Jane book series. The first coming in 1940… 


Ms Montgomery landed a staff writer position with the Scott Foresman Company and published 14 more books as well as a series entitled Heath for All between 1940-1965.

A more complete bio of the author and her life’s work can be found at this site published by Western Washington University where she enrolled in 1925 when it was then called Washington Normal School.  The West Seattle Herald also published an excellent story about her in December of 1969.

She passed in 1985 and is buried next to her husband in Poulsbo’s city cemetery.

It just goes to show you, it’s good to know…

Book #4 of her Health for All series 

Special Note: The long time current resident of this home informed me that she purchased the home back 1987 from the, at the time, manager of  famous Seattle area rock group Queensryche! He also played a key role (founder) in opening Easy Street Records at the “Junction”. 

Scupper, reporting for Beach Drive Blog

Mystery of a well-stocked trout pond in Mee-Kwa-Mooks park

I've read about the trout pond once located on the old Schmitz estate (formally named Sans Souci), but have never been able to pinpoint exactly where it sat.  A cool sketch of San Souci's grounds as depicted by the great niece of the West Seattle pioneers Emma and Ferdinand shows a number of landmarks but no specific mention of the "trout pond" 

Note a "small pond" drawn in on the right. The trout pond?

It was time to leash up the dog and sniff this thing out. The Blue Spruce tree was the first landmark we found…

Love the early century concrete work!

Then it was off to find where the waterfall was located. Figured that the trout pond could be somewhere down slope from it.

Appears to be original stone-work for the water feature.  

My guess is that the well stocked pond was located further down the hill near Beach Drive itself. The Parks Department just cleared out some diseased trees and brush (in effort to help the recent restoration project ) and may have uncovered the location.

On a hot August day, you can almost smell the fish!

There's even a concrete pad that once was a site for a bench of some sorts.

The bench site looks somewhat new but the Schmitz estate didn't come down 'til the late 60's.

This aerial photo from 1968 clearly shows where the 1907 circa 17 room mansion was excavated as well as the extensive gardens. But no sign of the famous trout pond.

All the gardens were said to be watered naturally from "Spring Hill"

Here's an archived pic named Sans Souci that shows standing water near whats looks to be the shoreline. Is it the pond?

  787 - Sans Souci Alki Point

Alan Schmitz, grandson of Emma and Ferdinand, holding a photo of the historic mansion that once occupied the hillside of what is now Mee-Kwa-Mooks park.

Again, no clue as to the whereabouts of the trout pond.

So that's the end of my quest to find the ghost fishing hole of Mee-Kwa-Mooks. If anyone out there actually knows where it existed, please share!

Scupper Sr. for Beach Drive Blog 


Back to business for 4029 Beach Drive SW!

It's great to see one of our favorite old buildings on Beach Drive coming back to life as a small business again!  My wife and I ran into a couple of friendly guys moving stuff into this iconic location as we were taking a stroll north along the Drive. Being nosey bloggers that we are, we had to ask what was up?

A gentleman named Norm told me that he was planning to run his law practice out of the front of the space and use the back as a residence. He also told us he will do everything he can to keep the character of the circa 1928, 1610 sq ft space and was shooting for May 1st to be open for biz.


Norm was gracious enough to let me take a few pics of the inside and around back of the historic building which can be viewed here

Want to know some history about the place? I knew you did!

An excerpt from Memories of Southwest Seattle Businesses describes the establishment at the northwest corner of Beach Drive SW and Carroll Street from the vantage point of what is now LaRustica Restaurant…

"Diagonally across the street at the northend of Weather Watch park, is another small storefront building. In the 50's it was a beverage store. They sold beer and wine and mixers, but no hard liquor. My friend Claudia Hickerson Moter lived there with her parents, Lyle and Juddy Hickerson. Lyle was seattle fireman stationed in North Admiral, and Juddy ran the store. The big street-side room was the store, with their living quarters at the back and below."

This archive photo from the King County Assessor's Office shows the apartments next door (prior to current brick siding) with another small store-front at street level.


As you can see from this Seattle zoning map from 1923, this particular intersection of Beach Drive was full of small businesses in "the day"…

The checkered section of this 1923 zoning map signifies "Business District" while the stripes stand for "Second Residences". 

Hmmm, Law office or Beer & Wine store? Law Office or Beer & Wine store? Oh well, either way…welcome to Beach Drive Norm!  

Scupper reporting for Beach Drive Blog

Four Beach Drive homes turn 100 this year! (…and another one bites the dust)

Happy 100th birthday wishes go out to four homes spread out along the Beach Drive strip. Here they are in all their vintage glory from south of Lowman Beach to north of Mee-Kwa-Mooks…





While all these homes are reported to have been built sometime in 1912, King County records may not exactly be the end-all in accuracy. Case in point comes from a fabulous publication "Celebrating 150 Years, Architectural History of West Seattle's North End" (which the owners of the most senior abode of the entire drive graciously lent to me). The assessor's office reports their 4701 Beach Drive home to have been born in 1900 yet research gathered for the book states…

Originally part of a 140-acre tract of land homesteaded during the 1860's by Leonard Oulet and his brother George, who were loggers, two structures at this location were mentioned in the Homestead Certificate from October 1869.

King county records listed several other homes with birthdays prior to 1912. Here's belated birthday wishes to two homes built in 1904, one in 1906, two in 1908, one in 1909, and  seven uh… make that six still hanging around from 1910…


Note: There are great houses in the neighborhoods just off the main drag as well. If you are the owner of a 1912 beauty, let us know. You just may find a Beach Drive Blog Gnome sitting somewhere in your front yard!  

Scupper, reporting for BDB