Friday, December 23, 2011

Another cottage comes down

Progress or simply deplorable?

The wrecking crew was on site early this morning, and once the work got underway it didn't take long for the tiny, brightly-painted house at 2032 41st Avenue E. to bite the dust.  The 590 sq. ft., one-bedroom home---now just a pile of rubble---would have celebrated a Centennial Anniversary if it could have remained on site for just another couple of years. But that was not to be. Built in 1914, the house was one of the Madison Park originals. Now it has gone the way of so many other cottages in the neighborhood, swept up in the tide of progress.

MPB reader Jana Wilkins, who sent us the above photo, describes the cottage's destruction as a "horrible event." But for others in the neighborhood the house's demise is probably is not a sad occasion. The cottage was certainly a stand-out, with its violet-and-purple hues and boldly-painted flower embellishments.  Though fun and interesting, it was not precisely the kind of neighborhood attraction that adds to the property values of surrounding homes.

The house was purchased earlier this year by Isola Homes, a Renton-based residential property developer.  Isola will be building a 3,219 sq. ft. modernistic structure on the site, scheduled to be completed in the summer of 2012.

The new house, which will be Built-Green, will feature four bedrooms, 2.5 baths, and a detached two-car garage on the 4,000 sq. ft. site.

Those who choose to take a positive view of the cottage's destruction and ultimate replacement can find solace in the fact that the transformation of this property represents a vote of confidence in Madison Park by an outside developer.  At a time when much speculative residential development has ground to a halt and several developers of Madison Park properties are no longer in business, there are now multiple speculative developments underway in the Park, this one just the latest to come to our attention.  At least in the opinion of some builders, Madison Park continues to be an attractive neighborhood with potential for major house sales.

This fact may not provide much comfort, however, to those who deplore the neighborhood's ongoing gentrification and the gradual loss of the village-like aspect of the Park's character.  Unlike Madison Park's more exclusive Broadmoor and Washington Park enclaves, the area "North of Madison" began life as primarily a working-class community, one characterized by cottages and bungalows.  Beginning in the 1990's, many of these modest homes began giving way to the development of megahouses, a Madison Park trend that The Stranger once termed House Bloat.  While that trend has certainly slowed as the result of the real estate downturn, today's teardown at 2032 41st shows it definitely hasn't been terminated.

Though this cottage certainly has been.


  1. Being a neighbor isn't simply about 'adding to the property value of surrounding homes', but of course Bryan knows that. I loved this place BECAUSE it was purple, a true individual lived there. Anyone who has done any traveling in Mexico, S America, Venice, etc knows how incredibly bland and unimaginative the colors are in Madison Park, the highly angular architecture with white trim is so boring, cool and predictable. Oh dear, I hope you realize I'm talking about the houses, not the people in them!

  2. I, too am not next door to the former Rainbow House (I called it that because it reminded me of the colorful Rainbow Lady who I use to see throughout Seattle [and where is SHE now?]).

    BTW, what happened to the woman who occupied the Rainbow House? I hope if she owned the demolished casa, she made a pile of moolah for having the beautiful little gem torn down. It was our glimmer of Oaxaca, San Francisco, and so many independently-colorful neighborhoods, It may have not been an architectural gem before it was painted, but it cheered me and others up throughout the years, especially during a dreadfully-dull stretch of Seattle's BLAH days (clousy days, sort of like the structure replacing this humble abode).

    Good-bye charactecture, hello, blahchitecture.

  3. I owned that house from about 1991 to 1995. When I bought it, it was 2 bedrooms and all of 572 square feet, including the front porch. It was cute as a bugs ear, and I regret to this day the day I sold it. I made many improvements to the house, including removing a wall and coverting one bedroom to a dining room. I'm told it was a former boat house and was placed on post and pier pilings when the lake was lowered. Never verified this, but it was on post and piers!

    I sold the house to the lady that turned it into the "Rainbow House". She was a very nice lady, and I was pleased that she made it her own. I have marched my kids by that house over the years, and they always comment on how cool a house their Dad once live in.

    My friends and I had many great parties at that house, including the annual progressive Christmas Party, where the party ended at the house and Dick's cheese burgers and fries were served at the end of the evening. We had a great group of regulars who made the back yard their home, including a friend who regularly parked his go-cart under the tree in the back yard.

    It was not unusual for people to stop by and announce that they had once lived in the house. At one time it was a popular rental for the UW, and I'm told that 4 - 6 people lived in that house at a time....all 572 square feet. Bunk beds were a must.

    The neighbors were great when I owned that house, and I'm sure that has not changed. Many great conversations were had over that picket fence, and my black lab made many friends, both two and four legged.

    Sad to see the house gone. I knew the day was coming, but the pictures make it final. Hope the new house fits into that great neighborhood!

  4. Boy, that new house is really U-G-L-Y. At least a coat of paint could have spruced up (or down?) the old one. Anyone want to live in a toaster?

    What has happened to the understanding and appreciation of context by today's architects? That used to be one of the most important aspects of design, hence the establishment of something called "character." It's arrogant, thinking "I am better than a hundred years worth of history." Not very creative. "Built-green" does not have to mean built ugly. Another house, fallen from the sky and landing in Madison Park.

    What a shame.

  5. Glad to hear from a former owner, which helps to put the puzzle together. It'd be great to hear from all living former owners, renters, their offspring, nieces or nephews; the fact or presumption that it was likely a former boat house means a lot to me, even though I didn't live in Mad Park 'til 7 years ago.

    Heck, I could see a snow globe minature being made of the li'l house to raise funds to help stop obliterating what's left and special about the old Mad Park. Even if the Rainbow House wasn't likely well-heated and had its other woes for dwellers and neighbors alike, it was eye candy for just about every one with a child in their soul.

    Will the Roach Motel-looking structure to be built on the lot have that to say in 50 to 100 years when it's no longer tolerated or able to stand? Baaah HOUSEBUG.

  6. Good grief. What a nostalgic bunch of old fossils.

    I will bet you are the kind of people who sit around listening to nothing but the Oldies stations and talking about how great Hendrix was back in the day. Get a grip.

    That house was quirky and interesting in its own way, but without a foundation, knob and tube wiring, no insulation, etc. who in their right mind would want to live in it? And if you really want something that funky, why are you here in Madison Park and not in Fremont? Or if the move is too much for you, why havent you painted your own houses lavender and spring green?

    Here is another way to look at it. If something has been lost, then something has been gained.

    I like modern architecture and think the work of Playhouse Architecture is intensely cool. And they are neighbors -- they are based just up the hill at Madison and 24th. So how about we stop griping and moaning and act neighborly for once?

  7. Wow, what a surprise! Took a Sunday stroll to Madison Park this morning for coffee and decided to drive down 41st to where I used to live next door to the Rainbow house as some have called it. I've read the the various comments regarding this place and truly appreciate the kind comments about the women who lived there and allowed her nieces/nephews paint the house with her. Someone asked where she went and am sad to say she left us about a year ago. She was the youngest daughter of longtime residents of Madison Park who were blessed to have her near them for the last years of her life. I see that the handicap parking she had used for so many years has been changed back as well. :-)


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