Seattle Now & Then: Unitarian Drama

(click to enlarge photos)

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)

=====

CAPITOL HILL UNITARIANS

Xx-unitarian-on-Cap.-Hill-web

xx-first-unitarian-Church-Cap-WEB

XxUnitarians-Olive-&-Boylston-3-29-92-WEB

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

=====

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.

=====

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.

1a.-Eagles-7-Pine-Now

1a.--EAGLES-at-swC-7th-&-PineTEXT-web-

1a. . Eagles-7-Pine-sw-Cor-as-BartellsWEB

======

EAGLES at SEVENTH & UNION

1. EAgles-at-Inaug-Night-WEB

   1.-Eagles-Auditorium--colored-now-WEB

         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.

1. Eagles-Auditorium-7th-and-Union-detail-with-Trolley-wiresWEB

            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.

====

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.

====

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

=====

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.

2b.-Larry-Lowry-dreamland-web

2b-Dreamland-Seattle-dairy-caption-WEB

2b-Dreamland-Seattle-Dairy-letter-WEB

=====

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s