Selleck Historic District
|Nearest city:||Selleck, Washington Selleck, Washington|
|Area:||18 acres (7.3 ha)|
|Added to NRHP:||March 16, 1989|
Selleck is a former company town in Washington, located at . As the sole surviving company mill town in King County, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and as a King County landmark.
Founded in 1908 and located in southeast King County, the town of Selleck was the company town of Pacific States Lumber, under the direction of lumberman Frank Selleck. By the time it was completed in 1916, it was reached by the world's highest railway trestle, 204 feet above the Cedar River. The mill played a significant role in the rebuilding of Tokyo after the 1923 Great Kantō earthquake. At that time many Japanese workers and their families came to Selleck. This was not the first time Japanese workmen were brought to the mill.
The Japanese area outside the main town was officially known as Lavender Town (after the owner of a local saloon and general store), but was better known as Jap Town. Children of the Japanese workers attended the Selleck School, and also attended a Japanese-language school on Wednesday and Saturday mornings. However, few traces remain of Lavender Town today, not even grave markers (which are believed to have been made of wood). The only visible indication of the former Japanese presence is a pond landscaped with bamboo. Hence, Selleck's landmark designations do not include the former Lavender Town, because so few traces remain. It is possible that future archaeological excavations might yield evidence that would lead to such a designation.
At its peak, Selleck had a population of 900 and had a hospital, a hotel, a community hall where hundreds of people came to weekly dances, a school and several mill buildings. However, Pacific States Lumber declared bankruptcy in 1939, bringing an end to the era of Selleck's prosperity. The town of Selleck went through a series of owners—the first purchased it for a mere $3,000—before Robert Schaefer, a general contractor from Renton, Washington, put together an investor group to buy the town in 1971.
Schaefer's vision for the town was not fully achieved. He hoped to restore the millpond, with paddleboats, a train running around the pond, and something of a logging theme park. However, this proved impossible due to a combination of wetlands regulation and lack of sufficient funding.
As of 2007, the town is managed through Selleck, Inc. by Robert Schaefer's son Tim Schaefer. The former two-story schoolhouse remains—Tim Schaefer has converted part of it into an apartment for himself and his family—and the former community hall is also now a residence. About half of the original single-story company houses remain, and about 90 people live in 20 bungalows. A four-bedroom house in Selleck rents for about what a two-bedroom apartment costs in more accessible parts of the county.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Selleck, Washington|
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09.
- King County and Local Landmarks List, King County (undated, last modified 2003-02-26). Accessed online 2009-05-08.
- Cara Solomon, Old mill town a vestige of the past, Seattle Times, 2007-07-31. Accessed online 2009-05-08.
- George Foster, County's Ethnic Pioneers: Some Towns They Built Have Died, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 1988-08-04. Accessed online 2009-05-08.
- John H. Stevens, Water Company For Small Community Is Target Of EPA Suit, Seattle Times, 1993-07-29. Accessed online 2009-05-08.
- P-I Staff and News Services, The 150 Residents of Selleck Told To Drink Only Boiled Water, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 1997-03-29, p. A3. Accessed online 2009-05-08.
- Heather MacIntosh, King County Landmarks: Town of Selleck (1908-1939), Kangley vicinity, HistoryLink, 1999-01-01. Accessed online 2009-05-08.
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