Southwest Seattle Historical Society
We promote local heritage through education, preservation, and advocacy.
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The Southwest Seattle Historical Society was founded in 1984 by West Seattle resident and White Center real estate broker Elliott Couden. Founding members chose to dedicate this organization to historic preservation, heritage education, and community service for the Duwamish peninsula, including West Seattle and White Center.
In 1983, South Seattle Community College was forming a lay advisory board for the humanities under a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Joan Mraz, a humanities and art instructor at the college who chaired the advisory board, was seeking a person representing the history of the area to sit on the board. Dottie Harper, a local community activist from Burien, recommended Couden, who was trying to form a local historical society. Couden was invited to sit on the board, and there he shared his vision.
The founding members of the historical society came from West Seattle and White Center, and their scope comprised those areas after they met with Jerry Brockey, college president, and Normie Beers, longtime former West Seattle Chamber of Commerce secretary and YMCA director who had compiled materials for a history book of the area. The vision was to create a history center that covered the entire Duwamish peninsula.