The Southwest Seattle Historical Society (SWSHS) was founded in 1984 by Elliott Couden. Founding members chose to dedicate this organization to historic preservation, heritage education and community service for the Southwest Seattle area.
In 1983, South Seattle Community College was forming a lay advisory board for the Humanities under a NEH grant. Humanities and Art Instructor Joan Mraz, Chairman, was seeking a person from the area of history to sit on the board. Dottie Harper, a local community activist from Burien, recommended Elliott N. Couden, West Seattle resident and White Center businessman, who was trying to form a local historical society. Mr. Couden was invited to sit on the board and there he shared his vision. The founding members came from the White Center area and West Seattle and expanded their scope to include both after meeting with President Brockey and Normie Beers. The vision became to create a history center that included the whole of the peninsula.
The president of South Seattle Community College, Jerry Brockey, met with Elliott and also with West Seattle historian Normie Beers, who was interested in writing a book on the history of West Seattle. President Brockey offered the services of the college to help form an historical society and so, with the help of Librarian Administrator John Ashford, the 501 (c) 3 non-profit Southwest Seattle Historical Society (SWSHS) was formed. With Elliott as the founder, an offer was made from President Brockey the use the college campus for meetings and storage of their collection. Normie Beer’s idea for a book on the History of West Seattle eventually was absorbed into the Westside Story Project and published by the West Seattle Herald in 1997 by Clay Eals and Brad Chrisman. The founding date for the SWSHS was November 13th, the date of the landing of the pioneers on the shores of Alki, who eventually formed the city of Seattle.
In 1995, a 1904 log building built as a carriage house was purchased by the Southwest Seattle Historical Society, restored, and converted into the Log House Museum. The restoration was made possible through a grass-roots fund raising effort which raised over $875,000. The Log House Museum has been open since November 13,1997, the 146th anniversary of the landing of the Alki party on AIki’s beach. The landscaping is all done with native planting. A granite and marble donor circle adorns the courtyard in tribute to the many people who helped make this heritage project an award-winning facility and a community treasure.
Programs and events of the Southwest Seattle Historical Society include:
- Publication of “Westside Story”, a historical record of Southwest Seattle
- “West Seattle Wanderings” a driving tour booklet and art exhibition
- West Seattle History Discussion Series in cooperation with Seattle Public Library
- Sponsorship and support for the “Murals of West Seattle” and “Mount View Looks Back” a White Center Project
- B.J. Bullert’s PBS video “Earl Robinson: ballad of an American”
- Development of Weather Watch Park on Beach Drive
- The Homes with History tour
- Preservation of the Admiral Theater
- Community re-enactment of the Denny Party Landing to celebrate the 1989 Washington Centennial Celebration, and the Sesquicentennial and active leadership in bringing Native American and pioneer history to life as part of the Greater Harbor 2000 Commission plan for redevelopment of the Alki/HarborDuwamish Corridor
The opening ceremony of the Log House Museum was a historic moment for the Southwest Seattle Historical Society and the Duwamish Tribe. The Log House Museum was built to be a place to learn about all peoples who have chosen residence on the Duwamish Peninsula. In 2007, construction began on the Duwamish Longhouse and Cultural Center on the Duwamish River. We look forward to the time when the Duwamish people will be recognized and have the opportunity to tell their own stories, in their own words.
- Joan Stover
- Tia Hallberg
- Marcy Johnsen
- Flora Belle Key
- Joey Richesson
- Carol Vincent
- Inez Lindsey
- Alan Peterson
- Kerry Korsgaard
- Audrey Taylor
Biographies coming soon!
Southwest Seattle Historical Society Executive Director
Log House Museum Museum Manager
2007 990 (PDF)
2008 990 (PDF)
2009 990 (PDF)
2010 990 (PDF)