UPDATE (Sunday, May 20): We received an email from Paula Becker who wrote both the HistoryLink.org and Seattle Press essays on Betty MacDonald, and she has clarified the timeline for us:
Betty’s mother bought the house at 6317 15th Avenue NE around 1930. Prior to that, the family had been living in Chimacum — Betty with her husband Robert Hackett and two young daughters Anne and Joan, her mother and other family members nearby — those are the years described in The Egg And I. Betty left her marriage in ca. 1931 and moved in with her mother and other family members. The following years are those described in Anybody Can Do Anything. It was in this house that Betty was living when she was diagnosed with tuberculosis and entered Firland Sanatorium for treatment during 1938-1939. Her daughters stayed with her mother in the house. The family lived in the house until ca. 1942, when Betty married Don MacDonald and her mother apparently sold the house — at any rate, they moved out.
The Roosevelt home of author Betty MacDonald (“The Egg and I,” “Mrs. Piggle Wiggle,” and more) will be removed should the city’s Department of Planning and Development approve plans for apartments in its place.
The large white Notice of Proposed Land Use Action sign describes Project # 3013282 as “Land Use Application to allow four three unit apartments (12 units). Existing single family residence (6313 15th Ave NE) to remain; existing single family residences (6317 & 6321 15th Ave NE) to be removed. For a total of 13 residential units.”
The house was built in 1910. A picture of the residence taken in 1939 is included in the HistoryLink.org slideshow of the King County homes of Betty MacDonald and her sister, Mary Bard.
Betty MacDonald (1908-1958) was the author of ten books, many of which were autobiographies detailing her humorous and adventurous life in Washington state. The best known of these, “The Egg and I,” published in 1945, was based on her experiences running a chicken farm with her husband on the Olympic Penninsula. A film loosely based on the book came out in 1947, and starred Claudette Colbert and Fred MacMurray.
From the self-guided walking tour of MacDonald’s 1933 Roosevelt: “Time Traveling in the Roosevelt District with Betty MacDonald” (via the Internet Archive):
Elsie (Sydney) Bard, Betty’s mother, was widowed when Betty was twelve years old. Left with five children, Sydney lived on in the big house in Laurelhurst she and her husband had purchased in 1919. By 1924, reduced funds and the desire to be closer to the new Roosevelt High School, which opened its doors in 1922, brought the Bard family to 15th Avenue NE. Sydney and various of her children lived in the house, number 6317, for almost twenty years.
MacDonald describes the house at the time her family resided there in her 1950 book, “Anybody Can Do Anything:”
According to real estate standards Mother’s eight-room, brown-shingled house in the University district was just a modest dwelling in a respectable neighbourhood, near good schools and adequate for an ordinary family. To me […] that shabby house with its broad welcoming porch, dark woodwork, cluttered dining room plate rail, large fragrant kitchen, easy book-filled firelit living room, four elastic bedrooms–one of them always ice-cold–roomy old-fashioned bathrooms and huge cluttered basement, represents the ultimate in charm, warmth and luxury.
UPDATE (2:35 PM): The notice on the property lists a comment period ending May 16, but could be extended to May 30. Comments can be sent to PRC@seattle.gov or call (206) 684-8467. Be sure to mention the project number: 3013282.