Officers’ Row is an island in the middle of Discovery Park. These Colonial Revival homes built in 1899 and 1904 don’t just skirt the edge of the park grounds; they’re right in the middle, surrounded by trees and trails. Along with nearby Montana Circle, it’s one of a couple pockets of former Fort Lawton land that wasn’t transferred to the city—the U.S. Navy still owned it until 2015, when it was sold to private developer Rise Properties. Rise put them on the market in 2016 and 2017 after extensive remodeling.
The Laura, originally Building 640A, is part of a duplex that used to house two lieutenants’ families—and it’s the first one to come back on the market after its original sale. Like the others, it was designed by military architect Ambrose Kiehl. This one is named after his daughter, who grew up to be one of the first, if not the first, female stockbrokers in the state of Washington.
The Officers’ Row exteriors are preserved as a part of its federal historic district, so like the surrounding homes, its facade was restored to something close to what it was in the 1900s: a light yellow color with white trim that highlights Palladian windows and original porch columns and railings. Seattle’s historic resources survey notes that its original color was probably barn red with brown trim, but thankfully only for a few years.
Inside, some 1900s design features are still intact. The original maple and oak floors have been restored, along with some original millwork like the bannister in the entrance and some built-in cabinets. Its two original fireplaces are still there, complete with original tile. But it’s had some major upgrades, too, with all-new bathrooms and kitchen. The basement and the attic have been finished up, giving the home a full four stories—and an adorable top-floor room with a vintage oval window.
Some parts of it do look a little more modern, but that comes with a total refresh of some of the most common sources of old-house problems. Heating used to come from a central steam plant shared with the other homes, according to National Historic Register documents, and now it has its own hydronic floor heat. Its electric and plumbing systems have been completely replaced.
As was common for officer housing at the time, it’s located at the highest elevation of the original fort, giving it unobstructed west-facing views of Elliott Bay and the Olympic Mountains. Shared amenities include two playgrounds, a P-patch, a firepit, and groundskeeping, but they don’t come cheap: HOA fees are a whopping $1,289 a month. It does, however, come with historic preservation tax incentives.
The Fort Lawton area, including Discovery Park, has been the subject of public controversy for more than 120 years. Seattle business leaders and politicians fought for a military installation, but were disappointed with the results and started asking for the land back as early as 1907. The death of an Italian soldier during World War II led to courts-martial and manslaughter convictions for 28 Black soldiers with no evidence—that weren't overturned until all but two of them were dead. Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center was founded after a citizen occupation.
The 1970s National Historic Register file on the historic district is almost 900 pages long (very, very long PDF link here) thanks to a bevy of public comment and independent surveys, with some supporting historic preservation and others supporting demolition and parkland. These houses were a large part of the preservation effort, although they weren't ever particularly in danger; the military was still using them for housing at the time and wasn't about to give them to the city.
The U.S. Army still owns a parcel of Fort Lawton land that the city's been eying for public housing since 2005, with a vocal neighborhood group demanding additional parkland. While the Seattle City Council voted to move forward in 2019, a lawsuit delayed the process. The suit was dismissed earlier this year, representing yet another step in this land's evolution.
Listing Fast Facts
4002 Washington Avenue
Size: 3,620 square feet/0.29 acres, 4 bedroom/3 bath
List Date: 6/18/2021
List Price: $2,250,000
Listing Agents: Emilia Evans and Kendra Todd, The Kendra Todd Group