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Friday, March 14, 2008

This is Not a Parody, This is Where I Want to Live

posted by on March 14 at 14:34 PM

I know this is old news to some, maybe many of you. However, I am posting these in case there are people unfamiliar with these houses as we all once were.

I was amazed and intrigued when I found out there was a residence in the top pyramid of the Smith Tower.


Notwithstanding the decorations inside, I can think of no other place I’d rather live in Seattle.

Okay, maybe either of these places would suffice…



I am obsessed with houseboats. Unfortunately, I cannot even afford this one. Or the mud beneath it.

The houseboats moored within 150 feet of the 1907 Lake Union shoreline are actually on owned real estate. Local legislators snuck a bill through the Legislature that required anyone owning property on Lake Union to buy the adjacent underwater property. The subsequent one million dollars funded the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition on the University of Washington campus.

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the rumor I always heard was that the top of the smith tower was a high end brothel. Prolly not true, but I've heard stranger things lately

Posted by wisepunk | March 14, 2008 2:38 PM

*Sigh!* Houseboats. The only local real-estate that makes over-priced condos look like bargains in comparison.

I'm still kicking myself that I didn't blow my 401(k) on a down payment for a colleague's houseboat in Portage bay about five years ago, when he was asking the "outrageous" price of $125K. The thing is probably worth two or three times that much today.

Posted by COMTE | March 14, 2008 2:40 PM

I don't know about that triangular house—I always thought it looked like a meth lab putting on airs.

Posted by Brendan Kiley | March 14, 2008 2:42 PM

I'd always heard it was originally built for the guy who had to maintain the building's elevators, mechanical systems, and the search light at the tippy-top.

But, that's not nearly as interesting as a high-end brothel.

Posted by COMTE | March 14, 2008 2:42 PM

This is sort of like a Mudede post, only readable.

Posted by Spoogie | March 14, 2008 2:43 PM

I looked into buying a houseboat once. The problem was that for what I could afford all I could get was a rather small one with little to speak of in terms of a view. That coupled with the added expense and risk just did not make it worth it.

Posted by Giffy | March 14, 2008 2:46 PM

The triangle house:

I'd never heard about the brothel, but why not? The old caretaker did live there. What a job benefit.

Posted by infrequent | March 14, 2008 2:50 PM

I love the 30-60-90 triangle house!

I don't know why it's worth so much (it's got a _great_ view of the freeway...), but it'd be pretty sweet. Sort of like living in a giant shoe.

Posted by Tupman | March 14, 2008 2:51 PM

I swear it's true that, back in 1977, I was shown the Smith Tower "residence" at its apex. It was available to rent.

It's basically square-shaped, but the uppermost mechanics of the elevator system take up 1/3 of the space. That leaves a "U-shaped" floorplan for the resident. It's noisy, fer sure!

The other, most dissuading factor was that the elevator stops about five floors below the "residence". One has to climb five flights of stairs to reach this space.

The elevator is manually-operated; or, at least, it was back then. This meant that once the operators were off-duty (mid-evening until dawn), there was absolutely no access to the "residence".
Perhaps one could take the stairs from the lobby all the way up to the top. I didn't ask about that. This turned into the deal-breaker for me.

Yet it's remained a fantasy of mine to actually live in that space. One of my favorite benefits to living there was that, from almost anywhere within a dozen miles in any direction, my friends would be able to look up and see if I was "home".

Posted by cineaste | March 14, 2008 2:59 PM

I do like the "triangle" style vertical wood-paneled houses; for some reason I have a mid-late-80s vibe associated with them, and they seem quintessentially Northwest.

Posted by laterite | March 14, 2008 3:01 PM

Besides the unlikely awesomeness of the triangled house being out on an island unto itself, I always - driving by - tap into the drama of the possibility of the St. Mark's Greenbelt sliding down and crushing it.

Posted by Lloyd Clydesdale | March 14, 2008 3:09 PM

It's not a brothel. A family lives there. I've seen the kids leaving for school on the elevators.

Posted by Robin Sparkles | March 14, 2008 3:29 PM

To tie the two together, there's another similar house -- not triangular, exactly, but about six tiny floors stacked steeply on top of each other -- off of Fuhrman right by the public stairs leading down to the houseboats along Portage Bay Pl E.

My mom used to live down there, not in a houseboat but in a near-shack on the land. Not everybody who lives (or lived) on houseboats is rich; they used to be kind of bohemian poverty. The house of the guy who owned the one on the end of the dock saw his houseboat burn to the waterline one day several years back, and he had no insurance. Got out with the clothes on his back, nothing left.

Posted by Fnarf | March 14, 2008 4:46 PM

I lived in the triangle house the summer of 2003, the last year that the condos across the road that had been abandoned in the mudslides of 97 were still standing. We climed up and went inside them, the rooms were full of trash and graffiti, poop bags and beer cans, and romantically covered in creeper vines. Homeless people told me the homeless people THEY were afraid of lived under the nearby section of the 5. The street was closed for repairs all summer, and the house sits in a deep ravine more than a hundred yards from the nearest neighbor, so with the freeway noise covering everything and no passers-by, it was completely isolated (we had a great, colossal party there with At the Spine playing in the upstairs living room at concert volume) a little frightening even to a semi-big guy like me, especially after someone broke in the first night I lived there and stole my bag with my CDs, credit card and ID. Shaking out a rug on the upstairs balcony I upset a hornets` nest and a cloud of the fuckers came up over the rail and stung me 26 times before I could get inside and kill the ones in my hair and shirt by slapping myself all over. I wrote the first draft of the script of `Cthulhu` in one month in the living room. We built the signature-gathering boards for the countywide monorail initiative in the yard. (No comment.) It took a month to get phone service, I would tell Quest just to let the construction flaggers know they were installing service at the Triangle House, and then I`d wait for them to come and call at the end of the day and find out that once again they had given up when they saw the road was closed. I think this happened five times. The house itself is like a cave, the small sliding glass door entry down at the narrow bottom front, the space widening in and back and up. It was like living in `The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari`. Finally one night I put on Big Star`s `Sister Lovers`, (because the burglar had stolen my copy of `Loveless`) tied an electrical cord into a noose and prepared to hang myself from the top balcony. Something made me decide, after four years of sobriety, to chill out and go down to the Zoo on Eastlake for a drink instead.

Posted by Grant Cogswell | March 14, 2008 9:30 PM

The last I had heard, a woman named Petra lives up there. There's a really huge/overblown chihuly in there too.

Posted by smith tower | March 15, 2008 2:37 PM

What is that third residence? I don't think I've ever seen it.

Posted by Garth | March 15, 2008 6:22 PM

That house boat is on the last dock heading North along Lake Union in the Eastlake hood. It was just finished last Summer. Don't know who designed it, but the General Contractor was dBoone Construction. There is an Italianate one right next to it, with cast stone columns and everything, floating on the lake.

Posted by gates ballard | March 17, 2008 1:09 PM

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