AKA: Merrill, R.D., House, Capitol Hill, Seattle, WA

Structure Type: built works - dwellings - houses

Designers: Lord and Schryver, Landscape Architects (firm); Platt, Charles Adams, Architect (firm); Elizabeth Lord (landscape architect); Charles Adams Platt (architect); Edith Schryver (landscape architect)

Dates: constructed 1908-1909

2 stories

919 Harvard Avenue North
Capitol Hill, Seattle, WA 98102

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Known in 2011 as Harvard Avenue East

Lumberman Richard Dwight Merrill (1869-1964), grew up in a logging family in Saginaw, MI, son of Thomas Merrill, (himself the scion of a Maine logging clan) who formed the Merrill and Ring Lumber Company with his son-in-law, Clark L. Ring, in 1886. By the 1890s, Midwestern lumber companies had depleted local forests and began to buy virgin timber stands in the Pacific Northwest. R.D. Merrill came to maturity during this shift and married his wife, Eula Lee (born 07/08/1871 in Lansing, MI), on 03/14/1893; by 1902, the MI-based company moved from Saginaw to new production headquarters in Hoquiam, WA, close to its prime timber sources near Grays Harbor and on the Northern Olympic Peninsula. Its corporate headquarters operated in the banking center of Seattle, the center of intense development following the Klondike Gold Rush of the late 1890s. In 1907, Merrill became President of the Merrill-Ring Lumber Company. Installed in such a prominent position, Richard and his wife decided to build a new residence, capable of staging social functions. They used their two-story Georgian Revival residence frequently to entertain Seattle's elite during the first half of the twentieth century; their names appeared routinely in the society pages of the Seattle Times, particularly during the 1900s-1920s. Both Merrill and his wife had strong interests in gardening, and their house adjoined a showplace garden located behind it. (The firm of Lord and Schryver did the planting composition in the 1930s.) The Merrills traveled frequently, within the US and abroad, and were acquainted with society circles in New York, NY. From their travels and social connections they learned of the work of the New York artist and architect, Charles Adams Platt (1861-1933), who became a leading designer of country houses during the early 1900s. Seattle architect Carl F. Gould, Sr., (1873-1939), worked as Platt's local associate on the Merrill House; Gould had worked in New York during 1905-1907, and it's possible that the Platt and Gould had met each other during the time. The Gould Family would remain friends with the Merrills for generations. According to landscape historian David Streatfield, the notable Platt designed a number of houses for members of several intertwined lumber families, including the Merrills, Rings and Mathers. Upon the death of Richard Merrill and his wife, this house passed down to their two daughters, Virginia Bloedel and Eulalie Wagner. The house is currently owned by a child of Bagley Wright. (Information gained from conversation with Prof. Streatfield, 01/07/2010.)

Blueprints for the Merrill House have been archived at Columbia University, Avery Fine Arts Library, New York, NY.

Garage additions were made in 1922. Platt designed a new fountain for the Merrill Property in 1929.

PCAD id: 8439