I first came across the Alki History Project while doing research for my article on SW Bronson Way. I’m not sure how I missed it before. The paper that mentioned Ira Bronson was “If at First You Don’t Succeed…,” a fascinating history of municipal governance and elections in West Seattle, and when I looked at their list of other papers I was thrilled to see among them “What’s in a Name?” — an investigation of Alki street names, both current and those changed long ago. Frater Avenue SW is the first of a number of posts in which I will be citing this paper, written by Phillip H. Hoffman, director of the project.

Frater Avenue SW originates in the 1955 plat of Anderson’s Soundview Terrace Addition № 2. Why Anderson, Caple, or Knowlton weren’t chosen instead for the honor (this being the only new street in the small subdivision, and those being the surnames of the three couples who filed the plat) isn’t clear. But, as Hoffman notes, SW Frater Street and SW Frater Place (both of which have since been vacated) were just to the west in the adjacent plat. In addition, an earlier Frater Avenue SW had existed, until it was vacated in 1942, just southeast of where today’s Frater Avenue begins at SW Spokane Street. The current Frater Avenue must have been named after one of these three streets.

But, of course, that leaves the question of who those three streets initially honored, and according to Hoffman,

Frater Avenue first appears in the plat Partition of Crawford Tract as ordered in King County Superior Court, Cause № 64110, June 17, 1915. [A.W.] Frater was the presiding judge.… The court commissioners assisting in the adjudication of a land title and ownership dispute before Judge Frater that resulted in the Crawford Tract plat probably named Frater Avenue in 1915, along with all the other streets appearing in the plat.

Archibald Wanless Frater (1856–1925), according to Cornelius Holgate in Seattle and Environs, was born in Ohio and came to Washington in 1888. Initially settling in Tacoma, he moved to Snohomish the next year and came to Seattle in 1898.

Archibald Wanless Frater
Judge Archibald Wanless Frater, from the front cover of The Seattle Mail & Herald, June 3, 1905

Today’s Frater Avenue SW begins at 57th Avenue SW just north of SW Hinds Street and goes ⅛ of a mile southeast to SW Spokane Street just west of 56th Avenue SW.

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