Seattle Now & Then: Madison’s Lost Poplars

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THEN: Looking west on Madison Street from Seventh Avenue circa 1909.  (Courtesy, Washington State Museum, Tacoma)
THEN: Looking west on Madison Street from Seventh Avenue circa 1909. (Courtesy, Washington State Museum, Tacoma)
NOW: Aside from the Dover Apartments at 901 6th Avenue, that can be found above the trunk of the red sedan in the foreground, the skyline from the Seattle Tower on the left, to The Renaissance on the right, is new with high-rises that reach far above the frame of Jean’s repeat.
NOW: Aside from the Dover Apartments at 901 6th Avenue, that can be found above the trunk of the red sedan in the foreground, the skyline from the Seattle Tower on the left, to The Renaissance on the right, is new with high-rises that reach far above the frame of Jean’s repeat.

The Lombardy Poplars that once lined much of Madison Street from Fourth Avenue to Broadway made First Hill’s favorite arterial “the most attractive place in town.”  That is on the pioneer authority of Sophie Frye Bass, found in her delightful book of reminiscences, “Pig-Tail Days in Old Seattle.” Here the photographer A. Curtis looks west-southwest, through the intersection of Madison Street and Seventh Avenue to Central School, on the left, and the Knickerbocker Hotel, on the right.  Central School opened in 1889

Looking southwest thru the same intersection of 7th Avenue and Madison Street with younger winter-leafless poplars.
Looking southwest from the same intersection of 7th Avenue and Madison Street with younger winter-leafless poplars.

with Seattle’s first high school installed on its third floor.  Sixty years later the school’s landmark towers were prudently removed after Seattle’s 1949 earthquake.

This ordinarily busy intersection is oddly vacant in the feature subject, crossed by neither motorcar nor team. However, the pavement bricks – no doubt slippery – are layered with clues.  A combined mess of auto oil, horse droppings – and what else? – marks them.

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Above and below, looking east on Madison Street from Sixth Avenue.  Rising high at the center, the Knickerbocher is nearly new in the ca. 1909 photograph above by Arthur Churchill Warner.  The poplars are long since stripped away in Lawton Gowey’s recording from June 19, 1961.  Knowing Lawton, I’d say that he was capturing a last look thru the block before it was razed for the Seattle Freeway.

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A Seattle Times clipping from Jan 5, 1963 featuring a look north from the Knickerbocher roof to the advancing work of the freeway.
A Seattle Times clipping from Jan 5, 1963 featuring a look north from the Knickerbocher roof to the advancing work of the freeway.  CLICK TO ENLARGE
The Smith Tower's prospect into the neighborhood on June 21, 1961.   At the subject's center only the long auxiliary structure along Marion Street survives, here very near the scene's center.  From there to the left and beyond some parked cars the Knickerbocher still rises.
The Smith Tower’s prospect into the neighborhood on June 21, 1961.  Near the subject’s center only the long auxiliary structure along Marion Street survives. From there to the left and beyond parked cars covering the footprint of the destroyed school, the Knickerbocker still rises.  This is another Kodachrome slide by Lawton Gowey.
From Madison Street, Frank Shaw's 1963 look thru the rubble that was contributed by the hotels, including the Knickerbocher,  along the north side of Madison Street.
From Madison Street, Frank Shaw’s 1963 look thru the rubble that was contributed by the hotels, including the Knickerbocker, along the north side of Madison Street.   Lawton again.
The third of four First Presbyterian sanctuaries, and the first one built on the east side of Seventh Avenue, between Madison and Spring streets.  Lawton Gowey recorded this on Feb. 6, 1967, the year and winter season that the Seattle Freeway was dedicated.  Gleaming west facade of the Christian Scientists (now Town Hall) at the southwest corner of 8th and Seneca, appears far left.  Behind it is the Exeter House, at the northwest corner.
The third of four First Presbyterian sanctuaries, and the first one built on the east side of Seventh Avenue, between Madison and Spring streets. Lawton Gowey recorded this on Feb. 6, 1967, the year and winter season that the Seattle Freeway was dedicated. Gleaming west facade of the Christian Scientists (now Town Hall) at the southwest corner of 8th and Seneca, appears far left. Behind it is the Exeter House, at the northwest corner.

The Knickerbocker was built in time for Seattle’s first world’s fair, the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific-Exposition, held on the UW campus. Advertised as “strictly modern,” the hotel’s ninety rooms were for the most part taken as apartments.  In 1911 weekly rents were three dollars and up.  Included among its more sensationally newsworthy residents in the half-century before the hotel was razed for the Seattle Freeway, were a forger, a three-and-one-half year old boy deserted by his parents, and a Knickerbocker manager who – it seems – murdered his wife.  And the hotel’s visitors featured more than one robber.

A dated construction scene on Presbyterian's oversized sanctuary, looking here at the front door facing the corner of 7th Ave. and Spring Street.  (Courtesy Michael Maslan)
A dated construction scene on Presbyterian’s over-sized sanctuary, looking here at the front door facing the corner of 7th Ave. and Spring Street. (Courtesy Michael Maslan)
Nearly new
Nearly new and presently four Corinthian columns to the intersection of Seventh Avenue and Spring Street.
Lawton Gowey's look east on Spring Street to First Presbyterian on April 19, 1966.  Lawton was also a Presbyterian and for decades the organist at his church on Queen Anne Hill.  He died of a heart attack in 1983 while preparing for another Sunday service.
Lawton Gowey’s look east on Spring Street to First Presbyterian on April 19, 1966, and without its two original domes, one of which was home to the church’s radio station, another pulpit for any preacher, but most importantly its builder, Mark Matthews. Lawton was also a Presbyterian and for decades the organist at his church on Queen Anne Hill. He died of a heart attack in 1983 while preparing for another Sunday service.

On the brighter side, in a letter to the Times editor, Knickerbocker resident Carol Cornish expressed her thanks that living at 616 Madison put her “close-in” to downtown opera and concerts. In her letter from Oct. 28 1940, Ms. Cornish also included a culture-conscious complaint about concert audience behavior. “I hate to be stuffy, but the shallow, careless frivolities of the so-called smart set often fill us unaspiring social plebeians with a definite distaste.” During the Great Depression of the 1930s, the Times, awarded the Knickerbocker Hotel by including it in its “Business and Professional Ledger.” After the Second World War some hotel rooms were outfitted with dark rooms for rent to amateur photographers.  And through much of the 1950s, the Knickerbocker was home to the Seattle Chess Club.

West on Madison from 9th Avenue along a line of healthy, its seems, poplars.  Part of the Knickerbocker at 7th avenue appears on the far left.
West on Madison from 9th Avenue along a line of healthy, its seems, poplars. Part of the Knickerbocker at 7th avenue appears on the far left.

Writing her little classic “Pig-Tail Days” in 1937, Sophie Frye Bass, granddaughter of Arthur and Mary Denny, mourned the loss of both the poplars and the First Hill neighborhood of her childhood.  “The fine residences and stately poplars have given way protestingly to business.”

A news clipping from The Seattle Times on June 26, 1903, reports or claims that the Madison Street poplars are doomed to disease.  CLICK TO READ
A news clipping from The Seattle Times on June 26, 1903, reports or claims that the Madison Street poplars are doomed to disease. CLICK TO READ
The Northern Pacific Railroad's photographer F. Jay Haynes recorded this look up Madison Street from the waterfront most likely in 1890.  Central School at 6th and Madison is on the right, and no Poplars as yet run a line between the school and Madison.  The central tower of the McNaught mansion, facing Fourth Avenue near Spring Street and the more slender tower of Providence Hospital, left of center, escape the horizon.
The Northern Pacific Railroad’s photographer F. Jay Haynes recorded this look up Madison Street from the waterfront most likely in 1890. Central School at 6th and Madison is on the right, and no Poplars as yet run a line between the school and Madison. The central tower of the McNaught mansion, facing Fourth Avenue near Spring Street and the more slender tower of Providence Hospital, left of center, escape the horizon.
Most likely Robert Bradley took this look east on Madison from the Alaskan Way Viaduct before it was opened to traffic in the spring of 1953.  Here, as well, no poplars are showing above Madison's distant horizon.
Most likely Robert Bradley took this look east on Madison from the Alaskan Way Viaduct before it was opened to traffic in the spring of 1953. Here, as well, no poplars are showing above Madison’s distant horizon.

WEB EXTRAS

Anything to add, Paul?  Sure Jean.  Between the two of us, Ron Edge and I have collected seven links to earlier features that relate to this subject with Central School and the Knickerbocher.  They may also include subjects in their own “Web Extras” that are far afield of Seventh and Madison, and there may be some repetitions between them.  But all are placed with good will while remembering still my own mother’s encouragement that “repetition is the mother of all learning.”

THEN: A close “read” of this concrete pile at 714 7th Ave. will reveal many lines of tiles decorating its gray facades.  (Courtesy, Lawton Gowey)

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THEN: A circa 1923 view looks south on Eighth Avenue over Pike Street, at bottom left.

THEN: The home at bottom right looks across Madison Street (out of frame) to Central School. The cleared intersection of Spring Street and Seventh Avenue shows on the right.

Seattle Now & Then: A Methodist Revival on Union Street

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THEN: The “then” photo looks southeast across Union Street to the old territorial university campus.  It was recorded in the Fall of 1907, briefly before the old park-like campus was transformed into a grand commercial property, whose rents still support the running of the University of Washington.  (Courtesy Museum of History and Industry)
THEN: The “then” photo looks southeast across Union Street to the old territorial university campus. It was recorded in the Fall of 1907, briefly before the old park-like campus was transformed into a grand commercial property, whose rents still support the running of the University of Washington. (Courtesy Museum of History and Industry)
NOW: While civic leaders proposed that the abandoned territorial campus on Denny’s Knoll be converted into a central city park, the University’s regents wanted it developed into properties whose leases would support the school, which with the typically close-fisted legislature, often needed help. The regents won.
NOW: While civic leaders proposed that the abandoned territorial campus on Denny’s Knoll be converted into a central city park, the University’s regents wanted it developed into properties whose leases would support the school, which with the typically close-fisted legislature, often needed help. The regents won.

Two structures stand out in this 1907 look across Union Street into the old campus of the Territorial University.  Both seem incomplete.  The ornate one on top with the comely belfry is the Territorial University building itself, stripped of its columns while still awaiting its fate.

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Looking southeast at the Territorial University in its original location and with it columns too, and above it without those Ionic pillars.
Looking southeast at the Territorial University in its original location and with it columns too, and above it without those Ionic pillars and in the place off Union Street and straddling 5th Avenue, as it is in the feature photo..
An early portrait of the university with some of the old growth still to the sides.
An early portrait of the university with some of the old growth still to the sides.
Your investigating eye may - or surely will - find the university's pergola in this view as well.  It looks west on Union Street through its intersection with Sixth Avenue.
Your investigating eye may – or surely will – find the university’s pergola in this view as well. It looks west on Union Street through its intersection with Sixth Avenue.
First visiting Tacoma for a round of conversions, the dynamic Hart and Magann joined a local protest against the staging of
First visiting Tacoma for a round of conversions, the dynamic Hart and Magann joined a local protest against the staging of Salome at the Tacoma Theatre.
Later and not here but in
Later and not here but in West Virginia, it was revealed that even fervent worship may be offensive, when the farmer E.M.Snyder was arrested for crying “Amen, Amen” with too much zeal.

The lower structure, the palatial hut facing the sidewalk, resembles the warehouse set atop Noah’s ark in a Biblical illustration I remember.  In the Bible, all the “animals two by two” were given accommodations. In this shed, however, the critters were mostly Methodists, more than three-thousand could be fit inside, and apparently were. There they would sing and preach — reinvigorating the local congregations, their own faith, and also naming and chastising selected Seattle sinners.

Another Seattle Times report.  This one from Sept. 20, 1907.
Another Seattle Times report. This one from Sept. 20, 1907.   CLICK TO ENLARGE!
Evangelists Hart and Magann confess when closing down their work in the tabernacle that Seattle's Methodists were something of a disappointment.
Evangelists Hart and Magann confess when closing down their work in the tabernacle that Seattle’s Methodists were something of a disappointment.  CLICK TO ENLARGE!!!

Apparently the tabernacle was pounded together in 1907 for the fall arrival of the evangelists Hart (the preacher) and Magann (the singer), noted on its signs.  By then the landmark behind it – the University Building – was serving as temporary quarters for the Seattle Public Library. Bo Kinney, the library’s new circulation services manager, shares with us that the decision to move (by skidding) the territorial university from its original foundation, near the northeast corner of Fourth Avenue and Seneca Street, and ultimately to this site near Fifth Avenue and University Street, was first announced on March 3, 1905.  The building was moved to lower the height of Denny’s Knoll and thereby allow for the extending of Fourth Avenue north from Seneca Street directly through the campus at the lower grade, and soon also on Fifth Avenue as seen in Jean’s repeat.

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Spring reportage from the The Times that "Seattle's Most Historic Building" was being prepared for removal to Seattle's most progressive creation, the Alaska Yukon and Pacific Expo. on the newer University Campus beside the Brooklyn Addition, now known as the University District.  The Times clipping is from May 17, 1908.
CLICK TO ENLARGE!  Spring reporting from the The Times that “Seattle’s Most Historic Building” was being prepared for removal to Seattle’s most progressive creation, the Alaska Yukon and Pacific Expo. on the newer University Campus beside the Brooklyn Addition, now known as the University District. The Times clipping is from May 17, 1908.

In early May of 1908 an appointed and, we imagine, enthused group of UW students started raising the ten-thousand dollars it was thought was needed to barge the original territorial university building to the new – since 1895 – campus north of Lake Union’s Portage Bay. There it was envisioned that Seattle’s grandest pioneer landmark would soon add its fame to the city’s first world’s fair, the 1909 Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition. When this effort of preservation failed, some of the hardwood in the old school was turned into canes, which were sold as souvenirs, mostly to alums.  It was figured that through the thirty-plus years of the school’s stay on Denny Knoll, about 5,000 young scholars had crossed beneath the Ionic columns of its main hall.  The columns alone were saved and survive as the four white fluted landmarks that grace the University’s Sylvan Theatre.

What we might call the "backside" of the Columns, the side away from the Sylvan Theater, includes up the way U.W.'s Anderson Hall, which was donated by the lumbering Anderson family, a former subject of this blog.
What we might call the “backside” of the Columns, the side away from the Sylvan Theater, includes, up the way, U.W.’s Anderson Hall, which was donated by the lumbering Anderson family, a former subject of this blog.
. . . and the front side of the landmark columns, seen here rarely at night within the Sylvan Theater and with a few of its Attic goings-on rarely seen by the light of the sun.
. . . and the front side of the landmark columns, seen here at night within the Sylvan Theater with  Attic goings-on rarely seen by the light of the sun.

WEB EXTRAS

Anything to add, Paul?   With Ron Edge’s help, yes.   Below are some “Edge Links” and then below that some other photographs and more that relate to this old knoll – Denny’s Knoll – that after the carvings or regrades of 1906-1910 is gone.    I will also insert some “extras” into the week’s primary text, above.  But not much.  It is already thirty minutes past midnight, and my late start is, in part, your fault, or rather the delicious detraction of the marinated chicken with mushrooms, seasoned rice and those flowery green veggies that Nixon – or Regan – deplored.   Thanks again for dinner, and the time spent with you and Don, your dad, was a delight.

Three Edge Links to pasts post for the reader’s enjoyment.

THEN: Looking east on University Street towards Ninth Avenue, ca. 1925, with the Normandie Apartments on the left.

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DENNY’S KNOLL, FIFTH AVENUE and UNION STREET from DENNY HILL

The greenbelt that swipes through the center of this ca. 1885 panorama from Denny Hill is the northern end of the University of Washington's first campus.   The campus stops at Union Street, or as seen from Denny Hill the bottom of the little forest.  The most evident avenue here is Third, which nearly reaches the bottom-center of the pan   Second Avenue nearly reaches the lower right corner of the pan.  From this calibration the reader may cautiously but confidently reach a likely approach for Fifth Avenue, here south to Union and the campus green.
The greenbelt that swipes through the center of this ca. 1885 panorama from Denny Hill is the northern end of the University of Washington’s first campus. The campus stops at Union Street, As seen here from Denny Hill, Union running left-right is at the bottom of the little forest. The most evident avenue here is Third, which nearly reaches the bottom-center of the pan, and Second Avenue nearly reaches the lower right corner.  From this calibration, the reader may cautiously but confidently find here  a likely approach for Fifth Avenue south to Union and the campus green. Beacon Hill is on the right horizon, and First Hill on the left.  DOUBLE CLICK TO ENLARGE   A close-up or detail follows below.

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Looking west down Seneca to the "rear" of Denny's Knoll.
Looking west down Seneca to the “rear” of Denny’s Knoll.   The rolling title “Knoll of Knowledge” was created by a Times header-specialist, who may have jumped when it first occurred to her or him.
Looking north across Virginia Street on (or near) Fifth Avenue.
Looking north across Virginia Street on (or near) Fifth Avenue.

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Copied from Seattle Now and Then Vol. 3, the 41st feature.
Copied from Seattle Now and Then Vol. 3, the 41st feature.

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Seattle Now & Then: The Minor/Collins Home on First Hill

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THEN: Built in 1887, the Minor-Collins Home at the northeast corner of Minor Avenue and Cherry Street was one of the grandest and longest surviving pioneer mansions on First Hill.  (Courtesy Historic Seattle)
THEN: Built in 1887, the Minor-Collins Home at the northeast corner of Minor Avenue and Cherry Street was one of the grandest and longest surviving pioneer mansions on First Hill. (Courtesy Historic Seattle)
NOW: After Bertrand Collins gave it a farewell party in 1951, the Minor-Collins home was razed, ultimately to become part of the Swedish Hospital campus.
NOW: After Bertrand Collins gave it a farewell party in 1951, the Minor-Collins home was razed, ultimately to become part of the Swedish Hospital campus.

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Built in 1887 by Sarah and Dr. Thomas Minor, it was one the earliest grand homes built on First Hill.  Painted a green so dark it was “almost black,” the red trim contrasted nicely. Interrupted by tragedy, the Minors’ stay there was brief.  Less than three years after the family moved into their mansion, the doctor drowned off Whidbey Island while hunting with two friends, who also perished.

 Minor
Minor

In 1891 when John and Angela Collins became the new residents, it was still addressed 702 12th Avenue, but the street was soon renamed Minor Avenue.   Both Thomas Minor and John Collins served as Seattle mayors: Collins first in 1873 as a dedicated Democrat, and Minor in 1887, a resolute Republican.  Earlier Minor had moved his family to Seattle from Port Townsend where he was also once mayor.

Overgrown and most likely late in the life of the Minor-Collins home.
Overgrown – late in the life of the Minor-Collins home.

If one’s attentions were devoted to this big home’s pioneer origins, then one may still wish to call it the Minor Home.  If, however, one concentrates on the roll of significant events that occurred here, then it is the Collins home, and perhaps even the Angela Collins home. Angela was the second wife of the bold Irishman John Collins.  They were married in 1877, after the locally famous widower of forty-two courted and won eighteen-year-old Angela Burdett Jackling.

Above and below: A feature from the Nov. 11, 1951 Seattle Times.
Above and below: A feature from the Nov. 11, 1951 Seattle Times. CLICK TWICE TO ENLARGE

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Widowed in 1903, Angela Collins gave her remaining forty-four years to nourishing Seattle society, the “higher” parts of it here on the summit of First Hill.  Her work was distinguished by programs and parties, some in the garden.  To name a few, Angela was a leader in the Garden Club, the Music and Art Foundation, and the Sunset Club, of which she and, later, her younger daughter Catherine, served as presidents.  Angela was an effective campaigner, raising funds for the Children’s Orthopedic Hospital and the Junior League. The League’s first meetings were held in the Collins home.

SEATTLE TIMES, July 28, 1929
SEATTLE TIMES, July 28, 1929 – Double Click to ENLARGE
Seattle Times, July 16, 1933
Seattle Times, July 16, 1933

John and Angela had four children and all of them excelled. For example, Bertrand, the younger son, was a popular novelist famous here for his exploring wit.  In 1946, daughter Catherine was given the title “Seattle’s First Lady of the Year,” mostly for her work with charities.  Within a year, her mother Angela died after eighty-eight productive years, most of them at this corner.  Her obituary, which appeared in the Seattle Times for September 21,1947, concluded, “From her childhood, Mrs. Collins was a brilliant figure in the social history of the city.”

As witness to her love of gardening and landscape,
As witness to her love of gardening and landscape, during the winter of 1931 Angela Collins rescued one of the horse chestnut trees cut down for street widening on “the University Way side of the University Heights School ground.”  CLICK TO ENLARGE
The MINOR-COLLINS Mansion in its last days
The MINOR-COLLINS Mansion in its last days

WEB EXTRAS

Anything to add, Paul?   JEAN, First below with Ron Edge’s attentions are two links to related features that we return to again.  Following that a few local reminders of the Minor and Collins names.  Other extras were included above within this feature’s primary text.

THEN:

ON MINOR AVENUE

Building a retraining wall along the western border of the Cascade Playfield, depression-time work by the WPA in the 1930.  The view looks north on MINOR AVE. with Thomas Street behind the municipal photographer.
Building a retraining wall along the western border of the Cascade Playfield, depression-time work by the WPA in the 1930s. The view looks north on MINOR AVE. with Thomas Street behind the municipal photographer.  The view below from 1978 looks at a right angle directly east to this section of the completed wall.
Paul Kerby, left, and Bill Burden, right, trucking down Minor Avenue after the snow of Nov. 19, 1978.  Above them is the Cascade Playfield.
Paul Kerby, left, and Bill Burden, right, trucking down Minor Avenue after the snow of Nov. 19, 1978. Above them is the Cascade Playfield.
With no steps to the Cascade Playfield included in the WPA public work in the 1930s, another federal employee with CETA inserted these in the mid 1970s.
With no steps to the Cascade Playfield included in the WPA public work in the 1930s, another federal employee with CETA built these in the mid 1970s. “Watch Your Step”

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Sandbox stories at Collins Playfield, 1909.  (Courtesy, Municipal Archive)
Sandbox stories at Collins Playfield, 1909. (Courtesy, Municipal Archive)

COLLINS PLAYFIELD

Stories from the Collins Playground sandbox, 1909.

The COLLINS PARK FIELD HOUSE opened in 1913 and closed in 1971.  Here members of the Japanese American Association pose beside it in the 1930s.  (Courtesy, Seattle's Japanese Buddhist Temple)
The COLLINS PARK FIELD HOUSE opened in 1913 and closed in 1971. Here members of the Japanese American Association pose beside it in the 1930s. (Courtesy, Seattle’s Japanese Buddhist Temple)
The COLLINS Building in the early 1890s, photographed by LaRoche.  Better known as the Seattle Hotel, it has been replaced since 1961 by the "Sinking Ship Parking Garage" in the flat-iron block bordered by Second Avenue, James Street and Yesler Way.  This view looks east from Pioneer Place, aka Pioneer Square.
The COLLINS Building in the early 1890s, photographed by LaRoche. Better known as the Seattle Hotel, it has been replaced since 1962 by the “Sinking Ship Parking Garage” in the flat-iron block bordered by Second Avenue, James Street and Yesler Way. This view looks east from Pioneer Place, aka Pioneer Square.
Lawton Gowey recorded this frontal portrait of the Sinking Ship Garage on March 20, 1974, about ten years after its construction.  The builders explained that with the curved backet-handle-shapred pipes running along the tops of the garage's walls, it would fit the neighborhood's windows, like those facing its from across Second Avenue and the top floor of the Collins building.
Lawton Gowey recorded this frontal portrait of the Sinking Ship Garage on March 20, 1974, about ten years after its construction. The builders explained that with the curved basket-handle-shaped pipes running along the tops of the garage walls, it would fit the neighborhood’s windows, like those facing it across Second Avenue from the top floor of the Collins building. BELOW.  Lawton Gowey returns on April 21, 1976 to shoot across the bow of the Sinking Ship to the Pioneer Building whose basket-handle windows were, the garage building’s architects claimed, their inspiration.

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Frank Shaws look across the habitat of the truncated - to two stories - Butler Hotel, to the nearly abandoned Collins Building on the southeast corner of Second Avenue and James Street, and the former homesite of John and Angela Collins, which was destroyed during the city's "Great Fire of 1889."  Note - if you will - the mid-block burlesque house between the Collins Building and the Smith Tower.
Frank Shaw’s look across the habitat of the truncated – to two stories – Butler Hotel, to the nearly abandoned Collins Building on the southeast corner of Second Avenue and James Street. It was the former homesite of John and Angela Collins, destroyed during the city’s “Great Fire of 1889.” Note – if you will – the mid-block burlesque house between the Collins Building and the Smith Tower.  Shaw dates this November 26, 1974.
Looking north on Occidental Avenue to John Collins' Occidental Hotel in the 1870s.
Looking north on Occidental Avenue to John Collins’ hand-colored Occidental Hotel in the 1870s.
The OCCIDENTAL  HOTEL's Thanksgiving menu for 1887.
The OCCIDENTAL HOTEL’s Thanksgiving menu for 1887.

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COLLINS’ CLOSE-CALL AT HOME

An EDGE CLIPPING 

the Daily Intelligencer

Nov. 13, 1878

Collins Nightmare Dintel 11:13:78

Seattle Now & Then: Unitarian Drama

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THEN: First dedicated in 1889 by Seattle’s Unitarians, the congregation soon needed a larger sanctuary and moved to Capitol Hill.   Here on 7th Avenue, their first home was next used for a great variety of events, including a temporary home for the Christian Church, a concert hall for the Ladies Musical Club, and a venue for political events like anarchist Emma Goldman’s visit to Seattle in 1910. (Compliments Lawton Gowey)
THEN: First dedicated in 1889 by Seattle’s Unitarians, the congregation soon needed a larger sanctuary and moved to Capitol Hill. Here on 7th Avenue, their first home was next used for a great variety of events, including a temporary home for the Christian Church, a concert hall for the Ladies Musical Club, and a venue for political events like anarchist Emma Goldman’s visit to Seattle in 1910. (Compliments Lawton Gowey)
NOW: Both the church and its neighbor Dreamland were razed in 1923 for construction of the Eagle Auditorium, now home for Act Theatre and Kreielsheimer Place.  Both views look east across Seventh Avenue, mid-block between Union and Pike Streets.
NOW: Both the church and its neighbor Dreamland were razed in 1923 for construction of the Eagle Auditorium, now home for Act Theatre and Kreielsheimer Place. Both views look east across Seventh Avenue, mid-block between Union and Pike Streets.

The first Unitarian Church of Seattle was built in 1889, only two years after Samuel Eliot, the 25-year-old son of Charles Eliot, president of Harvard University and perhaps then the most famous educator in the Western Hemisphere, arrived in Seattle to help its Unitarians get organized and build this sanctuary.

A another helpful return to the 1912 Baist real estate map.
A another helpful return to the 1912 Baist real estate map.

Local architect Hermann Steinman presented the drawings as a gift to the new congregation.  Soon after the construction commenced mid-May 1889, the church’s rising belfry was easily visible around the city. The construction, here on the east side of Seventh Avenue between Union and Pike streets, was not affected when most of Seattle’s business district was consumed by the Great Fire of June 6, 1889.

First Unitarian early and far right in this look down from First Hill.  The intersection of 8th and Union is centered near the bottom of the subject.
First Unitarian early and far right in this look down from First Hill. The intersection of 8th and Union is centered near the bottom of the subject.

The photograph by Asahel Curtis was recorded about 20 years later — most likely 1909, by which time the Unitarians had moved on and turned the building over to other users. In the Curtis photo, the church building is squeezed on the right (south) by the popular Dreamland, a large hall built as a roller rink in 1908, but then soon given to dancing and a great variety of assemblies, many of them labor-related and politically liberal. These politics also fit the activism of the AOUW (Ancient Order of United Workmen), which used the old church for its Columbia Lodge soon after the popular Unitarians had moved to Capitol Hill. The Columbia name is signed on the steeple.

With a First Hill horizon this subject looks east from a prospect near Third and Pike.  The Unitarians have moved on but Fern Hall is sign on the steeple they left behind.
With a First Hill horizon this subject looks east from a prospect near Third and Pike. The Unitarians have moved on but Fern Hall is sign on the steeple they left behind.
A turn-of-the-century (19th to 20th) clipping.
A turn-of-the-century (19th to 20th) clipping.

The First Unitarians dedicated their new, larger church on Boylston Avenue in 1906. It had 800 seats, the better to stage the church’s productions, which included concerts of many sorts, adult Sunday schools led by University of Washington profs, classes in psychology and comparative religion, and plays by the Unitarian Dramatic Club.

The Sept. 20, 1908 Seattle Times caption for this reads in part, 'Looking forward forty years, the play 'Seattle in 1940,' to be given by the Unitarian Assembly Hall, corner of Boylston Avenue and olive Street will be woman's suffrage play in which women will occupy positions of trust and importance in business and men fill domestic positions.  The play was written by Sarah Pratt Carr, a local author, who is giving her time to the rehearsal and staging of the play.  The parts are taken by persons the author had in mind when she wrote the comedy.  The special music was composed by Clara Carr Moore.  The proceeds of the play will be used to removed the indebtedness against the new Unitarian Church organ.
The Sept. 20, 1908 Seattle Times caption for this reads in part, ‘Looking forward forty years, the play ‘Seattle in 1940,’ to be given by the Unitarian Assembly Hall, corner of Boylston Avenue and olive Street will be woman’s suffrage play in which women will occupy positions of trust and importance in business and men fill domestic positions. The play was written by Sarah Pratt Carr, a local author, who is giving her time to the rehearsal and staging of the play. The parts are taken by persons the author had in mind when she wrote the comedy. The special music was composed by Clara Carr Moore. The proceeds of the play will be used to remove the indebtedness against the new Unitarian Church organ.

Dramatic presentations continue on the original church site with ACT Theatre. Jean Sherrard used his recent benefit appearance on an ACT stage as an opportunity to pose the theater’s support staff at its Seventh Avenue side entrance for this week’s “Now.” To quote Sherrard, “I don’t know if any are Unitarians or not, but they are surely united in their vision for a transcendent theatrical experience.”

Another Seattle Times clipping.  This from May 23, 1910.
Another Seattle Times clipping. This from May 23, 1910.

WEB EXTRAS

Anything to add, Paul?   Certainly Jean and we will begin again with a few relevant LINKS that Ron has pulled from past features.  After all that I’ll put up some more mostly from the neighborhood.

THEN: Looking east on University Street towards Ninth Avenue, ca. 1925, with the Normandie Apartments on the left.

THEN:  Built in the mid-1880s at 1522 7th Avenue, the Anthony family home was part of a building boom developing this north end neighborhood then into a community of clapboards.  Here 70 years later it is the lone survivor.  (Photo by Robert O. Shaw)

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CAPITOL HILL UNITARIANS

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NOV. 19, 1934, Seattle Times
NOV. 19, 1934, Seattle Times

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UNION Street From FIRST HILL

With her or his  back to Terry Avenue, the photographer looks west on Union Street during the "Big Snow" of 1916.  Note the switch-back path.
With her or his back to Terry Avenue, the photographer looks west on Union Street during the “Big Snow” of 1916. .
West on Union from First Hill.
West on Union from First Hill also in the mid-teens.  Note the Unitarians (their first sanctuary on 7th)  right of center.
East on Union to First Hill from 7th Avenue with an awning at the front entrance to the Eagles Auditorium, and an insert of the from the same corner during the construction of the Convention Center.
East on Union to First Hill from 7th Avenue with an awning at the front entrance to the Eagles Auditorium, and an insert of the from the same corner during the construction of the Convention Center.

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Eagle first home of their own at the southwest corner of 7th and Pine.
Eagle first home of their own at the southwest corner of 7th and Pine.

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EAGLES at SEVENTH & UNION

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         The Eagles Lodge took its name from a stuffed eagle displayed in the hallway of an early meeting hall. The founders, a handful of mostly good old theater boys, got their inspiration while sitting around Robert Moran’s Seattle shipyard in 1898.

            When new in 1925, their grand lodge at Seventh Avenue and Union Street was described as “a modification of Italian Renaissance, sufficiently ornamented to add to its beauty without being ostentatious.” The architect, Henry Bittman, was a primary contributor to the inventory of terra-cotta landmarks Seattle was blessed with in the teens and ’20s.

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            Although not dated, this view [the top view of this subject] of the auditorium/clubhouse was probably taken when the founding “Mother Aerie” hosted the 1926 convention of the by-then-sizable national lodge.

Poster for the first lightshow at Eagle Auditorium.  The Jan 14, 1967 event was a benefit for the Free University and got "busted" (but not shut down) by the police department's Dance Detail.
Poster for the first light  show at Eagle Auditorium. The Jan 14, 1967 event was a benefit for the Free University and got “busted” (but not shut down) by the police department’s Dance Detail.

            Much of the Eagles Auditorium modern history has been given to rock-n-roll, first in the 1950s with Little Richard and Fats Domino. A five-year run of light-show concerts began with a disruption in 1967. Police “busted” a concert featuring the Emergency Exit and the Union Light Company, suspecting that the film loops and liquid projections of the Union Light Company simulated psychedelic consciousness, which the visiting police Dance Detail figure was somehow in violation of a 1929 code prohibiting something called “shadow dancing.” Perhaps the reasoning was that is the lights are turned down there will be more shadows.

Frank Shaw's unique look to the Eagle Auditorium in 1978 thru the wreckage of southeast corner of 7th and Union.
Frank Shaw’s unique look to the Eagle Auditorium in 1978 thru the wreckage of southeast corner of 7th and Union.

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Now with daylight savings upon us so is nighty bears surprisingly and we must limb that stairs to a long winter’s night, but we will we return in the afternoon to finish this off with something about the Dreamland, which held the corner before the Eagles.

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The Dreamland dance hall at the northeast corner of Seventh Ave. and Union Street with the First Unitarians behind it.  Both were razed for the Eagles Auditorium.
The Dreamland dance hall at the northeast corner of Seventh Ave. and Union Street with the First Unitarians behind it. Both were razed for the Eagles Auditorium.

The DREAMLAND

            The northeast corner of Seattle’s Seventh Avenue and Union Street includes a history of one landmark replacing two.  In the older view the Dreamland Dance Pavilion and, partially hidden behind it to the left, the First Unitarian Church of Seattle were razed for construction of the Eagles Auditorium

            The Dreamland is last listed in the 1922 city directory.  The following ear the Seattle Eagles’ new aerie is recorded at its corner – a place it still fills, although not so much for Eagles.

A Dreamland
A Dreamland dress-up: the Second Annual Ball for the Washington Chauffeurs’ Club, Nov. 17, 1911.

            Constructed in 1908 as a roller rink, the Dreamland was soon converted into a dance hall capable of accommodating crowds of more than 3,000, it was also a popular venue for mass meetings.

            Perennial Socialist presidential candidate Eugene Debs spoke to an overflow crowd there in January 1915, and two years later Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, another celebrated socialist, packed the place.  Flynn appeared to raise money for the Wobblies – Industrial Workers of the World members – wrongfully accused of instigating the Everett massacres when Wobblies and members of Everett’s Commercial Club exchanged gunfire on the Everett waterfront.

Full-page from the Feb. 9, 1908 Seattle Times, featuring some book reviews of the time, as well as
Full-page from the Feb. 9, 1908 Seattle Times, featuring some book reviews of the time, and several showplace ads including one for Paderewski at what was then still named the Dreamland Rink.  [CLICK TWICE to enlarge.]

            The church as built in 1889 when the corner was still in the sticks.  At the sanctuary’s September dedication, Dr. Thomas l. Eliot from the Portland congregation made a spiritual point of the new church’s building materials. “Long ago the stones of its foundation were a part of an ancient glacial drift, the trees sprang up perhaps before we signed the Declaration of Independence.  The iron, maybe, was from Norway. Behold them brought together for shelter that man may look to something greater than the forest, rock and iron.”

Beautiful and free, from The Seattle Times, Nov. 22, 1925
Beautiful and free, from The Seattle Times, Nov. 22, 1925

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A LETTER from LARRY LOWRY

Larry Lowry kindly sent me this photograph of the Dreamland with the wagons of The Seattle Bakery posing before it on Union Street.  Below the photograph is its own caption and Larry’s letter introducing his grandmother Waverly Mairs who for many years operated the bakery’s ice cream machine.

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