Seattle Now & Then: The Freedman Building

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: The Freedman Building on Maynard Avenue was construction  soon after the Jackson Street Regrade lowered the neighborhood and  dropped Maynard Avenue about two stories to its present grade in  Chinatown. (Photo courtesy Lawton Gowey)
THEN: The Freedman Building on Maynard Avenue was construction soon after the Jackson Street Regrade lowered the neighborhood and dropped Maynard Avenue about two stories to its present grade in Chinatown. (Photo courtesy Lawton Gowey)
NOW: The Freedman survives in an international district often  distinguished by ornate four and more story brick business blocks and  hotels. (Now by Jean Sherrard)
NOW: The Freedman survives in an international district often distinguished by ornate four and more story brick business blocks and hotels. (Jean Sherrard)

Since first coming upon this professional view of the Freedman Building years ago I have kept it to one side, hoping that some day I might “bump into” Freedman, its namesake.  Now twenty years or so of the Internet later and help also from the Seattle Public Library’s Seattle Room librarian, Jeannette Voiland and genealogy specialist John LaMont, we probably have our Freedman, and he’s from out-of-town.

The address here is 513-17 Maynard Ave., between King and Weller Streets, one lot closer to the latter.  Between 1907 and 1909 this neighborhood was both scraped and filled during the Jackson Street Regrade, locally second in size only to the reduction of Denny Hill.

Louis Freedman shows up in the trade publication Pacific Builder for Aug. 21, 1909 as a citizen of Portland, Oregon intending to erect a four-story brick and concrete building at this address to cost $40,000.  He chose Seattle architect W.P. White to do the designs, which decades later a U.S. register of historic places described as “One of the most elaborate facades within the (International) district, the Freedman represents a higher level of refinement and proportion of line and detail than many of its neighboring hotel structures.”

The Adams Hotel, the building’s principal tenant, appears with an advertisement in the Great Northern Daily News for Dec. 16, 1912.  In the 1938 tax records the hotel’s condition is described as “fair” with 80 rooms, 18 toilets and six tubs.  It operated until 1972 when it went dark for 13 years, opening with fewer and larger livings spaces in 1983 as the Freedman Apartments.

Finally we will include one anecdote in the life of the Freedman.

Early on the morning of Oct. 16, 1923 Fred H. Mitchell, a “rent car driver” patiently waited in the drivers seat while two men who had hired him filled his car with boxes of cigarettes bound for Auburn.  When two curious cops on patrol interrupted, the cigarette thieves calmly carried on and left through the building’s back door, which they earlier broke open.  For unwittingly acting his part in a Chinatown episode of the Keystone Kops, the innocent Mitchell was hauled to jail and spent the night.

East Kong Yick / Wing Luke Museum

This "now-and-then" feature first appear in Pacific Magazine on Jan. 1, 2006.  As the text below explains at the time the Wing Luke Museum was still active in its campaign to raise funds for the conversion of the East Kong Yick Building into a new home for the museum, a task which has since accomplished to considerable effect.   Photo courtesy of the Museum of History and Industry AKA MOHAI.
This "now-and-then" feature first appear in Pacific Magazine on Jan. 1, 2006. As the text below explains at the time the Wing Luke Museum was still active in its campaign to raise funds for the conversion of the East Kong Yick Building into a new home for the museum, a task which has since accomplished to considerable effect. Photo courtesy of the Museum of History and Industry AKA MOHAI.
This "repeat" of the East Kong Yick building was photographed in the late autumn of 2005 before the Wing Lunk Asian Museum had moved in.  Aside from the fourth floor balcony overlooking King Street and a change in the building's cornice, at first inspection not uch has changed in the Kong Yick building at the southwest corner of 8th S. and King Street since the Webster and Stevens photography firm took the historical photo ca. 1918.
This "repeat" of the East Kong Yick building was photographed in the late autumn of 2005 before the Wing Lunk Asian Museum had moved in. Aside from the fourth floor balcony overlooking King Street and a change in the building's cornice, at first inspection not much has changed in the Kong Yick building at the southwest corner of 8th S. and King Street since the Webster and Stevens photography firm took the historical photo ca. 1918.

(This feature first appeared in Pacific Magazine on January 1, 2006.  The text below has not been changed.  Of course, The Wing Luke Asian Museum was successful in raising the last third of the 23 million needed for moving two blocks from their old location to this new old one.)

The Wing Luke Asian Museum has raised more than two-thirds of the 23 million it needs to restore and arrange the 60,000 feet within these brick walls into a new home for what is the only pan-Asian Pacific American museum in the U.S.

The opportunity to move less than two blocks from its now old home on 7th South near Jackson (in a converted car repair garage) into the East Kong Yick Building on King Street is motive enough to sustain an ambitious capital campaign.   But this opportunity for the museum to expand its role in the community required the cooperation of an earthquake and the 95 year-old building’s many shareholders – some of whom had lived or worked in the building or even descended from those who had built it.

As the old story goes, in 1910 — soon after the extensive Jackson Street regrade had lowered this intersection at 8th s. and King Street about as many feet as the four story building is high – 170 Chinese-American shareholders joined to finance the building of the East Kong Yick and its neighbor across Canton Alley (here far right) the West Kong Yick building.   And many of them also joined their hands in the construction.

In 2001, the hotel’s ninety-first year, the Nisqualli Earthquake shook up both the building and the hotel’s by then venerable routines.  The Kong Yick had been home not only for single workingmen – Chinese, Japanese and Filipino – but also families and the extended family associations that were the sustainers for a vulnerable community of minorities.  This social net was also a social center where basic needs and services were charmed with entertainments: the many traditional games and shows that the immigrants had brought with them and loved.  After the quake the building’s shareholders turned to the museum for help.

The Wing Luke Asian Museum plans to move over to East Kong Yick in 2007.  Part of its designs include preservation of the building’s Wa Young Company storefront (third from the alley, near the center) and the hotel manager’s office.  One of the buildings typical rooms will also be restored and appointed with traditional fixtures and furniture.

We will boldly put it that this look into the Jackson Street regard, ca. 1907, looks through the future site of the East Kong Yick building and so also of the Wing Luke Asian Museum.  The ruins left of center are the south facade of what remains of the Holy Names Academy that was built in 1884 on the east side of 7th Avenue  mid-block between Jackson and King Streets.  I think it likely that the historical photorapher could have had a conversation with anyone and their loud voices standing on or near the east side of 8th Avenue near the north margin of Weller Street - so long as they stopped that regrade work and allowed them to shout.  This picture like many others is used courtesy of Lawton Gowey, an old friend who by now passed long ago.

JACKSON ST. REGRADE – Raising The Neighborhood

The tenement on the far right sat at the northwest corner of 6th Avenue and Lane Street in what is now commonly refered to as Chinatown.  The view looks northeast although more north than east.  The photo is used courtesy of the Museum of History and Industry, aka MOHAI.
The tenement on the far right sat at the northwest corner of 6th Avenue and Lane Street in what is now commonly referred to as Chinatown. The view looks northeast although more north than east. The photo is used courtesy of the Museum of History and Industry, aka MOHAI. This now-then feature first appeared in the Pacific Magazine for Oct.16, 2005.
Much of Chinatown in this southwest part of it was raised above the tideflats during the Jackson Street Regrade of 1907-09.  This view was taken from a basement grade south and east of the intersection of 5th and Lane.  It too looks to the northeast north.  Part of the south facade of Uwajimaya Villages shows above.
Much of Chinatown in this southwest part of it was raised above the tideflats during the Jackson Street Regrade of 1907-09. This view was taken from a basement grade - used for a daylight parking lot - south and east of the intersection of 5th and Lane. It too looks to the north by northeast. Part of the south facade of Uwajimaya Village shows above.

Between 1907 and 1909 while the destruction of Denny Hill was daily attracting its own unpaid force of sidewalk inspectors (otherwise idle), Seattle’s other big earth-moving project, the Jackson Street Regrade, was underway.  By comparison to the Denny Hill excitements this “second place regrade” was underwhelming to the curious public – until they started lifting the neighborhood.

The Jackson Street Regrade was named for its “Main Street” and northern border.  On Jackson dirt was mostly removed — lowered nearly 90 feet at 9th avenue.   But here at 5th and Lane, three blocks south of Jackson, the blocks were lifted with dirt borrowed from the burrowing and sluicing along Jackson and King Street and also from the low ridge to the east.

About fifty-six city blocks were reshaped by the Jackson Street regrade, twenty-nine of them excavated and twenty-seven – including these  – raised.   In particular, these blocks just east of 5th Avenue straddle both the old waterfront meander line and the trestle of the Seattle and Walla Walla railroad after it was redirected in 1879 to the shoreline south of King Street.  The wood-boring Teredo worms had quickly devoured the original trestle that headed directly across the tidelands from the Seattle Waterfront.

In these raised blocks the city was responsible for lifting the streets to the new grade.  The property owners, however, were required to both first lift their structures and then also to either fill in below them or construct what amounted to super-basements.  Many chose the latter.

Later this subterranean region would build its own urban legends of sunken chambers reached by labyrinthine tunnels and appointed for gambling, opium and other popular and paying pastimes.  The contemporary use for this particular underground at the corner of 5th Avenue and Lane Street is as a parking lot for the International District’s by now historic Uwajimaya Village.

Another 1908 look into the neighborhood being raised during the Jackson Street Regrade.  The top of the Great Northern tower pokes between the elevated building on the right and the trestle on the left.  Courtesy, Museum of History and Industry aka MOHAI.
Another 1908 look into the neighborhood being raised during the Jackson Street Regrade. The top of the then but three year old Great Northern tower pokes between the elevated building on the right and the trestle on the left. Courtesy, Museum of History and Industry aka MOHAI.

Seattle Now & Then: City Archives Silver Anniversary

(click photos to enlarge)

THEN: The clerk in the city's old Engineering Vault attends to its records. Now one of many thousands of images in the Seattle Municipal Archives, this negative is dated Jan. 30, 1936. (Check out www.cityofseattle.net/cityarchives/ to see more.)
THEN: The clerk in the city's old Engineering Vault attends to its records. Now one of many thousands of images in the Seattle Municipal Archives, this negative is dated Jan. 30, 1936. (Check out http://www.cityofseattle.net/cityarchives/ to see more.)
NOW: City archivist Scott Cline, left, and deputy archivist Anne Frantilla look to Jean Sherrard from out of the deep storage of the modern, climate-controlled archives in City Hall.
NOW: City archivist Scott Cline, left, and deputy archivist Anne Frantilla look to Jean Sherrard from out of the deep storage of the modern, climate-controlled archives in City Hall.

It is more than rare when this little weekly feature moves from repeating a “place” to repeating a “theme.” Still, these two places are not far apart; they are kitty-corner across Fourth Avenue and James Street.

The 1936 “then” was photographed in the city’s “Engineering Vault,” then housed in the County-City Building, long since renamed the King County Courthouse. Plans, graphs and maps are held in the tubes on the right. On the left are more rolled ephemera and shelves holding the punch-bound, engineering-project forms and reports that I was introduced to 40 years ago.

The “now” photo is of its descendant, the Seattle Municipal Archives. City archivist Scott Cline says the old records were “a great benefit for the archives; our collection was originally built on the strength of engineering and public-works records.” Cline has been city archivist since the archives’ formal beginning in 1985. Since then he has improved the place and its services while winning prizes from his peers. In 1999 Cline hired Anne Frantilla as deputy archivist. Julie Viggiano, Jeff Ware and Julie Kerssen followed in 2005.

Our archives are at least one happy example of how things may improve. In his recording of the contemporary archives, Jean Sherrard has posed Cline and Frantilla in the one aisle that is open in the long rows of files showing on the right. The rows can be quickly moved by motor along tracks in the floor.

This Tuesday, at 1 p.m., the archives will celebrate their 25th anniversary in the Bertha Knight Landes Room at City Hall, 600 Fourth Ave. I have been asked to take part by showing some slides on the growth of the city and its services, like this one. The public is encouraged to attend.

The STELLER BLUE JAY – Another Member of the Corvidae Family (with the Crow)

Stellar-Jay-#1WEB

Sally and Ron and Jean did you know that your crows are members of the same family with the Steller Blue Jay?  As are the ravens, rooks, jackdaws, jays magpies and nutcrackers.  This afternoon, and very near to my own front door,  I heard this Steller jumping from branch to branch, breaking dried twigs it seemed, and sometimes rattling, which dear Wikipedia indicates is the “sex-specific” vocalization for the female Steller.  See how close – ten feet perhaps – she allowed me to approach her.

Crow and Falcon

The posting of Ron’s crow tale below reminded me of another crow story – actually a crow and falcon story from a couple of years ago.

On a roof across the street from where I live in North Greenlake, a falcon was perched for about half an hour. It wasn’t long before crows found it and commenced to attack.  The peregrine falcon had flown off from its handler at Woodland Park Zoo and seemed puzzled and alarmed by the diving crows, but was only driven off after the following picture was snapped, using a telephoto lens.

falcon-and-crow
Peregrine falcon and attacking crow

Officials from the zoo combed our neighborhood minutes later, but to no avail. The missing falcon was found early the next morning near Northgate.

TWO FOR THE CROW – Edgeclippings

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Cripple-Crow-1-WEB

“I have been feeding a crippled crow for about a month now.  He has a broken ankle and has learned to walk with his foot bent under.  We have worked out a routine to distract the rest of the crows, giving him time to swoop down and grab the food I throw to the garage roof. They are really bright birds.”

Ron Edge joins the site to give us two for the crow – a crow on his garage roof, and then a sensible reflection on crows, which he has pulled from the Monday July 15, 1878 issue of the Daily Intelligencer, a precursor of the recently demised Post-Intelligencer.  It is titled, “Feeding Instead of Killing Crows.”

Ron notes that if you take some time to browse YouTube you will find pet crows, playful crows, and problem-solving crows, for instance, crows that build tools to fetch food from crannies. For the toolmaker you can use Ron’s links.

http://www.edutube.org/en/video/intelligent-crow-bends-wire-get-food-out-jar

http://users.ox.ac.uk/~kgroup/tools/crow_photos.shtml

[In order to READ WHAT IS BELOW you will need to CLICK it TWICE!!]

Crows-2b-WEB

Orpheum Automobile Hotel – Then & Now by David Jeffers

The Orpheum Automobile Hotel was the cause for our reacquaintance a few years ago.  Do you remember?  You sent me off to Eric Lange at the Bellevue archives where I discovered this beautiful (and now digitally cleaned up) 1937 King County WPA survey photo.  I spent considerable time walking the site and offer here the gorgeous original and my 2007 shot, taken with a Nikon Coolpix 995.  The mosaic brickwork on the facade is just visible, peeking out from under the metal screens, if you're looking for it. If I recall correctly, the stone facing around the driveway openings is gone, a victim of the same remodel. I can almost imagine men in tails and women in furs, pulling up to a waiting valet attendant in bow tie and white gloves, before crossing the street for a concert at the Orpheum. Maybe one day I'll return with my 4x5 on a sunny winter Sunday for a serious attempt.  The WPA photographer who took the survey photo was a real artist.
Paul. The Orpheum Automobile Hotel was the cause for our reacquaintance a few years ago. Do you remember? You sent me off to Greg Lange at the Bellevue archives where I discovered this beautiful (and now digitally cleaned up) 1937 King County WPA survey photo. I spent considerable time walking the site and offer here the gorgeous original and my 2007 shot, taken with a Nikon Coolpix 995. The mosaic brickwork on the facade is just visible, peeking out from under the metal screens, if you're looking for it. If I recall correctly, the stone facing around the driveway openings is gone, a victim of the same remodel. I can almost imagine men in tails and women in furs, pulling up to a waiting valet attendant in bow tie and white gloves, before crossing the street for a concert at the Orpheum. Maybe one day I'll return with my 4x5 on a sunny winter Sunday for a serious attempt. The WPA photographer who took the survey photo was a real artist.
David Jeffers repeat of the WPA tax photo he found at the Washington State Archive on the Bellevue Community College Campus.
David Jeffers repeat of the WPA tax photo he found at the Washington State Archive on the Bellevue Community College Campus.