Seattle's Holly Park housing project opens on August 1, 1942.

  • By David Wilma
  • Posted 2/26/2001
  • Essay 3022

On August 1, 1942, in Seattle, the Holly Park housing project for war workers opens on South Beacon Hill. Each unit features an electric range, an electric water heater, and an electric refrigerator. The 896 units cover 108 acres.

The Seattle Housing Authority was established on March 13, 1939, to build low-income housing with local funds and 60-year loans from the federal government. Yesler Terrace was the first SHA project. In 1940, as the United States was being drawn into World War II, Congress passed the Lanham Act to directly fund housing for workers in defense plants. The Seattle Housing Authority undertook to build housing for defense-industry workers and military families, including permanent housing at Rainier Vista in the Rainier Valley, High Point in West Seattle, and Holly Park on South Beacon Hill, each of which was converted to low-income housing after the Korean War.

The Western Construction Co. built Holly Park with a bid of $3,095,865. The project included a community center (Lee House, which predated the project), a childcare center (by 1943, one-half of Boeing's work force of 10,000 were women), a club room, and a central community laundry. In 1944, the community newspaper, The Holly Parker, reported weekly movies (provided by the Boeing Co.), a childcare center, Campfire Girls, and Boy Scouts. A public health nurse provided nursing care in the project.

After World War II, the housing shortage continued and veterans and their families lived there. During the Korean War, the project again housed defense workers. In 1954, Holly Park was converted to low-rent housing.


Susan D. Boyle, "A Historic Report on Holly Park," typescript dated December 18, 1997, folio: Holly Park Materials, Seattle Public Library, Seattle, Washington.

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