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Brygger Place: Ballard Streets revisited

This is a story about a street in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood, Brygger Place.

The data on Ballard

A few years ago I published an table of old-to-new street name changes in Ballard. In the interim the Seattle Municipal Archives has scanned the law that changed names after Ballard’s annexation in 1907. Fast forward past a bunch of data entry, and I give you a major update to the data.

Thankfully the writers of the law included all former names and even the plat names, so the data table is rich. Whenever that much old data comes together, it’s easy to pull stories out.

Where is Brygger Place

Brygger Place in Ballard has a long and tedious history.

Today you can find it a block south of the Ballard Community Center, covering the long block between 26th Ave NW and 28th Ave NW. It’s not much more than an alley between NW 60th St and NW 59th St.

Brygger Place versus the plats
Brygger Place circled on right. Eastern part of Brygger’s Home Addition in square. Home of Brygger family is the pin location with “x”.

It’s named after Anna S. Brygger, an immigrant from Norway, who filed two plats in 1903 in the City of Ballard. There are many homes in Ballard today that were built on the Brygger plats soon after that. For example, 2423 NW 61st St, and 3002 NW 58th St.

The street isn’t in either of those plats, though. It’s just east of them in a little thing called Supplemental Block C to Ballard’s 2nd Addition to Gilman Park.

Brygger plats mapped in 1912
Brygger’s Home Addition and Brygger’s 2nd Home Addition a seen in 1912 Baist map.

Changing to Brygger Place

It was originally known as Dewey Place in that 1900 plat.

The street was renamed by the City of Seattle in 1907 after Ballard was annexed.

At that time Anna was living with her grown children in their large home on NW 57th near 34th NW. Prior to annexation they lived on Times near Ninth. The home was still visible in the 1936 aerial photos but is now three small 1950s homes.

Parcel map showing location of Brygger home in 1907
Red box is the location of Brygger home. 830 Times Street in the City of Ballard, renamed and renumbered to 3240 NW 57th St in the City of Seattle after annexation.

Earlier they lived just a bit south at 32nd and Market Street. The UW has a photo of that house in about 1890 (also held by Ballard Historical Society). Jean Sherrard (with Paul Dorpat) featured an 1890s view of Salmon Bay that may have shown their home. That house is now part of the Lockspot Cafe, formerly Lockspot Tavern.

There is another, even smaller Brygger in Seattle. It’s Brygger Drive West in Magnolia. Anna was a landowner in the area south of Salmon Bay as well.

I guess that’s the exciting part of the Brygger Place history.

Vigor and vim

In 1891 the Seattle P-I tried to get everyone pumped for a real estate law battle. They wrote, “A big land case, involving the title to a valuable fifty-four acre tract on Salmon bay, is on trial… the case is being fought with vigor and vim by the attorneys on both sides, and will probably occupy several days.”

By 1894 the reporters and attorneys were exhausted. “The jury late yesterday evening brought the verdict… the trial would have lasted still longer had it not been given to the jury practically without argument. The case was of little interest except from the tediousness of the trial.”

Whatever excitement it had was drained out by 1893, when the case went before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Supreme Court precedent

Anna and her deceased husband John (Johan) had purchased the land from a man who purchased the land from the Washington Territorial University. Until reading this, I didn’t realize that the university was granted land in Ballard in addition to the downtown Seattle site. The Ballard land was intended to be sold to raise funds.

The problem was that Lemuel Holgate had previously filed a land claim on that same land. Holgate died in the Battle of Seattle before he could settle the land. So Holgate’s claim was canceled in 1871, and the 1864 university lands sold in 1879. But another guy had purchased Holgate’s unsettled claim and was living on it with a farm with an orchard and fields and a house and barn.

Anna won the case in 1893, was forced to buy all of the guy’s stuff in 1894, and finally platted it out in 1903.

Remembering Anna Brygger

And now we remember her and her family with NW Brygger Place, a one block street that ends at the beginning of her land.

Even if she’s best remembered for a dry real estate battle in the courts, that doesn’t define Anna Brygger.

Anna was born in Norway in 1853. She and husband John are remembered as one of the first Norwegians in Ballard. Paul Dorpat featured them in a 1991 article “The Bryggers of Ballard”, which is included most of the way down this collection of Ballard articles.

When she died in May 1940 the Nazis were invading Norway and there was still some hope of resistance. The British fought Germans for the port of Narvik. But Belgium surrendered the day she died. Norway in June.

One of her sons was president of the People’s National Bank, so prominent that his daughter announced her engagement at a Rainier Club party later in 1940 and it warranted several mentions in the Seattle Times and a photo of the wedding itself.

Brygger wedding in 1940
Wedding of Anna’s granddaughter Barbara Jane Brygger (father Albert Brygger) to Dr. William McMahon in 10/9/1940 Seattle Times

The third generation must have felt much different than Anna. They finally saw the end of struggles from the Great Depression. She saw her homeland falling to Nazis.

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