AKA: Smith, Charles, House, Seward Park, Seattle, WA

Structure Type: built works - dwellings - houses

Designers: Kirk, Paul Hayden, AIA (firm); Olson Kundig Architects (firm); Teufel, William G., Landscape Architect (firm); Deborah Kennedy ; Paul Hayden Kirk (architect); Thomas Walter Kundig (architect); Laina Navarro (architect); James W.P. Olson (architect); William G. Teufel (landscape architect)

Dates: constructed 1953

1 story, total floor area: 4,320 sq. ft.

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5756 Wilson Avenue South
Seward Park, Seattle, WA 98118-3018

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Building History

Seattle architect Paul Hayden Kirk (1912-1995) designed this 3-bedroom, 2-and-3/4ths-bath residence for Lewis John (1901-1994) and Margaret A. Dowell (born 09/07/1910-d. 03/18/2001). Dowell owned a grading contracting business according to the US Census of 1940, and lived in a substantial house at 2400 West Viewmont Way. At the time, he was married to Ruth Anderson (born 05/03/1897 in Spokane, WA-d. 04/16/1953 in Seattle, WA) and had a 9-year-old son, Stephen. (See Ancestry.com, Source Citation Year: 1940; Census Place: Seattle, King, Washington; Roll: m-t0627-04377; Page: 10B; Enumeration District: 40-101A, accessed 08/29/2019.) Lewis and Ruth divorced before 1948, with Stephen remaining with his mother.

By 1948, he had married Margaret, and they resided at 1000 8th Avenue, Apartment #1410, three years later. (See Seattle, Washington, City Directory, 1951, p. 343.) This 1951 listing indicated that Dowell worked owned a paving contracting company.

The Seattle, Washington, City Directory, 1953, (p. 371) indicated that the Dowells lived at 5756 Wilson Avenue, suggesting that house was finished or nearly finished at that time.

Landscape architect William G. Teufel (1925-2007), who worked often with Kirk, provided the landscape design.

The Dowell Family owned the residence until 1997. On 10/13/1997, Theresa E. Dowell and other family members sold the house to Davis James Bradley for $385,000. Bradley lived in the Dowell House until 2018, when he sold it to Walla Walla winemaker Charles C. Smith for $1,442,500. Smith undertook a renovation and resided here with his daughter during 2015-2016. He sold the property on 06/29/2016 to Michael S. Effle.

Building Notes

The Dowell House won an Honor Award from the American Institute of Architects (AIA), Seattle Chapter, in 1957. It was also voted one of the "10 Greatest Homes" by Seattle Metropolitan magazine in 01/2012.

The Seattle Architectural Foundation (SAF) will stage an open house at the Dowell House on 07/10/2014. The house contained 2,720 finished square feet (2,160 on the first floor plus 560 in the basement), but had 4,320 gross square feet on the first floor and basement. From a high value (land + improvements) of $1,066,000 in 2008-2009, the residence's value dropped sharply to $731,000 in 2013-2014.

The exterior featured a wall faced in sharply sharded rubble masonry, a hallmark of Kirk's work of the mid-1950s; this basalt feature wall can be found, for example, on Blakeley Clinic, near the University of Washington, done in 1956.

In 2019, the house occupied a 16,637-square-foot (0.38-acre) lot.


Seattle architect Tom Kundig supervised the renovation of the Dowell House during 2014-2015. The firm said of this effort: "Built in 1953 in Seattle’s Seward Park neighborhood and named after its first owner, the Dowell residence reflects Kirk’s classic Northwest, Asian-inspired aesthetic. Over the years, subsequent renovations had gradually stripped the character from the home, eroding the features that defined the architectural gem. Olson Kundig consulted historic photos of the well-documented residence, and in many cases were able to find original replacements for damaged or worn items. Much of the home’s original furnishings remained, including a sectional in the living room and a chaise lounge that had been used on the outside patio. Designers repaired and reupholstered both; and when vintage photos showed the lounge chair had originally been used in the atrium, it was brought back inside. Original light fixtures — a pendant light in the dining room and conversation-starting “cricket” fixtures in the atrium — remain. The kitchen received considerable upgrades while retaining the ambiance of the original design. A Wolf range — its exhaust venting hidden by new casework — is surrounded by cabinets and cupboards designed to match the originals." (See Olson Kundig.com, "Dowell Residence," accessed 12/11/2019.) Other members of the Olson Kundig firm involved in the Dowell House restoration included architect Laina Navarro and interior designer Debbie Kennedy.

Bush Woodcraft, owned by Michael Fujii, worked on the restoration of shoji screens in the Dowell House in 2015. New landscaping was added in 2016.