Montlake - A Bit of Personal History
Attracted to the architecture and wonderful location – Lake Washington, Arboretum, Interlaken Park, Volunteer Park, Downtown, and Bellevue – Tom and I moved to the Montlake neighborhood of Seattle in 2007. It’s a wonderful spot for our activities: cycling, walking, and kayaking. I love our renovated 1922 craftsman. Tom’s love is the garden. He is a transplant from Denver. I simply changed lakes – from Greenlake to Montlake.
But, the neighborhood is much more. Each lovely old home holds generations of life’s stories going back to the early 1920’s. 2525 26th Ave E is special for my family. My father, Robert S Sears, “Happy”, grew up in the house with his parents and two older sisters, Claire and Trudy. Born in 1922, he attended Montlake Elementary School. I’ll never forget when his grade school buddies all showed up at his memorial service. They had been friends their entire lives.
Like many kids in the neighborhood today, Dad attended Garfield High School. Football was his claim to fame. His first jobs were at what is the soon to be demolished 76 Service Station and Montlake Cycle, formerly Cunningham Sports. After serving in WWII – as a glider mechanic – my Dad returned to the University of Washington. That’s where he met my Mom who also went to Garfield High School. My parents moved to Mercer Island in 1953 to raise their kids, me and my older brother, Steve. Today my Dad has a view lot up at Lakeview Cemetery which is right on my power walking route next to Volunteer Park.
I guess you’d call it full circle that I am back in the neighborhood. When my cousins come to visit we do a “drive by” of the family home. I think the second, second story addition came out great, if the current owners are reading this. Gertrude and George C Sears, my Grandparents, were bigger than life to all the cousins. They owned the house from the early 30’s to the late 50’s. My cousins fondly remember fun Christmases together, incredible Easter egg hunts in the Arboretum, flower identification walks with Grandmother, racing down to the original Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI), enchanted by the dollhouse, and those specific details of rooms that kids remember in their Grandparent’s home. While living in the house, my Grandfather, worked for Puget Power. He held many positions including General Superintendent of the Division of Power Supply and was a pioneer of the electrical industry in the Northwest. Odd as it sounds today, my cousin told me, “Granddad mowed the lawn in a suit and tie due to his position in the community”. After he passed away, Grandmother lived in the house a few more years. But, then she began to spend more time at the family cabins in North Cove at “wash away beach”. Wow, that was fun as a kid!
As we walk or bike around the neighborhood today, we enjoy the lovely old homes and wonderful gardens. We really take advantage of everything Montlake has to offer. But, isn’t it fun to think of all the family stories behind each historic home. We are really all just renters – aren’t we?
This article was previously published in the Montlake Flyer.