Herbert Edwin Orr Biography


The next time many Haller Lake residents glance through papers related to the real estate they own, they may come across the name of “H.E. Orr.” Since he at one time owned about one third of what is the area embraced by the Haller Lake Community Club, the presence of his name somewhere in the legal description of many Haller Lake residents’ properties should come as no surprise.

Herbert Edwin Orr’s success in the real estate business in the Seattle area in many ways reads like a Horatio Alger novel. Born in Canada, Orr arrived in Seattle in 1901 with ten dollars to his name, and worked for a time as a barber in downtown Seattle. Orr’s grandfather had fought on the British side in the War of 1812, while the head of the family of the previous generation had espoused the royalist cause during the French Revolution and had fled to Britain to avoid execution.

Upon his arrival in Seattle, Orr began dabbling in insurance, loans, real estate, and rentals, incorporating the H.E. Orr Company in 1906 with offices in the Alaska Building. Orr purchased 400 acres in the Haller Lake area, land which he platted and sold by 1911. Despite his extensive work in the sub-division of the area, it is unlikely that he ever lived here, nor is it likely that he ever oversaw the construction of any structures in north Seattle. In 1911 he built a house for himself on Capitol Hill at 2339 11th Avenue East, still standing today. A member of the Arctic Club, he moved into the just-opened Arctic Building on 3rd Avenue and Cherry Street by 1916. Listings for both him and his real estate company disappear from Seattle directories by 1918. It is likely that he moved away from the area, and probably settled in the Midwest.