AKA: Plestcheef, Theodore and Guendolen, House, Capitol Hill, Seattle, WA

Structure Type: built works - dwellings - houses

Designers: Hornblower and Marshall, Architects (firm); Joseph Coerten Hornblower (architect); James Rush Marshall (architect)

Dates: constructed 1908-1909

3 stories, total floor area: 9,630 sq. ft.

view all images ( of 1 shown)

814 East Highland Drive
Seattle, WA 98102-4338

OpenStreetMap (new tab)
Google Map (new tab)
click to view google map
Google Streetview (new tab)
click to view google map

Building History

The Washington D.C., firm of Hornblower and Marshall designed this house for lawyer, railroad executive, investor and "Good Roads" advocate, Samuel Hill (1857-1931). Hill had died in 1931, and his house stood vacant for 6 years causing some deterioration of the property. In 1937, Theodore and Guendolen Plestcheef, he an exiled Russian aristocrat and she a member of Seattle's prominent Carkeek Family, bought the residence and restored it. Toward the end of her life in 1987, Guendolen established the Plestcheeff Institute for Decorative Arts in this house, a part of the University of Washington, that lasted only a few years.

Building Notes

Samuel Hill, a successful lawyer, won several cases against the Great Northern Railway, prompting the railroad's plutocratic owner, James J. Hill (1838-1916), to hire his one-time rival, eliminating him as an irritant. Samuel Hill rose to become the railroad's president and an influential director of various companies owned by James J. Hill. He moved to Seattle, WA, and commissioned architects Joseph C. Hornblower (1848-1908) and John Rush Marshall (1851-1927), to design his huge, 5-story house. It is now located in the Harvard-Belmont National Historic District.

The house was composed of concrete block, a material that became widespread across the US during the first decade of the 20th century. Harmon S. Palmer filed a patent in 1898 for a "Machine for molding hollow concrete building-blocks," and was granted US Patent US623686 A, on 04/25/1899. A commentator writing in 1905 listed the advantages that concrete blocks offered for builders: "It is stated the cement blocks are the coming building material and they are being put to many uses in the North. With age the cement blocks lose none of their strength, they are absolutely fireproof and can stand an enormous pressure. Another advantage is that when they are used in making walls, they may be put down much quicker than an equal bulk of brick. This means less work for the brick masons, and less use of mortar. The cement blocks are hollow. This add to the comfort of the building in which they are used, making the structure cooler in summer and warmer in winter. Insurance companies allow a narrower wall of cement blocks than of brick." (See "Preservation in Mississippi: When Concrete Blocks Were the Latest Fad, Part I," accessed 02/11/2015.) In 2010, this 4-bedroom, 8-bath house occupied a 23,000 square foot (0.53 acre) lot, and had an assessed value of $1,967,000.


Guendolen Plestcheef remodeled the house beginning in 1937, increasing window sizes, installing a skylight and reconfiguring the floor plan.