Montana Circle

Like almost every other street in Fort Lawton (1900−2011), which became Discovery Park, Montana Circle was named after a state of the Union. Unlike almost every other street in Discovery Park, however, Montana Circle is a private road and in fact not part of the park at all. This is because the houses here, originally built for non-commissioned officers, were in use as military housing at the time the Army officially closed the fort. According to Monica Wooton of the Magnolia Historical Society, writing in the Queen Anne & Magnolia News, this meant that the property had to be sold at market rate instead of returned to the city as surplus, as most of the rest of the park had been. The city did manage to come up with $11 million to demolish some non-historic housing and restore the forest, but

Friends of Discovery Park could not get a partnership with government and other entities needed to purchase the Officer’s Row and NCO housing because of the cost mandated by the Privatization Act [while] the economic recession was taking hold.

As the Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce reported in April 2016,

The 13 homes in Montana Circle at Fort Lawton all have sold in about three months, and prices on the ones that have closed average $484 a square foot. Prices ranged from $799,000 to $1,050,000.

This provided a nice profit for the real estate firm that bought Officer‘s Row and Montana Circle from the military for $9.5 million.

Montana Circle begins at Discovery Park Boulevard just east of Kansas Avenue and loops around to rejoin Discovery Park Boulevard around 100 feet to the east.

Street sign at corner of Montana Circle and Utah Street, January 15, 2011
Street sign at corner of Montana Circle and Utah Street (now Discovery Park Boulevard), January 15, 2011. Photograph by Benjamin Lukoff. Copyright © 2011 Benjamin Lukoff. All rights reserved.

University Circle NE

An article in the July 8, 1928, issue of The Seattle Times describes the new subdivision of Hawthorne Hills thus:

The property is situated on a “hogback” between East 55th and East 65th Streets just east of 35th Avenue Northeast.… It is the largest single piece of undeveloped residence property in the city limits.… Because of its proximity to the University of Washington a community center at the highest point on the property has been designated “University Circle.” At this point, 200 feet in diameter, the principal thoroughfares, named after well-known universities and colleges, converge.

University Circle park is ringed by 400-foot-long University Circle NE, which is approximately 125, not 200, feet in diameter. Vassar Avenue NE, Ann Arbor Avenue NE, and Princeton Avenue NE converge on the circle, while Wellesley Way NE, Stanford Avenue NE, Purdue Avenue NE, Pullman Avenue NE, NE Tulane Place, and Oberlin Avenue NE curve through the rest of the neighborhood. (There does not appear to be any organizing concept behind the selection of schools other than the fact they are institutions of higher education. Pullman and Ann Arbor represent state schools; Princeton, Stanford, Purdue, and Tulane private schools; and Vassar and Wellesley women’s colleges; but why these in particular were chosen, I am not sure. Incidentally, Dartmouth, Harvard, Cornell, Yale, Columbia, and Amherst were already in use elsewhere.)

Hawthorne Hills sign, detail of photograph of Princeton Avenue Bridge, January 28, 2003.
Hawthorne Hills sign, January 28, 2003. Courtesy of the Seattle Municipal Archives, identifier 141197

Unfortunately, Hawthorne Hills — named for Hawthorne Kingsbury Dent, founder of what is today Safeco Insurance — was among the subdivisions in Seattle to which the developers attached racially restrictive covenants. In fact, according to the Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project, “Seattle’s first known racial restrictive covenant was written in 1924 by the Goodwin Company,” which also developed Hawthorne Hills, and

No property in this subdivision could be “sold, conveyed, rented, nor leased, in whole or in part, to any person not of the White race; nor shall any person not of the White race be permitted to occupy any portion of said lot or lots or of any building thereon, except a domestic servant actually employed by a White occupant of such building.”

Two good articles on Hawthorne Hills are “Names in the Neighborhood: From Keith to Hawthorne Hills,” by Valarie Bunn, and “Squatting in Hawthorne Hills,” by Zach van Schouwen.