Built sometime before 1912, this floating home is one of the earliest surviving homes of its kind—and it launched a community hub for boat-lovers that still endures today. The architectural historian that prepared its city landmark nomination believes it started life on Lake Washington as a canoe club before regulations caused it to move to its present location on Lake Union at the foot of the Aurora Bridge.
Its layout and most of its finishes have been virtually unchanged since the beginning of its life, earning it a spot on the National Register of Historic Places and listed as a City of Seattle landmark. But it has a compelling social history, too: It’s where Seattle boating institution Center for Wooden Boats was born. Now, the nonprofit makes its home in South Lake Union near the Museum of History and Industry, where it teaches visitors maritime history, hosts sailing lessons, and rents human-powered watercraft to those who want to explore Lake Union. But when cofounders Dick and Colleen Wagner first brought their dream to life as a small boat-rental operation, they were living on this floating home. Over the next decade, the project grew into a “living museum,” gaining nonprofit status under its current name in 1979.
It’s fitting that the museum started here, since it’s kind of an exhibit of its own. Its original cedar siding, and most door, ceiling, and window treatments, have stayed with the home for more than a hundred years, with small updates made throughout the middle of the last century. Its original floor plan is still intact, with quirky, original rooms with varying ceiling heights and shapes. The kitchen still has its original tongue-in-groove cabinets and a small bay with a built-in dining bench (and a newer window). The majority of the fir floors and cedar-panel walls have been maintained, too.
The living room’s focal point, besides the water views, is a brick fireplace rising up into the ceiling’s exposed rafters. It first joined the party in the 1940s, although it was later rebuilt for safety reasons. It faces a triangular bay window from a similar era and original french doors leading out to a covered deck right at lake level, complete with a porch swing.
The largest, most easily-accessible bedroom is on the main floor, with beadboard walls and its own door to the home’s one bathroom. In true nautical style, climb a ship’s ladder behind the kitchen to reach two smaller, simpler rooms, each nestled in a gable.
Greenery surrounds the home, some in planters and others grown hydroponically on floatation logs. A platform float with fresh decking and planter boxes is ready for parking watercraft. It’s at the end of the dock—uninterrupted water views!—of the Old Boathouse condominium dock, surrounded mostly by other vintage homes.
Listing Fast Facts
2770 Westlake Avenue North, Slip 10
Size: ~1,776 square foot float, 3 bedroom/1 bath
List Date: 7/7/2021
List Price: $2,400,000
Listing Agents: Courtney Cooper and Molly Cartwright, Keller Williams North Seattle