The Queen Anne Historical Society strives to preserve the neighborhood’s historical integrity, from participating in the city’s landmarking processes to compiling written and oral histories.

Queen Anne Historical Society board member Leanne Olson said the organization’s role in preserving Queen Anne landmarks is essential.

“If you don’t have someone out for the history that’s there, it’s stopping, you know, just gets wiped clean,” Olson said. “I think it’s been true probably since 1852, in some respects, that it’s a clear-cut city. There’s no depth, no layers. We’re not opposed to new development. We welcome it. But for a city to have, you know, soul or authenticity, I think you need the layers of history. So you need the old and the new.”

Olson said there are currently more than 40 city landmarks in Queen Anne. The historical society defines the Queen Anne neighborhood as spanning from Lake Union to Elliott Avenue and from Denny Way to the Ship Canal.

QAHS president Michael Herschensohn said that he attends every meeting of the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board that deals with with Queen Anne buildings to testify for landmarks, along with Olson and a few other members of the organization’s board of directors.

“So, right now we’re working on the nomination of the Swedish Club, which is a modern building built in 1962,” Herschensohn said. “So, we’ve been working for some time on nominating modern buildings... So now we’re working in concert with a number of different people to get the Swedish Club designated as a landmark. And the nomination has just been submitted to the staff, the landmarks preservation board.”

A major win for the society was the preservation of 57 Roy Street — the former Power Control Center — which is now used for a men’s shelter near Metropolitan Market, Herschensohn said.

QAHS also works to preserve the character of existing landmarks when they’re slated for redevelopment.

“We try to monitor buildings that are already landmarked, because the rules are you need to get a certificate of approval [from the city] for alterations, sometimes even for painting,” Olson said. “But not everything; it’s just certain features. So, for example, as of late, it’s unusual to designate interiors. But usually exteriors and grounds are designated.”

QAHS has amassed quite a collection of two-dimensional history, sending digitized paper articles, historical documents, photographs, memoirs and family stories — along with the originals — to Seattle Pacific University for its archives. All of the historical society’s photographs are available in galleries at

Historical objects get sent to the Museum of History and Industry and similar organizations.

“The people who founded the Queen Anne Historical Society… realized that having a museum would mean huge costs, constant fundraising and eventually hiring staff,” Herschensohn said. “So they made a point of not collecting three-dimensional objects.”

The society has also digitized many oral histories.

Since the early ‘70s, QAHS has always had a trained archivist to ensure the quality of the organization’s work.

Like the digitization of its archives, the Queen Anne Historical Society has embarked on large projects — one of them being the publication of the book, “Queen Anne: Community on the Hill,” which did well enough to receive a second printing.

Herschensohn said the organization also offers tours of historic places, such as Mount Pleasant Cemetery, and hosts public programs; find upcoming events on the website.

King County’s 4Culture supports QAHS to the tune of $5,000 every two years, Herschensohn said. The nonprofit raises money, primarily through the hotel/motel tax, and redistributes it among cultural projects and organizations. Membership dues and sales also become revenue for the society’s operational costs.

Queen Anne Historical Society has a permanent home in Queen Anne United Methodist Church, and can be contacted by email at or at P.O. Box 19432, Seattle, WA 98109. The society is currently seeking interested young people for membership, so its dues are waived for students ages 18-21.