Capitol Hill is Seattle's best tree neighborhood. There is no disputing that. For diversity and quantity of aged trees, it is easily the top pick. Its architecture is also outstanding, although I don't begin to know whether local architects, if polled, would vote it the finest neighborhood in this respect. Much of the appeal of the Hill is in its stately old shade trees and mansions. Fred Anhalt, who died this month at age 101, was a developer who made a dramatic impact because of his distinctive style. Anhalt's apartment buildings have been termed eclectic Tudor-Gothic, and other names. To casual observers such as myself, untrained in the vocabulary of architecture, the buildings are picturesque, romantic, nostalgic, and --in one word-- comforting. They are rich in soul and perennially popular.
At least one Anhalt apartment complex has an extraordinary tree as well. I refer to the oak of Oak Manor, 730 Belmont Avenue E. Not only is this oak wonderful as an ornamental shade tree, it is furthermore Capitol Hill's only old native oak. Seattle (indeed, all of Washington and British Columbia) has only one species of oak tree. It is called Garry Oak or Oregon White Oak, Quercus Garryana, its 1839 name honoring Nicholas Garry (1781 - 1856), an officer of the Hudson's Bay Company. To see this oak in abundance, visit Victoria or the Fort Lewis area. In Seattle its occurrence is spotty, most being in the Seward Park vicinity.
Anhalt built Oak Manor in 1928, at which time, he said in 1982, "the tree was about one-half of the size that it is now. How old it would have been then I cannot tell you. The tree has doubled its size in width and also in height since 1928. It has been protected with a fence around it and with no other plants under it. It has received the same care as any other plants and trees planted at that time."
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