Federal Way pieces together Seattle’s neglected history

by Dick Caster

The Historical Society of Federal Way recently completed its restoration of the historic David T. Denny Cabin.  Historical Society secretary Dick Caster has written a detailed monograph about the Denny Cabin. Below is an excerpt.

As early as 1870 David Denny had expanded his real estate holdings and by the 1880s he owned over 1000 acres and in partnership with others controlled much of the land on southern Queen Anne Hill from Lake Union to Puget Sound as well as some land on the north slope of Queen Anne Hills as far as the Fremont District. In the 1880s David Denny formed a real estate company, D.T. Denny and Son, to market and develop his land holdings. He platted several sub divisions.

By 1889, the city of Seattle had finally spread into David Denny’s land holdings. D.T. Denny and Son built a real estate office on the western boundary of their land holdings at the foot of Queen Anne Hill on the southwest corner of Temperance Avenue (now Queen Anne Avenue) and Republican Street. The David T. Denny Cabin was completed May 1889 one month before the Great Seattle Fire and six months before Washington became a state. It was built as a log cabin strictly as a marketing gimmick, as log cabins were not being built in Seattle at this time. Sawn lumber had been available in Seattle since the mid-1850s….

The David T. Denny Cabin was only used as a real estate office for a few years. After that it was used as a church, school, at least twice as a residence and probably for different store functions. Its final use was as Green’s Tavern from the 1930s through the 1950s.

The cabin was only two blocks west of the Seattle Center so by the early 1960s was on land that had a huge demand for commercial use. In 1966 the International House of Pancakes Restaurant chain owned the land and wanted to use the site for a restaurant. Although efforts were made to keep the cabin at its original location funding was not available so it either had to be torn down or moved. Jack Cissna, developer of Federal Shopping Way (a large shopping complex and amusement area), arranged for financing to move the cabin to Federal Way.

Visit www.federalwayhistory.org for more on this story and other projects of the Historical Society of Federal Way.  The David T. Denny Cabin, along with the 1883 John Barker Homestead Cabin, is open to visitors at West Hylebos Wetlands Park in Federal Way on the second Saturday of each month throughout the summer. More information on the SoCoCulture calendar