REINIG ROW HOUSE ADDENDUM – 5TH & MADISON 1890 – A REVEALING LETTER

The “now-then” recent feature about the “row house” at the southeast corner of 5th Avenue and Madison Street (now the home of the College Club) triggered this response from Mary and Leslie Norton, descendents of the Reinig family that built it.  Read on . . .

As explained in the letter printed below, when this row of Reinig Apartments at the southeast corner of Madison Street and Fifth Avenue was built by the Reinig family ca. 1889 the family home that had taken the corner was moved one lot east up Madison Street, where it can also be seen in its new position here on the far left.

THE LETTER

Hi, Paul,

My sister and I were pleased to see the photo of the houses at 5th and Madison in this week’s Times magazine section.

The Reinig Apartments were built by our great-grandparents, Margarethe and Leonard Reinig;  we believe the 1889 date is accurate.

Leonard Reinig came to America in his 20’s from Diedesfeld, Germany, and learned the bakery business in St Louis, and The Dalles, Oregon, where he also learned Chinook.  He came to Seattle in 1869 to start his own Seattle Bakery, in a building rented from Henry Yesler on Mill Street (now Yesler Way). This included a delicatessen and he would deliver baked beans and brown bread to customers on Saturday mornings. It is said he produced Seattle’s first bakery cookies, and in 1872, made and sold the city’s first ice cream.  Later he and a partner built a two story brick building at 1st and Marion, the Reinig-Voss building, where he ran a grocery in front, a bakery in the rear, and upstairs had a large hall for meetings, concerts and performances.

Our great-grandmother, Margarethe Schafer Reinig, was the daughter of German immigrants from Witterschlicht, Germany, who settled first in Wisconsin, then took up a large farm on the Satsop River, in Grays Harbor county.  She met Leonard Reinig when she came to Seattle as a young woman, to work for family friends, the Bailey Gatzert family.  After their marriage, they built a home at 5th and Madison, where they raised their three sons, Otto, Dionis (Dio) and Eddie. The family owned this property until surviving sons Dio and Otto sold the land to the College Club in the 1960’s.

In the photo in the paper, the family home (house on the left) has been moved uphill from it’s original site at 5th and Madison, facing Madison, and turned to face 5th Avenue.  At this time, the family had already purchased their new home farm in Snoqualmie, and were preparing for a move there in 1890.  We are told that in the photo, sons Dio and Eddie are in the buggy, and Otto is on the porch.  The horse is Nellie, a fine driving horse that they shipped to Snoqualmie by rail when they moved.

The property where the house was moved was an extra lot that Leonard purchased so that Margarethe could have a small garden and raspberries close at hand.  The family also owned land at 12th and Spring, where they had a large garden and kept pasture for the horses.  My grandfather (Dio) told us that from the house, they could see the ships coming into the docks;  if their father was expecting an order, they could run down to the store to tell him, then up the hill to get the horses, and have the wagon at the pier by the time the ship was docked.

In Snoqualmie, Leonard Reinig opened a grocery store, and ran a farm, while the family kept up business and social interests in Seattle.  Later Otto took over the Snoqualmie grocery store, Dio managed the farm, and Eddie, an electrical engineer trained at the California School of Mechanical Arts, worked for Seattle City Light until his tragic death.

Several years ago, our late mother, Leslie Reinig Norton, gave the original plan drawings of the apartment building, and the Reinig-Voss building to the Seattle archives at the University of Washington.

Sue Schafer, our “cousin”, has written an interesting book, “Voices of the Past”, an annotated collection of early letters of Margarethe Schafer Reinig’s family, including correspondence between Margarethe and Leonard and from them to her parents on the farm in Satsop. We are also fortunate to have some written recollections from our grandfather, Dio Reinig.

Thank you for your interest in this photo.

Mary Norton

Leslie J. Norton

The 1884 Sanborn Real Estate Map identifying the building at the southwest corner of Marion and Front (First Ave.) as the Reinig-Voss block with it primary occupant then the Odd Fellows Hall (upstairs)
The Reinig-Voss block with its principal tenant, the Golden Rule Bazaar ca. 1887. Note the Odd Fellows symbol - the linked chain - decorating the building's facade, centered above the second floor.
A detail pulled from the 1884 Seattle Birdseye with red arrows marking the Reinig home at the southeast corner of Fifth and Madison, upper-right, and their nearly new brick building with a corner tower at the southeast corner of Front (First Ave.) and Marion Street, lower-left.
A detail of the detail showing the Reinig-Voss building at the center and across Marion Street the Fry Opera House. Courtesy Ron Edge
Pre-'89 fire etching of the Fry Opera House at the northeast corner of Marion and Front (First Ave.).
The Reinig-Voss building here identified after its primary tenant before the "Great Fire of June 6, 1889," the Golden Rule Bazaar.

One thought on “REINIG ROW HOUSE ADDENDUM – 5TH & MADISON 1890 – A REVEALING LETTER”

  1. What beautiful “pictures” of old Seattle. We are very fortunate that Mary & her sister were able to find such treasures their mother had been keeping safe for so long, even through various moves.
    Their Mother was a lovely, loving person.

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