Brace Yourself

Property Watch: A Trendsetting 1904 Mansion on Queen Anne Hill

An early Seattle lumber magnate used his own company to build this mission revival and arts and crafts masterpiece.

By Sarah Anne Lloyd September 22, 2021

In 1904, lumber magnate John Stuart Brace used his company to construct a grandiose home on the south slope of Queen Anne Hill, looking out over Elliott Bay. At the time, the neighborhood’s notoriously palatial homes for Seattle’s elite residents, including David and Louisa Denny, were just starting to crop up after the city’s electric streetcars finally started climbing up that hill. Architecture firm Kerr and Rogers designed a few of them, including this one and the imposing colonial Cline House on the same block.

This house was distinct as one of the first Seattle homes built in mission revival style, just before the Louis and Clark Centennial Exhibition in Portland caused a small boom of the aesthetic in the Pacific Northwest. But it’s unique compared to other homes in the same style for its more arts and crafts use of timber.

A recessed porch with seven intricately trimmed arches spans the entire front of the home in a design that would normally be made of masonry and terra-cotta—but are instead carved from wood boards and battens. The distinctly shaped mission roofline lends itself to a dormer emerging from a hipped roof, and a river-rock foundation adds an extra Northwest touch.

Inside, Brace’s expert fir millwork is still in its full glory, with richly finished box beam ceilings and cased openings. The first floor is a vast collection of entertaining spaces. One recessed nook has built-in benches curving around a brick fireplace. A larger living area has its own wood-fronted surround. Around the firebox itself, tile with a tree design came from renowned art pottery figure William Grueby. The formal dining room features original built-in cabinetry and an idyllic stained-glass window showing a tree and a field. Also on the first floor is a study with its own small fireplace surrounded by built-in book cabinets.

The home has gained a few modern touches over the years, including a bright, more modern kitchen. The luxe second floor suite came along around 2008: Newer built-ins surround French doors in the bedroom, while a soaking tub in the ensuite bath has a Space Needle view. Other bedrooms, while not as opulent, have more of that 1904 charm, including a bay window with a reading bench in one.

 The third floor, originally a half-floor, got a total overhaul in 2000 to become a den with skylights and a city view. The basement is also finished and serves as a mother-in-law suite with its own kitchen and fireplace.

While John Brace—who played a pivotal role in making the Lake Washington Ship Canal happen—died in 1918, the home stayed with the Brace family through at least the 1940s, with a brief interlude when they rented to French consul Louis Heritte from 1915 to 1917. It's been well-loved by hands-on owners ever since. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, while owned by James Moriarty, it got city landmark status. His daughter-in-law Jennifer Moriarty went on to do interior design work for present owners Bill and Laury Bryant—no relation to the Republican gubernatorial candidate. The Bryants have lived there since 1996, despite their lives pulling them to other areas of the city.

Listing Fast Facts

170 Prospect St
Size: 7,019 square feet/.24 acre, 6 bedroom/6 bath/6 fireplace
List Date: 9/17/2021
List Price: $5,200,000

Listing Agent:
Anita Hearl, Windermere

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