2009-02-22 Seattle Now & Then: Occidental's Tourist Hotel

THEN: The Lebanon aka Jesse George building at Occidental and Main opened with the Occidental Hotel in 1891.  Subsequently the hotel’s name was changed first to the Touraine and then to the Tourist.  The tower could be seen easily from the railroad stations.   It kept the name Tourist until replaced in 1960 with a parking lot.  (Courtesy Lawton Gowey)
THEN: The Lebanon aka Jesse George building at Occidental and Main opened with the Occidental Hotel in 1891. Subsequently the hotel’s name was changed first to the Touraine and then to the Tourist. The tower could be seen easily from the railroad stations. It kept the name Tourist until replaced in 1960 with a parking lot. (Courtesy Lawton Gowey)
NOW: Jean Sherrard moved in a few feet closer to the northeast corner of Main and Occidental to better show the cars parked where once the landmark hotel sat and also the stylish posts that have closed Occidental between Main and Washington since neighborhood architects Jones and Jones developed Occidental Park for the city in the early 1970s.
NOW: Jean Sherrard moved in a few feet closer to the northeast corner of Main and Occidental to better show the cars parked where once the landmark hotel sat and also the stylish posts that have closed Occidental between Main and Washington since neighborhood architects Jones and Jones developed Occidental Park for the city in the early 1970s.

With six red brick stories and a corner tower to lend it some picturesque power, architect Elmer Fisher’s creation at the northeast corner of Occidental Avenue and Main Street was but one of the some fifty buildings he designed and built in 1889 and 1890.   More than any other architect, Fisher determined what Seattle would look like after its “Great Fire” of 1889, in part because he was already in Seattle getting work before the business district was destroyed.  And that – any honest professional will whisper – was great “architect’s luck.”

Now I ask readers to think or look back to last week’s presentation of one of the best examples of the old pre-fire Seattle: the Pacific Block ca. 1886.  It was kitty-corner to this Occidental Hotel – at the southwest corner here at Main and Occidental. A likely date for this Frank LaRoche study of the Occidental Hotel, AKA Lebanon Building, is only five years later.  The hotel was built on the fire’s ashes and completed in 1891.  Here its namesake bar at the corner is as not yet marked with its own sign.  It also seems that windows are still being installed on the Main Street façade, far right.

When new, the Lebanon Building was also named for Jesse George, a German-American investment banker who was one of its owners.  Much earlier Jesse met his wife Cassandra at Santiam Academy in Lebanon, Oregon, and hence the name.  The couple had five children and a home at 4th and Cherry on a lot that is now part of city hall.  With Jesse’s death in 1895, Cassandra moved temporarily back to Oregon where she became superintendent of the Portland Women’s Union.  Then in 1902 she returned to Seattle and opened a rooming house for working girls in her old home at 411 Cherry.

The 13-year-old Cassandra came west on the Oregon Trail in 1853 and arrived in the Willamette Valley with one sister, one horse, one cow and two teenage boys. The sisters’ mother died before they left and their father along the way.

Now and Then Challenge winner: Alan Stein!

Remember this photo from a couple of weeks ago?

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14th and E Roy!

Well, for those paying attention, historylink’s Alan Stein found the exact spot using GoogleEarth. As promised, we joined Alan for a photo session on site. Here’s a shot of Alan taking his own repeat:

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The house in the upper center left is the same as in the old photo.

Watch this space for more Now and Then Challenges – soon to be a regular feature at DorpatSherrardLomont.

FEBRUARY 16, 2009

While walking the neighborhood this afternoon
I passed below the first bulletin of Spring
Blooming higher than the crocuses at my ankles.
They have been bowing to the sun for a week.

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Now I remember the row of warm
And sometimes hot late Februaries
We thrived on in the early 1970s -
The first Fat Tuesday parade in our prime
From Pike Place Market to Pioneer Square
On a winter day at room temperature.

Walking further I came upon
Some withered leftovers of October
Protected in the green cemetery of a bush
Like a Coast Salish sarcophagus  in a tree.

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Secret Paris: Bérangère's hidden rooftops

Here’s a real treat, an extraordinary photo essay from photographer Bérangère Lomont, our French connection.

A gargoyle watches over Paris from its perch on Notre Dame.
A gargoyle watches over Paris from its perch on Notre Dame.

BB (as her friends call her) takes to the rooftops of Paris to capture stunning and utterly unique views of Paris.

Rue Chevert Paris 7th is southwest of Hotel Die Invalides, a  side street.  Looking northeast with morning light.
Rue Chevert, Paris 7th, is a side street southwest of Hotel des Invalides. Looking northeast with morning light.

Joining Paris’ roofers with special permission from roofer’s union boss Francis Arsene, she clambers above the arrondissements to capture some remarkable never-before-seen aspects of her beloved city.

Three roofers, Francis, Frank, & Manuel (L to R), atop the little dome at 63-65 rue des Archives in the 4th arrondissment.
Three roofers, Francis, Frank, & Manuel (L to R), atop the little dome at 63-65 rue des Archives in the 4th arrondissment.

Don’t miss the whole story right here!

Today's Seattle Now & Then: 'Militia at Main Street'

When these soldiers were photographed, the distinguished Pacific House behind them was nearly new.  Listed as a “commercial block,” it appears in the city’s 1884 birds-eye drawing, although those artist’s renderings were smart to include structures that were only in the planning stage.

The scene looks southwest through the intersection of Main Street and what then was still named Second Avenue (Occidental). The guard may be one of the several militia groups formed in 1884-85 by locals anxious about their boom town filling up with strangers, especially after the transcontinental Northern Pacific was completed late in 1883 and made it much easier to reach Puget Sound.

Or these may be regular soldiers from Fort Vancouver sent here twice: first briefly in November 1885 to prevent action against the about 400 Chinese living for the most part in this neighborhood, and then again in February 1886 to secure the town under martial law.  In between these visits an organized mob – variously rowdy, racist, and resentful – with the help of the city’s chief of police, rounded up the “Celestials” and pushed 197 of them on board one steamship while waiting for another to take away the remainder.

When the courts and local militias intervened, a riot followed one block west of this intersection at First and Main.  One of the mob’s leaders was shot to death. The Governor who again packed the regulars and their rifles north from Vancouver quickly locked the town down.  Some part of them was kept here into August.

A brief reminder: this revelatory story is told beautifully in Murray Morgan’s classic Skid Road, the Seattle history he left with us.

(click to enlarge)

Then: The Pacific House, behind the line-up of white-gloved soldiers, might have survived well into the 20th Century were it not destroyed during Seattle’s Great Fire of 1889. Courtesy, Museum of History and Industry
THEN: The Pacific House, behind the line-up of white-gloved soldiers, might have survived well into the 20th Century were it not destroyed during Seattle’s Great Fire of 1889. Courtesy, MOHAI.
NOW: Completed in 1893, the extremely robust Union Trust Building was one of the first buildings in our most historic neighborhood to be restored by the architect-preservationist Ralph Anderson.  Photo by Jean Sherrard
NOW: Completed in 1893, the extremely robust Union Trust Building was one of the first buildings in our most historic neighborhood to be restored by the architect-preservationist Ralph Anderson. Photo by Jean Sherrard

For a complementary story, looking east on Main from 1st Avenue, please visit this Now & Then from early 2005.