If you drive up Lawson Street in Black Diamond, you’ll see rows of homes on each side of the road many having a common look. Most were built in 1906 and were nearly all identical. Black Diamond was a company town. Pacific Coast Coal owned the land, streets, utilities, schools, and homes. They did so to support a labor force who worked in their mines and surface facilities. Reasonable rent was part of the benefit package, which included free water and electricity. Company housing was a necessary attribute of remote towns in the era before automobiles. Workers by necessity lived close to their place of employment in the time of horses and buggies. By the 1930s, coal was in decline and convenient transportation meant people could now live in one town and work in another. So, in 1938 the coal company began platting the town to sell off lots. The water system was turned over to a local district and the power lines given to Puget Sound Power & Light. Most homes were sold to miners at prices of $300 to $400. This home was sold to T.A. Hawthorne in December 1939 for $435 with $12 down and the balance paid over a three-year contract.
This home located at 25619 Lawson Street is typical. It was one-story, 900 square feet in size, with two bedrooms, a living room, kitchen, and bathroom. The upper photo is from 1940 and the lower 1949. They were taken by the King County Assessor to aid in annual assessments for real estate taxes. Historic photos like these can be purchased from the Puget Sound Regional Archives in Bellevue. All you need is the property address or tax parcel number plus a little patience as it often takes 2-3 weeks for an order to be processed. For more information visit: https://www.sos.wa.gov/archives/archives_puget.aspx