Eclectic Eastlake Architecture: The Huntington Years

Almost uniquely, the Eastlake neighborhood squeezes a remarkable range of land uses, building types, and architectural styles into barely a square mile. It’s an eclectic mix.

Schools, bridges, and power plants make up some of Seattle’s Eastlake neighborhood’s most significant early architecture.

Anchoring Eastlake, north and south, are designs by Daniel R. Huntington, who served as city architect from 1912 to 1921. North is the University Bridge, where just the massive piers of Huntington’s work remain, but to the south are two significant structures: the intriguing Hydro House and the monumental Lake Union Steam Plant. Not credited to Huntington but completed during his years as city architect is the large classic 1917 school building part of the Seward School complex.

Huntington (in collaboration with other architects) left his mark not only on Eastlake but throughout Seattle where many of his beautiful buildings are still standing and most have received the city’s designated landmark status, such as the Artic Club, now owned by Hilton Hotel, on Third Ave; the First United Methodist Church, now Daniel’s Recital Hall, on Fifth Ave; and several Fire Stations (nos. 2, 7, 12, 16, 33).

Here’s a look at some of Eastlake’s historic architecture beginning with the backbone, “The Huntington Years.”

1932 University Bridge
1917 Seward School, photographed in 2021
The Steam Plant circa 1960. Note the seven smoke stacks and oil tank.

Postscript: Huntington’s Residence – 1800 E. Shelby St.

Although not in Eastlake, one more nearby Huntington structure is his residence, a mansion, overlooking Portage Bay and the Montlake Cut, right next to West Montlake Park. You can see it by water and by walking around the point. It’s now a sadly rundown UW fraternity.

Huntington’s residence seen from the Montlake cut.
Huntington’s residence facing Shelby Street.

A version of Eclectic Eastlake first ran in the Summer 2021 Eastlake News. Acknowledgments: Thanks to Karen Berry for sketches; Jules James for his help with the University Bridge section and tip on Huntington’s residence; History Link for information drawn from its essay on Seward School; and Chris Leman for help overall, especially with the Steam Plant.

Written by Judy Smith

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