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July 31, 2012 at 2:09 PM

A last look at Betty MacDonald’s house

In her Depression-era memoir “Anybody Can Do Anything,” beloved Northwest author Betty MacDonald (1908-1958) wrote, with her trademark warmth and wit, of living with her extended family in a happily crowded old brown house in Seattle’s University District. That house, in what’s now known as the Roosevelt neighborhood, stood at 6317 15th Ave. N.E., and for many years I’ve driven by on my way to work and smiled over at “Betty’s house.” But this link to a local legend fell to the wrecking ball last week: Long in disrepair (the last of MacDonald’s family left in the early 1940s), the house and the one next door to it were demolished. Writer/historian Paula Becker, who’d visited the house in happier days, has a touching essay on HistoryLink this week about its history; must-reading, for all MacDonald fans. Here’s how MacDonald, who moved into the house with her young daughters shortly after the events of “The Egg and I,” described it:

“According to real estate standards Mother’s eight-room brown-shingled house in the University district was just a modest dwelling in a respectable neighborhood, near good schools and adequate for an ordinary family. To me that night, and always, that shabby house with its broad welcoming porch, dark woodwork, cluttered dining-room plate rail, large fragrant kitchen, easy book-filled firelit living room, four elastic bedrooms — one of them always ice cold — roomy old-fashioned bathrooms and huge cluttered basement, represents the ultimate in charm, warmth and luxury”

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