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The Ellsworth Storey Cottages, which Storey designed in 1910, were integral to the development of Seattle’s architectural style. Although they originally served as rental homes, they have become a historical landmark for their influence over Seattle's suburban architectural development. Eleven small houses comprise this series of respective landmarks each modest but open and inspired by local Pacific Northwest Materials. This usage of local wood, which is now known as regionalism, was a very high priority of Storeys, and has gone on to influence Pacific Northwest architecture to this day; his cottages serving as a lasting vehicle of this inspiration.

This picture portrays one of the eleven cottages. The frame is simple with a straightforward apexed roof and the front deck has a vertical design element, which balances the shape of the cottage.

This picture portrays one of the eleven cottages. The frame is simple with a straightforward apexed roof and the front deck has a vertical design element, which balances the shape of the cottage.

Four hundred years after Columbus conquered America, The World’s Columbian Exposition- a world’s fair- was held in Chicago in 1893. The fair exhibited a large water reservoir, pictured above, which represented Columbus’s vast journey across the Atlantic. The fair also exhibited attractions and statues as shown above. Importantly in conjunction with Storey, there were fourteen pseudo-buildings, constructed out of plaster, portrayed at the fair which no longer exist today. The buildings were constructed in a neoclassical architectural style, an era which prioritizes grandeur of scale and simplicity of geometric form. These architectural monuments were vital to Storey’s inspiration to become an architect. The exposition ended up being cut short due to the assasination of the Mayor two days prior to the scheduled ending.

Water, Sky, Boat, Black-and-white

The interior of the cottage has plenty of light, even without any overhead lights. Two big windows, with unique design elements, illuminate the interior and offer a view of the natural environment surrounding the cottage.

Table, Window, Property, Furniture

Born to Henry Clifford and Mary Lavinia Storey on November 16th, 1879 in Chicago, Illinois, Ellsworth Storey would go on to be an important Northwest Architect. At a young age, Storey visited the World’s Columbian Exposition, which displayed amazing architectural wonders. This catalyzed his interest in the arts and specifically in architecture, leading him to attend architecture school at the University of Illinois. There, he took interest in the Prairie School of architecture during the great popularity of its trailblazer, Frank Lloyd Wright. After completing University in Chicago, he traveled through Europe. Here he took great inspiration from Swiss Chalets, which are characterized by their decorative wood banding and large brackets supporting the roof. 

In 1903, at the age of 24, he moved to Seattle in order to start his career. Starting with reputable landmarks such as the Hoo Hoo House, which was built for the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, and the Sigma Nu fraternity house at the University of Washington, Storey began to make a name for himself. The longer he had been making houses and therefore the more capital and acclaim he had, the more creative control he attained. This allowed him to begin constructing his own personal style and themes. His architecture style became a mix of the Prairie style he had studied at University along with Elizabethan revival, Tudor Revival, English Gothic, California Bungalow, and the Swiss Chalets he had admired in Europe. Not only did he implement these styles, but he became known for his use of local materials, which were chosen to reflect the natural environment of the Pacific Northwest. Because so many are drawn to the Northwest for its natural beauty, this aspect of Storey’s buildings was of great appeal to many Seattle residents. This choice of Storeys would pave the road for an architectural era called Regionalism, which focuses on localing sourcing materials and attempting to evoke a certain area-specific mood. Another architectural era which Storey would greatly influence is Arts and Crafts which focused on craftsmanship and a focus on interior design. Through his mixing of historical and contemporary techniques, along with the usage of local materials, Storey created a name for himself within the Seattle architectural landscape.

In 1910, Storey began working on a series of cottages which now sit close to Colman park on Lake Washington Boulevard. He designed 12 of these cottages with the intended purpose of renting them out. These cottages are the pinnacles of his style and effect on the architectural style of Seattle. They implement thick exposed frames which augment the shingled roofs and paneled walls of each cottage. On the interior are ornately designed details made from local lumber meant to make the modest size of the cottages fuller and to evoke a warm and inviting energy. The detailed interior is also augmented by the layout, which also makes most of the small size of the cottages to create a roomier atmosphere. The almost log cabin style of these cottages, especially with their proximity to the lush greenery of Colman Park, pulls their residents deeper into the heart of the Pacific Northwest. On the exterior of the cottages are generously sized porches which encourage communication between neighbors, adding even more to the hominess and inviting nature of the landmark. The uniqueness and location specificity of these cabins would greatly influence the Northwest Regional Style that is now aptly adapted by modern architects.

Hoo Hoo House, Seattle, King County Washington, Historic Structures. August 1st 2010. Accessed April 24th 2020.

Kreisman, Lawrence. Storey Street -- Two Homes On The Mount Baker Tour Show How Ellsworth Storey's Designs Changed Over The Course Of A Decade, The Seattle Times. November 26th 1995. Accessed April 24th 2020.

Snell, Diane. A Visit to a Historical Cottage, Leschi Community Council. June 1st 2018. Accessed April 24th 2020.

Coleman, Brian. Northwest Revival Flavor in Seattle, September 24th, 2013. Accessed April 25th, 2023.

Costa, Jane. Ellsworth Storey Cottages, January 30th, 2016. Accessed April 25th, 2023.

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