Preview: The Influence of Colleen and John: My Mentors

April 13, 2012

Dick Wagner

I moved to Seattle in 1957 when I was 25 and had just graduated from Yale Architecture School. My first interest in Seattle was the houseboat community. Lake Union is in the middle of this bustling city and scattered around the lake’s shoreline were about a thousand floating homes. To an architect, it was a surprise. Where were the homes of the rich and famous, or the corporation headquarters with guarded gates?  They turned out to be on the forested hills, not the waterfront. The landlubbers resented the houseboaters, who they accused of being freeloaders spending their time partying.

Dick Wagner and wife Colleen on Lake Union

To me, they were the city’s most valuable assets because they were a vital mix of a diverse society. There were writers, artists and musicians; a lot of college students; a large number of retirees, mainly from the fishing, tugboat, logging, iron-forging, sawmill and boatbuilding industries. There were even a smattering of semi-retired hookers. The common denominator was poverty.

bought a houseboat for $500.

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