Welcome back to Price Point, our real estate column that explores two different options for the same budget. This month: two 1910s with modern updates—in two different configurations—for $750,000. Would you take the heavily updated Eastlake condo with a turret or the West Seattle house with a clawfoot tub?
Home 1: Castle life in Eastlake
Just on the Eastlake side of the University Bridge, the Martello has lived a few lives. It started out as a massive single-family home in 1916, but in the 1920s, noted European Revival multifamily builder Fred Anhalt converted it to apartments. In 1990, it went through another major remodel before converting into condos.
That last remodel stripped a lot of that 1920s look out of the interiors, but some highlights live on. This two-bedroom unit preserves some of that historic whimsy amid the more modern conveniences and style.
When you first enter, it’s definitely a modern apartment, with an open-concept living, kitchen, and dining area. The kitchen is full of high-end appliances, including a wine fridge, and has a wide island with more than enough room to be both a spacious workspace and a breakfast bar. The modern tile fireplace has a gas or electric insert rather than a more treacherous vintage wood-burning one. Recent updates includ an efficient mini-split for both heat and air conditioning.
Go a little deeper and start to see more vintage-style details emerge, like crown molding. The most obvious (and maybe most fun) piece, however, is the octagonal room inside the building’s turret. A more traditional bedroom features two Gothic-arch-shaped, latticed windows with stained glass.
In addition to the hard-to-replicate visual interest, it has high ceilings, one and a half bathrooms, and a den. HOA dues are $404 a month here, which is a bargain in a century-old building and the maintenance needs that come with it.
This place is pretty centrally located, adjacent to both the U District and Capitol Hill. Bus stops on the same block can take you to both places, as well as downtown, pretty quickly, and South Lake Union is a breeze. The University Bridge is half a block away, and you can cross it for more options, including a light rail station. There’s no reserved parking—buildings did not have parking when it was built—but there are usually some street parking options down Fuhrman.
Added bonus for the location: Several waterfront parks line the east side of Lake Union, and they’re typically less busy than others.
Listing Fast Facts
List price: $749,450
Location: Eastlake/3275 Fuhrman Ave E, Unit 202
Size: 1,273 square feet square feet, 2 bedroom/1 den/1.5 bath
Year built: 1916
Listing agents: Sydnie Taylor and Danny Adamson, Lake & Company
Home 2: Well-maintained West Seattle Foursquare
This 1910 home in West Seattle’s Youngstown area has a new (or newish) roof, plumbing, electrical, appliances, and lighting, but the look is still classic and cohesive. The first-floor layout is instantly familiar, with maybe a few tweaks from the last 110 years: The living room, anchored by a fireplace, and the dining room are separated by a cased opening, with the kitchen just off the dining room. Through the kitchen, a small office or bedroom is tucked in the corner. Upstairs, three bedrooms have plenty of closet space—and one was, at some point, bestowed an en-suite bath, complete with a vintage claw-foot tub.
It’s updated enough to be safe, efficient, and convenient, and some spaces are decidedly more modern, like the second-floor three-quarter bath with an angled shower or upper casement windows. But with no giant overhaul, a lot of that subtle charm shows up in little details: low crystal doorknobs, original trim and molding, and a decorative railing along the stairwell. It’s very cute, but it’s also extremely practical. With four bedrooms and two and a half bathrooms, there’s no space wasted. But it’s not cramped either.
There’s a lot of room for personality here, and that includes the outdoor space. It’s a smaller lot—in the mid-2000s, the lot was split in half (and then in half again) to add a duplex in the back—but it does plenty with what it has. A wooden deck for chilling and grilling lines one back corner of the house, and a lawn, arbor, and quaint double driveway gate keep things looking idyllic. There’s an unfinished basement, too, for storage, band practice, and new ideas.
While the West Seattle Bridge is currently closed, once it’s back in commission this house is extremely close to it. Two Rapid Ride lines, the C Line on Avalon, and the soon-to-be H Line on Delridge,are within a few blocks, along with many other bus routes.
Listing Fast Facts
List price: $745,000
Location: West Seattle/2827 SW Dakota St
Size: 1,620 square feet/2,753 square foot lot, 4 bedroom/2.5 bath
Year built: 1910
Listing agent: Bree Bristol, Compass
The West Seattle home is pretty well-connected as homes on “the island” go, and while there are a few really fun businesses nearby, traveling from the Eastlake home to the University District, South Lake Union, Capitol Hill, and Downtown is much simpler. That’s especially key while commuting—you’re less likely to have to transfer buses, and if you’re in a pinch and able-bodied, walking or biking back to Eastlake is much easier than West Seattle.
Both homes have some classic features from similar eras, but in much different ways. In West Seattle, it’s a cohesive, cute, and simple aesthetic that’s easy to make your own. There are fewer historic details in the Eastlake home, but they’re big where they count—and it’s the only one in this pairing that has a literal turret. The other extreme of the Eastlake aesthetic is modern luxury, and while that doesn’t add to the vintage charm, it does give the condo a bigger kitchen, or at least a significant amount more counter space.
The West Seattle place is, as a whole, around 350 square feet bigger—and has more bedrooms, an extra bathroom, and an entire unfinished basement on top of it. With two bedrooms and a den, the Eastlake place accommodates more people than many condos, but space fills up fast if your household is growing in one way or another.
Finally, there are the typical trade-offs when comparing a house and a condo that might be deal-breakers in either direction. Do you want to be responsible for the exterior of your home and the land it sits on, or are the maintenance needs of a condo more your speed? Would you want to start projects or alterations that aren’t possible on a condo? Do you need free rein to garden? Decisions, decisions....