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.


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


More in News

Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon and Page Carson Foster. Photo credit Washington State Legislative Support Services
Carson Foster serves as page in Washington State House

The following was submitted to the Reporter: Carson Foster, a student at… Continue reading

Jim Pitts stands on walkway overlooking filtration chambers at the King County South Treatment Plant in Renton. Aaron Kunkler/staff photo
Human waste: Unlikely climate change hero?

King County treatment plant joins effort to counteract effects of carbon dioxide.

Washington State Capitol Building. Photo by Emma Epperly/WNPA Olympia News Bureau
Legislation targets rape kit backlog

WA has about 10,000 untested kits; new law would reduce testing time to 45 days

File photo
Law enforcement oversight office seeks subpoena power

Organization has been unable to investigate King County Sheriff’s Office.

The 2015 Wolverine Fire in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest near Lake Chelan. Photo courtesy of Washington Department of Natural Resources/Kari Greer
Western Washington faces elevated wildfire risk in 2019

Humans cause majority of fires in state

Courtesy of
King County approves bargaining agreement with 60 unions

Employees will receive wage increases and $500 bonus.

Call for peace, unity, understanding

City, county and state leaders show support of Islam community in wake of massacre at New Zealand mosques

King County bail reform hinges on pretrial decision making

Data on inmates has shown that being held pretrial affects the likelihood of conviction.

State smoking age rising to 21 in 2020

Legislature approves change

A man addresses the King County Council during a public hearing March 20 at New Life Church in Renton. He presented bags filled with what he said was hazardous materials dropped on his property by bald eagles. Another speaker made similar claims. Haley Ausbun/staff photo
Locals show support for King County waste to energy plant

Public hearing on landfill’s future was held March 20 in Renton.

Defense Distributed’s 3D printed gun, The Liberator. Photo by Vvzvlad/Wikimedia Commons
‘Ghost gun’ bill moves to Senate committees

Legislation would make 3-D printed guns illegal.

King County Council with Sarah Reyneveld, chair of the King County Women’s Advisory Board. Photo courtesy of King County
King County proclaims March as Women’s History Month

This year’s theme is Womxn Who Lead: Stories from the past and how they influence the future.