Preview: The Influence of Colleen and John: My Mentors

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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3 Responses So Far to “The Influence of Colleen and John: My Mentors

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    tom bergeron says:

    i started dropping in there in 1987 through 2005. haven’t had the opportuniity since then but the joy i get from rowing and sailing my daisy skiff and footlose skiff now is a direct result of my first visit.
    friends are wonderfully enchanted by the evolutionary process that went into the seemingly simple work boats from various coastal areas and the reasons for their design and construction specifications.
    TSCA continues to provide ever expanding pleasure and information on the subject and the addition of is another delightful addition for those of us who never tire of the subject.

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    Benjamin Mendlowitz says:

    Thanks Dick, a great story at the heart of the wooden boat Renaissance.

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    Steve Stone says:

    Dick ~ I’ve always wondered about the insider history/beginning of CWB. Thanks for the story. I hope our old boathouse gang measures up some day.