Seattle Now & Then: AYP's Forestry Building

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: An estimated 50 percent of the materials used in the old Husky Union Building were recycled into its recent remodel.  The new HUB seems to reach for the roof like its long-ago predecessor, the AYP’s landmark Forestry building.  (Courtesy Lawton Gowey)
THEN: An estimated 50 percent of the materials used in the old Husky Union Building were recycled into its recent remodel. The new HUB seems to reach for the roof like its long-ago predecessor, the AYP’s landmark Forestry building. (Courtesy Lawton Gowey)
NOW: U.W. alumnae who have fond memories of the old HUB’s often cozy qualities, may find the new HUB’s brilliant openness a shake-up for their nostalgia.
NOW: U.W. alumnae who have fond memories of the old HUB’s often cozy qualities, may find the new HUB’s brilliant openness a shake-up for their nostalgia.

As Jean’s “repeat” reveals, the recent prize-winning remodel of the HUB (the University of Washington’s Husky Union Building) is an air-conditioned delight. While its atrium of glass and limestone reaches for the roof it also extends to nearly the length of the building.

The HUB was built in 1949 on the former site of the surreal Forestry Building, which was hammered together for the 1909 Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition (AYP). In its bigger parts that state financed oddity was built from unhewn fir logs picked from the forests of Snohomish County for their “symmetry and soundness.” Five and one-half feet thick and forty feet long, the logs required two flat cars each for delivery to the building site over a special railroad spur laid thru the AYP campus.

6. Forestry-bld-inside-L11-WEB

Ignoring the Forestry Building’s classical ambitions, a local reporter, on first seeing architects Charles W. Saunders and George Willis Lawton’s rendering, concluded, no doubt with considerable satisfaction, that it would surely be the “largest log cabin in the world.”  The Fair’s directors were quick to “squelch these popular postcard notions” with their own best construction. “The Forestry Building will not be a log cabin building, but a building of architectural lines and design constructed largely of logs.”

6. Forestry-Bldg-AYP-CURVING-Front-WEB

The “Temple to Timber” opened on June 1, 1909 with the rest of the fair.  Although lavishly appointed with the artifacts of forestry and a few freaks too, like a pair of dice that were six feet through, – “the kind of dice we roll in Washington” – this “Greek temple done in rustic” was an example of a museum overwhelming the exhibits inside it.

x - AYP-adver-for-Simons-Saw--WEB

x. AYP-forestry-int-indianmaid-WEB

x. AYP-waterfall-inter-Forestry-Bldg-w-SwanWEB

3. Forestry-Bldg-aka-State-Museum-InteriorWEB

The real photo postcards above and below were recorded after the AYP when the Forestry Building lived on as the State Museum.

The "Big Stick" on the rear porch.
The “Big Stick” on the rear porch.

Predictions that “such a building should stand for a century” were disappointed by the several families of wood-eating beetles who found living under the bark nourishing, although ultimately not replenishing.  In danger of collapse, the Forestry Building was razed in 1931.

WEB EXTRAS

I have a few photos I took wandering the re-invented HUB. Surely, you must remember the mural, which it seems, remains in place, although the walls surrounding it have changed. Light now streams down from windows above on a sunny day:

The UW mural now
The UW mural now
The University of a 1000 Years mural in its ca. 1992 setting.
The University of a 1000 Years mural in its ca. 1992 setting.

The other photos reveal a more open HUB with balconies and floating staircases, some of which can be seen below (click on thumbnails to enlarge):

hub3 hub2 hub4 hub1

First impression – lots of space and light, perhaps sacrificing a certain mundane coziness. What say you, Paul?

For most of the parts we will share more looks at and into the Forestry Building.  Still I will admit to having enjoyed the “mundane coziness” too of the old Hub.  This surely has lots to do with the dances, and stage shows I enjoyed there in the late 1960s primarily.  For instance I danced with then still the flex-of-prime to the music of Country Joe and the Fish for their first visit to Seattle.  That was in the winter of 1966-67 – unless I am corrected.  More recently I attended a concert of mixed-gender glee-music (I’ll call it) performed by students from Bellingham, Western Wash University including my friends Marc Cutler and Leslie Smith’s son Alexander.  The windowless room were not a bother, and the low-ceiling lobby was, as you put it, quite cozy.  The comforting deep chairs helped with that.  Returning to the Forestry Building and a stereo of its big room we can see that it too could show lots of “space and light” somewhat like the new HUB.

A long look from the balcony thru the length of the AYP's Forestry Bldg.  The distant sign locates the exhibits for the Washington State Board of Health.
A long look from the balcony thru the length of the AYP’s Forestry Bldg. The distant sign locates the exhibits for the Washington State Board of Health.

I first wrote about this “Temple of Timber” now nearly 30 years ago for the Pacific issue of Feb. 26, 1994.  Ron Edge’s helpful scanning of all three of the early collections of the Pacific features – Seattle Now and Then, Vol.1, Vol.2 & Vol.3 includes the below as the 29th feature included in Volume One.  [Click TWICE to enlarge the text below.]

1. Temple-of-Timber-pg1-2-26-84

1. Temple-of-Timber-p.2-WEB

1. jw-Forestry-Bldg3-aypWEB

2. Forestry-Bldg-with-Pop-Wagner's-bandWEB

I  tried to find either the negative or a print for my portrait of the Volunteer Park Conservatory Orchestra included in the clip above, but without success - for now.  [Click the clip please to ENLARGE it for reading.]
I tried to find either the negative or a print for my portrait of the Volunteer Park Conservatory Orchestra included in the clip above, but without success – for now.  After living in Seattle and making music here for more than thirty years, David Mahler moved to Pittsburgh where he continues with his teaching, composing and performing.  [Click the clip please to ENLARGE it for reading.]
 

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