From farms to furlongs at historic Nelsen mansion | Tukwila’s Story

Our annual December Holiday "Open House," which is hosted by the Tukwila Historical Society and the Nelsen Family Residence Trust, will be held on Thursday, Dec. 17, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tours of the home at 15643 West Valley Highway, Tukwila, and refreshments will be provided. Please join us to celebrate the Season.

  • Thursday, December 17, 2015 5:52pm
  • News

ABOVE is how the paddocks barns appeared at Longacres Racetrack in an historical photo. BELOW is a photo by Richard McLeland-Wieser that shows one of the barns that was moved to the Nelsen property.

By LOUISE JONES-BROWN

Tukwila Historical Society

James Nelsen, with brothers Herman and Fred, immigrated to the Duwamish River valley from Denmark in the 1880s. The farms they established stretched from Renton Junction (in the area of Interurban Avenue and Grady Way) to the area known as Orillia as well as Westfield Southcenter. A family home was built in 1905 and the structure is now known as the Nelsen Family residence. Helen, the youngest daughter of James Nelsen, was born in the home in 1906. She was a local businesswoman, former Tukwila City Council member and founding officer of the Tukwila Historical Society.

A 1909 ban on gambling closed the racetrack known as “the Meadows” located on the south end of present day Boeing Field. The ban was lifted after a bill became law on March 20, 1933. Then on June 20th, 1933, Vinson “Joe” Gottstein founded the Washington Jockey Club. Some of the dairy land originally owned by James Nelsen was purchased by Gottstein and others to operate a one-mile track which became Longacres Racetrack in August 1933. A permit was obtained and the Longacres Racetrack was created in only 30 days.

The Longacres Racetrack was in operation from Aug. 3, 1933 until Sept. 21, 1992. At the time of the sale to the Boeing Co., the track was owned and operated by members of the Alhadeff family, who were related to the Gottstein family. This facility hosted an exhibition by Triple Crown winner, Seattle Slew, and saw the famous jockey, Gary Stevens, on several mounts at the track. A former paddock barn (featured in the photo by Richard McLeland-Wieser) which was originally located at Longacres can still be seen next to the Nelsen House.

Our annual December Holiday “Open House,” which is hosted by the Tukwila Historical Society and the Nelsen Family Residence Trust, will be held on Thursday, Dec. 17, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tours of the home and refreshments will be provided. Please join us to celebrate the Season.

Louise Jones-Brown is president of the Tukwila Historical Society. The society operates the Tukwila Heritage and Cultural Center, 14475 59th Ave. S., Tukwila. The center can be reached by phone at 206-244-HIST or via email at tukwilaheritagectr@tukwilahistory.org.

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