This is the farmhouse where Margaret and Rezin Pontius raised their five children: three boys, Frank, Albert and Lincoln, and two girls, Mary and Emma. The photographer was the prolific Theodore Peiser, whose pioneer studio was one lot south of the southeast corner of Marion Street and Second Avenue, or was until the Great Fire of 1889 destroyed it and most of his negatives. Either this print escaped the flames, or the undated subject was recorded after the fire.
That’s Margaret posing near the front porch. By this time the three sons were all grown and working in town. Lincoln, the youngest, was a machinist, Albert a blacksmith, and Frank, the oldest, a druggist and for the years 1887-88, King County Treasurer. The year for Peiser’s visit was, I’ll speculate, about 1890. There are several homes climbing the Capitol Hill ridge on the horizon behind Margaret. All of them were built on land that she, with her sons, had sold. First settled by Rezin in the late 1860s and platted in 1880 as the Pontius Addition, north of Denny Way it extends east from Minor Avenue up Capitol Hill as far as 14th Avenue.
In the 1879 Pitt’s Directory for Seattle, Margaret is listed as a “farmeress” on the “Lake Union Road.” By 1890, the Pontius farmhouse was also a real estate office, and the family’s fortune multiplied with an influx of neighbors, of which there was a growing swarm following the fire. By then, Rezin was long gone, having disappeared after an argument with Margaret. Thereafter, by Margaret’s authority, he was a forbidden subject. When needed, she listed herself as a widow. After Margaret’s death, Rezin was reunited with his children, living out his life with Frank in Bothell.
ABOVE: With some of Mother Rhyther’s children on the porch and front steps and BELOW without them.
In 1889 Margaret built the family a Gothic mansion with a landmark tower about a hundred feet west of the farmhouse. Margaret was known for her conflicting passions of great charm and violent temper, which were conditioned by her charities. She gave much of her steadily increasing wealth to the care of children. After her death in 1902, the Pontius Mansion became the Mother Rhyther Home for Orphans in 1905 and continued so until 1919.
Above a Dec. 1, 1899 adver for Pontius lots and below it a Dec. 30, 1910 notice regarding the removal of a house in the way of extending Stewart Street to Eastlake Avenue and so at least in part through the site of the Pontius farm house and garden.
If I have figured correctly, with the help of other photographs and real estate maps, the Pontius farmhouse originally rested both beneath and beside the footprint for the Colwell Building, a six-story apartment with 124 units for low-income tenants, seen in the “now.” Opened in 2000, it was named for Reverend David Griffith Colwell, the Congregational minister who helped found the Plymouth Housing Group in 1980, which now manages one thousand units of low-income housing in twelve structures. With his death in 2001, Colwell left a legacy of good works, including twenty years of helping the homeless in Seattle.
Anything to add, boys? Surely Jean. Ron Edge has found a half-dozen links from the neighborhood, much of it the Pontius domain, which climbed up Capitol Hill to its summit on 14th Avenue. We used only a few of the stories we have told from that real estate kingdom. Below these links I’ll introduce a few earlier ones and three McDonald panoramas from the early 1890s that include the Cascade neighborhood – and much else. In all three the Pontius mansion can be found and in one of them their farm house as well. Their quite close to each other. Ron also appears below – in the second link- if our readers open it. It is a Peterson & Bros pioneer photo Ron found of another farm in the neighborhood. Jean posed Ron in the “now.” Together we, Ron, Jean and I, figured out the farm’s location a few blocks north of the Pontius farm.
THREE OLD MCDONALDS
1. From FIRST HILL
2. From DENNY HILL (This McDonald pan was given its own feature on June 29, 2003.)
3. From QUEEN ANNE HILL (It is more difficult to find the Pontius big home in this McDonald pan to the southeast from Queen Anne Hill, but it is there on the far right if you click-click-click.)
FOLLOW A FEW FEATURES FROM THE NEIGHBORHOOD (Or Near It)
For a half century, the Municipal Market Building sat at the northwest corner of the Pike Place Market. Perhaps you do not remember it, although the shoe-box shaped structure with its crenelated roof somewhat resembled a fort. Here the effect is made sensational with a fire and enveloping smoke. The alarm was rung mid-afternoon on Wednesday, September 25, 1974. The fire was started by a cutting torch used with abandon by a lone worker salvaging steel tracks in the by then condemned and abandoned building.
The Municipal Market Building was constructed on the west side of Western Avenue in the 1920s as a way to keep the market in the market. We explain. Combined traffic from north and south, Elliott and Western Avenues, respectively, reached Pike Place at Virginia Street. Already crowded with farmers’ stalls, the Market’s namesake Pike Place was increasingly used as a short cut to and from the business district. In this protracted battle between farmers and motorists, the city’s traffic engineers wanted to move the market to another uptown site, but Kitsap and King County farmers and their customers protested. They wanted it to stay on the scenic bluff.
The political balance was tipped in favor of Pike Place, in part because of the addition of the Municipal Market Building. Parking on the roof enlarged its service, and the lot was reached directly from Pike Place over Western Avenue via the Desimone Bridge, seen here (at the top) in both the ‘now’ and ‘then.’
This mid-20s addition to the Market was given its modest military design to compliment the fortress-like Washington State National Guard Armory (1909-1968), its neighbor to the north across Virginia Street. In a Seattle Times advertisement from October 9,
1923, the new Municipal Market was not ‘up in arms’ but umbrellas, “a thousand or two” of them. Seattle’s street railway was holding a “Going, Going, Gone” auction for six months worth of unclaimed items left on the trolleys. Also in its first decade, visitors were lured over the Desimone Bridge with vaudeville performances staged in the Municipal Market Building. A 1946 feature in The Times noted “the eternal rummage sales in the Municipal Building.”
What the fire of 1974 could not consume, which was most of it, demolition crews soon took. The site was then groomed for parking – steep parking. After forty years of oil-stained pavement, the Public Market is now enlivened with new visions for the old Municipal Market space. It will be joined with land freed by the razing of the Alaskan Way Viaduct. Some of Seattle’s usual progressive choices will be involved in the about three-fourths of an acre development, including a promenade or walkway to the waterfront, more market shops, more senior housing, a new public plaza on top and more covered parking below.
Anything to add, boys? Jean we figure it is about time now for you to wake-up in London, perhaps in that charming little Youth Hostel two blocks of three above the north bank of the Thames and two or three blocks more to St. Paul’s – if memory serves me from 2005. Ron has put up directly below a few of our by now usual suspect, past features from the neighborhood around the Pike Place Market. For the space below those links, I’ll find a few more distant features and scan their clips.
I am writing this on June 6, 2015, the 126th anniversary of Seattle’s Great Fire. Most likely you are reading it about one month later. That places you closer to the 126th anniversary of this subject, which in 1889 was still Seattle’s primary business district, reduced to charred rubble. The scene was photographed, I surmise, late in the month of June or perhaps even in early July.
With the help of the many surviving photographs of the ruins, it is easy to determine from what prospect this scene was recorded. The unnamed photographer stood on Main Street looking north by northeast over Main Street’s northwest corner with Second Avenue (later renamed Occidental.) It is a typical post-fire cityscape that reveals a layering of ruins, temporary tents, and some of the surviving city blocks that were not among the 35 or so destroyed by the conflagration in its seven hours of wind-driven destruction.
Of the ten or so landmarks with towers that break the First Hill horizon we’ll note but three. First, far left, stands the Gothic spire of First Methodist Church at the southeast corner of Third Avenue and Marion Street. Next, at the scene’s center and farther up the hill, are the two towers of Central School on the south side of Madison Street, where now passes the Seattle Freeway (I-5) ditch. Much closer to the photographer, to the left of the scorched power pole, the Yesler mansion faces Third Avenue, on the north side of Jefferson Street. It was saved with a combination of soaked blankets spread on the roof and volunteers who extinguished the flying embers. Nearby, just right of the same power pole, another battle on the shingles saved the King County Courthouse. After the murder trail then underway was adjourned by Judge Hanford, buckets of water were lifted with a rope borrowed from the flagpole to drench the roof.
By the 10th of June, four days following the fire, over one hundred permits had been issued to erect temporary tents. Like those shown here, most of the tents were stretched on sturdy frames and anchored to heavy planks. Months later some of these canvas quarters were still standing and being used as store fronts.
Most of the pre-fire neighborhood south of Yesler Way was built of wood. Brick structures were rare. So the orderly piles of bricks here [in the featured photo at the top] encroaching on the street, right-of-center, is – or was – an inviting mystery. Except that almost certainly these bricks were salvaged from the wreckage of the large but short-lived Squire Building, here at the northwest corner of
Main Street and Second Ave. (Occidental). In the 1888 Sanborn real estate map this corner lot is captioned “Excavation for Brick Block to be three stories.” For his research on Pioneer Square neighborhood structures, Greg Lange found in the 1889 Polk Directory more than thirty tenants renting quarters in Watson Squire’s namesake block. Once the fire, heading south, reached Yesler Way around six pm, Watson’s renters must have already started gathering what they could before scrambling up First Hill.
MORE POST-FIRE RUINS, TENTS & RECONSTRUCTION
Anything to add, fellas? Yes Jean, but first Ron and I – and now the readers too – wish you and yours a happy farewell as you fly away to Europe with twenty-five (about) Hillside students and your protective cadre of instructors to visit first London and then Paris, and surely some of the same sites that you and I explored together in 2005. I will send you – as you have instructed – some shots I took when first visiting the same cities as a teenager in 1955, for your intentions to repeat them now sixty years later – gadz. Perhaps we can sneak them into Pacific – one or two of them. It will depend, I think, on how sentimental the editors are feeling at the time of submission, and the pun is intended. Bon Voyage Jean and carry our love to Berangere, who, I know, will be helping you in Paris. Often I’d just like to move there and follow BB around those ancient blocks with a bag of bon bons and one light weight digital camera.
This subject is, almost certainly, the formal opening of the Golden Potlatch on the afternoon of Wednesday July 19, 1911. To find the ceremony itself we would need to go out-of-frame, far-right, following the attentions of those packed atop the long line of boxcars on the left. This rolling stock was often used as convenient bleachers through the many years that the waterfront, where “rail meets sail,” was stage (or platform) for local celebrations. With his or
her back to Madison Street, the photographer looks south on Railroad Ave (Alaskan Way) to the also packed Marion Street overpass. It was built by the railroads to permit safe passage for the hordes of locals and visitors here in 1909 for the city’s Alaska Yukon and Pacific Exhibition (AYP). The Golden Potlatch was, in part, an attempt by local boomers to recapture some of the civic splendor and hoopla that had accompanied the summer-long AYP. And the Potlatch had its own reverberations. As the first citywide, multi-day, summer festival, the several Potlatches were precursors for the now retirement-age annual Sea Fair celebration.
Another prospect for watching the opening day ceremonies, from both the windows and the roof of the Maritime Building, on the left, fills the block between Madison and Marion Streets and Railroad and Western Avenues and rises five stories above the boxcars. It was filled with the offices and warehouse spaces for distributing the daily needs for foodstuffs and such brought here from distant lands (like California and Mexico). Built of reinforced concrete with lots of windows for light, the big building’s architect, contractor and builder was Stone and Webster, one of the nation’s great commercial octopi, with its tentacles already active in Seattle’s trolleys, interurbans, and power plants.
A gust from a mid-summer breeze flaps the American flag, top-center on the featured photo, posted above the southwest corner of the Maritime Building. Every corner had one. More evidence of the wind is the woman in the dazzling white blouse heading toward the photographer and holding tight with both hands her oversized hat. However, none of the men here seem worried for their own crowns.
What are they watching? The ceremonial mish-mash of Kings and Queens, and performers acting as Alaskans landing aboard the “ton of gold” ship, the S.S. Portland, followed by a double line of navy ships, tooting Puget Sound “mosquito-fleet” steamers, and northwest yachts. Meanwhile overhead Curtiss aviators Ely and Winter flew back and forth. At two o’clock, the Gold Rush flotilla was scheduled to reach the Grand Trunk Pacific Dock, the largest wooden pier on the coast and in 1911 brand new. With fireworks, fireboat displays, and band concerts from the pier, the rubbernecked folks on the boxcar roofs were entertained until midnight.
Anything to add, lads? MOSTLY waterfront features Jean. More to come tomorrow, perhaps. Proofreading too.
Built in 1910, the Silvian has survived with its charms intact – most of them. Sometime between ‘now and then,’ the graceful four-story apartment house lost its four projecting bays facing Harrison Street and the playful symmetry of its queenly cornice. The ‘then’ was most likely photographed in its first year when the apartment’s agent, John Davis & Co., listed it in this newspaper as “this new and strictly modern apartment building; every known convenience, rooms well arranged; select neighborhood; good car service; convenient to markets and stores.” The “car” meant here is the trolley on Broadway, a half-block from the front door. And the Silvian was also promoted as “within walking distance.”
The Times soon included a sizeable photograph of the Silvian as the newspaper’s forty-first example out of fifty selections of “Seattle’s Progress.” The text for this April 2, 1911, applause included a direct summary of the Silvian’s vital statistics. “Recently completed on 10th Avenue and Harrison Street at a cost of $40,000, it occupies a ground space 56 x 96 feet in size, the lot being 60 by 100 feet . . . with a basement and twenty-eight apartments of two, three, four and five rooms.”
Jacqueline Williams, author of “The Hill With A Future,” our best history of Capitol Hill, describes the Silvian as a “Very desirable place for people to live, with amenities that some smaller homes might lack.” As a testimony to its desirable qualities, G.W. Wallace, the building’s owner, lived there when it opened. The Silvian also had a janitor (who perhaps also ran the building’s all night elevator service), public phones (probably in the lobby), rear entrances (historian Williams points out that such were useful for ice delivery), beds in the wall, and “many other attractive features.”
In 1927 the Silvian Apartments sold for $85,000, a sale illustrated by The Times with another photograph. On September 8, 1929 – a few weeks before the Crash – a classified offered a “2-room attractive corner apartment; overstuffed (furniture), elevator, phone service for $40. Just off Broadway.” A decade later an “attractive” two-room apartment in the Silvian could be had for $22, a depression-era bargain.
Today the Silvian is one of the many Seattle apartment houses owned and managed by Capitol Hill Housing, the organization that generates affordable housing, while also – and here the Silvian is an especially fine example – preserving neighborhood character.
Anything to add, lads? SURELY Jean. Ron Edge has pulled and put up ELEVEN past features, and they, as we know, are almost without excepted also holding other features and those features other features and so on and on. Imagine what chains we might have in five years or ten – assuming a lot, like the blogs and our survival. Ron’s last link below, which when one opens it, has, I believe, the title “Street Photography,” begins with the snapshot of our friend Clay Eals’ mother walking on 4th Avenue a half block north of Pike Street, and ends with a few examples of the photographs I took in 1976-77 of the bus shelter at Marketime on Broadway and Republican. I lived then in the second floor apartment of the corner structure showing immediately below, far-right in the photo with Pilgrim church and the road work on widening Broadway.
Here sits Joseph ”Daddy” Standley, one of the best-known self-promoters in Seattle history, relaxing in a real photo postcard beside his West Seattle home. The caption pasted to the print on the right names the home Totem Place. The name also appears on the column to the left of the stairs decorated with potted plants and two large shells.
Standley might be compared to three other local promotional players: Bill Speidel of the Underground Tours, Mark Mathews of First Presbyterian Church, and Ivar Haglund on Pier 54. All were accomplished storytellers and created most of their own publicity, largely by making themselves the news. “Daddy” Standley’s main stage, Ye Olde Curiosity Shop, was on the waterfront, where it remains in Ivar’s Pier 54 (soon to reopen, with a remodel and new seawall.)
The curio merchant’s life-long passion for collecting aboriginal artifacts is testimony to the importance of children’s literature. For having the “neatest desk” in his third grade class, young Joseph won a book about Indian life, lore, and crafts. The tome enchanted him so that ultimately the youthful anthropologist, to quote his namesake grandson, Joseph James, “turned his hobby into his business.”
In 1899, the 45-year-old curio collector arrived in Seattle from Colorado with his wife and four children. In Denver he had operated a grocery store, with as much shelf space given to collectibles as to fruits and vegetables. After a few moves and name changes, Standley’s curious collections found a home on Colman Dock. In 1906 the family built a home in West Seattle on Duwamish Head with a clear view across Elliott Bay to Colman Dock with their shop, steamers and ferries.
Joseph James has taken his grandfather’s place for Jean Sherrard’s repeat and also for the upkeep of Ye Old Curiosity Shop’s traditions, both commercial and cultural. Joe grew up in Totem Place and remembers fondly how the house became a second museum for Standley’s collections. Its wide lawn was a sanctuary for his second passion, gardening. A sculpture garden for about fifteen large totem poles and a “six-foot high mound built with shells from the seven seas” were an attraction for both the children of the neighborhood and sight-seeing busses.
Next Sunday, June 28, Totem Place again becomes an attraction when the Southwest Seattle Historical Society assembles there its experts, exhibits – including “totems on loan” – for “Ye Olde Home of Joseph “Daddy” Standley. It is this year’s offering for the Society’s annual event, “If These Walls Could Talk.” For details, call the Log House Museum at (206) 938-5293, or visit loghousemuseum.info.
Anything to add, boys (and that includes Clay Eals)? BY GOLLY YES Jean, but not so timely, except if my excuse for being behind time might be found also in our subject: history. No way that we can fill in this blog by 3AM this Sunday morning. I must write the next Pacific feature for the Times by then as well. The research notes are abundant – too abundant, but what a delight to gather them. So hopefully tomorrow I will return and add to this many neighborly features that can be manufactured with a little scanning of clips.
Scanned clips to follow – sooner than later, we hope.
A helpful caption pasted to the back of this pioneer print describes its subject as “workers and guests at hotel run by Mrs. Baker.” Sarah Frances Baker sits near the scene’s center in a striped dress, holding a soft smile, (which is unusual for Victorian era photo posers, who were more often expressionless.) By the authority of Clara Berg, the Collections Specialist for Costumes and Textiles at the Museum of History and Industry, “with its stripes and darker colors, Baker’s outstanding dress takes its cue from formal men’s wear,” although, she adds, “not from what these men are wearing on this occasion. Rather, they are dressed informally for the warmer season.” The caption agrees; the print is dated June 25, 1895. Note that there are no stiff collars among them; they are all soft. And three of these men are topped with straw boaters, a jaunty hat fashion that was introduced about this time, and stayed popular well into the 1920s.
The quoted caption is a long one. Besides the proprietor a few more of these posers are identified, some by role, like the dishwasher, far left, and a few by name, including William Talcott, the man top-center with a big moustache on a thin face. With help from Ann Ferguson, the Curator of the Seattle Collections at the Seattle Public Library, we learn that in 1891 the then twenty-eight year old Talcott came to Seattle, hired as Chief Engineer for the Seattle Lake Shore and Eastern Railroad. In 1895 the Virginian was still with the SLSE, regularly riding the route that we know and enjoy now, in part, as the Burke Gilman Recreation Trail.
Sarah Baker rests her right hand on her married daughter Edith’s right shoulder, and the proprietor’s son-in-law, William Hickman Moore, stands on the left. That he is holding or supporting the boy in stripes is evidence of the chumminess of this group. The boy is not William and Edith’s only son. Rather, their five-year-old son Vincent Moore is sitting under his firemen’s hat bottom-center, some distance from his parents.
By 1921 Vincent would become Seattle City Light’s chief operating engineer for its Skagit River dam project. By then his father, William Hickman Moore, had already proved to be one of Seattle’s most steadfast politicians, first appointed to the King County Superior Court in 1897 and winning many elections as a state senator, city councilman, and between 1906 and 1908 as the mayor of Seattle. For this last, Moore campaigned as an advocate of the public ownership of utilities. With the split Republican Part fighting within itself, the progressive Democrat Moore won by a total of 15 votes. A few months before his sudden death in March 1946 at the age of 84, the then Deputy Prosecutor for King County credited his enduring vitality to the maxim “Don’t worry and live long.”
WILLIAM HICKMAN MOORE DEATH & LECTURE NOTICES
THE SEATTLE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE tenant in the STACY MANSION – Before SARAH BAKER and her HOTEL.
[Please CLICK TWICE TO ENLARGE]
Anything to add, lads? Certainly Jean. First within the five links that Ron Edge has pulled and placed directly below you will uncover more features from the neighborhood and or near it. For instance, in the first link below we spy the Stacy Mansion on the far side of the construction pit made for the Central Building, which took the place – and more – of the First Methodist Church that used to rise from the southeast corner of Marion and Third, directly across Marion from the Stacy home and later Sarah Baker’s hotel. The Edge link following that is another recent offering, one centering on a neighbor also form the mid-1880s, and showing a similar architectural urge. Following that we’ll put up some more features, ones from the more distant Pacific past. Those we will scan from their magazine clippings, as is our convenient way.
LA MAISON BLANC BEFORE & AFTER THE FIRST OF APRIL 30 FIRE, 1960.