Town of Beaux Arts Village

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History

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The roots of Beaux Arts Village can be traced to the Society of Beaux Arts, a "school of every art and craft", established "to develop art and its appreciation here in the Northwest." The Society was housed in the old University Building in downtown Seattle where the Fairmont Olympic Hotel now stands. Members of the Society dreamed of starting an art colony where they could live and work together. Three members of the Society, Frank Calvert, Alfred Renfro, and Finn Frolich, signed their names to the incorporation of the Western Academy of Beaux Arts in 1908 and purchased a 50-acre tract of forest land, setting aside ten acres in the center for sketching grounds, workshops, cricket, a tennis court, and healthful recreation by members of the Beaux Arts Society.  Calvert deeded the 1,100 feet of Lake Washington shoreline and street rights-of-way to the Western Academy and held title to the central ten-acre "Atelier Square" himself. A four-foot strip of land on the south side of the Village and a two-foot strip on the north were kept private property to prevent outsiders from making the waterfront a public beach.

Certificates for membership in the Western Academy of Beaux Arts sold for $200 and made their holder eligible for a $250 reduction in the price of a lot; however, sales of homesites were not brisk. The Beaux Arts ferry dock was at least 40 minutes from downtown Seattle by steam launch to Leschi and then by the Yesler trolley line. There was no electricity or phone service, and water was carried from the lake by bucket. Groceries had to be purchased when the grocery scow docked once a week or were delivered by wagon from a grocery in Midlakes.  To see a reproduction of the original sales pamphlet, click here.

Renfro built the first home at what is now 2873 - 102nd Ave SE and moved in to it in 1909. When Calvert built in 1912 at what is now 2801 - 102nd Ave SE, there were a total of six owners in residence. James Ditty, another pioneer, built his home at what is now 2811 - 106th Pl SE in 1912. He owned much of downtown Bellevue and deeded several blocks of Bellevue Way to the city.

By 1916, there were 15 property owners living in the Village and another 63 held titles to lots and could vote on Village business. Calvert sold "Atelier Square" to the Western Academy in order to finish paying off the loan on the 50 acres. During the Depression, the Academy forfeited the property to King County for back taxes.

In the early 40's, the Beaux Arts Water District purchased the land from the county and sold it for homesites. Thus, the dream of a communal center for artistic endeavors was lost, but the communal beach remained as a focal point of Village life.

Access to the beach was (and still is) available only to members of the Western Academy which had to approve any sale of Village property as it does now. To protect the private community beach and the lifestyle that had developed in Beaux Arts Village, Judge Storey Birdseye urged his fellow residents to incorporate as a Town in 1952. Bellevue was expanding rapidly and Beaux Arts property owners wanted to guarantee that they would not be annexed and that the beach would remain private.  Alas, incorporation as a fourth-class town required a minimum population of 300, and the Village population was slightly smaller than 300 in number. The call went forth for new residents, and the incorporation goal was met shortly thereafter in 1954 with 304 Beaux Arts residents. Mothers contributing to the population increase were made members of the prestigious "300 Club."

Two governing bodies now administer the business activities of Beaux Arts Village:  the Town Council and the Western Academy of Beaux Arts.

The Town Council consists of a mayor and five council members, all of whom are unpaid and elected at large from and by the residents of the town.  The Town Council oversees municipal matters, including all roads (other than the north and south beach roads) and public rights-of-way, the Beaux Arts water system and well, police and fire protection, and other municipal business.

The Western Academy of Beaux Arts (WABA) consists of the property owners of Beaux Arts who elect a five volunteers each year from among the membership to serve as the Board of Trustees.  WABA is responsible for beach matters, including the north and south beach roads, the 1,100 feet of community beach, and the docks and floats.

BEAUX ARTS DATES AND FACTS

1908 Beaux Arts Village founded by Alfred Renfro, Frank Calvert, and Finn Frolich.

1911 First Beaux Arts School founded. It was a one-room school house located just south of the Village and used for two years.

1913 Second Beaux Arts School founded.  It was a four-room school house located just north of the Village on the grounds currently occupied by Enatai Elementary School (part of the Bellevue School District).

1913 Beaux Arts Post Office located first at what is now 10605 SE 29th and then at what is now 2708 - 106th Pl SE. The Post Office had daily mail delivery. In 1922, Rural Delivery was inaugurated to mail boxes located at two convenient places in the Village. In 1952, City Delivery replaced rural.

1917 Electricity brought in with just ten lights in the entire Village. Puget Power service took over this service in 1954.

1921 First Summer Picnic held.

1921 Telephone service brought to the Village.

1946 First Winter Dinner held at the Enatai Community Clubhouse (originally the second Beaux Arts School).

1954 Beaux Arts Village incorporated as a Fourth-Class Town.

1960 All American City Award given to Beaux Arts for helping to clean up Lake Washington.

1965 Washington Natural Gas franchise granted by the Town.

1965 Sewers installed.

1967 First sailboat racing program begins; later to be renamed B.A.R.F. (Beaux Arts Racing Fleet).

1967 First Beaux Arts Arts and Crafts Fair held.

1972 Beaux Arts Beach designated Open-Space Greenbelt Recreational Property by Town Council.

1974 Bi-Centennial Community status officially declared for Beaux Arts Village.

1975 Bi-Centennial Celebration held.  Current and former residents invited to parade, tea, games, picnic, program, dance (on tennis court), dedication in North Beach parking area of monument designed and executed by James Moorehead.

HOW TO BE PART OF BEAUX ARTS HISTORY

In the past, scrapbooks and files highlighting the history of Beaux Arts Village were maintained by a Town/WABA Historian Historian and kept at his or her home. These records, dating back to the Village's founding in 1908, include a large and fascinating collection of newspaper and magazine articles and other documents about Beaux Arts Village and its residents, as well as photographs of the Village, Villagers, and Village events.

Just recently, the position of Town Historian was replaced with an informal History Committee in an effort to make it less demanding of any one person's time and energy.   This committee consists of a small group of residents willing to volunteer their time to help organize, maintain, and make available to Villagers these records of the community's past.

As has been the tradition for many years, the Historian Committee will happily accept articles about Beaux Arts family members, pictures to update the "House Book", school activities and honors, athletic participation, promotions, business activities, or any other material residents wish to include in the scrapbook. Only that which is submitted to the History Committee can become a part of official Town history!