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Locals fight to save West Seattle’s historic Stone Cottage

A view of Seattle's historic Stone Cottage against a blue sky.

The cottage was constructed from more than 15,000 beach stones. | Photo by SEAtoday

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Hey, remember last August when a small house rode through the streets of West Seattle on the back of a truck in the middle of the night? That was no building gone rogue — it was the historic, 90-year-old Stone Cottage, which locals saved after it was earmarked for demolition by developers.

Right now, the house once located steps from the beach at 1123 Harbor Avenue now sits in a lot down the road owned by the Port of Seattle, and historians gathered this month to raise awareness about efforts to relocate it. Though not an official city landmark, the cottage stands out as one of those classic, quirky Seattle sites — and, boy, if those walls could talk, they would tell some stories.

Its owner was a total rock star 🪨

During the Great Depression, Eva Falk built the cabin with her mother, gathering more than 15,000 stones from the shores of Alki via wagon and trading meals to Hooverville residents in exchange for masonry work. And if you’re thinking, well, why not do things a more conventional way, that’s just not how she rolled.

From all accounts, Eva was a bit of a bohemian, joining a cult-like religious order called the Seventh Elect Church, a reclusive colony once based in Ballard that required its members to leave their hair long and “avoid blood.” Indiana-born lead preacher David Salwt once chose Eva to be his high priestess — but they eventually divorced.

“Giving shelter to anybody” 🏠

While still a wild child, Eva got remarried to a circus strongman (who could reportedly bend horseshoes with his teeth), performed on the vaudeville circuit, and hitchhiked from Seattle to New York when she was 20. At one point, Eva tried to enter a West Seattle beauty queen contest, but was disqualified because she was a divorceé. *Clutches pearls*

Not one for shyness, Eva also posed naked in public for a “calendar,” further scandalizing the Seattle community. And while the Seventh Elect Church participation appeared to phase out not long after her first marriage ended, Eva remained a vegetarian at a time when that was considered, like, totally weird.

She also was a mother to three children and had a generous spirit, opening the doors to the Stone Cottage for those who were “shunned by society,” according to Southwest Seattle Historical Society’s Taisa Williams. Eva — who lived in the cottage up until her death in 1997 at the age of 92 — once told her daughter Carmacita, “This house is for giving shelter to anybody and anything.”

What’s next? 💡

HIstorians are hoping to find a more permanent home for the cottage, possibly on Alki near the Statue of Liberty replica. One idea from the Save the Stone Cottage coalition would be to transform it into a pottery studio or community center with the Seattle Parks and Recreation Department once the interior is restored.

Most of the exterior is intact. Eva’s family salvaged original stained glass windows and the front door, which currently reside in another location. However, the stones are the main attraction — as they happen to carry significance for local tribes. “The hills and the valleys and the rocks contain the memories of the Duwamish people,” said Ken Workman, the fourth great-grandson of Chief Seattle. “So when it came to the cottage being moved, I realized that those rocks contain those memories.”

But the process to move the cottage once again won’t be easy and will likely take 2-3 years — and possibly $300,000. In the meantime, those interested in getting a glimpse at its stony facade can stop along Harbor Avenue and dream of a beachier time.

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