This small bistro has kept all the soul of rue Mouffetard market.
The name of the bistrot is a pun. Of course, we walk there because the street is pedestrian, and the wine glasses have stems too, it is an opportunity to meet and talk, read the newspaper, eat very well, see exhibitions and raise glasses to our friends …
Ce petit bistrot a gardé toute l’âme du marché de la rue Mouffetard. Bien sûr on y vient à pied car la rue est piétonnière, et les verres à vin sont à pied aussi, c’est l’occasion de se retrouver pour discuter, pour lire le journal, se restaurer superbement, voir des expos, et trinquer à la santé des amis…
Claude Derrien, the owner of the bar and the barman Nicolas
Le verre à Pied, 118 rue Mouffetard Paris 5th
(click to enlarge photos)
In a Seattle Times Classified Ad for August 1913, C.W. Latham, a dealer of West Seattle real estate, asks “Don’t you think it is a good time to come over and select that home site by the seaside?” Latham’s list of reasons for moving to Alki was its new “$200,000 bathing beach, $60,000 lighthouse, and $75,000 new school.” And it was easy to reach the beach. Direct 5-cent trolley service from Seattle began in 1908. The dealer gave no address for his office. His instruction that it was “near the Schmitz Park Arch” was good enough.
The arch may have been better named the Schmitz Boulevard Arch for it was not in the park but rather faced the beach. In 1908, one year after West Seattle was incorporated into Seattle, the 2,700 foot long boulevard was graded to the park proper, which was then first described as a 40 acre “cathedral” of old growth forest. In 1908 the German immigrant-philanthropists Emma and Henry Schmitz donated both the park and the boulevard to the city.
A stripped log spans the arch’s columns made rustic with a facing of river rocks. The construction is here still a work in progress, for the two additional posts to the sides have not yet been topped with their keg-sized stone flowerpots. The new Alki School, seen here far left across Alki Field, is partially hidden behind one of these incomplete shorter columns. The school’s primary classes opened in 1913, also the likely year for this pubic works photograph, which we first discovered in “West Side Story,” the 1987 history of West Seattle edited by author Clay Eals.
Clay, by now an old friend, along with David Eskenazi, Seattle’s baseball historian, lured Jean Sherrard and I to their annual summer softball game at Alki Field. Jean and I, in turn, lured their players off the baseball field and onto 59th Avenue West. Jean explains.
“Herding the two dozen or so cool cats that comprised Clay and David’s annual baseball game/gathering was an amiable chore. We ambled from the diamond to 59th and SW Lander during the seventh-inning stretch, following rousing choruses of “Take me out to the ballgame,” the National Anthem and unanimous sighs of regret at Ichiro’s loss. On this glorious July day, the amenable players, on command and between passing cars, spread themselves across the avenue with one caveat from the photographer: ‘If you can’t see me, I can’t see you’.” Both David and Clay can be seen. (They can be seen again below in a manly embrace in the 11th of Jean’s snapshots of the Alki Players.)
I’m posting a few thumbnails of the annual game, Paul. These include Lil Eskenazi, the team mascot, the oldest and youngest players, mighty Clay Eals at bat, pitcher Dave Eskenazi, T-shirt prizes, and a few more highlights.
And here’s the group portrait – enough players for two teams with more than three outfielders for each:
Anything to add, Paul?
Yes Jean – a few related features from the past, and we may be repeating some of them – even from this blog. Remember, rather than check we promote a policy of benign redundancy in which every story or feature or photo is made fresh by context. We use the musical analogy of a leitmotif. First, here’s another “artist’s league” group portrait from long ago – ca. 1976 – in Cascade Park or playfield, about two blocks east of The Seattle Times. Remarkably, one of the players in this group has made it – with a borrowed glove – into Jean’s 2012 portrait straddling 59th Ave. SW at Lander Street. (Possibly this fond bit of local softball ephemera has also appeared here earlier.)
Spud began on Alki Beach in 1935 as a seasonal sidewalk service in a clapboard shack. Here in the late fall of 1938 it is boarded up until spring. Now Spud is a year-round two-floored emporium that seats 80-plus lovers of deep-fried fish served with both tradition and a view of Puget Sound. [Historical view courtesy Washington State Archive, Bellevue Community College branch.]
SPUD on ALKI
(First appeared in Pacific, Feb. 16, 2003)
Brothers Jack and Frank Alger opened The SPUD on Alki Beach in June of 1935. It was the beginning of summer but also the dead of the depression. At 10 Cent for a cardboard boat stuffed with fries and two big pieces of breaded ling cod the English-born Alger’s fish and chips serving was affordable, delicious and filling – but only in the warmer months. In late fall the stand was closed and looked as it does here in this Works Progress Administration tax inventory photo recorded on Oct. 14, 1938.
To either side of SPUD in 1938 was a line of small beach homes, a few small apartments, Turner’s Shell station, Sea Home Grocery, Seaside Pharmacy, Alki Bakery, two groceries, a barber, a cobbler, a plumber, a tailor and four other eateries — two serving hamburgers and hot dogs and the other two fish and chips. Most commonly on Alki Ave. s.w. were the vacancies but most importantly for the life of the beach was the Alki Natatorium Swimming Pool built across from Spud on pilings over the tides.
Following the war the shanty seen here was replaced with a nifty modern plant featuring portholes, and SPUD written in big bas-relief block letters over the front door. Sheltered inside was a counter with four stools. By then there were Spuds at Green Lake and Juanita as well. The family continued to run the Alki Spud until Frank’s son Rick decided prudently at the age of 55 that he needed “to slow down and enjoy life more.” Recently retiring to build their “dream home” on Hood Canal Rick and Terry Alger sold Spud to Ivar’s.
It was a both sensitive and poetic choice for also in 1938 when Ivar Haglund opened his first café – a fish and chips stand at the entrance to his aquarium on Pier 54 — the Alger brothers helped him. Roy Buckley, Ivar’s first employee, learned his fish and chips while working at Spud. All of them, Frank, Jack, Ivar and Roy were West Seattle lads.
While both Spud and Ivar’s survive in 2003, we may conclude by listing a few popular restaurants of 1938 that do not. All are still savored in memory only. Manca’s and the swank Maison Blanc; The Green Apple (home of the Green Apple Pie); The Jolly Rogers, The Dolly Madison Dining Room, and Mannings Coffee (several of them); the Moscow Restaurant and the Russian Samovar; Ben Paris downtown and Jules Maes in Georgetown; the Mystic Tea Cup, and the Twin T-P’s, Seattle’s Aurora strip landmark most recently lost to a (w)reckless midnight wrecker.
Two Examples of the Alki Ave now-then repeats, follow.
In 1910 the city purchased much of the Alki Beach waterfront for the development of a groomed park and the seawall showing on the far right of the “now” scene. Both views look east on Alki Beach from near 64th Avenue SW. About one century separates them. (Historical photo courtesy of Lawton Gowey – Contemporary photo by Jean, now nearly eight years past.)
ALKI BEACH BATHING
(First appeared in Pacific, Nov. 10, 2004)
This beach party scene comes from that most popular and yet unknown source: somewhere. The beach is familiar enough – at the scene’s center is Duwamish Head marking the entrance to Elliott Bay – but neither the year nor the group nor the photographer whose back is to Alki Point are identified.
Depending upon who is throwing it this scene is a stone throw or two from the site where the Denny Party landed on Nov. 13, 1851. Judging from the costumes and the development (or rather lack of it) on the beach it was photographed about a half century later. Most likely then if this is not a group from the neighborhood its members came to their picnic by boat for the electric trolley did not reach the beach until 1907, the year that West Seattle incorporated into Seattle.
By the time this driftwood tableau was photographed the attraction of Alki Beach as a summer retreat was already commonplace. After regular steamer service was launched across Elliott Bay in 1877 the Daily Intelligencer advised “Now is a good time for picnics on the beach at Alki Point, so it will pay some of our new settlers to go over and see the spot where Messrs. Denny, Maynard and others lived during the ‘times that tried men’s souls.’” (I found this reference in “The West Side Story”, the big book of West Seattle history.) We can only imagine what pains those we see frolicking and lounging here gave to the hardships of the founders.
There is a revealing similarity between the beach visitors in the “now” and the “then” scene: how few of them there are. Alki Beach was frequented by throngs after the arrival of the trolley and the 1911 opening of Alki Beach Park with its oversized bathing and recreation pavilion – 73,000 of them in 1913. By comparison Jean Sherrard took this week’s “now” photograph last July 24, one of the hottest days of the summer. While there are surely many more offshore attractions in 2004 then in 1913 when it comes to chilling dips we may also have become less robust.
About 80 years separate the two later afternoon views on Alki Beach Park. Both look to the southwest from near the foot of 61st Avenue Southwest. (Historical photo courtesy of Washington State Historical Society, Tacoma, and, again, the contemporary one by Jean.)
ALKI BEACH PARK MAKE OVER
(First appeared in Pacific, Nov. 17, 2004)
Last week’s “then” looked northeast on Alki Beach. This week’s record surveys the same stretch of sand but in the opposite direction. Why spend two weeks on one beach? Because about a quarter century separates the two historical photographs – last week’s and this one – and the changes are revealing.
As shown seven days ago a picturesque litter of driftwood distinguished the ca. 1900 West Seattle waterfront. Here a quarter-century later the same waterfront is littered instead with bathers in wool suits and separated from a wide planked promenade by a seawall. Actually the change from the irregular strand landed on by the founding settlers of 1851 to a groomed shoreline occurred very rapidly after the city condemned and purchased in 1910 the nearly 2500 feet of this shoreline between 57th and 65th Avenues Southwest.
In quick order the city built a large bathing pavilion (the historical photo is photographed from its roof) and the wide walk protected by the sturdy wall. This radical makeover was dedicated on Independence Day 1911 and the following year the covered bandstand was extended over the tides. That first year the city’s Parks Department estimated that 103,000 persons were attracted to the 75 concerts performed from its octagonal stage.
In 1925 the wooden seawall was replaced with a concrete one that was designed to protect the beach with a concave profile that inhibited the undertow of high tides. In five years more the seawall was extended in the other direction (to the northeast) to within 150 feet of Duwamish Head. At last in 1945 this gap was also acquired and improved to make a continuous recreational shore between the Head and the string of homes that lie between the public park and the closed – since 911 – Alki Point lighthouse (1913).
This chronology was gleaned from the book “West Side Story” and Don Sherwood’s unpublished (but often photocopied) manuscript history on local parks. (You can find it all on the Seattle Park Department’s web page – the history part of it.) Much on Alki Beach history is featured in the exhibits and publications of the Log House Museum (one block from the beach at the corner of Stevens St. and 61st Avenue) and – as noted and shown above - also in permanent display on the walls of the by now venerable SPUDS fish and chips on Alki Avenue.
For the 19 years that the Alki Natatorium covered the beach it was closed and or in disrepair about as much as it was open to plungers and other recreations. The sprawling facility was camped on the tides side of Alki Avenue between 58th and Marine Avenues Southwest. Historical Pix courtesy of Don Myers.
(First appeared in Pacific, Feb. 6, 2005)
If we could but read the license plate on the bumper of the car (that looks very much like the one my dad drove the family west in from North Dakota in 1946) we could date this stark portrait of the Alki Natatorium. Since much of the glass along the Alki Avenue façade is busted out we know that this scene was photographed sometime when the fitful entertainment center was not serving.
But when jumping there was more than swimming here. For instance, the neon sign with the diving swimmer also advertises dining and dancing at the Shore Café. And at least during the late 1930s when the Premier Amusement Company was running it, the “Nat” was also a skating rink.
This natatorium was the last of three built along the beach. The first opened near Alki Point in 1905, but quietly closed while planning an “Oriental-styled” enlargement complete with “real Geisha Girls” serving tea and the “world’s largest swimming pool.” The second opened in 1907 with Luna Park at Duwamish Head. And although the amusement park was soon closed for introducing “lewd and disorderly behavior” the big indoor natatorium stayed open until 1931 when it was one of many targets torched by an arsonist that year.
Three years later this “Nat” opened a short distance up the beach from the Municipal Bath House towards the Head not the Point. The “Nat” managed to survive the Great Depression but not a lawsuit by an injured swimmer in 1939. In 1942 the Seattle Park’s Department renovated and reopened it in time for the preoccupations and parsimony of the war, and the place again closed. Especially when dark, its great expanse of roof glass was pelted by naughty children (read boys) with rocks borrowed from the beach. Several moves by the Parks Department and City Council to restore it following the war turned out to be good intentions only and in 1953 the Alki Natatorium was razed to the beach.
(click to enlarge photos)
Looking up the front steps of Seattle University’s McHugh Hall (the name and address are painted on the steps) we count nine coeds waving to a Seattle Times photographer. The subject was first published in this paper on April 12, 1959, along side a second photo of the dorm’s oversized bathtub, both used to illustrate a feature written by Frances “Fran” Farrell and titled “It’s HOME to Seattle U. Co Ed’s” Fran’s SU instructor in journalism advised her to write something for publication and the Times liked her story on McHugh Hall – her school dorm converted from the Anderson Mansion on First Hill - so well that they gave it a full page.
In Jean Sherrard’s “repeat,” Fran, on the left, stands on newer Swedish Hospital steps beside Lois Crow. With two others they shared a dorm room on the top floor – here upper right in the “then.” Barbara Owen, one their upper-class quartet, waves from the open window. Fran Farrell chose her subject with enthusiasm. “Living in McHugh was a complete delight! As upper classmen we wanted someplace with more independence and camaraderie and we got it at McHugh.” Freshmen and sophomores were housed in Marycrest, a new six-story dormitory. It held none of the ornate charms of a lumber baron’s mansion.
Jean suggests that I ask readers if this week’s “now” is familiar. He knows that it is. As the “repeat” for a different story, we used this location recently – last May 19th. And there I – but not Jean – made a big mistake. What I had learned years earlier – and earnestly believed until the Saturday before the Sunday publication – was that our May subject was Mrs. Anderson posing in her celebrated coach in front of her mansion here near the southeast corner of Minor and Columbia. But – and alas – it was instead Mrs. Burke posing in her coach in front of her First Hill Manse, but three blocks away. (If it helps, they remain short blocks.) When Lois Crow, already an acquaintance of mine, discovered my mistake and shared it with me that Sunday morning, I was at least able to tell her that I too had discovered it a day earlier, but that it was too late to stop the presses.
We encourage you to read Fran Farrell Vitulli’s Times feature on the Anderson manse. You can access it readily through the Time’s older archive (1900 to 1984) serviced on the Seattle Public Library web page. It is a service that also offers what we may call the “joys of the key word search.” You can also find a facsimile of Fran’s feature printed in Jean and my blog noted at the base of this writing. And there, if you will, you may study my full confession, at once contrite and illustrated.
Anything to add to this moving mea culpa, Paul?
Yes indeed, Jean!
As explained in this week’s feature, but more elaborately last May in this blog’s 11th hour anticipation or “catch” for the mistaken feature published in Pacific then – the one proposing to be about Mrs. Anderson and her famous First Hill carriage but actually showing Mrs. Burke and her’s, also on First Hill – here is the link to that May 17th feature. It repeats, again, my full confession. It also includes – perhaps as compensation Ron Edge suggests – a long list of other features having to do with First Hill and a few other large Seattle homes. Thanks for your compassion. To get to this replete repeat either CLICK THIS LINK or the picture below. The picture is of another Anderson: Anderson Hall on the U.W. Campus. After her lumberman husband’s death, Mrs. Anderson paid for its construction as a warm and useful tribute to him. It was appropriately built for the school’s Dept of Forestry.
In proper order and again below is the next issue of Helix, and the commentary by Bill White and myself. In this issue John Bixler makes his first appearance – on a motorcycle stopped by some plainclothes police ready to slap on him the tough charge of not having paid off a parking ticket. In that reportorial snap, the Helix office can be seen across Harvard Ave. E. (beneath the freeway). Hereafter John will be an enduring participant in our productions, except when he was away doing road work for the band The Youngbloods. In Jef Jaisun’s 1992 shot taken for the 25th anniversary of the founding of Helix – Not So Strait John Bixler appears far right with those posers who made it out of the Blue Moon and onto the sidewalk in front it. They are, right to left, John Bixler, Jacque Moitoret, Tom Robbins, Walt Crowley, Alan Lande, Paul Heald, myself, and standing in front with his own row, Maury Heald. We have printed this earlier and will probably print it again later. (Thanks again to Ron Edge in Lake City for steadfast wrestling all this Helix matter on the blog that ends with the last name of our editor in Paris.)
B. White and P. Dorpat
(Click to enlarge photos)
Dazzled – we hope – last week by a musical pig dancing above the sidewalk on Second Avenue north of Madison Street, we made promises to visit this week another attraction on that block. By the time the Pig ‘N Whistle opened in 1919, its neighbor the Palace Hip Theatre, across Second at its southeast corner with Spring, had been showing animal acts and much more on stage for ten years.
The name blazoned here on and above the theatre’s boisterous corner marquee was its third. The theatre opened as the Majestic on August 30, 1909, changed to Empress less than two years later and in 1916 with a remodel turned over again into the Palace Hip (short for Hippodrome.)
Soon after the summer opening this newspaper surveyed its wonderful construction. “The entire designing and constructing of the Majestic Theatre in somewhat over five months from the date of John W. Considine’s order is an apt illustration of the Seattle Spirit.” Considine was the super-impresario and Edwin W. Houghton the happy if frantic architect, who proudly revealed to the Times reporter, “I was fortunate enough to have a client that had good enough judgment to select an architect whom he thought was capable and then leave him to do it.”
While the theatre’s dog acts were often splendid, they were but one of ordinarily six or seven acts that took the stage twice a day. By some accounts it was Seattle’s “greatest house of vaudeville.” Of the hundreds upon hundreds of acts – comedy, song & dance, animal – that landed here for a run of a week or two, Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel (later of Laurel and Hardy) are the most abiding names. David Jeffers, Seattle’s historian of silent film, confesses, “I dream about this place. A Greco-Byzantine interior of ivory and gold and 1500 seats!”
Thru its two decades the Palace Hip ran vaudeville, showed films, and staged plays. For all of these a theatre-goer’s visit to the confectionary across Second was often a capper to any show.
Anything to add, Paul?
Yes Jean – a few past features from the neighborhood, some of which has already appeared here, still we put them forward again following thereby a kind of Wagnerian formula of motifs repeated in new settings. Since five of these features include theatres we have a second motif. We’ll begin though with BUCK JONES in the BIG PUNCH, the Fox film advertized on the marquee and in broadsides pasted to the Palace Hip’s exposed walls at the corner and near the ticket window.
(First appeared in Pacific, May 20, 1990)
Alexander Pantages built his namesake vaudeville house at the northeast corner of Second Avenue and Seneca Street in 1904. It was “the little Greek’s” second theater. The first, “The Crystal,” also on Second Avenue, was a converted storefront that Pantages opened when he landed in Seattle with a small fortune finagled in the Alaska gold rush. As Murray Morgan describes Pantages’ gold-field strategy in his Seattle history “Skid Road”: “He abandoned his dream of finding gold in the creek beds and concentrated on removing it from the men who had already found it.”
Pantages sold the sourdoughs vaudeville, at $25 a seat in his Orpheum theater in Nome. The price of admission to his first Seattle shows was a dime for a mixture of stage acts and short, jerky films. Pantages (or his legend) was illiterate, but having roamed the world before landing here he could converse in several languages. His English, it was said, was as bad as any. But he knew what the public wanted.
Pantages built a vaudeville empire that ultimately surpassed all others. Somewhat like royalty, his daughter Carmen married John Considine Jr., son of his chief competitor. At its peak the Pantages circuit included 30 playhouses he owned outright and 42 others he controlled. To an act he liked, he could offer more than a year of steady employment. Pantages sold his kingdom for $24 million in 1929 – before the crash.
To Pantages the best act he ever booked was the violinist he married. Lois Pantages always played the first act whenever her husband opened a new house. The first of these was across Seneca Street from the Pantages. He named it after his wife, and until it was destroyed by fire in 1911, the Lois was a successful theater. Also in 1911 Pantages purchased Plymouth Congregational’s old church grounds at the northeast corner of Third Avenue and University Street, and built his New Pantages Theatre, designed by architect B. Marcus Priteca, between 1915 and 1918. Later renamed the Palomar, it was a showplace many Seattleites will remember. (This Pantages/Palomar is a subject that has been treated on this blog. Please try the search box for it – if you will.)
NEXT a look west on Seneca across Second Ave. to a pioneer home.
Above: The scene looks west on Seneca to its northwest corner with Second Avenue, where, depending upon the date stands either the Suffern residence or Holy Names Academy, the city’s first sectarian school. (Pix courtesy of Michael Cirelli). Below: With the economic confidence gained by the Yukon and Alaska gold rushes of the late 1890s, most of Seattle pioneer residences then still surviving in the central business district were replaced with brick commercial blocks.
The SUFFERN HOME
(First appeared in Pacific, June 17, 2007)
Sometime in the 1870s John Suffern built a sizeable home at the northwest corner of Second Avenue and Seneca Street. We see it here but not knowing the date of the photograph cannot say if the Sufferns are still living there or if it is in the learned hands of the Roman Catholic Sisterhood of the Holy Names.
Suffern is first known hereabouts for his iron works and second for both building and captaining steamboats on Puget Sound. After Issaquah pioneer Lyman Andrews stumbled upon some exposed coal on his claim in 1863 he carried a few lumps of it in a sack to Seattle where Sufferen tested it in his kiln and found the Issaquah coal excellent for firing. In another ten years east side coal became Seattle’s principal export – most of it to California railroads. By 1879 Suffern had turned to drugs. That year’s directory adds an “e” to him name and lists him simply, “Sufferen, J. A. druggist, cor. Second and Seneca.”
The following year, 1880, the Sisters of Holy Names bought his property for $6,800 and arranged the home for their first Seattle school. The Holy Names official history explains, “The building consists of two stories and a basement. In the latter are the kitchen, cellar and pantry. The parlor, music room, office and Sister’s refectory are on the first floor, the chapel, community room and a small apartment for the Superioress are on the second floor.”
Also in 1880 the Sisters of Holy Names built a second and larger structure on their property to the north of this white (we assume) house. The addition included two large classrooms and a second floor dormitory for the city’s first sectarian school. It opened in January 1881 with 25 pupils, and grew so rapidly with the community that in 1884 the sisters built another and grander plant with a landmark spire at 7th and Jackson Street. The not so old Suffern home survived the city’s “great fire” of 1889, but was replaced in the late 1890s with the surviving brick structure, now (in 2007) the comely home for a Washington Liquor Store, and a custom tailor.
Above: Looking north on an unpaved Second Avenue in July 1889. The nearly new tracks on the left served the first electric trolley on the Pacific Coast when the conversion was made from horses to dynamos earlier in March. Second was paved in the mid-1890s and thereafter quickly became Seattle’s “Bicycle Row” with many brands to choose from sold mostly out of small one story storefronts, especially in this block between Spring and Seneca Streets. (Pix courtesy of Michael Maslan) Below: The widened Second north of Spring Street was half quiet when photographed on a late Sunday afternoon.
THE CANVAS RECOVERY
(First appeared in Pacific, Oct. 7, 2007)
The city’s “great fire” of June 6, 1889 consumed most of the business district – more than 30 blocks – but not this block, the first part of Second Avenue that was not in some part scorched. After the disaster it quickly served in the rebuilding that turned practically every available lot and lawn on Second into a sewn strip of temporary tents. The Times for June 10 reported that while “the slabs and sawdust piles are still burning and sending clouds of smoke back over the town” over 100 permits had been issued to put up tents.
Judging by the canvas signs, the large tent on the far left, at the southwest corner of Second and Seneca Street, is shared by two firms: Doheny and Marum Dry Goods and the “manufacturers agents”, Avery, Kirk and Lansing. Before they were for the most part wiped out by the fire the two businesses were already neighbors at the northwest corner of Columbia and Front (First Avenue).
Around two o’clock on the afternoon of June 6, or bout a half-hour before the fire started, Avery and his partners were suddenly $2,500 richer, when W.A. Gordon, a young man recently arrived from Maine, invested that amount, “everything he had” the papers reported, in the business. The sudden cash most likely helped with the construction of the big tent. Still we do not see Gordon’s name stitched to it.
We know from a Times article of August 2, titled “A Tent Occupant’s News” that a firm doing business on Second just north of Seneca had paid $2 a month per running foot for space to construct the framework for a tent and cover it with canvas “at the expense of several hundred dollars.” Now less than two months later the landlord was asking the city to remove the tent for the construction of a building. The threatened residents appealed, “We do not want to be thrown into the street.”
A few tents did business for a year before the city council decided there were “buildings enough for all” and ordered the last of them removed.
Above: The post-1889-fire story directly above this one looked north on Second Avenue from Spring Street through a block of temporary tents and small frame structures in the summer of the city’s June 6,1889 fire. This view reveals part of the same block 32 years later in 1921. Below: A part of the Baillargeon/Pacific Security Building, far right, survives into the “now” scene. Built in 1907, it is, for Seattle, an early example of a steel-frame structure covered with terra-cotta tiles and ornaments.
THE ELEGANT STRAND THEATRE
(First appeared in Pacific, Oct. 14, 2007)
Here the gleaming symmetry of the Strand Theatre rises above the confused queue of a sidewalk crowd jostling for tickets to Wet Gold. The elegant Strand opened as the Alaska Theatre in 1914. Two years later this then overworked name was dropped for the London sophistication implied in the new name “Strand.”
Most likely this is a first run showing of J. Ernest Williamson’s 1921 hit Wet Gold, the story of a sunken ship, its gilded treasure and the passions released in finding it. Resting nicely on the theatre’s terra-cotta skin, the film’s sensational banners are nestled between the Strand’s classical stain glass windows. Williamson became a pioneer of undersea photoplays by attaching an observation chamber to an expandable deep-sea tube invented by his sea captain father. The younger Williamson called it his “Photosphere”.
I’ve learned from Eric Flom’s historylink.org essay on the Alaska/Strand that Frederick & Nelson Department Store was contracted to furnish and decorate the interior and that the elegance begun on the street was continued in the theatre’s lobby with onyx and marble. Before the 1927 introduction of synchronized sound the silent films shown at the Strand were generally accompanied by its Skinner Opus No. 217 pipe organ, which later wound up in St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Bellingham.
Flom also notes that this 1114 address on 2nd Avenue (the east side between Spring and Seneca Streets) was showing films years before it’s terra-cotta makeover. The Ideal Theatre opened there in 1909 and in 1911 it too was renamed The Black Cat, which, as noted, was elegantly overhauled three years later into the Alaska/Strand. Flom has tracked the 1,110-seat Strand “well into the 1930s.”
Above: Publisher William Randolph Hearst paid $200,000 for exclusive reporting rights of the Graf Zeppelin’s 21-day trip around the world in Sept. 1929. The big blimp neither stopped in nor flew over Seattle; still a world map (without poles) was painted by the Foley Sign Company and attached to the front of the Coliseum Theatre as part of the promotion. So that the pedestrians at 5th Avenue and Pike Street might be reminded of their place in the world, the lettering for “Seattle” was made larger than for any other city on the map. (Photo courtesy G. Sales) Below: Jean took the “now” from the third floor of the Washington Federal Savings Bank, kitty-corner to the Banana Republic, which in a local example of “adaptive reuse” arranged the landmark Coliseum Theatre for selling clothes and such in 1994, four years after the theatre went dark.
COLISEUM THEATRE – ADAPTIVE REUSE
(First appeared in Pacific – and here too – Aug 17, 2008)
Seattle architect B. Marcus Priteca designed the Coliseum Theatre, Fifth Avenue and Pike Street, for owners C. D. Stimson and Joe Gottstein. The theater opened on January 8, 1916 under the management of John von Herberg and Claude Jensen. The Coliseum was one of the first large theaters in the country to be designed specifically for showing motion pictures. That the stage was a bit small for the largest of vaudeville acts did not matter for it was claimed to be the largest and most lavish of theatres built not for stage acts but for films. As the legend matured it was also the first.
Pantages concocted a neo-classical temple of such flash that the facets of its glazed white terra cotta façade were designed with the help of sciography: the study of sun angles. At night inset electric bulbs threw their own shadows. The lavish appointments continued inside with, by one report, “a symphony of upholstering,” which did not, however, dampen acoustics that were considered the best in Seattle – perhaps in the world! The theatre orchestra of eight players – plus a “giant Moller Pipe Organ”- were all Russians, again, the “highest paid in the U.S.” Fountains framed the orchestra pit and songbirds in wicker cages accompanied the players. By one count there were thirty canaries — probably the best fed in the nation. High above, the Big Dipper twinkled from the ceiling.
Released in 1929, “Tide of Empire” is the western melodrama advertised on the marquee. By the close of 1930, the star, Renee Adoree (meaning “reborn and adored”) had appeared in 45 films, the last four talkies, but not “Tide of Empire.” It was produced in the transition to sound and had only a sound tract for effects and music. Adoree’s role is reborn with a Google search for “youtube tide of empire, 1929.” From the Coliseum’s big screen it’s a bittersweet reincarnation as a low-resolution postcard-sized rendering on a computer screen, but the French-born star still dazzles.
Above: The Metropolitan Track’s Hippodrome was nearly new when it hosted the A.F. of L. annual convention in 1913. (Courtesy Old Seattle Paperworks) Below: Without a phalanx of posing delegates to protect him Jean wisely stayed away from the center of the intersection at 5th Avenue and University Street for his repeat.
POSING Beside The HIPPODROME – AFL CONVENTION, 1913
(First appeared in Pacific, Dec. 7, 2008)
The by then venerable American Federation of Labor, the A.F. of L., held its 33rd annual convention in Seattle in the fall of 1913. Some of the convention’s grander events, like it’s Nov. 11 opening ceremonies, were held in the then nearly new Hippodrome at the northeast corner of 5th Avenue and University Street. About 3000 attended to hear the region’s star politicians, like Seattle’s progressive (although sometimes also puritanical) Mayor George Cotterill and the state’s governor Earnest Lister, shout their speech across the great new hall.
The Hippodrome’s promised construction may have been one reason that the union felt it could meet in Seattle. And yet the new hall was kept to only one story and designed as a temporary structure. The build-up of the ambitious Metropolitan Tract, the “city within the city” on the leased land of the original University of Washington campus, would take time and so was in need of some inexpensive fillers like the Hippodrome until grander structures could replace them. The Skinner Building (seen in the “now”) took the corner – and the rest of the block to Union Street – in 1925-26.
At some point during the convention its 327 delegates poured out of the Hippodrome to pose for a panoramic camera. We have cropped the picture. When tightly packed, the posers extended from the southeast to the northwest corners of the intersection in an arch that centered at the entrance to the hall, as seen here.
Readers who know their Greek will have figured that the name “Hippodrome” was chosen by the Metropolitan Building Company not in reference to its original use for an open Greek racecourse. Rather, it was for association with the name-familiar Hippodrome Theatre in New York, which when it was built in 1905 was called “the world’s largest theatre.” Houdini made a 10,000-pound elephant named Jennie disappear from its stage with the mere firing of one blank from a pistol. Would that it had been a hippopotamus.
Above: Looking south across Spring Street and into the pit along Third Avenue for its 1906-7 regrade. Courtesy Lawton Gowey Below: Jean used his ten-foot extension pole again to reach an altitude more in line with the old grade of Third Avenue before its reduction.
THIRD Ave. REGRADE south from SPRING STREET
(First appeared in Pacific, Sept. 18, 2011)
The steam shovel at the intersection of Third Avenue and Spring Street works on making one of the deepest cuts during the Third Avenue Regrade, which extended the eight blocks between Cherry and Pike Streets. Like Biblical signs, the shovel spews the good and the bad – steam and smoke – from its roof. An empty wagon waits for the shovel to pivot with its first contribution.
Behind the rising effluvium are a row first of storefronts holding a laundry, a plumber and an undertaker. Beyond them is the popular Third Avenue Theatre with the open tower at the northeast corner of Third and Madison. Its 16-year run is about to end a victim of grade changes on Third. Across Madison are two more towers, both churches. First, the First Presbyterians at the southeast corner with Madison and one block south the second sanctuary for the first congregation organized in Seattle, the Methodist Episcopal Church at Marion Street. Both parishes moved to new sites because of the regrade.
Upper left is the west façade of the Lincoln Hotel at the northwest corner of Madison Street and 4th Avenue. The regrading on both Fourth Avenue and here on Third were temporarily stopped in the summer of 1906 by an injunction brought by the hotel charging “damaged property” – indeed. More than damaged the hotel was destroyed by fire in 1920. The regrading of both Third and Fourth Avenues was necessary, it was explained, if the retail district was to spread east. First and Second were both filled and the steep climb to Third and Fourth needed to be eased.
Frank Carpenter, a visiting journalist featured in the Post-Intelligencer under the head “Ourselves As Others See Us,” described 1906 Seattle as a “city of ups and downs. It has more hills than Rome . . . The climate here gives the women cheeks like roses . . . I am told that men measure more around the calf and chest than anywhere outside the Swiss Mountains. The perpetual climbing develops the muscles and at the same time fills the lungs with the pure ozone from the Pacific.”
NEXT a few items pertaining to the regrading on Spring Street, most of it east of Second Avenue as Spring it brought down to the new and lower grades on Third, Fourth and Fifth Avenues. We’ll get oriented, again, with the detail from the 1912 Baist map.
We searched for the date, but found none, although surely a finer search of the text may stumble on one. Sometime in March of 1968 – perhaps the First of March given that the last issue was dated Feb. 15, 1968. By this time our publishing was routine, but not for long. Soon – perhaps next week? – with the optimism of Spring HELIX will become a weekly.
B. White and P. Dorpat
A few days ago, I went to the bell tower of the church Saint-Etienne du Mont to photograph the dome of Pantheon, which will soon be restored.
The ascention in the dark and narrow tower was difficult, because though a broken window, pigeons had entered and had set up their nests on the steps, and for the first time I could check the expression « to walk on eggs »
I was very curious about seeing my neighborhood very familiar to Paul and Jean .
At the top, there was a lot of wind, the area under the bell was unprotected, and I was cautious, but which was amazing was the sight of Clovis Tower of Lycée Henri IV.
Clovis tower is all that remains of the abbey church of Saint Genevieve built during the Middle Age, now integrated to the Lycée.
We can see the different style between the bottom of the tower built in the eleventh century and the upper part dating from the fourteenth century. Too antiquated the spire was destroyed in 1764.
Far away, there are the contemporary towers built in the 80 thirteenth arrondissement…
Je suis allée dans le clocher de l’église Saint-Etienne-du-Mont il y a quelques jours pour photographier le dôme du Panthéon qui va être bientôt restauré.
L’ascension dans la tour étroite obscure de l’église était délicate, d’autant plus qu’à travers une vitre brisée des pigeons étaient entrés et avaient installé leur nids sur les marches, d’ou l’expression « marcher sur des œufs »…
J’étais très curieuse de découvrir la vue de mon quartier que Paul et Jean connaissent bien.
Au sommet, il y a avait beaucoup de vent, l’espace sous la cloche était sans protection, j’étais prudente, ce qui était prodigieux était la vue de la Tour Clovis du Lycée Henri IV.
La tour est le dernier vestige de l’église abbatiale de Sainte Geneviève édifiée au Moyen Age.
On peut distinguer la différence de style entre le bas de la tour construit au XI ème siècle et la partie supérieure datant du XIV ème siècle. La flèche du clocher très vétuste a été détruite en 1764.
Au loin on distingue les tours contemporaines des années 80 du XIII ème arrondissement.