Historical Society announces new tour

The Ballard Historical Society (BHS) has just released a new Walking Tour guide to historic Ballard with the help of writer Liza Ewell.

The Ballard resident works as a reference book editor and became curious about the history of the community after moving here from Wallingford six years ago.

Ewell found out about the BHS and offered to help them launch their web site www.ballardhistory.org. She then started doing research for a new updated version of the WalkingTour guide.

The new version uses historic photographs, rather than the drawings found in the original.

"The most fun was doing research to find out who was in what building, what shop was there; unpeeling the layers of history," said Ewell.

Up to 40 buildings could have been included on the walking map. Due to space limitations 20 were selected.

The buildings are primarily on Ballard Avenue. Some are on Northwest Market Street, Russell Avenue and Shilshole Avenue.

"We matched good pictures, information and a path for people to walk," said Ewell.

The Carnegie Library building on Market Street is number 19 on the map's suggest walking route.

Ewell says although Carnegie 's is well known, not much has been written up on it.

At 22nd Avenue Northwest and Ballard Avenue visitors can find the Commemorative Bell Tower, where the City Hall of the Municipality of Ballard served as city offices, a jail and the fire department in the city, before it was annexed into Seattle in 1907.

"This was the hub of Ballard," said Ewell.

The bell was saved, along with some of the original brick when the City Hall was torn down in 1965, due to earthquake damage in 1949 and 1965.

Ewell's favorite building is the C.D. Stimson Company Office at 2116 Vernon Place N.W. It was the paymaster's building for the Stimson Lumber Mill, the largest mill in Ballard at the time.

"I love old architecture and architectural history," said Ewell.

During research Ewell met with some of the owners of the buildings and found previously unseen photographs. Scans were made of those images for the BHS collection.

"We found so many things, just talking to people. If Ballardites have stories to tell about buildings or pictures contact the Ballard Historical Society," said Ewell.

The BHS has two future projects planned. It received grant money to pay for historic plaques for some buildings. Historic pictures will be etched on the plaques, with a brief explanation of the building's origins.

BHS is also working with Arcadia Press to publish a paperback book on Ballard's history with text and photographs.

When Ewell first came to old Ballard, she walked along the street and wondered about the history of the buildings.

"It's about imagining a place at a different time, when this was the main thoroughfare," said Ewell.

The Walking Tour guide is available at the Ballard Library, City of Seattle Neighborhood Service Center and community centers in the area. It was designed by Sarah O'Rourke. The photographs are from the BHS collection, Museum of History and Industry and the Puget Sound Archives.

A web version can be found at www.ballardhistory.org.

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