Beach Club Bonus

Property Watch: History Hunting in Lake Forest Park

Being part of the “First Eight” is still pretty great, even more than 100 years later.

By Haley Shapley February 8, 2023

In the 1910s, the North Seattle Improvement Co. was looking to entice professionals to the rural planned community of Lake Forest Park, newly accessible due to the completion of Bothell Boulevard. Ads promised attractive prices and even more attractive lots to come up north and be among the “First Eight.” As part of the deal, homeowners of these eight homes had to build to certain standards, using superior materials and plans drawn up by well-known architects.

Now one of those First Eight is on the market for the first time in 65 years; it's known as the Ruser Home.

Originally designed by W.C. Jackson, the home was renovated in 1963 by Michael J. Soldano. Sunset magazine featured the remodel in a two-page spread, heralding its “handsome new face to the world” that left the size and shape of the house largely the same. “Refinished with natural cedar shingles with a new emphasis on its horizontal lines, and tied into the garden with terraced walls and steps, the house now fits even more comfortably into its wooded setting,” the magazine wrote. (Buy the house, and the broker will throw in a copy of this vintage 1966 issue.)

The entrance is on the lower level, which also has a reading nook, a family room, a half bathroom, and a large unfinished basement. An enticing staircase right in front of the entry leads you up to the main level.

The living room at the top of the stairs was part of the 1963 renovations, which added midcentury modern style and bay windows. This flows into the dining room and south-facing galley kitchen, where there’s access to the back patio and plenty of natural light. Two bedrooms each offer direct access to the patio.

On this floor, many of the doors, along with the trim, are from the original build.

On the top level, there are two more bedrooms, a bathroom, and a “secret room” in the attic. The current owners used it as an office and set up a desk facing the window for peekaboo views of Lake Washington when the oak tree in front of it isn’t in bloom.

Soldano, the architect, returned to the home twice after the major renovation, once to redesign the upstairs bathroom in 2001, and then again to update the main-floor bathroom in 2007.

The North Seattle Improvement Co. that planned Lake Forest Park was headed up by real estate developer and future Seattle mayor Ole Hanson. He wanted everyone to have access to Lake Washington, so this home is deeded to the Lake Forest Park Civic Club, a 15-minute walk away. That means you can become a member of this in-demand beach club, a great spot for families to gather.

Hanson didn’t last long as mayor—he resigned after less than a year and a half, saying, “I am tired out and am going fishing.” Relatable. Fortunately, his vision for Lake Forest Park has endured much longer, and you can own an important slice of its history with this home.

Listing Fast Facts

4734 NE 178th St, Lake Forest Park
Size: 4,100 square feet, 4 bedrooms/2.5 baths
List Date: 1/31/23
List Price: $1,000,000
Listing Agent: Josh McCartney, Lyon Creek Real Estate

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