I have just spent the better part of a day at the King County Archives researching the chain of title for our home which sits on Olympic Way West in Seattle in the Queen Anne neighborhood. Queen Anne is a great neighborhood that I consider myself lucky to live in. It has a high walk index  (in fact I walk to work most days.) And where our home is no architectural “star” we have a lovely view of Elliott Bay, the cruise ships and ferry boats from every room but two.
Of great help to those who want to see what their Seattle home looked like years ago, the Puget Sound Regional Archives in Bellevue WA holds Property Record Cards.(PRC)  In 1936, workers took a photo of every building in the city and attached it to the Tax Assessors card. What a great resource for Historic Preservationists and others to show each building at a point in time! There are all sorts of bits of interesting information on each card entered by the tax assessor as they made their rounds to do the assessments. There was also a little plan which you can see in the lower right hand corner. Here is what our card looks like:
Before I started doing my own house history I talked to archivists. They were most helpful but each cautioned me that Seattle records are scattered around the city. How true! When we bought a house in Tulsa OK, we got the chain of title when we bought the house. It was 1″ thick but we had the titles from the time the government took the land from the native tribes in the area to when we bought the house. To document the history of my home, I started at the Seattle Department of Planning and Development (DPD) where I picked up copies of the current plans of the house. They also had the list of owners back to 1971. I went to Puget Sound Regional Archives in Bellevue and searched the tax records from 1895 to 1941 (only available in ~5 year increments.) Next, I went to King County Archives (Seattle) to trace deeds back to 1871 when it was bought from the government. I used the Seattle Genealogical Society’s library for City Directory work and Seattle Public Library’s Sanborn Fire Maps. You get the idea.
My personal knowledge, interview with a long time neighbor and the records kept at DPD gave me this much chronology:
March 1997: David Thompson (who later incorporates as Premier Refurbished Homes LLC) buys the house from Arthur M and Shirley Jean Paulson for $155,000
~1997: original house torn down to foundation and a portion of the stair. House could then be called a remodeling rather than a new house, saving the contractor some money. A neighbor who lived in the area for a long time told me that a contractor owned the larger house next to us and the sliver of property our house was on. His son lived in the house that you see on the Property Record Card. The son completely trashed the house which was falling apart anyway. House was sold and remodeled and quickly sold again.
September 1998: Wendell & Robyn Jacobs buy the house from Premier Refurbished Homes LLC but it is thought they never lived in it. their purchase price was $454,000.
2004-2006: Steve and Sue Clausen rented the house from the Jacobs. I know Sue C.
August 2006: We buy the house from the Jacobs for $775,000. During the negotiations the Jacobs were in Singapore and London. We have never met the Jacobs.
But, I have a few questions:
Our section of the road, called Olympic Way West, was added later and affected the layout of the properties and made ours the acute triangular parcel composed of three lots.
- When was the road built?
- Were there any structures on the house prior to the house on the PRC?
- Who platted the Northern Addition?
- Who purchased the lots the first time after platting?
- Who purchased the land from the government?
So many questions. See part 2 & 3 for the answer to some of them.
What I have done since the last posting: I have gotten totally refocused on getting certified (stay tuned for some posts on that specific topic), finished the assignment for ProGen on Transcriptions and have the next one almost completed on Research Plans; completed two client assignments–one genealogy and the other graphic layout of the memoir; attended a meeting of our Puget Sound-APG chapter. We are talking about some pretty interesting educational initiatives of which I hope to be a part; cleaned my office (!) so it looks like the picture in one of my very earliest blog postings.
 Walk index: The walk index for west QA is 81; for Seattle 74. You can find the walk index for your city at http://www.walkscore.com/WA/Seattle Just fill in the name of your community at the top.
 King County, Washington, Property Record Cards, 1220 Olympic Way West, Lots 6, 7 & 8, Block 12, Northern Addition (1936); Jack and Rose Lewis; Puget Sound Regional Archives, Bellevue, Washington.
 City of Seattle, Department of Planning and Development, “King County Assessor Sales Data,” Seattle, Washington.