If you’ve ever frequented historic Fort Lawton, located within the 534 acres of Discovery Park, one can imagine how it must have felt to live there over 100 years ago when the army base served as an outpost to protect Seattle from outside naval threat. And second, ironically, to protect Seattle from itself: by curbing rampant lawlessness in newly-formed Seattle.
The panoramic views are still incredible today, and the beautiful old homes, which are registered as national landmarks, have been fully renovated inside while retaining the character of the original build: the original windows, woodwork, fireplaces, and often a roomy three stories + a basement. As many Magnolia natives know, Fort Lawton is also very convenient to the downtown Seattle core: only 15-30 minutes away.
In 2011, the last military presence occupying the site, the Army Reserve, relocated to Marysville, WA. The U.S. Navy personnel who were then living in the dwellings were moved. And the historic residences, built in 1900, went on sale in 2015. Many people have applied to buy these 26 homes: well over 2,000 people, in fact. As of this writing, the somewhat smaller homes located along Montana Circle and the larger Officers’ Row homes have all sold with the exception of two: 4002 & 4216 Washington Ave. W. (plus an additional one pending). The remaining two are priced at $1.79 million and $1.975 million.
Fort Lawton, in the course of its long history, has seen many things. 20,000 U.S. soldiers were processed through, whether embarking or returning from four different wars. It held German and Italians prisoners of war during World War II. A riot against Italian prisoners’ privileges erupted, resulting in a murder and numerous injuries. African-American soldiers were accused of the murder on shaky grounds, and years later the army publicly apologized for these soldiers’ imprisonment, reinstating honorable discharges, and provided back pay to their families. Native Americans protested their rights to the land and encamped at the site when the surplus land was decommissioned in 1970, which resulted in the formation of the Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center. A fire broke out in one of the buildings being renovated only a year ago. And our city’s largest park (and most pristine in this writer’s humble opinion), Discovery Park, began when the military gave the rest of the surplus land to the city.
Many of Fort Lawton’s Colonial Revival buildings have withstood the test of time. And now you can tour the restored homes, in-person (at least for the moment), or vicariously peruse the photos below.
Photos and video of the Fort Lawton homes: