Ellsworth Storey Historic Cottages Group
Backstory and Context
Ellsworth Storey was a revolutionary Seattle architect that is accredited with creating the regional architectural style of the Pacific Northwest. Storey was born November 16, 1879 in Chicago, Illinois. Fourteen years later, in 1893, an adolescent Storey attended the World’s Columbian Exposition, an exposition on the newest and greatest feats of talented architects. There he saw the future of architecture and urban development. At that moment he became so inspired by the creativity and talent of the architects, he decided to become one himself. He went to architecture school at the University of Illinois; there he took inspiration from the Prairie School of architecture, which was a style most commonly used in the Midwest during the 19th and 20th century. A famous pioneer and advocate of this style was Frank Lloyd Wright. During his time at the University of Illinois, Storey took a tour through several parts of Europe as well as through the Middle East. To him, the styles veered away from what he was used to, however he also admired their beauty and thus he learned to incorporate aspects of foreign design into his own unique style.
In 1903, he graduated university and got married and decided to move to Seattle to begin his career as an architect. Many of his early projects reflected the English Tudor Revival style. The Tudor Revival style is often characterized by warm and homely, cottage-like homes and structures. The Hoo Hoo House, built in 1909, he designed for the Alaskan-Yukon-Pacific Exposition carried the Tudor Revival style as well as aspects from Swiss architecture he admired during his tour through Europe. The house marked a pivotal change in the regional architectural style of Seattle. The design of the house reflected the environment of the Pacific Northwest as all of the material used was sourced locally, such as the timber which was the most abundant resource of the Pacific Northwest. Though it would influence future construction and development of the neighborhoods in the Seattle area, it was unfortunately demolished in 1959.
Storey continued making several different residential and commercial buildings for the Seattle area such as private houses and churches. Notably, he designed the Sigma Nu fraternity house at the University of Washington. He continued using certain features and aspects of the Prairie Style as well as mixing a variety of other historical American and European architectural styles and designs, such as California bungalow and English gothic, to create his own distinct architectural style. A style which resonated well with the people of Seattle.
Between 1910 to 1912, Storey began the construction of twelve rental cottages, all in his unique architectural design. The group of cottages was located near Colman Park on Lake Washington Boulevard. Over time, these small houses would come to be known as the Ellsworth Storey Cottages. When designing the cottages, Storey wanted them to feel inviting and warm. They were constructed with exposed wood frames, and the interiors were decorated with ornate wooden decals sourced from local woods to create an almost log cabin-type ambiance. He wanted the homes to blend into the environment and feel as if they were meant to be there. Additionally, the cottages possessed large, open front porches to encourage cordial interactions between neighbors— something which Storey heavily valued. Though these houses were far more modest than some of his other works, they would become his most influential works yet. Storey recognized for being potentially the first Seattle architect to incorporate local materials and resources into the designs of his creations. His use of local material, which would become an architectural practice known as regionalism, became a staple of Pacific Northwest homes. The Ellsworth Storey Cottages still stand today and are owned by his family. His work continues to inspire and influence architects in the Pacific Northwest.
Hoo Hoo House, Seattle, King County Washington, Historic Structures. August 1st 2010. Accessed April 24th 2020. http://www.historic-structures.com/wa/seattle/hoo_hoo_house.php.
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. https://archive.seattletimes.com/archive/?date=19951126&slug=2154427.
MacIntosh, Heather M. Storey, Ellsworth Prime (1879-1960), History Link. November 3rd 1998. Accessed April 24th 2020. https://www.historylink.org/File/141.
MSREALESTATE1017 . Ellsworth P. Storey, Marilyn Smith Real estate . June 18th 2015. Accessed April 24th 2020. https://marilynsmithrealestate.com/ellsworth_storey/.
Snell, Diane. A Visit to a Historical Cottage, Leschi Community Council. June 1st 2018. Accessed April 24th 2020. https://www.leschicommunitycouncil.org/single-post/2018/06/01/A-Visit-to-a-Historical-Cottage.