Find of the Month

August 2022 - Pest house

A 1907 petition from Beacon Hill residents reads:

We, your petitioners, property owners, and residents of the 12th ward do respectfully call your attention to the fact that the city of Seattle is maintaining a pest house being used for smallpox’s purposes within said ward located on Cedar River pipe line right-away [sic].

We your petitioners do respectfully maintain that said pest house is injurious to property values, and dangerous to health in said ward, and has for all the years last past stopped the growth of said city of Seattle Southward, and will continue so to do if not removed, now therefor we your petitioners do respectfully petition your Honorable body to at the earliest possible moment have said pest house removed from said ward.

Numerous articles in the Seattle Times over time reiterated residents’ objections - mainly economic - to the location in their neighborhood of the city's hospital for contagious diseases. They believed the presence of the pest house was “keeping many persons who would otherwise be anxious to build homes there from doing so.” Residents did not recommend moving the hospital to another location within city limits “where it might soon become just as objectionable,” but suggested the privately owned Blake Island as a possible solution.

Fast forward to November 1914, when a multi-part Seattle Times headline declared:

TORCH APPLIED TO OLD HOSPITAL
Between 300 and 400 Residents of Beacon Hill Join Hands and Circle About Structure as It Burns
Jefferson Park Now Free of Ancient Shack

The article reiterated how the Beacon Hill Improvement Club had been advocating for years for the pest house to be moved to another location. The new hospital at Firland had finally opened the week before, and the city told the club that “a public burning, in which the people who have been so persistent in their efforts to rid the community of the establishment might have the pleasure of applying the torch” was OK by them. The removal of the pest house cleared the way for the opening of the golf course at Jefferson Park.

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