Volunteers Continue to Put Ballard on the Map

Ballard Historical Society Claudia KiyamaA wealth of volunteer effort has been applied to the continued work of mapping historic Ballard. See the maps. In this post, we honor just one of these volunteers, Claudia Kiyama. Her work has been to focus in more detail on about 150 Ballard buildings. We took the opportunity to ask Claudia some questions about her involvement in this project.

Tell us a bit about you. 
I am an Architect specialized in Historic monuments and sites.
Before moving to Seattle I held a full-time teaching position in the
Architecture Department of a local University. One of the subjects I taught was History of Architecture. Since moving to Seattle I have been fortunate to participate with various preservation institutions that guard and protect local landmarks. When I learned about the Mapping Historic Ballard project,
I jumped right in at the opportunity of learning more about my neighborhood and helping out with my expertise.

What data or documents are you using to focus these 150 + buildings.
I’ve worked mostly with the properties themselves, surveying and writing architectural descriptions based on observation. One tool that was incredibly helpful to me was King County Parcel Viewer. In there I was able
to find floor plans and historic photos of many of the properties. That allowed me to have a deeper understanding of the property I was analyzing.

What drew you to this task. What seems interesting about it, or what story is beginning to unfold?
As I said, Historic Preservation is one of my passions. I’ve always loved learning more about historic buildings and helping to document and protect them has been the main focus of my professional career. The Mapping Historic Ballard project allowed me to learn more about my neighborhood, meet some great people and in the process develop deeper connections with the place that is now my home. It has been a wonderful experience.

Which types of buildings or clusters of buildings most interest you and why?
I love the diversity and complexity of apartment buildings. A hundred-years old four-unit building has seen hundreds of lives pass by. They hold the memories and stories of all those people, and many times you can find
physical evidence of that inside. I find that incredibly interesting. Octavio Paz, a nobel-laureate Mexican poet has a famous quote that reads: “Architecture is the incorruptible witness of history.” I truly feel that way, buildings tell the story of the people who has lived on them and of the town they are in.

What possible uses do you foresee for this information?
Tons! From historic research of individual properties to developing small historic local districts from the clusters identified. I believe this information will help the neighborhood realize the incredible historical wealth it
possesses and will motivate folks to engage in the daily process of maintaining it and protecting it.

Anything else? 
Only to recognize the incredible effort of architect Davidya Kasperzyk, the Ballard Historical Society and of all the volunteers who helped out in the project. It was an incredible challenge to overtake and the results are astounding. People should be very proud of what was accomplished here.

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