Structure Type: built works - dwellings - housing

Designers: Mithun and Nesland, Architects (firm); Omer Lloydgeorge Mithun (architect); Harold Jennings Nesland Jr. (architect)

Dates: constructed 1952-1954

Main Street and 110th Avenue SE
Surrey Downs Tract, Bellevue, WA

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The Bellevue architectural duo of Omer Mithun and Harold Nesland, designed the houses in this sub-division between 1952-1954. In 09/1954, the entrance to the Surrey Downs tract was at the intersection of Main Street at 110th Ave. SE, nearby to the business district of Bellevue, WA.

Building History

The first addition of the Surrey Downs residential plat was approved by the King County Planning Commission on 01/22/1952. The Seattle Daily Times reported on the approval: "Surrey Downs Addition No. 1, southeast corner of Main Street and 108th Avenue Southeast, Bellevue, owned by Louisa C. Frye, Inc. (Portion of the plat within the Bellevue Water District approved subject to authorization by Health Department.)" (See "Action on Plat Near Evergreen Point Withheld," Seattle Daily Times, 01/23/1952, p. 8.) The land developed was part of R.T. Reid's fruit and flower farm.

As reported in Seattle Daily Times of 11/07/1954, the Surrey Downs tract covered 80 acres of former orchard land and was planned to have 250-275 houses, when completed. Two entities backed its development in 1954, Roxbury Homes, Incorporated, led by its President Ruth Frye Osborne, and Louisa C. Frye, Incorporated. The Seattle Daily Times said: "A variety of floor plans of contemporary design have been prepared by Mithun & Nesland, East Side architect. The tract is wooded with native trees and orchards, and many lots command a view of the Cascades and Mount Rainier. The tract is immediately south and east of the Bellevue business district. It extends for eight blocks south of Main Street. It is bounded by 108th and 112th Avenues Southeast. Each home will be built on a spacious tract of land, and will be set irregularly on the lot for privacy and variety. All of the permanent improvements, including water and sewer mains, and streets, curbs and sidewalks are completed or under construction. The streets are designed to follow the natural contours of the land. Engineered for advanced styling and maximum quality, the homes will sell from $13,750 to $20,000, including land. Conventional F.H.A. or G.I. financing is available for purchasers through the Seattle Trust & Savings Bank and the Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. of New York." (See "Surrey Downs Is Open Today for Inspection," Seattle Daily Times, 11/07/1954, p. 66.) News storeis and advertising paid special attention to the way architects and The engineer Edward F. Mothersbaugh was credited with creating the street development pattern, "...emphasizng the natural contour of the land...." (See "Surrey Downs Open House To Be Repeated," Seattle Daily Times, 11/21,1954, p. 44.) One story said: "The development, which is being built on the site of an orchard, is a profusion of blooms. Architects and builders worked together in planning the community to preserve the trees, even building around some trees to save them for future homeowners." (See "Surrey Downs Homes to Be Shown Today," Seattle Daily Times, 05/08/1955, p. 33.)

Ads for the tract underscored how the well-constructed houses were "nestled amidst native trees & surrounded by scenic splendor." The houses were modern and individualized, not mass-produced and identical. Ads promoted the houses' "architectural individuality" and "distinctive spacing." that would appeal to the "value & style conscious home buyer of 1955." (See "Open House Surrey Downs in Bellevue," [ad for Seaboard Realty], Seattle Daily Times, 11/07/1954, p. 49.)

By 05/1955, according to a newspaper report, "Thirty homes are nearing completion and 25 are sold." (See "Surrey Downs Homes to Be Shown Today," Seattle Daily Times, 05/08/1955, p. 33.)

Building Notes

An early advertisement for three houses in the Surrey Downs tract appeared in the classified ads of the Seattle Daily Times on 03/15/1953 (p. 33): "11041 Main Street, 11105 Main St., 11113 Main Street For your LIFETIME home in cheerful suburban setting, we proudly present Surrey Downs, 5 blocks from heart of downtown Bellevue. Choice of several 2 and 3 bedroom PACE-SETTING homes designed by prominent architect and constructed by successful BUILDER-ENGINEER. Ingenious floor plans and decorator colors. Fireplaces provide unique focal decor. Latest heating, of course. Expansive grounds. Irresistable values at $12,750, $13,000 and $13,250. Representatives of SEABOARD REALTY 1 to 5 p.m. at 11105 Main St." (See "Surrey Downs in Bellevue Opens Today 1 to 5 P.M.," Seattle Daily Times, 03/15/1953, p. 33.)

Another ad of Seattle Daily Times 04/12/1953 highlighted the two and three-bedroom houses, available on FHA terms, with and without basements in Surrey Downs. The development featured full curbs and paved streets, according to the classified ad for Sheafe, Incorporated. (See "Surrey Downs in the City of Bellevue," Seattle Daily Times, 04/12/1952, p. 51.)

An ad the following year indicated the rising values of houses in Surrey Downs: "Contemporary 2 & 3 bedroom homes. Paved streets, curbs, sewers, water mains. Matchless beauty. Custom built standards. Suburban. restful. From $13,950 to $16,500." (See "Surrey Downs in Bellevue," [ad for Seaboard Realty], Seattle Daily Times, 09/12/1954, p. 54.) By 11/1954, the price range had risen to $13,750 to $20,000.

In 2018, Surrey Downs covered 102.3 acres, with 82.73 acres already developed. (Statistics from Jill Sterrett, Kate Simonen, Julie Kriegh, Instructors, University of Washington, College of Built Environments, UW Studio 405/505, student presentations 12/08/2018.)

PCAD id: 13728