Part I of this column, published Jan. 8, 2014, detailed the life of John Lorentz, who built numerous homes on Queen Anne Hill between 1910 and 1930. One of Lorentz’s enduring achievements was the creation of Lorentz Place North, including the construction of many of the 19 homes on the street.
The City of Seattle officially established Lorentz Place in 1921, when the City Council passed an ordinance accepting deeds from John and Bena Lorentz, John and Elizabeth McNair, and Charles and Allie Rushton for acquisition and laying off of the original portion of Lorentz Place.
Construction along what is now Lorentz Place had, however, already begun by 1917, when two homes were built on the west side of the street on the lots closest to the intersection of Second Avenue North and McGraw Place (Lorentz did not build these houses).
Between 1920 and 1925, seven more homes were constructed on the west side of Lorentz Place. Of these, one was built by Ed Taylor in 1920, while Lorentz likely built the rest.
The final house on the west side of Lorentz Place was built in 1933 by Sam Hargraves.
In 1917, Lorentz built two houses located on the east side of Second Avenue North just before it turns into Lorentz Place. Between 1923 and 1927, eight additional homes were built north of these on the east side of the lane.
Permits confirm that five were built by Lorentz. Two other permits identify only Ernest A. Swanson as the owner, but a third lists both Lorentz and Swanson. While the relationship between Lorentz and Swanson is unknown, they may have been partners at that time. Only a few years younger than Lorentz, Swanson was also born in Sweden, and they were members of the same church, Emmanuel Tabernacle.
In 1936, the final house on Lorentz Place was constructed at the northeast end of the street. Designed by architect W. G. Brust, it was built for owner Ethel Germaine by H.A. Barkenhus.
A tight-knit community
Lorentz Place is unusual in several respects. Its length is a mere one-tenth of a mile. After initially curving north from McGraw Place and Second Avenue North, it narrows to a width of 19 feet, winding at a slight decline to dead end at a spot just south of Queen Anne Drive and west of the North Queen Anne Drive bridge.
The houses on the east side of Lorentz Place border on Wolf Creek Ravine, and some of these homeowners own an adjoining portion of the ravine. All of the homes have small setbacks from the street and were built very close to each other, enhancing the narrow feeling of the lane. The proximity of the homes has created a close-knit community, somewhat reminiscent of a houseboat dock.
Two street-wide events are sponsored each year, including a community garage sale, with the proceeds given to a selected charity.
In a departure from normal practice, all the addresses on the west side of Lorentz Place are even-numbered, but only four on the east side of the street are odd-numbered. In 1948, 19 residents of Lorentz Place and the adjacent portions of Second Avenue North sought to reduce this confusion by petitioning the city to change the name of Lorentz Place to 2400 block of Second Avenue North; the request was denied.
Lorentz Place is also unusual in that only a portion of the street right-of-way is city-owned. The City Council passed an ordinance in 1925 to establish a 202-foot extension of Lorentz Place, but it was repealed in 1927. While there are no minutes explaining the repeal, it may have been impractical to widen the roadway to city standards.
A ‘cohesive’ streetscape
The architectural styles of the houses on Lorentz Place are mostly a mixture of the period revival styles so popular in the 1920s, including Colonial and Tudor Revival. A few of the earlier homes display distinctive Craftsman influences.
With the exception of the notable brick Dutch Colonial Revival on the west side of the entrance to the lane and the finely detailed brick Craftsman at the north end of Lorentz Place, the majority of the houses on the west side of the street are Colonial Revival bungalows built between 1917 and 1925.
Basements were typically unfinished during this period. Some garages were added under later permits.
Another finely detailed, brick Craftsman anchors the east side of the entry to Lorentz Place. Like its counterpart at the northwest end of the lane, both were built in 1923 by Lorentz, and they are very similar in style.
The remaining houses on the east side of the street are mainly Tudor Revival, built between 1925 and 1927, at the height of the popularity of “Builder Tudors” in Seattle. Many similar architectural details found in the homes on Lorentz Place suggest that the designs may have come from architectural plan books, which were in common usage at the time.
The fact that minimal exterior modifications have been made to Lorentz’s houses is a testament to their thoughtful design and contributes to the cohesiveness of the streetscape.
JAN HADLEY AND LEANNE OLSON serve on the board of the Queen Anne Historical Society (qahistory.org). To comment on this column, write to QAMagNews@nwlink.com.