Sharon and Greg Nickels share their 1913 Admiral Craftsman Home

‘If These Walls Could Talk’: SWSHS to spotlight 1913 Admiral home

July 5, 2013 at 11:53 am | In West Seattle history, West Seattle news | 2 Comments

During the Southwest Seattle Historical Society‘s 4th of July membership picnic, executive director Clay Eals rolled out a long list of events SWSHS has in the works, including a series of monthly author talks in partnership with South Seattle Community College (WSB sponsor), a 9/11 commemoration on September 8th at Alki Arts, and the annual fundraising gala in November, spotlighting the Alki Point Lighthouse‘s centennial. But first up will be the August event that SWSHS is formally announcing today – centered on another centennial, that of a well-known couple’s home:


(Photo by Jean Sherrard)

The event August 18th at the North Admiral home of Sharon and Greg Nickels will be both a celebration of history and inspiration for homeowners considering renovating their own classic homes. Here’s the official announcement from SWSHS:

What do you do when the house you live in turns 100? Former Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels and his wife, Sharon, have a ready answer: Throw a community celebration and make it a fundraiser for the Southwest Seattle Historical Society.

To be held Sunday afternoon, Aug. 18, 2013, the event is called “If These Walls Could Talk: The Centennial of Hizzoner’s Home.” It will take place at the Nickels home in the Admiral neighborhood of West Seattle.

Sponsoring the two-tiered event is the 29-year-old Southwest Seattle Historical Society, which also will be the beneficiary.

* From 3 to 5 p.m., the public will be able to tour the home, see display panels and video about the history of the home and its neighborhood, enjoy refreshments and period music and meet Greg and Sharon Nickels. Walk-up admission will be $15, with a discounted $10 admission for historical-society members.

* From 1 to 3 p.m., a VIP experience will be offered, including a speaker program featuring Greg and Sharon Nickels and a presentation on how to research the history of your own home and enhanced refreshments. Admission to the VIP session will be handled by advance reservation for $125, with a discounted $100 admission for historical-society members. Reservations can be made by calling the historical society’s Log House Museum, (206) 938-5293.

(Yearly memberships in the Southwest Seattle Historical Society begin at $25, with discounted levels for students and seniors.)

Co-chairing the event are historical-society volunteers Carolyn Smith and Bethany Green, and rounding out the event committee is volunteer Brad Chrisman, West Seattle residents all.

West Seattle community spirit prompted the Nickels to come up with the idea and to host the 100th-birthday party as a benefit for the Southwest Seattle Historical Society.

“We are deeply grateful for Greg’s and Sharon’s initiative and heart,” says Clay Eals, executive director of the historical society. “Their generosity is making it possible for us to inspire others with the story of their home – and how all of us can dig into the stories of our own homes and the lives lived there.”

From 2002 through 2009, Greg Nickels served as Seattle mayor, the only West Seattle resident to have held that office. From 1988 through 2001, he served on the King County Council, representing West Seattle.

A longtime heritage advocate, Nickels has spoken at and participated in many Southwest Seattle Historical Society events, including the 2010 “This Place Matters” rally to promote preservation of the 1904 Fir Lodge/Alki Homestead log building.

The Nickels’ home, at 1910 47th Ave. S.W., is built in the Craftsman style. The Nickels have lived there since 1986 and have spent much of their personal time tearing away earlier wallpaper and floor coverings to restore the house to its original glory.

As the home neared the centennial of its 1913 construction, the Nickels began seeking information on its history. Over the years, they learned that it served as a private nursing home in the 1960s and that it stands next to the site of the original West Seattle Community Clubhouse.

The Nickels are no stranger to events being held at their home, given the many political gatherings they have hosted. But the Aug. 18 event will be different.

“We are excited to share what we have learned about our home,” says Greg Nickels, “and we hope this event will inspire others to dig into the history of their own homes.”

The display panels that the historical society is preparing for the event will cover the history of the home before the Nickels family moved in, its history during the Nickels years, a history of the Admiral neighborhood, a description of Craftsman homes and what changes are typically made and why, and how to research the history of any home in King County.

The event will have intrinsic appeal for thousands in the Seattle area who live in homes that are 100 years old or are not far from that milestone, resulting from Seattle’s early 20th century residential building boom.

Anyone interested in volunteering on the day of the event and to assist in its many preparations should contact the Southwest Seattle Historical Society at (206) 938-5293 or clay.eals.

“We are eager to involve volunteers to serve as greeters and tour guides,” Eals says. “This will be a great opportunity to meet a variety of people and work on a project that will have lasting impact in the community.”

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