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Just How Old Are Seattle's Houses, Anyway?

Every house is new once, and then starts to age immediately. It is inevitable. But, how old are our houses, or at least the ones that are for sale? Hundreds are available that could be called new, or are at most ten years old. Prior to that, almost all of the growth was in the suburbs, distributed throughout the county. You have to go back before World War II to find more old homes in the city than in the rest of the county. Seattle may be a young city, but there are dozens of hundred-year-old homes to pick from. Some are exquisite antiques. Some may not last much longer. There are buildings from before the Great Seattle Fire of 1889, but if you want to buy something very old, you'll have to settle for places built two or three years later.

This 1892, 4 bedroom, 4 bath, 5,350 square foot house is so masterfully maintained, decorated, and situated that it could easily be a museum, or the setting for a story of elegance and wealth from a fantasized era. Its market price is $2,962,000 but its value isn't measured by the traditional housing criteria. The walls are wood paneled. The ceilings are metal tiled. The windows are stained glass, except where there are phenomenal views of the Cascades and Lake Washington. Bellevue recently popped into the view for better or worse.

Just one year older, a lot cheaper, but with an official designation as a City Landmark, this 3 bedroom, 2 bath, 1,740 square foot house is much more modest at $625,000. It too, retains much of the original woodwork, with necessary upgrades, of course. Any house built in 1891 would be hard to live in now without updated electricity, plumbing, and heating. Parking was a different issue back then. Someplace to feed the horse was handy. The views aren't as grand, but Elliott Bay is visible, with a few changes like Harbor Island and a lot fewer ships with sails.

People did build on the other side of Lake Washington. A 1891 bank building in Kirkland now has living quarters upstairs, offices downstairs, and the original bank vault door. The numbers are a bit skewed because of the offices, but the living space is an expansive 3,500 square feet for 2 bedrooms and 2 baths. You have to buy the entire building though, and that will cost you $5,300,000; but, you'll also have one of the oldest and most distinctive buildings in the county.
· 1630 36th Ave [Zillow]
· 2016 14th Ave W [Zillow]
· 701 Market Street, Kirklan [Zillow]
· Great Seattle Fire [CS]