Buchanan House, also known as the Trueblood House, is a historic Kirkland gem that was preserved thanks to earnest buyers and community enthusiasm.
As an integral spot on the “Emerald Corridor,” King County has experienced tremendous growth, and with this comes the demand for land that can be developed for various commercial and residential purposes. Sometimes, that means older residences are sacrificed for these endeavors, and this appeared to be the possible fate of the Buchanan House in Kirkland.
The two-story wood-frame structure was built in 1890 by Kirkland founder Peter Kirk and the Kirkland Land and Improvement Company. Its original owner, Dr. William D. Buchanan, Kirkland’s first physician, made his office at the residence, alongside his wife, Abbie.
A Singular Vision
Peter envisioned a steel mill as the town’s main commerce and built a group of homes for would-be industry executives, one of which sold to Dr. Buchanan. Peter’s vision failed to materialize due to “delayed rail access and the uncertainty of a canal connecting Lake Washington to the Puget Sound.” His enthusiasm was further dampened by the Great Seattle Fire of 1889, which destroyed much of downtown, followed by the nationwide financial Panic of 1893, according to a City of Kirkland Landmarks Commission Planning Department registration application. Dr. Buchanan left Kirkland within a year of the Panic, and Peter slowly sold off his land holdings, later moving to the San Juan Islands, where he died in 1916. Nonetheless, Kirkland went on to thrive.
Early owners of the Buchanan House included Kirkland stalwarts. The Buchanans were followed by the proprietor of the Pioneer Grocery and then a long-serving mayor and his wife. What is unclear from the historical record, according to the CKLC, is who actually lived in the residence and for how long. Indeed, this home is believed to have turned over in ownership at least every five years until J.L. Ringer owned it from 1927–1945.
The Trueblood Discussion
The role of Dr. Barclay Trueblood’s involvement in the house is somewhat convoluted, but an examination of the historical record suggests the following. The CKLC registration application states that neither Dr. Trueblood nor his wife, Zarah, ever owned the house, and there is no evidence of them having lived or worked there. An indirect association is that Zarah’s son, Albert Newell, and his wife, Polly, owned it from 1907–1909. The first recorded mention of the Truebloods is from 1970s newspaper articles, published during the process of nominating several Kirkland properties to the National Register of Historic Places. The confusion may have arisen from a handwritten note on the King County property record calling it the “Dr. Trueblood home,” but where the note came from is unknown. Former owner Susan Creger recalls conversations during this time when historians suggested it had been the home of Kirkland’s first physician, but somehow Dr. Trueblood had been assigned that designation instead of Dr. Buchanan. To be clear, the Truebloods did have a long association with Kirkland, and Dr. Trueblood did practice medicine in the city, but not from this house, according to the CKLC application.
Various criteria are used to determine the historical and architectural significance of Kirkland buildings. According to the CKLC, the Buchanan House meets the criteria in numerous ways. For example, the home “reflects an important chapter in the formative years of medicine and medical care in Kirkland and Washington, when most services were performed by private physicians in their homes or via house calls.” Architecturally, “it is an excellent and intact example of a late 19th-century Folk Victorian dwelling executed in the common gable-front-and-wing form” that was popular throughout Washington and the U.S.
It Takes a Community
The city of Kirkland has been recognized for its dedication to preserving the historical origins of the city. While embracing development, it has also used zoning laws to help protect historic neighborhoods that lend the city part of its charm. Indeed, the Buchanan House had been listed on the National Register of Historic Places, giving it honorary landmark status, but that did not mean it would withstand the pressures of the city’s growth.
In 2016, the previous owners decided they wanted to build a new, larger residence on the property, but they were also open to the idea of relocating the house to preserve it. When a buyer was not found, the Nickel Bros. Company, which is involved with historic home preservation, purchased the house, and the structure was moved to a temporary site until a more permanent solution could be found.
In 2017, Drs. Dan and Kim Hartman, both physicians (coincidentally), purchased the house and then had to secure a place for it. On Aug. 15, 2017, it was moved to 129 Sixth Ave. in the Norkirk neighborhood, just a block from the original site and home to many of the city’s oldest surviving buildings. The Hartmans recognize how special the house is and how unique it is to live in it. They have also expressed appreciation for the community’s enthusiasm to save this important piece of Kirkland’s history.
“We truly love this house. Through the restoration process, we were able to preserve the majority of the house as when it was first built. We love to envision all the families who have called this their home and hope with all of the care and hard work of so many, it will continue to be a home for another 129 years." –The Hartmans
To view more photos, visit LifestylePubs.com/Kirkland. Photos courtesy of the Kirkland Heritage Society, the Washington Trust For Historic Preservation and the King County Landmarks & Heritage Commission.
1. 1889–1890 Peter Kirk and the Kirkland Land and Improvement Company constructs a group of homes for would-be steel executives, one of which Dr. William D. Buchanan, Kirkland's first physician, and his wife, Abbie, will purchase.
2. 1889–1893 Delayed rail access and uncertainty of a canal connecting Lake Washington to the Puget Sound, coupled by the Great Seattle Fire of 1889 and the nationwide financial Panic of 1893, dampens Peter's enthusiasm, and his vision fails to materialize.
3. 1916 Peter slowly sells off his land holdings and moves to the San Juan Islands, where he passed away in 1916. Largely due to his groundwork, Kirkland went on to thrive.
4. 1907–1909 The role of Dr. Trueblood's involvement is somewhat convoluted, and the first recorded mention of the Truebloods was in a 1970 newspaper, but Dr. Trueblood's wife's son, Albert Newell, and his wife, Polly, did own the home from 1907–1909.
5. 1927–1945 The Buchanan House is believed to have turned over in ownership several times, at least every five years, but history evidences that J.L. Ringer occupied the home from 1927–1945.
6. Aug. 15, 2017 Drs. Dan and Kim Hartman, both coincidentally physicians, purchase the house, secure a lot and undertake the massive endeavor to relocate this historic home to 129 Sixth Ave., just one block away from the original site and in close proximity to many of the city's oldest surviving buildings.