Neighborhood of the week
Neighborhood of the Week: Fauntleroy has that home-baked feeling
Tucked away on the hillside near the ferry dock, the Fauntleroy neighborhood is mostly residential with a small retail area anchored by a popular old bakery.
Special to The Seattle Times
FauntleroyPopulation: About 5,980
Distance to downtown Seattle: 9 miles
Schools: The Fauntleroy neighborhood is served by Seattle Public Schools
Recreation: Lincoln Park: 8011 Fauntleroy Way S.W. Lincoln Park was called Fauntleroy Park until 1922, when the city bought it. The park was put together piecemeal over the years as West Seattle developed.
Ferry fact: The Fauntleroy/Vashon/
Southworth ferry's annual ridership is 3 million and the route carries 1.7 million vehicles a year.
— Seattle Times news researcher Miyoko Wolf
Just across the street from the traffic-clogged Fauntleroy ferry dock, a viewpoint straddles a wooded ravine. Forty feet below and barely visible through the autumn foliage, Fauntleroy Creek winds through wild dogwood and willow toward a cove where it disgorges thousands of salmon fry every spring.
That's a point of pride for neighbors, says Judy Pickens, a creek neighbor and key player in the restoration of the creek, which was once a neglected ditch.
Pickens, citing a study, says people appreciate living in Fauntleroy, "a community that cared about a tiny little creek and had done something about bringing it back to life."
There's plenty of life in Fauntleroy, though it tends toward community fairs with free pony rides or gatherings of drummers welcoming home the returning salmon. Stretching from Lincoln Park to Arbor Heights in West Seattle — with a bulge to take inland property with view, Fauntleroy is an overwhelmingly residential community. Its business area consists of a clutch of small businesses — a couple of restaurants, an old-fashioned bakery, a dog-grooming spa — just up the street from the ferry dock.
Fauntleroy never developed a retail area as "community energies were directed toward school, church and the YMCA," said Ron Richardson, a Fauntleroy resident and a director of History House of Greater Seattle.
Fauntleroy received its name from a lieutenant of the U.S. Coast Survey in 1857, who named it after the Indiana family of his fiancée.
Nowadays, Bruce Butterfield's family almost counts as pioneers. Butterfield's grandfather lived where Lincoln Park is now and Butterfield remembers playing on the shores of Fauntleroy Cove in the 1950s.
"Right now, there tends to be a lot of people moving in with young children, just as they did 40 and 50 years ago," says Butterfield, president of the Fauntleroy Community Association and a real-estate broker with Prudential Northwest Realty Associates.
The changing of the guard comes as residents who raised families here after World War II move out or pass away.
Several years ago, change jostled the generally stable neighborhood when the overheated housing market prompted builders to tear down existing homes to build larger houses — often in the old Craftsman style but with new amenities.
One of the big selling points of Fauntleroy over the years has been the relatively affordable homes in a sought-after neighborhood.
According to Seattle-based Zillow.com, the median value of all single-family houses in Fauntleroy, not just those that recently sold, was $408,700 in October, down 8.6 percent year-over-year.
Meanwhile, the median value of all condos in Fauntleroy was $332,800 in October, down 9.1 percent year-over-year, the Zillow Home Value Index shows.
The cornerstones of the Fauntleroy community continue to be the Fauntleroy Community Church and the YMCA housed in the same building, as well as the former Fauntleroy School. Declared surplus by Seattle Public Schools, it was sold in June to the Fauntleroy Community Service Association. The group has managed the property for more than two decades, renting space to a catering company and a children's center, among others.
An unofficial community cornerstone, however, is The Original Bakery. It has been dispensing doughnuts and maple bars in the same location since the 1930s.
Owner Bernie Alonzo lives five blocks from the bakery. When it snows, Alonzo walks to work at 4 a.m. to prepare for the onslaught of snowbound neighbors.
A changing collection of cardboard signs sits on the bakery's dozen tables, heralding community events from salmon watching to community fairs.
For more than 30 years, from behind his antique oak bakery case, a now-graying Alonzo has watched the pastry and cake orders change with the seasons, the neighbors move in and out and the children grow up — and sometimes return for favorite treats, especially during the holidays.
For some, Alonzo remains an anchor in an immutable Fauntleroy universe.
He recalls one former customer returning during the holidays, seeing Alonzo and turning to run back to his car.
"Hey, honey," Alonzo heard him exclaim. "It's still the same guy!"