Dale Forbus Hogle: Person of the Year 2016

by Monica Wooton

Then…

Dale Forbus Hogle has lived her whole life close to the home she was born in on Magnolia Boulevard eight decades ago. Born to Alvero Shoemaker and Lady Willie Forbus, she and her sister Alvara experienced Magnolia in the years before the boulevard was paved, when live ponies kept by a family living in her neighborhood provided rides for the children and picking wild black caps was a summer chore for her mother’s yearly batch of blackberry jam.

Dale Forbus-Shoemaker is ready for first day of school. No matter their financial situation, her mother always saw to it they had a few new things to wear, making it a special time of year. Living on the Boulevard in the 20s meant classes at Magnolia School. (Courtesy of Forbus Family)

Dale Forbus-Shoemaker is ready for first day of school. No matter their financial situation, her mother always saw to it they had a few new things to wear, making it a special time of year. Living on the Boulevard in the 20s meant classes at Magnolia School. (Courtesy of Forbus Family)

Her parents divorced when she was young and was raised by her single, working mother who was the first women lawyer in Seattle, and then represented the 44th district (of which Magnolia was a part then) as a Washington State senator one of three women her first term and the only women senator her second. Dale was raised in the tradition of Franklin Roosevelt progressivism, her mother always taking cases of people without much money but good causes and in need of good defense.

Dale attended Magnolia Elementary just after it opened in 1927 and Queen Anne High School. She married and raised her children blocks from her childhood home. She became a language teacher at Nathan Hale high and traveled.

Dale became associated with the Historical Society through an article done on her mother for Magnolia: Memories & Milestones. Because she had experienced so many things in early Magnolia and had a good memory of it her life as a child and teen her memoirs were documented in the book as well. It was that connection that started Dale on the path of serving as a historical resource, Board member and writer for the second Magnolia book, Magnolia: Making More Memories.

Dale was responsible for a wonderfully researched and written chapter on the archaeology history of West Point and the significant archaeology dig that occurred there in the 70’s: The West Point Dig: A Legacy. After serving as a member on the second book team, she began serving on the Board participating in meetings, event planning and the events. She became the editor of the MHS Quarterly and loved finding a mystery picture of old Magnolia for readers to identify each issue. She became a regular writer of her memories on Magnolia and many of these have been published.

She began a personal history project of using the letters of her grandmother Birdie, a white plantation manager’s wife in the Deep South in Mississippi to write and published for her family a wonderful and well-researched book of her family history and the history of the South at the time.

Dale became a co-teacher in the MHS memoir writing workshops and encouraged and connected with many students in that program. She spoke on her Magnolia roots at events, did book readings of her chapter on The Dig, and participated in the design of the historical sculpture in the Village that the Board donated in its tenth year. She hosted meetings, sold history books at the Farmer’s Market and was ready help for the MHS board she served on for over 10 years.

Now…

Dale continues to be a rich source for history on Magnolia from the 1920’s on and is considered the Grand Dame of Magnolia history as one of the few left to tell the stories in such accurate and loving detail.

Forbus Hogle participates in the MHS book sales at the Magnolia Farmer's Market in 2014. Photo Monica Wooton.

Forbus Hogle participates in the MHS book sales at the
Magnolia Farmer’s Market in 2014. (Photo Monica Wooton)

She loves opera, takes part in the care of her elderly sister, paints and enjoys her family. She still resides on Magnolia still only blocks away from her childhood home. She remains a ready resource when questions of old Magnolia arise and still helps out with the memoir writing class when asked.

This year Dale is the recipient of the 2016 Magnolia Historical Person of the Year Award because of her vast written documentation of Magnolia history and help given in many volunteer hours to the Society. This honor is given only in years when a certain person’s credentials add up to a significant contribution and the Board decides to make the award.

Dale will be honored in a private lunch reception with members of the MHS Board, a few family and friends. She was awarded a plaque and certificate at the MHS annual meeting and her name will be engraved on the permanent plaque honoring MHS Historical Person award designees which hangs in the Magnolia Public Library. Dale will be the 7th winner of the award since the Society started 15 years ago. Along with her mother who was given the award posthumously by the Society she joins a small group of distinguished people who have helped Magnolia make memories.

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Snapshot in Time: Magnolia…Outpost to Out-of-sight Properties…

By Greg Shaw, MHS Board member and Windermere Real Estate Agent and
Monica Wooton, MHS Board member

Magnolia is almost an island. Because of this, from the early settlement of Seattle to the present day this fact has affected the neighborhood, its growth and values. Access was difficult early on with timber, hills, tide flats and marsh separating it from the rest of Seattle. It took tons of fill to make most of the land mass where Smith Cove, the piers, Thorndyke on up to Interbay and Dravus now exist.

Many early homes by the water were vacation homes for some living “in town”. Wooden trestles helped some settle on Magnolia in the early years. And, the Magnolia Bridge built by 1930 also brought more here to live. But, it was not until the late 1940’s after the World War II (WWII) building boom that Magnolia really began to develop, e.g. Magnolia Boulevard was not even completed until the 1950’s. Late development, access with only three entrances and exit points has helped Magnolia remain as a destination rather than an integrated part of Seattle. Traffic never flows through Magnolia it only goes to or from Magnolia. Retail development in the Village has remained limited because of this.

Modern Home Builders came in the 1940’s and built hundreds of units for young families many with covenants which did not allow persons of color except household help or even song birds. Because of the Navy Piers and Fort part of the housing stock was military housing filled with families who would not make Magnolia a permanent home. This created some spots of density on Magnolia by Manor Place and on 34th as they were built-out or replaced.

Author Shaw’s parents’ first home was purchased in 1939 for $1,700. Located on 30th Avenue West between Tilden and Emerson, three adjoining 6,000 SF lots were available for $200 each but they could not afford to purchase them at that time.  30th Avenue West remained unpaved until the mid-50’s. In 1962, the Shaw’s moved east to a home on the other side of the alley on 29th Avenue West. The purchase price was $14,500.

Typical home getting replaced on Magnolia with a new home sometimes for 100 times the original cost of this. Lots are built out to maximum codes. Photo Greg Shaw.

Typical home getting replaced on Magnolia with a new home sometimes for 100 times the original cost of this. Lots are built out to maximum codes. Photo Greg Shaw.

Across the street from this home, a home purchased for $375,000 in 2012, was rented and 2 years later torn down to make room for a large newly built home which just sold for $1,549,000 approximately 2,000 square feet larger and approximately 100 times the original purchase price of Shaw’s parents home. The home Wooton grew up in, built by her father in 1957 on a corner lot, 2400 square feet, 5 bedrooms and 2 baths (the lot about $900 and building cost under $20,000) has appreciated (with some updating but without major renovations) to about $800,000.

There are no longer any vacant lots to build new homes in Magnolia, an existing home must be torn down. Approximately ten years ago a teardown could be purchased for around $300,000, currently (and, hard to find) a teardown now is closer to $600,000. Typically, a builder who pays $600,000 needs to be able to sell the finished home for approximately three times the purchase price just to cover all costs. The most expensive recent tear down was $1,295,000 on Magnolia Boulevard.

At one time different sections of Magnolia brought diverse prices. It used to be that homes on Magnolia were priced by location in the neighborhood: homes and lots on the lower part of the east hill were less than those by 28th Avenue West and those were more than those in the valley (Pleasant Valley – 32nd to 34th Avenue West that runs North to South.) Those on the west hill went for much more – those closer to the Boulevard and those with views for much, much more. To new buyers looking for a home in Magnolia it is more about the house, just being in Magnolia and not as much the location within Magnolia. Today, almost all parts of Magnolia support the sale of a new home at 1.5 million.

 Common today on Magnolia - new homes..two large modern homes where one small WWII ramble once stood.

Common today on Magnolia – new homes..two large modern homes where one small WWII ramble once stood.

“Magnolia almost an island” has controlled destiny keeping Magnolia in some ways close to the way it was 50 years ago. But, for the first time city allowances for densifying are beginning to change the face and size of this single residence neighborhood as single lots are becoming places of two large homes replacing the small footprint of one small WWII home. Diverse architecture mixed with Tudors or mid-century, is also becoming a reality. On the fringes of the neighborhood single homes built on multi-unit zoned lots are being torn down and many small units with few to no parking spaces are being allowed. Where Gorman’s Automotive Shop and 3 old houses stood on Gilman Avenue West two years ago, 25 units are now being built. Speculation that this is just another housing bubble seems to be allayed by the fact that the economy is strong and experts like Windermere and WFG Title Company feel it will continue as is for some time.

Today, the proximity of Magnolia to downtown and the relative ease to get there, its mainly residential zoning and good public schools has made it a much sought after place to raise a family. And, much like New York, San Francisco and L.A. neighborhoods, close to the city with family amenities like great parks, good pedestrian ratings, and it’s mainly residential zoning only seem to increase in value. This makes it hard for older folks to keep up with taxes or downsize and stay in the neighborhood and community they have spent a lifetime contributing and enjoying.

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