Seattle Now & Then: Prescott-Harshman House in Fall City, 1940

(Click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN: Signs saying “Telephone Office” and, in faded letters, “Fall City Telephone,” along with the old Bell system logo, adorn this 1904 home along the Snoqualmie River in unincorporated Fall City. The photo, taken May 9, 1940, is hand-labeled “Falls City,” in popular use at the time. (Puget Sound Regional Branch, Washington State Archives)
NOW: With smartphones to their ears, celebrating Prescott-Harshman House’s receipt of the John Spellman historic-preservation award for adaptive reuse (named for the late King County executive) are (from left) Aroma Coffee Co. proprietors Kelsey Wilson, Sara Cox and Emily Ridout and Fall City Historical Society members Cindy Parks, Donna Driver-Kummen and Paula Spence, along with Sarah Steen, King County landmarks coordinator, and her niece, Ellie Steen. In the background at right is Fall City Library. (Clay Eals)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on April 8, 2021
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on April 11, 2021)

Can we talk? Fall City celebrates communication in any form
By Clay Eals

Because of its expense and spam, I’m ready to shed our household’s telephone landline. “It’s about time — LOL,” my nephew Chris chides me. He’s probably right, but as a history writer, maybe I get some leeway.

No question: Landlines were once a big deal. More than a century before so-called smartphones and other technology, and in an era of telegraphs and handwritten letters, a telephone tethered to other phones through switchboards in country homes and wires strung along roadways from pole to pole was … well, revolutionary. People hearing real voices in real time over really long distances? Imagine that.

Our “Then” photo hints at how vital this was for tiny towns like Fall City, 25 miles and two lakes east of Seattle. With laundry rippling on a backyard clothesline and a manual lawnmower leaning against the side porch, this lived-in home also displayed three signs (can you spot them?) that it was communications central.

Fledgling telephones in Fall City date to 1900. By 1905, residents banded together, with $300 from lawyer-lumberman Newton Harshman and wife Julia, to connect phone lines from their stores to the local Northern Pacific Depot. In 1912, the Harshmans moved the switchboard to the 1904 home in our “Then” photo, first occupied by Martin and Parthena Prescott, at River and Mill streets along the Snoqualmie River.

Newton died in 1929, and Julia in 1933, when her Fall City Telephone Company sported 250 customers. Keeping the business afloat were their daughter, Gertrude Harshman, and her husband, George Satterlee, until 1947 when a new dial system soon would eliminate the need for a switchboard and operators.

The house was restored as office space, became a county landmark in 1984 and later hosted a Montessori school. Last fall, after 13 years of planning and hands-on fix-up, the building (known as Prescott-Harshman House and owned by Judy and Emily Nelson of nearby Preston) took on a retail persona that hearkens to its chatty roots.

Run by three local women, Aroma Coffee Co. aims to build connections — even with takeout only during the pandemic — at the busy intersection, now 335th Place Southeast and Redmond-Fall City Road (state Highway 202).

“More communication,” observes Metropolitan King County Council member Kathy Lambert, “is always going to be buzzing through here, and it’s very exciting.” So, too, is the county’s 2020 John Spellman historic-preservation award for adaptive reuse, bestowed to Prescott-Harshman House in December.

Like the rest of us, Aroma yearns for a post-virus day when friends and neighbors can gather in homey quarters for eye-to-eye conversation over a hot drink. Now that’ll be revolutionary.


To see Jean Sherrard‘s 360-degree video of the “Now” prospect and compare it with the “Then” photo, and to hear this column read aloud by Clay Eals, check out our Seattle Now & Then 360 version of the column!

Special thanks to the Fall City Historical Society, the Snoqualmie Valley Museum and the King County Historic Preservation Program for their assistance with this installment!

Below are two video links, nine photos, five documents and seven historical clippings from The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer online archives (available via Seattle Public Library) and other online newspaper sources that were helpful in the preparation of this column.

VIDEO: Click the image to see the full 24-minute video on the 2020 John Spellman King County Preservation Awards. The segment on Prescott-Harshman House is at time code 6:55-11:50.
VIDEO: Aroma Coffee Co. proprietors (from left) Kelsey Wilson, Sara Cox and Emily Ridout explain how and why they opened a coffeehouse inside the renovated Prescott-Harshman House in Fall City. Click the image to see the two-and-a-half-minute video.
1878 Seattle Post-Intelligencer, squib on “the telephone.” (Courtesy of Ron Edge)
Sept. 15, 1921, Seattle Times, page 15.
Aug. 24, 1929, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 14.
July 23, 1950, Seattle Times, page 78.
The porch of the Prescott-Harshman House. (Fall City Historical Society)
An early view of the Prescott-Harshman House. (Courtesy Fall City Historical Society)
This is the state Historic Property Inventory Form for Prescott-Harshman House. Click the image to see the full pdf file. (King County Historic Preservation)
History of telephones in Fall City. Click the image to see the full pdf. (Fall City Historical Society)
Excerpt from Jack Kelley’s history of Fall City. Click the image to see the full pdf. (Fall City Historical Society)
The telephone chapter of the Fall City oral-history memory book. Click the image to see the full pdf. (Fall City Historical Society)
Obituary of Gertrude Harshman. Click the image to read the full pdf. (Fall City Historical Society)
An early view of Prescott-Harshman House. (Snoqualmie Valley Record collection, Fall City Historical Society)
Newton Roswell Harshman and Julia Gertrune Camp at Prescott-Harshman House, Nov. 17, 1915. (Fall City Historical Society)
Satterlee wedding party, 1919. (Fall City Historical Society)
Undated newspaper ad for Fall City telephone exchange. (Fall City Historical Society)
George Satterlee and Gertrude Harshman wedding article, 1919. (Snoqualmie Valley Museum)
Gertrude Harshman Satterlee with her children outside Fall City Church. (Snoqualmie Valley Museum)
Gertrude Harshman, 1917. (Snoqualmie Valley Museum)
Newton Rosewell Harshman. (Snoqualmie Valley Museum)
Newton Harshman. (Snoqualmie Valley Museum)
Obituary for Gertrude Harshman Satterlee. (Snoqualmie Valley Museum)


Seattle Now & Then: Mukilteo monument and its missing plaque for Point Elliott Treaty, 1931

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THEN1: The May 2, 1931, ceremony to dedicate a monument to the consequential Point Elliott Treaty on hillside Mukilteo included Gov. Roland Hartley, left in suit, and University of Washington historian Edmond S. Meany, right of the monument, who wrote the plaque text and who is largely hidden by Native American headdress. (Mukilteo Historical Society)
THEN2: The event, organized by the Everett-based Marcus Whitman chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, drew more than 3,000 people, including 300 Native Americans. The chapter relinquished custody of the monument to the city of Mukilteo in 1977. (Mukilteo Historical Society)
THEN3: Attendees filled much of the block at 304 Lincoln Ave., then the site of Rosehill High School, now a city park and home of Rosehill Community Center. (Mukilteo Historical Society)
NOW: “What happened to the plaque?” asks Ralph Wittmeyer of south Everett, who stopped recently at the monument while in town to get a haircut. Down the hill at left is the Mukilteo Lighthouse. To the right, out of frame, stands the new Mukilteo state ferry terminal, designed like a Coast Salish longhouse, with interpretive signage about the Point Elliott Treaty. (Clay Eals)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on April 1, 2021
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on April 4, 2021)

Treaty monument in Mukilteo is plaqueless — perhaps forever?
By Clay Eals

Sometimes history isn’t where you think you’ll find it.

Case in point: the Jan. 22, 1855, accord known as the Point Elliott Treaty, signed with an “X” by Chief Seattle and 81 other Puget Sound tribal leaders.

While it conferred tribal sovereignty and later was judicially interpreted to protect tribal fishing rights, it also ceded countless acres of land to European newcomers and has long been considered a lordly license for settler supremacy.

Nearly 90 years ago, a ceremony commemorated the treaty with a granite monument. The marker was installed at Third and Lincoln in downtown Mukilteo, a site thought to be near the place the treaty was signed. A Daughters of the American Revolution event on May 2, 1931, drew more than 3,000 people, including 300 Native Americans, some who were descendants of the treaty signers.

THEN4: The treaty plaque, before it vanished last October. The monument was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004. (Andrew Ruppenstein, (Historical Marker Database)

To absorb the dedication’s hillside milieu, I recently drove north to see the marker at its Mukilteo city block. Imagine my surprise when I reached the stone and found its plaque missing. All that remained in its rectangular frame were three screw holes and a washered pin.

The plaque has been gone since October, when the city discovered its absence, along with graffiti that covered the monument. The scrawls included an anarchist symbol, an expletive and the phrase “BROKEN TREATIES.” Staff scrubbed off the defacement but have puzzled over the plaque’s whereabouts.

Jennifer Gregerson, two-term mayor of Mukilteo, issued a statement hinting that the plaque would not be replaced: “The signing location itself has an important significance in our shared history with the Northwest tribes. I believe this act of vandalism can provide an opportunity to spur our community forward into a new conversation. I hope that we can find a different way to explain and acknowledge that history at this site in Mukilteo.”

The Mukilteo Historical Society doesn’t plan to weigh in on the monument’s future, but Joanne Mulloy, president, is curious about what, if anything, the city will do.

Leaving the marker plaqueless appeals to Ken Workman, fourth-generation great grandson of Chief Seattle, whose Duwamish Tribe still lacks federal recognition. Lyrically, Workman notes that granite and computer memory chips both contain silicon.

“Granite holds the memories of people,” he says. “It’s a symbolic link to the genetic pain of 170 years.”


To see Jean Sherrard‘s 360-degree video of the “Now” prospect and compare it with the “Then” photo, and to hear this column read aloud by Clay Eals, check out our Seattle Now & Then 360 version of the column!

Below are a photo, brochure, a HistoryLink backgrounder, a map, a DAR timeline and, in chronological order, four historical clippings from The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer online archives (available via Seattle Public Library) and other online newspaper sources that were helpful in the preparation of this column.

Special thanks to local historian Phil Hoffman and his Alki History Project for the initial idea for this installment and for invaluable assistance. He reminds us that the formal name of the Point Elliott Treaty is “Treaty between the United States and the Duwamish, Suquamish, and other allied and subordinate tribes of Indians in Washington Territory.” Hoffman adds, “I am operating on the premise that what we call things reveals what we really think and our biases.”

Joanne Mulloy, president of the Mukilteo Historical Society, offers this additional information and insight: “John Collier, our past president, wrote a quote that I quite like: ‘The Point Elliott Treaty remains a significant historical event for both the Tulalip people and the City of Mukilteo. As such, it should be remembered and, more important, continue to be studied as a means of strengthening cooperation and progress today.’ There are several plaques down at Lighthouse Park still. One was leftover from a bench that was on the beach in the 1950s, but the bench washed out in the Sound.”

Mukilteo monument, March 15, 2010. (Andrew Czernek)
Point Elliott Treaty brochure. Click image to see full pdf. (Courtesy Mukilteo Historical Society)
Signatures of territorial Gov. Isaac Stevens and Chief Seattle (“X”) on 1855 Point Elliott Treaty. (The Indigenous Digital Archive)
HistoryLink article on Point Elliott Treaty monument in Mukilteo. Click image to see full article.
Map showing boundaries of land ceded by Native American tribes in the 1855 Point Elliott Treaty. (Courtesy Phil Hoffman)
Timeline of the connection between the Marcus Whitman chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Point Elliott Treaty monument in Mukilteo. Click image to see full document. (Courtesy Teri Lynn Scott)
Jan. 25, 1925, Seattle Times, page 24.
April 20, 1931, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 4.
May 1, 1931, Seattle Times, page 13.
Nov. 11, 2020, Mukilteo Beacon. The expletive in the graffiti has been digitally obscured. Click image for full story.

Seattle Now & Then: Our first April Fool’s Quiz

(Published in the Seattle Times online on March 28, 2021
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on March 25, 2021 )

Then you see it, now you don’t — our first April Fool’s quiz
By Jean Sherrard

(For those visiting this blog following The Seattle Times link, we offer extra tomfoolery! Perhaps you’ve discovered the editing error in the print edition of the magazine. If so, add a fourth category to our grading rubric: consider yerself a Queen City Queen/King!)

We at “Now & Then” admit that we can be lured into April folly any old day of the year. While fishing the currents of popular history, we occasionally pull in old boots and dogfish. This year, we extend the opportunity to our dear readers to troll along.

Our “Then” photo, looking north at Seattle’s downtown business district, is a revelation. Fearless photographer Frank H. Nowell arranged for an early ride up to the unfinished (and unwalled) 35th-floor observation deck of the famed, pointed Smith Tower. In 1913, one year before the tower opened, Nowell captured this early panorama from the loftiest human-made structure on the West Coast.

Following in his footsteps 108 years later, I repeated the panorama (“Now 1”) and made several telling discoveries — of alteration, misinformation and exaggeration — ideal for an April Fool’s multiple-choice challenge in which we peel back a layer or two of the Smith Tower’s terra-cotta clad onion.

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: This 1913 view is from the Smith Tower’s unfinished 35th-floor observation deck. (Frank Nowell)
NOW 1: This “Goldilocks” view (not too high or too low — just right!) from the Smith Tower’s 35th-floor observation deck has lured generations of photographers. (Jean Sherrard)

Question 1

In our primary pair of photos, several decades of growth have obscured the northern prospect. Which of the following can still be seen?

A: The Central Building

B: Queen Anne High School

C: Lake Union

D: The Rainier Club

E: St. James Cathedral

NOW 2: These views looking north along the Second Avenue canyon were taken in 2018 and 2021. In the earlier photo (left), the Needle’s saucer is scaffolded for renovation. (Jean Sherrard)

Question 2

Our second pair of photos reveals a more recent switcheroo. In a view north along the Second Avenue canyon, the Space Needle has seemingly disappeared. Where has it gone?

A: Magician David Copperfield followed up his Statue of Liberty vanishing act.

B: The Space Needle was returned to the box it came in.

C: Yet another condominium joined the fray.

D: Amazon created a new pop-up Seattle headquarters.

E: Regraded Denny Hill re-emerged to assume its rightful place.

NOW3: Text of a plaque installed at the Smith Tower’s entrance in 1989 is not entirely accurate. It reads: “Seattle’s first skyscraper opened on July 4, 1914. The 42-story Smith Tower was the tallest building outside of New York City and Seattle’s tallest for nearly fifty years. It was built by Lyman Smith of Smith-Corona and Smith & Wesson fame, from Syracuse, New York. Sheathed entirely in terra cotta, the building was designed by the Syracuse firm of Gaggin & Gaggin. In a race to construct Seattle’s tallest building, Smith also hoped to anchor the “Second Avenue Canyon” area as the center of downtown. He died before the tower was completed.” (Jean Sherrard)

Question 3

At the Smith Tower’s front entrance, a brass plaque has misinformed passersby since 1989. Which of the following statements are not true:

A: Lyman Cornelius Smith was from Syracuse, New York.

B: The Smith Tower is 42 stories tall.

C: Smith was a founding partner of Smith & Wesson.

D: L.C. accumulated much of his wealth manufacturing typewriters.

E: In 1914, Smith Tower was the tallest building outside of New York City.

(scroll down for the correct answers and a grading rubric)



(keep going)



(a bit further)



(Burma Shave!)




1: A, D and E

2: C

3: B (even a generous observer counts no more than 38 stories)
C (Horace Smith founded Smith & Wesson) and
E (at 495 feet, Cincinnati’s Union Central Tower was 30 feet taller).

The Rubric

One correct answer: You’re a Mercer Mess
Two correct answers: You’re a Pike Pundit
Three correct answers: You’ve attained Seattle Chill


For a spectacular 360 degree view from Smith Tower’s 35th floor Observation Deck (along with Jean’s dulcet narration), click on through.

Seattle Now & Then: Baseball’s ‘Western Wonder’ Vean Gregg — 1922 and 1925

(Click and click again to enlarge photos — and these severely horizontal gems fairly demand to be enlarged!)

THEN1: When the Seattle Post-Intelligencer printed a closer image from this March 28, 1925, photo shoot for Vean Gregg Service Station at 2006 Rainier Ave., the headline read “3 Gallons and You’re Out.” However, Vean is not in the picture. The station bore the Gregg name through 1927. (David Eskenazi collection) Here, thanks to automotive informant Bob Carney, are the years and makes of the cars (from left): 1920-21 Dodge touring car, 1922-24 Studebaker roadster (behind front row), 1923-24 Oldsmobile coupe, 1922 Chandler two-door sedan, unidentified, 1925 Nash two-door sedan, 1920s Model T Ford with cargo box (behind front row), 1925 Willys-Knight touring car, 1922-1925 REO Speedwagon truck, 1920s Model T Ford.
NOW: On the same triangular lot, celebrating the Vean Gregg Service Station site 96 years later are (from left) baseball historians David Eskenazi and Eric Sallee, the owners of eight vintage cars from the Evergreen As and Gallopin’ Gertie Model A clubs and Daniel Tessema and Mesh Tadesse of today’s YET Oil and Brake Services. Here are the names of the car owners and their cars (from left): Win & Cathy Brown, 1931 Tudor Delux; Christy & Robert McLaughlin, 1931 Blindback Sedan; Rich Nestler, 1930 Coupe; Steve Francois, 1931 Delux Roadster; Ahna Holder & Tammy Nyhus, 1931 Roadster; Don Werlech, 1931 Coupe; Dale Erickson, 1931 Coupe; and John Hash, 1931 Victoria.

(Published in the Seattle Times online on March 18, 2021
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on March 21, 2021)

Baseball’s ‘Western Wonder’ knew how to fuel a negotiation
By Clay Eals

On a late-1950s Saturday morning when I was a tyke, my Kentucky-born dad beckoned me to the living room and pointed at the CBS Game of the Week on TV. “Take a look: The pitcher’s a southpaw.” I peered at the screen and blurted out, “He’s left-handed, too!”

This lefty appreciated the impromptu vocabulary lesson. And trust me, in this righty world, lefties give each other a certain recognition and respect. Of course, that extends to Vean Gregg.

What, you haven’t heard of Gregg? Obscurity can’t dim the fact that among early big-league pitchers, the Chehalis native, raised mostly in the Eastern Washington border town of Clarkston, was a phenom.

THEN2: Vean Gregg, the lanky, 6-foot-2, 180-pound “Western Wonder,” shown at age 37 in 1922, winds up for the Seattle Indians. Newspaper crop marks are intact in this scrapbook photo. (David Eskenazi collection)

Nicknamed the “Western Wonder,” Sylveanus Augustus Gregg dazzled in 1911 as a Cleveland Naps rookie. The 26-year-old won 23 games and topped the American League with a 1.80 earned-run average. The fierce Ty Cobb called him the toughest lefty he ever faced. Gregg became the only 20th century hurler to win at least 20 games in his first three years in the majors.

Then came severe, mysterious arm pain and so-so seasons. A plasterer by trade, he even abandoned the pro game for three years. But he built a delightfully local comeback.

For the Seattle Indians based at Dugdale Park (future site of the storied Sicks’ Seattle Stadium and today’s Lowe’s Home Improvement on Rainier Avenue), he won 19 games in 1922, led the Pacific Coast League in earned-run average in 1923 and, with 25 wins, spurred the team to its first PCL pennant in 1924.

Gregg could taste a big-league rebound. In February 1925, with the Washington Senators calling, his brother, Dave, a journeyman righty who ended up pitching just one inning in the majors, opened a service station one-half mile north of Dugdale on Rainier Avenue. In this owner-dominated era, the siblings hatched a plan.

The trick was to name the station for Vean. “The idea,” says Eric Sallee, who with fellow Seattle diamond historian David Eskenazi has written extensively about Gregg, “was to prove to the Seattle and Washington team owners that he had another way to earn a living besides baseball.”

The ploy worked. The Senators snagged him for $10,000 and three players. But arm pain and humdrum performances soon resurfaced. He split that season with Washington (his last stint in the majors) and a Class A minor-league team. Other than one-third of an inning with Class AA Sacramento in 1927, his professional career was over. After pitching for semi-pro teams, he retired in 1931. For 37 years, he ran a Hoquiam sporting-goods store and cafe called The Home Plate. He died in 1964.

The triangular lot on Rainier still hosts a service station. It all reminds me of my usual advice to my daughter: Life is negotiable. And lefties get frequent practice.


To see Jean Sherrard‘s 360-degree video of the “Now” prospect and compare it with the “Then” photo, and to hear this column read aloud by Clay Eals, check out our Seattle Now & Then 360 version of the column!

Below are 25 additional photos, two book chapters and, in chronological order, 31 historical clippings from The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer online archives (available via Seattle Public Library) and other online newspaper sources that were helpful in the preparation of this column.

Special thanks to local baseball historians Dave Eskenazi and Eric Sallee , Rich Nestler of the Evergreen A’s Model A Club and automotive informant Bob Carney, as well as Joseph Bopp, Albert Balch curator and Special Collections librarian at Seattle Public Library, for their assistance with this column!

With vintage clothing and equipment, Eric Sallee (left) and Dave Eskenazi have a catch on the day of the “Now” shoot, Feb. 20, 2021. (Jean Sherrard)
Win & Cathy Brown and their 1931 Tudor Delux on the day of the “Now” shoot, Feb. 20, 2021. (Jean Sherrard)
Christy & Robert McLaughlin and their 1931 Blindback Sedan on the day of the “Now” shoot, Feb. 20, 2021. (Jean Sherrard)
Rich Nestler and his 1930 Coupe on the day of the “Now” shoot, Feb. 20, 2021. (Jean Sherrard)
Steve Francois and his 1931 Delux Roadster on the day of the “Now” shoot, Feb. 20, 2021. (Jean Sherrard)
Ahna Holder and her 1931 Roadster on the day of the “Now” shoot, Feb. 20, 2021. (Jean Sherrard)
Don Werlech and his 1931 Coupe on the day of the “Now” shoot, Feb. 20, 2021. (Jean Sherrard)
Dale Erickson and his 1931 Coupe on the day of the “Now” shoot, Feb. 20, 2021. (Jean Sherrard)
John Hash and his 1931 Victoria on the day of the “Now” shoot, Feb. 20, 2021. (Jean Sherrard)
Three Greggs (from left) Vean, circa 1924; Vean, 1910 with Portland Beavers; and Dave, circa 1912, Vaughan Street ballpark. (David Eskenazi collection)
Cy Young (left) and Vean Gregg, 1911. (David Eskenazi collection)
Plows Candy card of Vean Gregg, 1912. (David Eskenazi collection)
Vean Gregg in The Sporting News supplement, Nov. 2, 1911. (David Eskenazi collection)
Vean Gregg with Portland Beavers on Obak cigarette baseball card, 1910. (David Eskenazi collection)
Vean Gregg on Portland Beavers, postcard, 1910. (David Eskenazi collection)
Vean Gregg (left) with Boston Red Sox rightfielder and pitcher Smoky Joe Wood, 1914-1915. (David Eskenazi collection)
Vean Gregg Service Station, 2006 Rainier Ave., March 28, 1925. (David Eskenazi collection)
Vean Gregg Service Station, 2006 Rainier Ave., March 28, 1925. (David Eskenazi collection)
Vean Gregg Service Station, 2006 Rainier Ave., March 28, 1925. (David Eskenazi collection)
Vean Gregg Service Station, 2006 Rainier Ave., March 28, 1925. (David Eskenazi collection)
Vean Gregg Service Station, 2006 Rainier Ave., 1925-1926. (David Eskenazi collection)
Vean Gregg autograph. (David Eskenazi collection)
Matchbook cover from Vean Gregg’s The Home Plate, Hoquiam. (David Eskenazi collection)
Matchbook cover from Vean Gregg’s The Home Plate, Hoquiam. (David Eskenazi collection)
Token from Vean Gregg’s The Home Plate, Hoquiam. (David Eskenazi collection)
Vean Gregg portrait from the collection of Sam Thompson, who writes, “He was a friend of my dad’s many, many years ago. They owned service stations on Rainier Avenue at the same time. I remember going to see him in Hoquiam, probably around 1960, and being lifted into his arms. Haven’t thought about him in years until reading your article. Thanks for bringing back fond memories!” (Courtesy Sam Thompson)
April 21, 1910, Oregonian, page 8.
April 24, 1910, Oregonian, page 3.
Jan. 14, 1912, Billy Evans article. (Eric Sallee collection)
December 1912 Baseball Magazine article on Vean Gregg. Click the page to open the pdf. (Eric Sallee collection)
June 21, 1913, Cleveland Press. (Eric Sallee collection)
Jan. 12, 1922, Seattle Times, page 15.
Feb. 20, 1922, Seattle Times, page 10.
March 19, 1922, Seattle Times, page 19.
April 23, 1922, Seattle Times, page 34.
June 7, 1922, Seattle Times, page 14.
Jan. 14, 1923, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 37.
July 13, 1924, from a Seattle newspaper. (Eric Sallee collection)
July 7, 1924, Seattle Times, page 17.
July 13, 1924, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 54. (It turns out that the P-I was one year early with its 40th birthday celebration.)
Jan. 7, 1925, Washington Post. (Eric Sallee collection)
Feb. 17, 1925, Seattle Times, page 17.
Feb. 18, 1925, from a Seattle newspaper. (Eric Sallee collection)
Feb. 18, 1925, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 7.
March 29, 1925, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 34.
March 29, 1925, Seattle Times, page 22.
April 21, 1925, Seattle Times, page 28.
April 25, 1925, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 4.
May 8, 1925, Washington Post. (Eric Sallee collection)
June 8, 1925, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 9.
July 19, 1925, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 8.
June 27, 1925, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 7.
June 31, 1925, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 5.
Dec. 28, 1925, Seattle Times, page 17.
Feb. 19, 1926, Seattle Times, page 29.
June 5, 1931, Tacoma News-Tribune, page 21.
Aug. 31, 1933, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 4.
July 5, 1949, Oregonian, L.H. Gregory column, page 23.
Vean Gregg chapter of “They Tasted Glory” book. Click image to read pdf. (Eric Sallee collection)

Seattle Now & Then: Before Smith Tower, 1908

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN1: A gaggle of storefronts anchors this view, facing east, of the busy northeast corner of Second and Yesler in 1908. The businesses are (from left) Babcock’s Café and Grill, Alexander Gandolfo’s grocery featuring butter, Bartell’s Owl Drug Store (open day and night!), Nessim Alhadeff’s Palace Market, later Palace Fish and Oyster (likely an Alhadeff stands in the shop’s meat-arched entry), and Joe Dizard’s cigar store. All but the café moved to nearby locations after being demolished. (Courtesy, MOHAI 1983.10.7669.3)
THEN2: (From left) George H. Bartell, Sr. (1868-1956) founded the nation’s oldest family owned drugstore until its sale to Rite-Aid last October. L.C. Smith died at the age of 60 four years before his namesake building was completed. Nessim Alhadeff (1864-1950) was patriarch to another Northwest business and racetrack dynasty, besides helping to establish the largest community of Sephardic Jews outside New York City. Future maritime restauranteur Ivar Haglund (1905-1985), in the lap of father Johan, purchased the Smith Tower for $1.8 million in 1976, famously adorning it with a fish windsock. (Courtesy, Paul Dorpat, Public Domain, and Ivar’s)
NOW: L.C. Smith’s namesake building (1914) claims a dubious 42 stories on a bronze plaque besides its entrance, although the most generous observer would count 38. Originally tarred as ungainly (“a giraffe”, sniffed one critic), steel-framed and clad in white terra cotta, it stands today as a beloved Seattle landmark. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on March 11, 2021
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on March 14, 2021 )

Commercial visionaries meet for a towering talk in 1909
By Jean Sherrard

The place: inside Bartell’s Owl Drugstore on Second Avenue, just north of Yesler Way. The milieu: a lovely evening. This vignette is imagined, but the historical details are factual!

The proprietor arranges a display in his shop window. The entry bell jingles. In walks a well-dressed customer.

Smith: George Bartell, isn’t it?

Bartell: Lyman Cornelius Smith, as I live and breathe. Let me guess. You’re here for the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition?

Smith: Indeed. All the way from Syracuse in upstate New York, and well worth the trip. Seattle has surely proven her mettle with this magnificent world’s fair.

Bartell: So what can I do you for, L.C.? Liver pills, trusses? Our new Syrup of Hypophosphates is a fine picker-upper.

Smith: I have news, George. I’ll be turning 60 next year. I’m no Carnegie, but I’ve done all right.

Bartell: Can’t hardly go wrong manufacturing shotguns and typewriters, L.C.

Smith: Truth is, I’m inclined to erect something special right here on this spot. Make my mark.

Bartell: Mighty kind of you to give me notice personally.

Smith: You’ve been here, what, 10 years?

Bartell: Eleven. After my year in the Yukon in ’98.

Smith: Didn’t “pan out,” eh? (He chuckles.) I was thinking 18 stories tall, but my son Burns wants to go higher.

Bartell: Just opened my fourth drug store, L.C. I say go big or go home.

Smith: Which is why I asked my architects — the Gaggins brothers — to up the ante. How’s 42 stories sound?

Bartell whistles appreciatively.

Smith: Tallest building west of the Mississippi. Steel-framed, white terra cotta, my initials carved on every floor.

The bell jingles again. In walks a man in a butcher’s apron. He offers a package.

Man: Two pounds of nice fresh cod for you, George. Just what the doctor ordered.

Bartell: L.C., this is Nessim Alhadeff. Runs the Palace Market next door.

Alhadeff: Sold Mr. Smith oysters a few years back when I first signed the lease. Are rumors true? You will tickle the sky?

Smith (with a laugh): Scrape the clouds, Nessim. And how’s family life?

Alhadeff: My brothers are here working for me now — all from the Isle of Rhodes. My English is still not so good, but getting better.

Yet again, the bell jingles. In walk a man and boy of 4 or 5.

Man: Got anything for an upset tummy? My boy ate too much cotton candy at the fair.

Bartell: Seltzer, maybe?

Man: Say “Thank you,” Ivar.


For our 360 degree video in living color (and dramatic black and white), narrated by Jean, please click on through here.

Seattle Now & Then: Yakima exaggeration postcard, early 1930s

(click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN: Mount Rainier and its foothills falsely rise above the north end of downtown Yakima’s Second Street in this early 1930s exaggeration postcard. The 11-floor Larson Building at left entered the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. Got an old exaggeration postcard? Scan and send it to so that we can share it here. (Courtesy Dan Kerlee)
NOW: The Art Deco walls of the Larson Building still reign over downtown Yakima. Since 2016, its Second Street façade has been illuminated with multiple colors at night under downtown’s Larson Light project. (John Baule)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on March 4, 2021
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on March 7, 2021)

With exaggeration postcards, we’re not in Kansas anymore
By Clay Eals

As springtime wanderlust beckons, so does a road trip. Just fill the tank and drive someplace civilized but close to nature. If the town seems nice enough, consider moving there.

That’s the underlying message of our 1930s “Then” postcard. It positions the Eastern Washington burg of Yakima as a gateway to recreation on the most topographically prominent peak in the then-48 states.

Oh, but what was a newcomer or out-of-stater to think? On the card, Rainier looks as close to downtown as the fictional Emerald City appeared to Dorothy and her cinematic compatriots.

Reality was quite different. This view of Second Street, anchored by the majestic Larson Building at left, looks north, while the mountain, as locals know, rises to the west. Even if someone standing at this vantage swiveled to gaze left, Rainier would be much more distant and invisible.

This is what collectors term an exaggeration postcard. Call it early-day Photoshop. Such mass-produced novelties often superimposed outrageously enormous vegetables or fake animals (“jackalopes,” anyone?) to promote fertile farming or abundant hunting. The intent was to bring a vacation laugh to folks back home.

The whimsical cards also fed tourism, as business districts everywhere strove to survive during the Great Depression. Yakima — at 27,000 population, part of a “trading territory” of 100,000 residents, according to a 1929 chamber of commerce brochure — was no exception. (Included were 3,000 Yakama tribal members on a 30,000-acre reservation.)

Adelbert E. Larson in the early 1930s. He died in 1934 at age 71. (Courtesy Yakima Valley Museum)

If any downtown feature was a flashy draw for visitors, it was the Larson Building, constructed in 1931 by entrepreneur and civic leader Adelbert E. Larson, who devoted himself to the city he adopted in 1884 when he arrived as a 22-year-old, legendarily carrying all his belongings in a pack.

Though the financial crash had begun when Larson broke ground on the area’s first skyscraper, he “persevered because he wanted people to continue to believe in the future of Yakima,” says John Baule, archivist and longtime former director of the Yakima Valley Museum.

The resulting edifice rose to 11 stories. The Society of Architectural Historians says the detail and prestige of this John Maloney-designed structure is rivaled statewide only by Seattle’s 1929 Northern Life Tower. Inside and out, it stands as an Art Deco masterpiece.

Just north, the white Yakima Trust Building is the other remaining structure from the postcard. The massive Donnelly Hotel and other storefronts on the east side of Second Street fell victim to urban renewal in the 1970s and 1980s. A planned plaza was never built.

The result was street-level parking — the likes of which would never be seen in Oz.


John Baule (Washington Trust for Historic Preservation)

Below are a two-part Yakima Chamber of Commerce brochure, an additional photo, a National Register nomination and, in chronological order, 14 historical clippings from The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer online archives (available via Seattle Public Library) and other online newspaper sources that were helpful in the preparation of this column.

Special thanks to John Baule, archivist for and, from 1992 to 2016, the director of Yakima Valley Museum, for his assistance with this column!

1929 Yakima Chamber of Commerce brochure, part one. (Courtesy Yakima Valley Museum)
1929 Yakima Chamber of Commerce brochure, part two. (Courtesy Yakima Valley Museum)
A Boyd Ellis postcard of downtown Yakima’s Second Street from the same vantage as our “Then” postcard, circa 1937.
The 1984 nomination of the A.E. Larson Building to the National Register of Historic Places. Click to see full pdf file.
Aug. 12, 1930, Oregonian, page 9.
Oct. 6, 1930, Seattle Times, page 33.
Dec. 21, 1930, Seattle Times, page 19.
Feb. 1, 1931, Seattle Times, page 12.
April 17, 1931, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 11.
May 13, 1931, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 11.
Oct. 18, 1931, Seattle Times, page 4.
Oct. 18, 1931, Seattle Times, page 38.
Nov. 22, 1931, Seattle Times, page 30.
July 8, 1932, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 14. The Larson Building is at bottom left.
Feb. 18, 1934, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 36.
June 8, 1934, Seattle Times, page 34.
June 9, 1934, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 8.
Feb. 23, 1936, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 96. She was an active socialite in Yakima.

Seattle Now & Then: Third Church of Christ, Scientist, ca. 1922

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THEN: The Third Church of Christ, Scientist, at the southeast corner of Northeast 50th Street and 17th Avenue Northeast, stands just prior to its 1922 completion. An early member described the nearly $100,000 building as “majestic and yet pure and simple, as is Christian Science itself.” Architect George Foote Dunham also designed Fourth Church (today’s Town Hall). Stained glass in both structures was created by the Povey Brothers of Portland. (courtesy, Third Church of Christ, Scientist)
NOW: Standing before the former Third Church, historian Cindy Safronoff holds a copy of her book, “Dedication: Building the Seattle Branches of Mary Baker Eddy’s Church.” The structure complements the adjoining Greek Row neighborhood, extending several blocks north of the University of Washington. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on Feb. 25, 2021
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on Feb. 28, 2021 )

There’s nothing metaphysical about the fate of this once sacred space
By Jean Sherrard

Those with an ecclesiastical bent — or, thanks to Pete Seeger and the Byrds, a rock ’n’ roll penchant — know that for everything there is a season.

These structures understand it viscerally: Seattle’s Town Hall, the Rainier Arts Center in Columbia City and two each called “The Sanctuary,” an event venue in West Seattle’s Admiral District and a luxury townhome complex on Capitol Hill. Designed without overtly religious symbols, these repurposed community gems were built as in the early 20th century by Christian Scientists.

Founded by Boston-based Mary Baker Eddy (1821-1910), the Christian Science movement emerged in 1879 with a mere 26 followers. Eddy’s metaphysical teachings ignited the fastest growing religion of its time, eventually garnering nearly 270,000 members. Burgeoning congregations enthusiastically erected mostly Classical Revival style churches nationwide, including Seattle.

“With the appearance of the edifice for First Church (on Capitol Hill in 1906), Christian Science became more visible on the city skyline,” recounts church historian Cindy Peyser Safronoff, in her 2020 book “Dedication: Building the Seattle Branches of Mary Baker Eddy’s Church.”

Naturally, local mainline denominations grew wary of the competition. The Rev. Mark A. Matthews, influential pastor of Seattle’s 10,000-strong First Presbyterian Church, lobbed an early slam, labeling Eddy’s teachings “blasphemous, immoral, licentious and murderous.” Despite denunciations, however, Christian Science growth and construction flourished across the city.

Within a hundred years of its founding, Christian Science joined many other churches in turn-turn-turning to a fallow period. Dwindling congregations scarcely could afford upkeep of their “sacred spaces” while land values soared.

Case in point: the former Third Church of Christ, Scientist, shown in this week’s “Then” photo. Designed by Portland architect George Foote Dunham and completed in 1922, it was sold in 2006, the congregation trusting that the new owner – celebrity-attracting megachurch Churchome (then City Church) – would keep the structure intact.

But it is up for sale again, this time with a recently granted demolition permit, raising preservationists’ ire. “Replacing this elegant contributor to the historic Olmsted boulevard would be criminal,” says Larry Kreisman, former Historic Seattle program director. “It’s a perfect candidate for adaptive reuse as a lecture and concert hall or as a community center.”

More such spaces soon may be lost. Churches and other institutions in similar straits, suggests Kreisman, should partner with preservation organizations. “The solution,” he says purposefully, “is creative thinking, brainstorming and a willingness to explore alternative paths.”

Because there’s also a season for preservation.


Our narrated 360 video will arrive tomorrow! In the meantime, enjoy these interiors, courtesy of Larry Kreisman.

THEN2: The spacious well-lit interior of the Third Church was also designed with acoustics in mind. (Larry Kreisman)
THEN3: The stained-glass windows in Christian Science churches contain few overtly religious symbols. These were fabricated by the Povey Brothers, whose work also adorns Town Hall. (Larry Kreisman)
Stained glass detail. (Larry Kreisman)
THEN4: Early Third Church historian Eileen Gormley noted the windows’ “beautifully shaded and mottled effect in amber and opal.” (Larry Kreisman)

Seattle Now & Then: Firland Sanatorium, 1934

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THEN: This Feb. 14, 1934, view looks northwest at 19 workers paving the entrance to Firland Sanatorium. The image is from an album of 93 New Deal-era prints of local sites purchased decades ago at a thrift store and recently loaned to this column for scanning — itself a gift of love for our region. (Courtesy Marvin Holappa family)
NOW: Standing before CRISTA’s Mike Martin Administration Building beside sanitation workers are (from left) Aaron Bard, great-grandnephew of author and former Firland Sanatorium patient Betty MacDonald; Paula Becker, author of an acclaimed 2016 MacDonald biography; Vicki Stiles, executive director of Shoreline Historical Museum, home of a Firland exhibit in 2007; Jan Screen, receptionist affiliated with CRISTA since 1957; and Kyle Roquet, facilities VP. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on Feb. 18, 2021
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on Feb. 21, 2021)

Inside and out, a stately, cross-topped edifice nurtures acts of love
By Clay Eals

We at “Now & Then” heartily proclaim that Valentine’s Day is worth not just 24 hours’ attention but rather a season — nay, a full year. So while the holiday fell last Sunday, we still can celebrate that our “Then” photo, taken 87 years ago on Feb. 14, represents the largess of love.

Most obvious is its esteem for jobless Americans during the Great Depression. Nineteen men are shown paving the road to the City of Seattle’s 44-acre Firland Sanatorium, west of Highway 99 in today’s Shoreline. The labor was funded by the federal Emergency Relief Administration (ERA), a New Deal relief program.

Also potent is the devotion inherent in the sanatorium, whose stately 1913 Administration Building was topped by the two-barred Cross of Lorraine, longtime logo for the National Association for the Study and Prevention of Tuberculosis, later the American Lung Association.

In our coronavirus era, the word “sanatorium” seems obscure, but before the mid-20th-century discovery and distribution of antibiotics to combat TB, it denoted an institution for isolated treatment of the notoriously contagious and deadly lung infection.

In Firland’s heyday, those admitted for one of its 250 openings endured 24-hour bed rest, nonstop fresh air and other strict regimens and surgeries for months or years. Patients who beat the disease emerged deeply grateful for a new chapter of life.

“The Plague and I” book cover, 1948.

Its most famous survivor, author of the multi-million-selling farm chronicle “The Egg and I” and four Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle children’s books, was Seattle’s beloved Betty MacDonald. In 1938-39, amid her own New Deal administrative employment, she spent nine months at Firland. A decade later, she wrote a second memoir echoing the title of her first: “The Plague and I.”

While etching droll portraits of fellow patients and staff, the thankful MacDonald also rendered the darkness of her experience. Life there, she wrote irreverently, would “make dying seem like a lot of fun.” A paean to public health, “Plague” became her favorite of four books she penned for adults. Ovarian cancer claimed her in 1958 at age 50.

Today, the Administration Building bears a single-barred cross under the private auspices of CRISTA (first called King’s Garden), which since 1949 has housed and cared for seniors and served students among its ministries based at the now-56-acre campus.  Of its own volition, CRISTA has preserved the edifice lovingly.

At its door in early days, a prescient plaque placed a heart on the building’s figurative sleeve: “Generosity and a liberal spirit make men to be humane and genial, open-hearted, frank and sincere, earnest to do good, easy and contented and well-wishers of mankind.”


To see Jean Sherrard‘s 360-degree video of the “Now” prospect and compare it with the “Then” photo, and to hear this column read aloud by Clay Eals, check out our Seattle Now & Then 360 version of the column!

Below are three more book covers, a movie poster, five additional photos and, in chronological order, 14 historical clippings from The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer online archives (available via Seattle Public Library) and other online newspaper sources that were helpful in the preparation of this column.

Special thanks to Rex Holappa, Paula Becker and Vicki Stiles for their assistance with this column!

“The Egg and I” book cover, 1945.
“Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle” book cover, 1947.
“Looking for Betty MacDonald” book cover, 2016.
“The Egg and I” movie poster, 1947.
Plaque depicted in 1937 Firland book assembled by patients. (Courtesy Paula Becker)
Firland Sanatorium founder Horace Henry, depicted in woodcut from 1937 Firland book assembled by patients. (Courtesy Paula Becker)
Aerial sketch of Firland Sanatorium depicted in 1937 Firland book assembled by patients. (Courtesy Paula Becker)
The path from Seattle to Firland, depicted in front-endpaper woodcut from 1937 Firland book assembled by patients. (Courtesy Paula Becker)
The path from Firland back to Seattle, depicted in back-endpaper woodcut from 1937 Firland book assembled by patients. (Courtesy Paula Becker)
Aug. 13, 1913, Seattle Times, page 4.
March 13, 1915, Seattle Times, page 3.
Dec. 27, 1925, Seattle Times, page 12.
Sept. 19, 1926, Seattle Times, page 9.
April 9, 1927, Seattle Times, page 5.
Feb. 2, 1931, Seattle Times, page 1.
Feb. 14, 1931, Seattle Times, page 6.
Nov. 14, 1937, Seattle Times, page 39.
Oct. 4, 1939, Seattle Times, page 26.
May 18, 1943, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 11.
May 22, 1945, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 18.
March 1, 1947, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 10.
June 14, 1953, Seattle Times, page 72.
April 21, 1979, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 8.

Seattle Now & Then: The Volunteer Park Conservatory, 1938

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: In 1938, one of 10 trainee gardeners waters large hybrid Florist Cyclamen in the Cyclamen House (now the Seasonal Display House) at the Conservatory. Historian Brent McKee has scanned thousands of photos documenting and celebrating the history of the New Deal. Many more can be found on his blog at and at (National Archives, Courtesy Brent McKee)
NOW: Gardener Emily Allsop waters poinsettias in the Conservatory’s Seasonal Display House. The future looks bright, says Friends of the Conservatory President Claire Wilburn. “We hope to reopen in 2021 and will seek to restore connection with all of Seattle’s varied communities.” (Lou Daprile)
The Volunteer Park Conservatory on a rainy day this winter. (Jean Sherrard)

(To be published in the Seattle Times PacificNW Magazine on Feb. 14, 2021)

Grounded in work, hope continues to flower at Volunteer Park
By Jean Sherrard

In the hothouse of our civic life, voices and temperatures keep rising. Resonating for many today is President Ronald Reagan’s  famous sentiment: “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: ‘I’m from the government, and I’m here to help’ ”

However, the gardener watering orchids in our 1938 “Then” photo might have begged to differ.

That decade’s Great Depression, devastating the nation with a 25% unemployment rate, provided fertile ground for the landslide 1932 election victory of visionary new president, Franklin D. Roosevelt. His New Deal programs sparked a revolution, providing millions of federally subsidized jobs for desperate Americans through the Works Project Administration (WPA), the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and other agencies.

“For Roosevelt,” says New Deal historian Brent McKee, “work relief was preferrable to cash relief. He believed that given the opportunity, most people would choose to work.”

As a result, the Pacific Northwest blossomed with sizeable infrastructure projects, from trails, roads and highways to dozens of schools, libraries, post offices and other public buildings. By itself, an acknowledged granddaddy of New Deal projects, the Grand Coulee Dam in Eastern Washington, ensured many thousands of construction jobs between 1933 and 1942.

But smaller efforts also eased joblessness. Innovative projects offered work to historians, artists and musicians, acknowledging their vital cultural contributions. And in 1938, with WPA sponsorship and a nod to the beauty and solace nurtured by nature, 10 unemployed women were hired by the Volunteer Park Conservatory on Capitol Hill as assistants to head gardener Jacob Umlauff.

“Among their jobs is the task of helping care for [10,000] orchids,” The Seattle Post-Intelligencer noted. The women were “light of touch and long of patience … very handy around such delicate plants.”

After four seasons of intensive training, the program offered each worker “a certificate as a Gardener, with a specialty in orchid culture.” Such a vocation could not have taken root in more fertile grounds.

Modeled after the 1851 Great Exhibition’s Crystal Palace in London, the Conservatory was a jewel in the crown provided by the Olmsted brothers-designed Volunteer Park.

London’s Crystal Palace, 1852

The Seattle Times acclaimed the $50,000 glass-paned structure as “a thing of joy and beauty” and the finest greenhouse west of Chicago.

Still operated by Seattle Parks, the Conservatory has been closed since last April due to the pandemic. But workers keep up its vast orchid collection, donated in 1921 by philanthropist Anna Clise, also founder of Children’s Orthopedic Hospital. It remains one of the nation’s finest.

Thus, while our national debate rages on, inside the steamy glass of the tropical Conservatory, hope continues to flower.


We are blessed with a selection of extras this week. For our 360 video featuring the Conservatory, click right about here.

Next, more of historian Brent McKee’s generous contributions, scanned at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.  The following photos are all from the late 1930s and feature the WPA horticultural training program at the Conservatory.

Lou Daprile, Marketing Coordinator for Friends of the Conservatory, took the selection of lovely “now” photos below to accompany the column. Thanks, Lou!

The Cactus House of the Volunteer Park Conservatory.
A holiday display in the Seasonal House of the Volunteer Park Conservatory
Red anthurium blossoms in the Fern House of the Volunteer Park Conservatory.
Emily Allsop works in the Bromeliad House of the Volunteer Park Conservatory.
The Seattle P-I indulged in flowery, somewhat condescending prose.

Seattle Now & Then: Sixth & Pike, 1969

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THEN: In 1969, the two-floor brick building on the southwest corner of Sixth & Pike sparkled with colorful marquees, anchored the wraparound neon of Burt’s Credit Jewelers. The decorative black-and-white squares above gave the modest edifice an inexpensive focal point to draw eyes upward. (Frank Shaw / Paul Dorpat collection)
NOW: With a welcoming gesture at the southwest corner of Sixth & Pike, which had been dominated by his grandfather Max Bender’s store, Burt’s Credit Jewelers, stands Scott Bender, who carries on the family business tradition with his jewelry in Bellevue. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on Jan. 28, 2021
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on Jan. 31, 2021)

Confident commerce of a colorful corner beckons from 1969
By Clay Eals

As we envision a post-virus time when the heart of the city can feel colorful again, this red-bricked beauty with its kaleidoscopic signage serves as a talisman.

The scene, the southwest corner of Sixth & Pike, is specific to the day — Sept. 21, 1969, an overcast Sunday afternoon with no one on the streets. But the stillness masks a season that was anything but quiet.

Richard Nixon was president, Woodstock had drawn 350,000 rock fans, Sen. Edward Kennedy had driven off the Chappaquiddick bridge, Neil Armstrong had walked on the moon, and the anti-war “Chicago Eight” trial was nigh. Locally, the first Boeing 747 had taken flight, the Seafirst Tower (peeking at top left) had opened, and the Seattle Pilots were finishing their lone baseball season.

Anchoring this modest corner with sparkling neon and a perpetually opening and closing ring box was Burt’s Credit Jewelers, “the Northwest’s only diamond cutters.” Latvian immigrant Max Bender started the store in 1926, operating it until its closure in 1975 after the family launched a Ballard outpost.

Next to Burt’s was the equally enduring Home of the Green Apple Pie. Opening on Union Street across from the post office in 1918 and arriving at Sixth & Pike in 1932, this restaurant and bar, founded by Myrtle and Floyd Smith, swelled with cheeky hype. For example, a Nov. 4, 1960, Seattle Post-Intelligencer ad claimed “15 Million Persons (They Could Swing This Election) Have Eaten the Pies Baked on the Premises.” In 1971, the eatery bragged of having served up (urp!) more than 4 million pies. By decade’s end, it had closed.

On the second floor percolated an early outlet for Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI), before the outdoors giant expanded to Capitol Hill and later to its flagship along Interstate 5.

Minnesotan Dick Swenson recalls carrying a folding camp tool he had just invented, called the Sven-Saw, as he bounded up the long flight of stairs to REI while visiting the World’s Fair in 1962. Greeting him was REI’s first full-time employee, Jim Whittaker, one year from becoming the first American to scale Mount Everest. Whittaker eyed the saw and said, “Why don’t you send me six?” When Swenson got home, Whittaker had ordered another six. REI remains Sven-Saw’s best retailer.

No surprise, the building eventually gave way to a high-rise, half-block business complex, City Centre. From 1995 to 2004, the corner’s newly rounded façade housed a flashy branch of FAO Schwarz toys, accented by a 15-foot-tall waving bronzed teddy bear outside.

With its legacy of commercial ingenuity, this charmed corner stands ready for post-virus life.


To see Jean Sherrard‘s 360-degree video of the “Now” prospect and compare it with the “Then” photo, and to hear this column read aloud by Clay Eals, check out our Seattle Now & Then 360 version of the column!

Below are two additional photos and, in chronological order, 39 historical clippings from The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer online archives (available via Seattle Public Library) and other online newspaper sources that were helpful in the preparation of this column.

Special thanks to Linnea Swenson Tellekson for her assistance with this column!

Dick Swenson (right) displays the Sven-Saw, a folding camp tool, during a mid-1960s trade show in Chicago. (Courtesy Linnea Swenson Tellekson)
Dick Swenson and the Sven-Saw, summer 2020, at Namakan Lake in upper Minnesota. (Courtesy Linnea Swenson Tellekson)
July 26, 1933, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 23.
June 22, 1934, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 7.
May 10, 1936, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 40.
Sept. 26, 1954, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 76.
Feb. 19, 1956, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 79.
Sept. 30, 1956, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 138.
Aug. 11, 1958, Seattle Times, page 14.
May 15, 1960, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 70.
Oct. 30, 1960, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 78.
Nov. 4, 1960, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 5.
Feb. 23, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 23.
March 16, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 20.
Aug. 12, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 9.
Aug. 24, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 24.
April 19, 1962, Seattle Times, page 31.
May 18, 1962, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 59.
Sept. 12, 1962, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 10.
Dec. 8, 1963, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 26.
July 3, 1964, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 17.
Nov. 10, 1964, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 22.
March 30, 1965, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 29.
Nov. 16, 1967, Seattle Times, page 77.
Nov. 26, 1967, Seattle Times, page 241.
Nov. 26, 1967, Seattle Times, page 242.
Dec. 24, 1967, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 24.
Oct. 30, 1970, Seattle Times, page 33.
Nov. 26, 1970, Seattle Times, page 29.
June 20, 1971, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 92.
Feb. 6, 1972, Seattle Times, page 82.
May 19, 1972, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 30.
May 20, 1972, Seattle Times, page 9.
Sept. 16, 1972, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 8.
Nov. 25, 1972, Seattle Times, page 24.
Oct. 3, 1975, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 41.
Oct. 6, 1976, Seattle Times, page 68.
April 10, 1977, Seattle Times
June 17, 1979, Seattle Times, page 180.
July 22, 1979, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 138.
Oct. 17, 1979, Seattle Times, page 120.
Nov. 7, 1979, Seattle Times, page 123.


Now & Then here and now