Seattle Now & Then: The Metropolitan Theatre, 1911

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THEN: The Metropolitan Theatre was among the many structures designed by Howells and Stokes, the New York architectural firm for the Metropolitan Tract.
NOW: For his repeat Jean needed to move to the sidewalk on the north side of University Street.

For forty-three years – 1911 into 1954 – this elegant box of bricks and tiles, the Metropolitan Theatre, was among Seattle’s favorite attractions, a venue for many sorts of shows.  It was named for the Metropolitan Building Company, which held the lease on the University of Washington’s original campus. Pioneers first referred to the property as “Denny’s Knoll” for Arthur Denny, their founder-merchant-politician, that helped organize the giving of the knoll to Washington Territory for its first campus, and the state still owns its ten-plus acres.

Denny Knoll with Territorial University, looking southeast from Denny Hill ca. 1878.
Denny Knoll topped by the Territorial University, photo taken from Denny Hill (looking south) ca. 1885.  Beacon Hill is on the right horizon. 

Many of you are familiar, by photographs, with another ‘box’, the university’s first school building built in 1861 on this site.  It was adorned with a bell-fitted cupola for the waking of students and calling of classes. The façade was fronted with four classical ionic columns that looked west to Elliott Bay from its elevated knoll. You can still visit the original columns, which are preserved in the present UW campus’ outdoor Sylvan Theatre.  (Some may also wish to carry a flute, light incense and dance around them.)

After the University moved to its new and present Interlake Campus in 1895, the knoll waited another decade for the state to begin sharing its old campus with the expansion of the business district – for rents.  Many activist students joined nostalgic alums then pushing to save the school’s first multifarious hall, aka, the box.  The schoolhouse might have been saved with a move to the new campus or preserved at its original place on the old campus,  If the latter, it would have hindered Stone and Webster’s 1911 construction of the Metropolitan Theatre.  The northeast corner of the school’s first “box” overlapped the plans southwest corner of the Metropolitan Theater.  The fact is that in 1909, with a little moving of the theater’s footprint by its New York architects, Howells and Stokes, there was still enough room on the campus for both the elegant brick box and the cherished clapboard one.

Members of a troupe playing at the Met. pose for Max Loudon in the alley at the rear of the theater before what Olympic Hotel was built round it in 1924. 

This Webster and Stevens Studio portrait of the theatre at the top of this week’s feature is easy to date – within four days.  The clues, of course, are the posters pasted to the front of the theatre for promoting “Spring Maid,” a Viennese-inspired operetta on its west coast tour. Of course, It first stopped in San Francisco. While it was a light opera, the “Maid” was not a light haul, with a company of 94 and an orchestra of 35.  Tickets ran from 50 cents to $2.00.  The “Spring Maid” opened its four-day Metropolitan run on October 19, 1911. While it was the largest early performance to touch the Met stage, it was not the first event held there.  On October 12, a Columbus Day show was staged by the local Knights of Columbus, and aided by history professor Edmond S. Meany, surely the most prolific public speaker in the history of the UW.

History Prof. Edmund Meany poses for a most appropriate portrait As yet the artist is not identified.
Swedish film, The Girl and the Devil.

Any sample of the international talents that took to the Met’s stage would include many plays and foreign films. The Swedish movie “The Girl and the Devil” was projected at the Met in 1946. Tennessee Williams’ play “Summer and Smoke” was produced in 1950.  Also that year, the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America performed at the Metropolitan.  Many members ate and slumbered at the Olympic Hotel that since its construction in 1924 had a grip on the theater (as shown in last week’s “Now and Then.”)  Byron Fish, the Times screwball humorist and reviewer, instructed the newspaper’s readers that “The S.P.E.B.S.Q.S.” was founded thirteen years before the bomb.  Its members are “pioneers in the nostalgic wish to return to pre-atom bomb days.”

Humorist Byron Fish when still a Ballard Boy.

The Met was torn down in the fall of 1955 to enlarge the Olympic Hotel’s ballroom and build a better front entrance on the hotel’s University Street side. After its demise, the Metropolitan began receiving a long line of nostalgic citizen press coverage.

Victory Square on University Way, between 4th and 5th Avenue. The pylon lifted behind the small temple lists the local losses during WW2.
Byron Fish’s signature used during his years as a columnist for The Seettle Times and also when he was Ivar Haglund’s first companion huckster. Between them, they originated “Keep Clam” Ivar’s identifying command. 

WEB EXTRAS

Anything to add, lads?  Sure Jean.  While we are on the edge of exhaustion we know – at least by your reports – that you work even harder.   And here’s more of the same.   (We may proof-read later.)

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THEN: As explained in the accompanying story the cut corner in this search-lighted photo of the “first-nighters” lined up for the March 1, 1928 opening of the Seattle Theatre at 9th and Pine was intended. Courtesy Ron Phillips

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THEN: Steel beams clutter a freshly regraded Second Avenue during the 1907 construction of the Moore Theatre. The view looks north toward Virginia Street.

THEN: The Metropolitan Tract's Hippodrome was nearly new when it hosted the A.F. of L. annual convention in 1913.

THEN:The early evening dazzle of the Roosevelt Theatre at 515 Pike Street, probably in 1941. (Courtesy Lawton Gowey)

THEN: With the stone federal post office at its shoulder – to the left – and the mostly brick Cobb Building behind, the tiled Pantages Theatre at Third Ave. and University Street gave a glow to the block. (Courtesy Lawton Gowey)

THEN: Seattle Architect Paul Henderson Ryan designed the Liberty Theatre around the first of many subsequent Wurlitzer organs used for accompanying silent films in theatres “across the land”. The Spanish-clad actor-dancers posed on the stage apron are most likely involved in a promotion for a film – perhaps Don Q, Son of Zorro (1925) or Douglas Fairbanks’ The Gaucho (1929) that also played at the Liberty. (Courtesy Lawton Gowey)

THEN: Long thought to be an early footprint for West Seattle’s Admiral Theatre, this charming brick corner was actually far away on another Seattle Hill. Courtesy, Southwest Seattle Historical Society.

85th-&-Palatine-THEN-MR

THEN: Capitol Hill’s Society Theatre first opened its doors in 1911. This record of it most likely dates from 1920, the first year in which the theatre could have shown the four films promoted with sensational posters near its front doors: the comedy “Mary’s Ankle,” “The Sagebrusher,” a western, “Silk Husbands and Calico Wives,” and “Everywoman,” a feminist allegory appropriately filmed in 1919, on the eve of women’s suffrage in the United States. (Courtesy Museum of History and Industry)

THEN: Lawton Gowey looks north through the tail of the 1957 Independence Day Parade on Fourth Avenue as it proceeds south through the intersection with Pike Street. (Courtesy, Lawton Gowey)

THEN: This “real photo postcard” was sold on stands throughout the city. It was what it claimed to be; that is, its gray tones were real. If you studied them with magnification the grays did not turn into little black dots of varying sizes. (Courtesy, David Chapman and otfrasch.com)

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P.I. GLOBE

Events! Friday on the Eastside, Saturday at Duwamish Longhouse, Monday in Wallingford

The events!

Paul greets crowd at Oct. 28, 2018, launch at Seattle Central Library.
Paul pontificates during the Oct. 28, 2018, book launch at Seattle Central Library.

Have you been able to attend one of Paul Dorpat‘s and Jean Sherrard‘s illustrated talks about their new book, Seattle Now & Then: The Historic Hundred?

So far, besides the big October 28 launch on Paul’s 80th birthday, six events have taken place, and three more are coming up this weekend prior to Thanksgiving:

With the book’s back cover as a backdrop, Jean speaks at the Oct. 28, 2018, launch at Seattle Central Library.

And the events just keep on comin’, resuming on the Sunday after Thanksgiving in Fremont, followed by 11 more through mid-December.

Join us! The events are free, books are available for purchase and personalizing, and you have the opportunity for one-on-one conversation afterward with Paul and Jean.

The media

In recent weeks, the book has garnered great media attention from:

Westside Seattle, “Seattle Time Travelers” column by Jean Godden

The launch of Seattle Now & Then, a new film by Berangere Lomont

The Launch of “Seattle Now and Then,” a video by Berangere Lomont

KOMO-TV, “Eric’s Heroes,” with Eric Johnson

KOMO-TV’s “Eric’s Heroes” salutes “Seattle Now & Then: The Historic Hundred,” Oct. 31, 2018.

To see all the print and broadcast media coverage of the book, click here.

The blurbs

A total of 25 Seattle notables have weighed in on Seattle Now & Then: The Historic Hundred. Here’s a sample:

Mike James

If you love a city, you want its story, not only in words, but also with a vision of its evolution.

Paul and Jean meet that desire in these pages, a brilliant melding of story and photo – a vivid journey from that long ago Then to Now.

Mike James,
former KING-TV and KIRO-TV journalist

For the rest of the blurbs, check out our blurbs page.

How to order

Eager to place your order? It’s easy. Just visit our “How to order” page. You can even specify how you want Paul and Jean to personalize your copy.

As Jean looks on, Paul signs a book for Nancy Guppy of The Seattle Channel’s “Art Zone.”

Thanks!

Big thanks to everyone who has helped make this book a successful tribute to the public historian who has popularized Seattle history via more than 1,800 columns for nearly 37 years, Paul Dorpat!

— Clay Eals, editor, Seattle Now & Then: The Historic Hundred

 

Seattle Now & Then: Olympic Hotel Construction, 1924

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THEN: An instance in the 1924 construction of the Olympia Hotel recorded from the roof of the Cobb Building. Included, upper-left, among the First Hill landmarks are, on the horizon at Madison St. and Terry Ave., the Sorrento Hotel, and, far left, the brilliant terra-cotta clad Fourth Christian Science Church, now Town Hall, at 8th and Seneca. (Courtesy Museum of History and Industry)
NOW: Jean Sherrard advises “I couldn’t move closer to the original prospect because the southeast portion of the roof is now the Cobb Building’s penthouse garden.”

Here is another offering from the Webster and Stevens collection, held in the library of the Museum of History and Industry.  Early in the twentieth century Webster and Stevens moved their studio into the Seattle Times Building and handled the newspaper’s editorial photography. Consequently, I had some hope that I’d be able to date this contribution by finding it printed in The Times. (As I have noted before, The Times can be searched online through the Seattle Public Library.)  Nevertheless, while enjoying the pleasures of looking, I failed to find this photograph.  Perhaps Webster and Sevens recorded it for the Community Hotel Corporation, which successfully hustled the Olympic’s 1924 construction with bonds

invested by more than 3,000 citizens.  This local enthusiasm reminded some genuine old-timers of the ‘Seattle Spirit’ they had known in the late 1870s that supported Seattle’s struggles with what locals considered the neglect of the Northern Pacific Railroad and the competition with its company town, Tacoma.

The Olympic Hotel photographed by Lawton Gowey from the front lawn of the Federal Courthouse on 6th Avenue, March 13, 1963.

Once the bonds started selling, the Italian Renaissance landmark went up with remarkable speed on acres that had been the first home for the University of Washington.  The Times enjoyed its coverage on what it called “the hotel of Seattle’s dreams.”  The construction began in earnest on April 1, 1923, on the 450-guest-room “hotel of its dreams.” The Olympic Hotel was built around the city’s by then cherished theatre The Metropolitan, seen at the top in the featured photograph.

Clearing the old university grounds around the Metropolitan Theatre for the construction of the hotel.  First Hill is on the right horizon.  On right Sprint Street is momentarily blocked by a sizeable building moved off of the impending hotel’s footprint, the part of it at the northwest corner of Spring Street and Fifth Avenue.
The Olympic Hotel’s wing along 5th Avenue was completed in 1929. It shows here on the left with the hotel-surrounded Metropolitan Theatre on the right, and the new Northwest Insurance tower upper-right,   Now renamed the Seattle Tower, it was completed in 1928..

The theatre was constructed in 1911 and closed in 1954 for the Olympic’s enlargement between its two wings. With its hurried construction, the hotel took on the elegant “dress of terra cotta tiles” near the end of February 1924, and by December 6, 1924, a dinner dance celebrated the opening of the Olympic, the city’s ‘grand hotel.’

The Olympic Hotel’s lobby – when new.
The Olympic’s spiral staircase inside the hotel’s Fourth Avenue entrance.

I ordinarily travel with a sleeping bag and frankly know little of hotels.  For an informed opinion on the now Fairmont Olympic Hotel’s status among local hostelries, I asked Tamara Anne Wilson, a friend who is also widely experienced in the professional virtues of local hospitality.  From 1997 to 2003 Tamara kept several offices of her PR firm on the hotel’s twelfth floor. After naming and complimenting several other Seattle hotels, she concluded “there will never be anything like Seattle’s Olympic Hotel again. Valet, doormen and concierge that understand discretion, perfect classic martinis, comfortable seating areas that aren’t ‘trying too hard to be hip’.”

The Olympic Hotel’s Georgian Dining Room (when new).

Finally, in the interest of ‘full disclosure,’ Tamara continues and concludes that in January 1960 when her father Lieutenant William Critch was preparing to ship to Okinawa with his bride of three months, Marlene Prosser, they got the order to leave instead for a preferred station in Hawaii.  The couple celebrated with dinner at Rosellini Four-10 and a night at “the” hotel.  The appropriate months later Tamara was born in Honolulu.  “The Olympic was conceived for the carriage trade.  I’m grateful I was conceived there.”

The Olympic’s Venetian Room used here for classes in the preparation of meats.

WEB EXTRAS

The creation of this column was documented by KOMO-TV’s Eric Johnson in an installment of his long running series, Eric’s Heroes. Thanks, Eric!

Anything to add, compadres?  Yes heroic Jean for you and your admiring platoon of fellow recorders (aka shutterbugs) we will pull free from the archive a few more features from the neighborhood often on the key subjects (hotels and theaters.)

THEN: Steel beams clutter a freshly regraded Second Avenue during the 1907 construction of the Moore Theatre. The view looks north toward Virginia Street.

THEN: An early-20th-century scene during the Second Avenue Regrade looks east into its intersection with Virginia Avenue. A home is being moved from harm's way, but the hotel on the hill behind it would not survive the regrade's spoiling. Courtesy of Ron Edge.

THEN: The Metropolitan Tract's Hippodrome was nearly new when it hosted the A.F. of L. annual convention in 1913.

THEN: With the stone federal post office at its shoulder – to the left – and the mostly brick Cobb Building behind, the tiled Pantages Theatre at Third Ave. and University Street gave a glow to the block. (Courtesy Lawton Gowey)

THEN: Thanks to Pacific reader John Thomas for sharing this photograph recorded by his father in 1927. It looks north across Times Square to the almost completed Orpheum Theatre. Fifth Avenue is on the left, and Westlake on the right.

THEN: Plymouth Congregational Church barely reached maturity – twenty-one years – when it was torn down in 1913 for construction of the equally grand but less prayerful Pantages Theatre, also at the northeast corner of Third Avenue and University Street. (Museum of History & Industry)

THEN: Lawton Gowey looks north through the tail of the 1957 Independence Day Parade on Fourth Avenue as it proceeds south through the intersection with Pike Street. (Courtesy, Lawton Gowey)

THEN: Seen here in 1887 through the intersection of Second Avenue and Yesler Way, the Occidental Hotel was then easily the most distinguished in Seattle. (Courtesy Museum of History and Industry)

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Richard Berner – passed

Richard Berner died around 2:30 pm last Saturday Nov. 3, 2018. At the time Jean and I were in West Seattle helping the West Seattle Historical Society with it’s annual “gala auction.” That benevolent huckstering went so well that the gala ran both bountiful and long, and our plan to visit Rich following the auction was prevented by the small worries of slipping time.  Two days later we learned that it was also snipped by the singular one of Rich’s death.  Born at the very end of 1920, Richard did not make it to 100.  As the founder of the University of Washington Library’s Archive he was a mentor to many of us, and friend too.  Rich was a fine blend of ready compassion and good humor.

“High school or college, I’m no longer sure.” - Rich Berner

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BERNER’S BOOMTOWN

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We are pleased now to introduce Seattle 1900-1920: From Boomtown, Urban Turbulence to Restoration, the first of Richard C. Berner’s three books named together Seattle in the 20th Century.When the details, stories, and insights are explored with a close reading, Berner’s accomplishment is by far our widest opening into Seattle’s twentieth century, the first half of it, from the 1900 to 1950.  Those fifty years were also the second half of Seattle’s first hundred years, if we begin our counting with the footsteps of mid-western farmers settling here in the early 1850s.

Richard Berner, a recent portrait
Richard Berner, a recent portrait

Volume one was first published in 1991 by Charles Press, and the publisher – “Rich” Berner himself – made a modest list of its contents on the back cover. We will repeat it. “Politics of Seattle’s urbanization: dynamics of reform, public ownership movement, turbulent industrial relations, effects of wartime hysteria upon newfound civil liberties – all responding to the huge influx of aspiring recruits to the middle class & organized labor as they confronted the established elite. Includes outlines of the economy, cultural scene, public education, population characteristics & ethnic history.”

For this “printing” we have added many captioned illustrations, some of them copied from news reports of the events Berner examines, and we have almost always succeeded in placing each next to the text it illustrates. On-line illustrated editions of Volume 2: Seattle 1921-1940, From Boom to Bust and Volume 3: Seattle Transformed, World War 2 to Cold War will follow – but not at the moment. The collecting of illustrations and putting them in revealing order with the narratives for Volume 2 and 3 is still a work in progress. Readers who want to “skip ahead” of our illustrated presentations of Berner’s three books here on dorpatsherrardlomont can find the complete set of his history as originally published in local libraries or through interlibrary loans.

How Rich Berner managed it is a charmed story. He undertook what developed into his magnus opus after retiring in 1984 from his position as founder and head of the University of Washington Archives and Manuscripts Division. Between the division’s origin in 1958 and his retirement Rich not only built the collection but also studied it. Berner worked closely with Bob Burke, the U.W. History professor most associated with the study of regional history who first recommended Berner, a University of California, Berkeley graduate in history and library science, for the U.W. position.Together, the resourceful professor and the nurturing archivist shepherded scores of students in their use of the archive. Rich Berner is the first to acknowledge that he also learned from the students as they explored and measured the collection for dissertations and other publications. By now their collected publications can be imagined as its own “shelf” of Northwest History.

News clipping showing Rich C. Berner “as curator of manuscripts for the University of Washington Library.”
News clipping showing Rich C. Berner “as curator of manuscripts for the University of Washington Library.”

Rich Berner showed himself also a good explicator of his profession.His influential book, Archival Theory and Practice in the United States: A Historical Analysis was published by the University of Washington Press in 1983 and was awarded the Waldo Gifford Leland Prize by the Society of American Archivists. Composing this historical study on top of establishing and nourishing the University’s Archive and Manuscripts Division may be fairly considered a life’s achievement, but, with his 1984 retirement Berner continue to work in the archive at writing his three-volume history. He published Volume Three in 1999, and so, continuing the charm of this entire production, he completed Seattle in the 20th Century before the century (and millennium) was over.

Rich & Thelma
Rich & Thelma

(Lest we imagine this scholar chained to his archive we know that with his wife Thelma, a professor of Physiology and Biophysics in the U.W. Medical School and the first woman appointed Associate Dean of the UW graduate school, this famously zestful couple managed to often take to the hills and mountains.)

Rich was born in Seattle in 1920 – the last year explored in this his first volume. His father worked on the docks as a machinist, and for a time was “blacklisted” by employers because of his union advocacy.During the depression, while Rich was attending classes at Garfield High School, his mother ran a waterfront café on the Grand Trunk Pacific’s pier at the foot of Madison Street.

Rich in uniform
Rich in uniform

During the war Rich served with the Army’s 10th Mountain Division. Following it with help from the GI Bill he matriculated at Cal-Berkeley with degrees in both history and library science. It was also in Berkeley that he first met Robert Burke, then Director of the Manuscript Collection of the Bancroft Library. Rich worked part time there.

For Seattle, as for any city of size, there is a “canon” of publications that are necessary reading for anyone wanting to get a grip on local history. The first half of the Seattle Canon may be said to begin with Pioneer Arthur Denny’s Pioneer Reminiscences of 1888. The pioneer canon receives its own magnus opus with the combined works – multi-volume histories of Seattle and King County – of Clarence Bagley, himself a pioneer. That Berner was already attending Seattle’s T.T. Minor grade school in 1926 when Bagley was still three years away from publishing his History of King County is evidence of the “Boomtown” included in the title of this Berner’s first of three books on Seattle history.

With rare exceptions the books included in this first part of the Seattle Canon were published by their subjects, like Denny’s still revealing Reminiscences, or under the direction and/or support of their subjects, like Bagley’s still helpful volumes. They are generally “picturesque histories” written to make their subjects seem more appealing than they often were. The stock of motives for “doing heritage” are there generally supportive or positive, showing concern for the community, admiration for its builders, the chance to tell good stories, and often also the desire to learn about one’s forebears although primarily those truths that are not upsetting.Not surprisingly, and again with rare exceptions, these booster-historians and their heritage consumers were members of a minority of citizens defined by their wealth, race and even religion. It would be a surprise to find any poor socialists, animists or even affluent Catholics among them.

Part Two of the Seattle Canon may be said to have popularly begun with Skid Road, historian-journalist Murray Morgan’s charming and yet still raking history of Seattle. Published in 1951, the year of Seattle’s centennial, it is still in print, and has never been out of it. Richard Berner has dedicated Seattle 1900-1920: From Boomtown, Urban Turbulence to Restoration to Morgan. The post-war canon is often corrective of the sins of the pioneers. The works of Morgan and many others, certainly including Berner, are not generally clothed in the pious harmonies of their predecessors, the ordinarily stress-free narratives expected of those who were writing under the “pioneer code.”

In our opinion Rich Berner’s three-volume Seattle in the 20th Centuryis the greatest single achievement of our Seattle Canon – “part two.”It has the scope and details required. It is profoundly instructive and filled with the characters and turns of fate that any storyteller might admire and wisely exploit. Within Berner’s three books are the wonders of what they did, the touchstones of their devotions and deceptions, their courage and hypocrisy, meanness and compassion.Certainly, it has been our pleasure to help illustrate this the first volume and to also continue on now with volumes two and three.

Paul Dorpat 10/1/2009

Archivist-Antiquarian as Young-Equestrian posing in front of the Berner family home on Seattle’s Cherry Street.
Archivist-Antiquarian as Young-Equestrian posing in front of the Berner family home on Seattle’s Cherry Street.
Student at Seattle’s Garfield High School
Student at Seattle’s Garfield High School
Rich Berner’s father, top-center: machinist on the Seattle waterfront.
Rich Berner’s father, top-center: machinist on the Seattle waterfront.
“High school or college, I’m no longer sure.” - Rich Berner
“High school or college, I’m no longer sure.” – Rich Berner
Rich Berner, second row third from left, posing for a group portrait of the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division at a Colorado camp during the Second World War.
Rich Berner, second row third from left, posing for a group portrait of the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division at a Colorado camp during the Second World War.
With Thelma on Mt. Stuart
With Thelma on Mt. Stuart
Thelma
Thelma & Rich
The Robert Gray Award from the Washington State Historical Society
The Robert Gray Award from the Washington State Historical Society

Seattle Now & Then: Lake Union from Denny Hill, early 1890s

A note to readers: just a reminder that our new book, Seattle Now & Then: The Historic Hundred, is available for pre-order now. Just click here, or tap the pre-order button on the right! Now back to our scheduled program…

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THEN: The prolific Seattle pioneer photographer Frank LaRoche recorded this panorama of Lake Union from near the summit of Denny Hill in the early 1890s. LaRoche looks north across Fourth Avenue mid-block between Stewart and Virginia Streets. (Courtesy: University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections)
NOW: The south summit of Denny Hill, which was less than a block behind LaRoche’s prospect in the “then” photograph, was lowered by nearly 100 feet during the Denny Regrade of the early twentieth century.

The first photograph of Lake Union recorded from Denny Hill was one of the many shots the famous itinerant Californian photographer Carlton Watkins made during his visit to Puget Sound in 1882. In spite of building an elevated platform on top of the hill to help him see and shoot the lake, only a glimpse of it is seen through a forest both selectively cut for the best lumber but also ravaged by a wind storm that flattened many of the trees on Denny Hill in 1879.

The better known Watkins pan from his 1882 visit was recorded from Beacon Hill.

This Sunday’s feature (at the top) , was photographed in the early 1890s, looks north from Denny Hill to a Lake Union landscape dappled by a mix of virgin timber and pioneer construction. The Western Lumber Mill, the lake’s largest development, can be seen smoking at the south end of the lake. Built in the early 1880s, the mill escaped Seattle’s Great Fire of 1889 and overnight became the city’s principal supplier of the lumber that rebuilt what was already the largest town in Washington Territory.

In his caption on top at lower-left, photographer Frank LaRoche includes the name of his intended subject where he positioned his camera, and the address of his studio. With the help of other photographs, maps, and directories, it is possible to determine within a shout where LaRoche set up.  The best clue to LaRoche’s location is the Gothic one, right-of-center: the Norwegian Danish Baptist Church

Looking east on Virginia from near 5th Avenue, before the regrade. The Gothic Norwegian Baptist sanctuary at the northeast corner of Virginia Street and Sixth Avenue is on the left.

at the northeast corner of Virginia Street and 6th Ave.  The city’s Sanborn Real Estate Map for 1893 gives footprints for the city’s structures, including the church and the homes to this side of the Baptists.  From these footprints we may deduce that LaRoche was overlooking Fourth Avenue to the east.  While behind him, gleaned from other sources, early construction proceeds on the 400-room grand Victorian hotel, The Denny named for the city’s principle pioneer founder Arthur Denny.

On the evidence of another photograph, taken about 1904 by Asahel Curtis from nearly the same spot, but higher, possibly from a ledge or window in the Denny Hotel looking east over Fourth Avenue, the considerably more developed neighborhood sits in a late afternoon shadow cast by the hotel.  In three years the hotel

On the right the Westlake Ave. regrade looking north from Pike St. and 4th Avenue, 1906. Fourth Avenue, on the left, still climbs Denny Hill.  Some of the structures up the hill can also be found in the A.Curtis photo above this one.   Taken from the Denny Hotel  it shows its shadow.

would be razed, along with much of Denny Hill.  By the result of another regrade that straightened Westlake Avenue between the intersection of Fourth Avenue and Pike Street as far as Denny Way in 1906-7, the Baptist’s tidy sanctuary, threatened by public works pruning, was sold to George J. Hodge, a developer who razed the Gothic landmark. Hodge paid the congregation more than $7,000 for their exposed corner.  Some of the largesse was used to build a new sanctuary near Denny Way and Yale Avenue, which I remember from the 1960s, in its last incarnation, as the BFD a pop music palace that sometimes featured psychedelic rock and roll.

The home of the Baptist Norwegian Danish Church with its red roof and white walls shows below and to the left of the panorama’s center. The photo was most likely taken by Robert Bradley from Capitol Hill.   Denny Way is lower-right. 

 

WEB EXTRAS

Anything to add, lads?  Because you asked.

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

THEN: We give this panorama from the roof of the Washington Athletic Club a circa date of 1961, the year that Horizon House, a First Hill retirement community, first opened its doors to residents at Ninth Avenue and University Street. The high-rise L-shaped Horizon stands top-center. (Lawton Gowey)

THEN: William O. McKay opened show rooms on Westlake in July of 1923. After fifty-seven years of selling Fords, the dealership turned to the cheaper and more efficient Subaru. Now reconstructed, the old Ford showroom awaits a new tenant.

THEN: A.J. McDonald’s panorama of Lake Union and its surrounds dates from the early 1890s. It was taken from First Hill, looking north from near the intersection of Terry Avenue and Union Street. (Courtesy, Museum of History and Industry)

THEN: The scene looks north through a skyline of steeples toward the Cascade neighborhood and Lake Union, ca. 1923.

THEN: This Webster and Stevens studio photo dates from either late 1917 or early 1918. The grand Frederick and Nelson Department store, rising above Fifth Avenue, has not yet reached its sumptuous Sept. 3. 1918 opening. In the foreground, the much smaller but also elegant flatiron building, bordered by Pine Street, in the foreground, and Westlake and Fifth Avenues to the sides, was razed and replaced also in 1918 by a three story retail block on the same flatiron footprint. (Courtesy, the Museum of History & Industry)

THEN: The five buildings shown here on the west side of Third Avenue south of Virginia Street have endured with few changes since the ‘then’ photo was snapped in 1936. The exception is the smallest, far-right, the Virginian Tavern now stripped for an open garage at Third’s southwest corner with Virginia Street. The six-story Hardon Hall Apartments, at the center of the five, was renovated in 2006 for low-income housing by the Plymouth Housing Group.

THEN: Before this the first shovel of the last of Denny Hill was ceremonially dropped to the conveyor belt at Battery Street, an “initial bite of 30,000 cubic yards of material” was carved from the cliff along the east side of 5th Avenue to make room for both the steam shovel and several moveable belts that extended like fingers across the hill. It was here that they met the elevated and fixed last leg of the conveyor system that ran west on Battery Street to the waterfront. (Courtesy, Seattle Municipal Archive)

THEN: Werner Lenggenhager's recording of the old St. Vinnie's on Lake Union's southwest shore in the 1950s should remind a few readers of the joys that once were theirs while searching and picking in that exceedingly irregular place.

Then: Photographed from an upper story of the Ford Factory at Fairview Avenue and Valley Street, the evidence of Seattle's explosive boom years can be seen on every shore of Lake Union, ca. 1920. Courtesy of MOHAI

THEN: Pioneer Arthur Denny's son, Orion, took this photo of popularly named Lake Union John and his second wife, Madeline, sometime before the latter's death in 1906.

aurora-broad-speed-web

THEN: Looking west down Ewing Street (North 34th) in 1907 with the nearly new trolley tracks on the left and a drainage ditch on the right to protect both the tracks and the still barely graded street from flooding. (Courtesy, Michael Maslan)

THEN: Long-time Wallingford resident Victor Lygdman looks south through the work-in-progress on the Lake Washington Ship Canal Bridge during the summer of 1959. Bottom-right are the remnants of the Latona business and industrial district, including the Wayland Mill and the Northlake Apartments, replaced now with Ivar’s Salmon House and its parking. (Photo by Victor Lygdman)

THEN: From 1909 to the mid-late 1920s, the precipitous grade separation between the upper and lower parts of NE 40th Street west of 7th Ave. NE was faced with a timber wall. When the wall was removed, the higher part of NE 40th was shunted north, cutting into the lawns of the homes beside it. (Courtesy, Lawton Gowey)

5th-ave-car-barns-then-mr

THEN: Looking east on Pike Street from Fifth Avenue early in the twentieth century. (Courtesy, Museum of History and Industry)

THEN: Built in 1888-89 at the northeast corner of Fourth Avenue and Pine Street, the then named Norwegian-Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church marked the southeast corner of Denny Hill. Eventually the lower land to the east of the church (here behind it) would be filled, in part, with hill dirt scraped and eroded from North Seattle lots to the north and west of this corner. (Courtesy, Denny Park Lutheran Church)

THEN: William O. McKay opened show rooms on Westlake in July of 1923. After fifty-seven years of selling Fords, the dealership turned to the cheaper and more efficient Subaru. Now reconstructed, the old Ford showroom awaits a new tenant.

THEN: With her or his back to the Medical-Dental Building an unidentified photographer took this look northeast through the intersection of 6th and Olive Way about five years after the Olive Way Garage first opened in 1925. (Courtesy, Mark Ambler)

THEN: The 1906-07 Gas Works at the north end of Lake Union went idle in 1956 when natural gas first reached Seattle by pipeline. In this photo, taken about fifteen years later, the Wallingford Peninsula is still home to the plant’s abandoned and “hanging gardens of metal.” (Courtesy: Rich Haag)

THEN: Looking west (not east) on Battery Street from Seventh Avenue, approaching the end of the last of Denny Hill’s six regrade reductions. The dirt was carried to Elliott Bay on conveyor belts like the two shown here. (courtesy Seattle Municipal Archives)

THEN 1: Recorded on April 14, 1928, about sixth months before the Denny Hill Regrade No. 2 began, the last of the scarred Denny Hill rises to the right of Fifth Avenue. Denny School (1884) tops the hill at the northeast corner of Battery Street and Fifth Avenue. On the horizon, at center, Queen Anne Hill is topped by its namesake high school, and on the right of the panorama, the distant Wallingford neighborhood rises from the north shore of Lake Union. (Courtesy, Seattle Municipal Archives)

Seattle Now & Then: The Rhodes 10 cent Store

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: Harlan Thomas, architect for the Rhodes Building, is remembered with his surviving local landmarks including the Sorrento Hotel, with its own grand entrance, the Chelsea Hotel, the Corner Market Building, Harborview Hospital and the Chamber of Commerce building. Thomas we also head of the U.W.’s Department of Architecture from 1926 to 1940. (Museum of History and Industry)
NOW: Now the high-rise Century Square fills the northwest corner of Pike St. and Fourth Avenue.

Surely among those who take time to shape their opinions on architecture this façade of the Rhodes Store will excite some and alienate others.  For the latter, the building’s five-floor front may be too congested with ornaments.  I like them and have felt an enduring affection –- for a long as I’ve had a copy of the photograph —  for the playful front of this 10 Cent Store.  From 1924 to 1931 it faced east from the west side of Fourth Avenue where it sat two lots north of Pike Street. The store was named for four Rhodes brothers: Albert, Henry, William and Charles, mid-western farmers who moved to Puget Sound around 1890 to quickly become sibling-entrepreneurs in both Tacoma and Seattle. By 1900 they were flaunted as Seattle’s “leading tea and coffee house,” a success which should feature the Rhodes family in any history of Seattle’s preferred tastes.

The brothers’ first little Seattle storefront at 1325 Second Avenue, took a small part of the block-big Arcade Building. William was the manager of its bargain department although he was quick to explain, “We brothers have always worked together, pulled together financially and in business managements. Of course, we all look upon (up to) the big store Seattle knows as ‘Albert’s Store.’”  The oldest brother Albert and his wife Harriet managed the “big store” which with its organ in the lobby will certainly still be remembered by many locals. The big department store was built in the late 1920s with an enlargement of the Arcade Buildings’ north half, the part facing Union Street, between First and Second Avenue

Earlier while dreaming of dimes, and preparing to open the family’s economy bazaar, William promised “We will even sell a good brand of tea and coffee for ten cents a pound on our opening day.”  The door on Second Avenue first opened to the store’s10 cent assortment of dry goods, notions, furnishings, confectionary, china, glasses, kitchen needs and thousands of knickknacks on the morning of June 6, 1903.  Twenty-one years later the second Rhodes 10 Cent Store, pictured here, opened on the fifteenth of December, 1924. The Times liked it, reporting “The building presents some new ideas in the design of Seattle retail establishments . . . The exterior of the building is of Italian Renaissance Style, and is faced in glazed terra cotta.  One of the most striking features is the 24-foot arch recessed above the Fourth Avenue entrance, for scenic displays.”

The fair-weather mural framed here is one of only two photographs I’ve found of this ironically sumptuous 10 Cent store.  The other appears in this newspaper and shows the arch fitted not with a beach scene but a Christmas tree.  The Rhodes brothers second 10-cent store was short-lived perhaps from a combination of changing retail tastes, the sudden slam of the Great Depression in 1929 and an offer the brothers could not refuse.  In the late fall of 1931 the Seattle Gas Company signed a one million dollar twenty year lease to turn this ornate show box into the Gasco Building. The ensuing remodel stripped the Rhodes building of its ornamental pleasures (for some) to become the gas company’s center for billing and exhibiting modern appliances.  It first opened to the public in the spring of 1932.  The official housewarming party started at noon with KOL radio’s Kiddies’ Hour and the then “well-known Negro entertainers, the Deacon Jones Quartet.”

WEB EXTRAS

Anything to add, guys?

THEN: The ‘Seattle showplace’ Rhodes mansion on Capitol Hill, ca. 1916. (Courtesy, Museum of History and Industry)

THEN:The early evening dazzle of the Roosevelt Theatre at 515 Pike Street, probably in 1941. (Courtesy Lawton Gowey)

Great railroad signs, theatre signs and ranks of neon were still the greatest contributors to night light at 4th and Westlake in 1949. (Photo by Robert Bradley compliment of Lawton and Jean Gowey)

5th-ave-car-barns-then-mr

THEN:  Seattle Architect Paul Henderson Ryan designed the Liberty Theatre around the first of many subsequent Wurlitzer organs used for accompanying silent films in theatres “across the land”.  The Spanish-clad actor-dancers posed on the stage apron are most likely involved in a promotion for a film – perhaps Don Q, Son of Zorro (1925) or Douglas Fairbanks’ The Gaucho (1929) that also played at the Liberty.  (Courtesy Lawton Gowey)

THEN: With her or his back to the Medical-Dental Building an unidentified photographer took this look northeast through the intersection of 6th and Olive Way about five years after the Olive Way Garage first opened in 1925.  (Courtesy, Mark Ambler)

Montana-Horse-Meat-MR-THEN

THEN: While visiting Seattle for some promoting, silent film star Wallace Reid shares the sidewalk at 4th and Olive with a borrowed Stutz Bearcat.  (Courtesy, Museum of History & Industry)

THEN: The “then” photo looks southeast across Union Street to the old territorial university campus.  It was recorded in the Fall of 1907, briefly before the old park-like campus was transformed into a grand commercial property, whose rents still support the running of the University of Washington.  (Courtesy Museum of History and Industry)

THEN: Thanks again and again to Lawton Gowey for another contribution to this feature, this ca. 1917 look into a fresh Denny Regrade and nearly new “office-factory” at 1921 Fifth Avenue.  (Courtesy, Lawton Gowey.)

THEN: This rare early record of the Fourth and Pike intersection was first found by Robert McDonald, both a state senator and history buff with a special interest in historical photography. He then donated this photograph - with the rest of his collection - to the Museum of History and Industry, whom we thank for its use.  (Courtesy MOHAI)

THEN: Looking west on Pike Street from Fourth Avenue, the variety in the first block of this retail district includes the Rhodes Bros. Ten Cent Store, Mendenhall’s Kodaks, Fountain Pens and Photo Supplies, Remick’s Song and Gift Shop, the Lotus Confectionary, Fahey-Brockman’s Clothiers, where, one may “buy upstairs and save $10.00”.  (Courtesy, MOHAI)

THEN: This Webster and Stevens studio photo dates from either late 1917 or early 1918. The grand Frederick and Nelson Department store, rising above Fifth Avenue, has not yet reached its sumptuous Sept. 3. 1918 opening. In the foreground, the much smaller but also elegant flatiron building, bordered by Pine Street, in the foreground, and Westlake and Fifth Avenues to the sides, was razed and replaced also in 1918 by a three story retail block on the same flatiron footprint. (Courtesy, the Museum of History & Industry)

THEN: Looking east on Pike Street from Fifth Avenue early in the twentieth century. (Courtesy, Museum of History and Industry)

 

 

 

Q13-TV, 101.1 FM, KOMO-TV, NANCY GUPPY’S ART ZONE — AND MUCH MORE!

The launch

We hope you are planning to attend the launch for Paul and Jean’s new book, Seattle Now & Then: The Historic Hundred. It starts at 1 p.m. this Sunday, Oct. 28, 2018 (Paul’s 80th birthday!), at the Seattle Central Library auditorium, and it’s free. Enjoy an illustrated talk by Paul and Jean who will be signing copies  of the book for purchasers. Get there early to snag a seat. The auditorium doors open at noon.

This week’s media coverage

We are so fortunate to have received great media coverage in advance of the launch, and you can see and hear it all by visiting our media page. It includes:

  • A stellar 8-1/2-minute video segment by Nancy Guppy on her “Art Zone” program for The Seattle Channel, complete with pre-birthday cake and song.
  • Video and audio of a 55-minute radio interview of Jean and Paul by former Seattle City Council members Jean Godden and Sue Donaldson on their program “The Bridge,” KMGP 101.1 FM.
  • Raw video footage of a 3-1/2-minute interview on KOMO-TV by 4 p.m. anchor Mary Nam.
  • Raw video footage of a five-minute interview on Q13-TV by morning anchor Bill Wixey.
  • And a 10-page cover story in last Sunday’s Pacific NW magazine of The Seattle Times, featuring many photos and the book’s introduction.

And beyond …

  • Eric Johnson of KOMO-TV  plans to air an “Eric’s Heroes” segment on the book at 6 p.m. next Wednesday, Oct. 31. This will be posted our media page soon after it airs.

22 — count ’em, 22 — events!

If you can’t make this Sunday’s big launch, we have scheduled 22 additional book events in November and December throughout Seattle and King County. Check out our events page.

Blurbs by Seattle’s finest

A total of 24 Seattle notables have weighed in on Seattle Now & Then: The Historic Hundred. Check out our blurbs page.

Pre-order your copy online

Eager to place your order? It’s easy. Just visit our “How to order” page.

Thanks!

Thanks to everyone who has helped make this such a successful launch and tribute to the public historian who has popularized Seattle history via more than 1,800 columns over 37 years, Paul Dorpat!

— Clay Eals, editor, Seattle Now & Then: The Historic Hundred

Seattle Now & Then: The Historic Hundred

Much of this Sunday’s Seattle Times Pacific magazine is devoted to our new book. You may notice our pre-order button just to the right, upon which all readers are welcome to click! Or our many events, to which all are, of course, invited! Also, check out our many illustrious blurbers, who seem to like us very much!

Paul and Jean discuss Seattle’s past, present, and future at the old MOHAI (Photo: Berangere Lomont)

To  celebrate its upcoming launch – next Sunday, October 28th, which is also Paul’s 80th birthday! – we’re reprinting our senior editor Clay Eals’ lovely introduction and, as always, click to enlarge photos: 

Photo by Berangere Lomont

The Seattle Now & Then story:
from simple pleasures to the truth

By Clay Eals

The late Seattle newspaper pundit and historian Emmett Watson once said it is fitting for a flourishing city to have a “sense of itself.”

“I’m not even sure what I mean,” he wrote in 1984, “but it has something to do with a feeling for its past, a curiosity about its origins, a pride in its present.”

Emmett’s sage advisory resounds today amid our city’s tangle of construction cranes, pricey digs and teeming tech jobs — a veritable frenzy of future-focused development.

So, what is Seattle’s “sense of itself”? People of all stripes likely would agree that it derives from the city’s unique lay of the land — the lyrical, physical contours that created a natural stage for urban beauty and demanded ingenuity for the shaping of a prosperous port.

A 2018 view from Smith Tower

In the bustling “now” days of our city, hordes of newcomers may give these enduring qualities only fleeting thought. But longtimers, with visions of “then” dancing through their experience, have a more deep-seated grasp.

They summon formative years when the post-World War II maxim was the glory of growth. A prominent case in point: the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair — drawing nearly 10 million to a gleaming Jetsons view of the future  — trumpeted the trend. “Take a way-ahead look at tomorrow, just as if you were there,” crooned its catchy theme song.

“We Come In Peace”

But it didn’t take long, as baby boomers reached their 30s and 40s, for a generation clamoring for peace, equality and the environment to reach back in time to embrace and protect local icons and characteristics targeted by the business bulldozer.

Evidence in the 1970s and 1980s was undeniable. Seattle voters saved the Pike Place Market. The city council crafted a tough landmarks law. Grassroots heritage groups sprouted like spawning salmon. The past was becoming palpable.

Enter Paul Dorpat.

Paul after a public shave at his 40th birthday party in 1978

Today he is known as the indefatigable purveyor of what has become, over the past nearly 37 years, a beloved citywide optical institution entitled “Seattle Now and Then.”

Back in 1966, however, the 28-year-old was a newcomer to our city. Raised in Spokane by a father who commanded a preacher’s pulpit and a mother who devoted herself to public service, Paul was anything but resolute about his future.

Paul, 37, poses with his father, the Rev. Theodore E. Dorpat, in about 1975
Paul’s mother, Cherry Dorpat

He had considered the cloth while bouncing around Northwest colleges, but once here he applied his insistent conscience to the counterculture, founding the Helix underground newspaper near the University of Washington and launching the (pre-Woodstock) Sky River Rock Festival and Lighter Than Air Fair in rural Sultan.

Paul, 30, talks with Seattle author Tom Robbins in 1968 at the Sky River Rock Festival and Lighter Than Air Fair in Sultan

A freelancer throughout the 1970s, he was gravitating toward a life of painting and film when, as he puts it, a “serendipitous spin” gave him an immersive entrée into local history. As is typical in the tracing of Paul’s trajectory, this biographical juncture owed to the bidding and support of a friend.

College buddy Dick Moultrie was seeking to reopen the Merchants Café, reputed to be Seattle’s oldest bar, in downtown’s oldest and most fabled district, Pioneer Square. He asked Paul to investigate the backstory of the business. Unwittingly, a die was cast.

Paul found himself diving into classic Seattle history tomes by Murray Morgan, Bill Speidel and others. Soon, projects that pointed to the past and piqued his native intelligence and inquisitiveness began to spiral.

Paul poses with Seattle’s Murray Morgan, author of Skid Road, mid-80s

While assisting the groundwork of a sculptor, Paul became intrigued by the lowered hills of the Belltown district north of downtown, and he prepared a detailed article for the alternative weekly Seattle Sun on the city’s massive, early 20th-century regrades.

After learning of the thesis of a UW graduate student in architecture who was digging into Seattle projects that were never pulled off, Paul assembled a “Then, Now and Maybe” exhibit of photos and visionary sketches for a June 1980 event called CityFair at the Seattle Center Exhibition Hall.

The true turning point, however, came in fall 1981. Drawing from his budding collection of old images, Paul produced for the Mayor’s Small Business Task Force a sepia-toned booklet that displayed photographic collages of Seattle’s past. The charmingly titled publication, 294 Glimpses of Historic Seattle, sold for a clever $2.94, one penny per “glimpse.”

The response in that pre-internet era was phenomenal. Spotlighted in a column by the Seattle Times’ Erik Lacitis, the initial printing of 3,000 copies sold out in a flash. Eventually, 40,000 were snapped up, with proceeds going to charity.

It was the tangible beginning of an endearing pattern for Paul: He was simultaneously fueling and riding the wave of local interest in heritage.

There was no secret to his strategy. It was the photos — the city’s visual “sense of itself” coming alive.

“Each of these images is in some way quite precious, precious because of what it tells about the city,” Paul told Erik in 1981. “When I show this little book … to people who’ve never experienced the pictorial history of Seattle, … they are completely amazed. There is a sense of wonder that creeps across their faces. It spurs their imaginations, and they smile. … There are always new discoveries. Sometimes you see values that have been lost. But, happily, you see examples of things improved. It makes you respect the human effort that went into this city.”

With Erik’s help, Paul pitched a continuation of this concept to the Seattle Times. The paper’s Sunday magazine editor, Kathy Andrisevic, agreed, and the inaugural “Seattle Now and Then” appeared on Jan. 17, 1982.

A screenshot of Paul’s first column – updated for the book

That first weekly column showcased a formula that persevered through more than 1,800 installments and continues to this day:

  • Find a long-ago, well-composed “then” photo taken in the Seattle area.
  • Juxtapose it with a “now” image taken from an angle close to the original — a venerable art form known as repeat photography.
  • Add a brief, well-researched essay telling a story about the visual pair.

A key word in this recipe, a journalistic one, is “story.” In Paul’s lexicography, the story invariably centers on the common man and everyday life — and, not insignificantly, is leavened with gentle humor and layered with irony.

Presentation of the weekly feature has waxed and waned over the decades. Several dozen times, the magazine deferred the column for other priorities. In early years, “Seattle Now and Then” covered a generous two full pages but later shrank to one page and occasionally to two-thirds of a page. Thankfully, in recent years it has rebounded to a full page, sometimes more,. It consistently graces the magazine’s inside back cover, and all of the “nows” appear in brilliant color.

Through all the variations, the heartening constant is that those reading the 300,000 copies of the Sunday Seattle Times count “Seattle Now and Then” among its most popular features.

The column also maintains a fortified online presence transcending the Seattle Timessite to Paul’s own blog, pauldorpat.com, which allows magnified views of the “nows,” “thens” and countless other related images.

The launch of the blog 10 years ago also marked the full bloom of Paul’s partnership with Seattle teacher, actor and photographer Jean Sherrard, who has taken nearly all of Paul’s recent “now” photos and is the “now” photographer (and editor and production manager) for this commemorative tome.

Jean and Paul pose in 2011 at the entrance to a Now and Then compilation of their work, the
final exhibit of the Museum of History & Industry at its former location in Montlake. (photo: Berangere Lomont)

Jean’s formidable skills, imagination, artistry, tenacity and equipment (not to mention a tall frame) have let him create captivating present-tense pictures. But his greatest asset may be the dedication and joie de vivre that he brings to his friendship with Paul. Recognizing this, Paul altered the voice of many of his later columns from “I” to “we.”

Jean atop the Space Needle (photo: Berangere Lomont)

The dynamic of the Paul/Jean relationship is noteworthy yet typical. Though Paul jokes that his friends are few and “long suffering,” his basso-voiced personality is nothing if not mesmerizing and magnetic. This results in ties with many that reflect uncommon loyalty and affection.

Jean takes a “now” photo of native descendants Mary Lou Slaughter and Ken Workman in May 2018 atop Post Alley. (Clay Eals)

Such bonds contributed to the persistence and appeal of “Seattle Now and Then.” Paul’s resulting stature led him into myriad offshoots, including countless regional talks and installations, three book-length column compilations (1984, 1986 and 1989) and other publications both slim (on First Avenue and the University Bookstore) and behemoth (the public-works epic Building Washington, 1998, with his wife, Genny McCoy, and Washington Then and Now, 2007, with Jean). He also produced a panoramic, two-hour video tour of 90 years of city history (“Seattle Chronicle,” 1992) and a one-hour KCTS-9 documentary on the first 30 years of the Bumbershoot Festival (“Bumberchronicles,” 2001, with Catherine Wadley and Jean).

Paul with his Building Washington collaborator, Genny McCoy, in 2011 on their porch in the Wallingford neighborhood.

At the core of Paul’s persona, however, is “Seattle Now and Then.” The “best of” volume that you hold in your hands is a culmination — a subjective selection and updating of the most compelling and essential of the 1,800 columns. By definition, it celebrates Paul’s lifetime contribution to inspiring all of us to both enjoy and champion the history of our city.

The occasion of this anthology is also personally momentous. It salutes a prolific track record that has required of Paul considerable initiative and fortitude.

Yet today, well into his 80th year, he doesn’t see it all as profound. He describes himself as merely “a sentimental guy” who long ago stumbled upon a vehicle to provide the “simple pleasure” of allowing people to imagine a visit to the past.

“It’s like hide and seek,” he says. “That’s a really deep motive in all of us, to figure out how things are hidden, where things have changed, what things are revealed.”

Next to Pioneer Square’s Pergola in May 2018, Paul ponders downtown Seattle’s oldest neighborhood. (Photo: Clay Eals)

Of course, Paul is grateful for the popularity of “Seattle Now and Then” and the many doors it has opened for him. He also comprehends and revels in the societally therapeutic virtues of comparative history. How could he not?

“History is delightful,” he says. “It’s understanding. It’s actually the truth if you do it right, and the truth is progressive. It always is.” To that end, he cautions that elevating an old scene does not always make it more treasured than its more recent counterpart: “I don’t mind some things being knocked down.”

But lifting up the city’s heritage, Paul allows, is inherently altruistic. It also feeds his “pretty radical” personal politics, which he knows he can’t tout every week to a mainstream readership. “To some extent, I toe the line,” he says. “I don’t express what I really feel about the usury and avarice and stinginess of the 1 percent.”

Paul keeps other avocations in his sights, including his younger pursuits of painting and film editing. A hope he holds dear is to complete a mammoth online biography of the beloved Seattle folksinger, restaurateur and self-promoter Ivar Haglund.

His most substantial aim, however, is to secure the professional storage and cataloging of his enormous archive, so that citizens one day will be able to access everything in it, including all of the “Seattle Now and Then” columns, free of charge.

Underlying this archival quest is Paul’s yearning to inspire others throughout the region to likewise share their own local photos, films and ephemera — his version of vox populi (the voice of the people).

Through it all, “Seattle Now and Then” abides. Though Paul laments his flagging energy (“It doesn’t cook as quickly — my cuisine is always resting on simmer”), he has no plan to pull back from his weekly dispatch.

That’s fortunate for all of us navigating the seemingly relentless change of the city’s latest boomtown ethos, a time when each “now” threatens to become a “then.” We need Paul “now” for as long as humanly possible.

“I love Seattle,” he says. “It’s the multifarious topography, it’s all my friends I’ve made over the decades, it’s my knowledge of it — they’re the kinds of reasons we do all these things. This is my home.”

What better guide could we have to discover, and rediscover, Seattle’s “sense of itself”?

West Seattle journalist and author Clay Eals has been active with the Southwest Seattle Historical Society in West Seattle since its founding in the mid-1980s, when he was fortunate to begin his own collaborations and friendship with Paul Dorpat.

Clay Eals

Seattle Now & Then: Does this make him an Oral Historian?

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: Looking east across Front Street (renamed First Avenue) at its northeast corner with Cherry Street, most likely in the early 1880s. (Courtesy: Wayne Pazina)
NOW: Standing beside the First Avenue façade of the Scheuereman Building, Laurie Mycon Pazina and Wayne Pazina repeat the ca. 1884 pose of hardware store owners Frederick Wald and James Campbell.

Standing side-by-side in the “now” for Jean Sherrard’s Nikon “repeater” are Laurie and Wayne Pazina, a couple that has been married and working together for nearly forty years. Laurie and Wayne met on a blind date arranged and given vision by a friend with good judgment. Wayne Pazina is a graduate of the UW’s School of Dentistry, the class of 1977.  The couple renders its dentistry in a North Seattle clinic.

As anyone who has needed a dentist will know or suspect the DDS profession is fraught with stress. Understandably dentists may be affected by the trembling nerves in the chair beside them. But Docter Pazina has developed a unique assuaging way that helps him settle himself while also soothing the patients’ anxious hand-wringing ways.  He tells them stories.  Not always, of course, but when it seems called for. By now some of his returning patients make requests.

The frequent subject in the Doctor’s repertoire is Northwest history, the early part of it that runs from 1853 the year that Washington Territory was founded to the declaration of Washington’s statehood in 1889.  An avid reader of northwest history, Dr. Pazina also pulls many of his narratives from the territorial ephemera that he collects: the newspapers, correspondences, photographs and art.  With the art, for instance, he has a collection of paintings by Mark Richard Meyers, a Californian whose skilled paintings of Puget Sound pioneer schooners and maritime events are collected world-wide.  Meyers long ago moved to England to help build a replica of Francis Drake’s Golden Hinde and stayed.  He married a consulting historian’s daughter and became president of the Royal Society of Marine Artists.  Appropriately, Prince Philip has one of Meyers paintings while our dentist from King County has several.  That in brief is one of Pazina’s shared stories.

This week’s territorial “then” is another.  It was scanned by Ron Edge from the collection that Dr. Pazina has been assembling  – and narrating – nearly as long as he has been tending to teeth.  He explains that Seattle’s first hardware store had several owners before it was razed in the city’s Great Fire of 1889. Most likely this vested pair posing alt the front door were owners, but which ones?  Pazina found his answer signed on the board propped on the sidewalk to the right of the front door.  With magnification the

Sitting on the boardwalk, a revealing detail.

observant doctor discovered that the hardware store’s initials, “W & C” for the owners Wald and Campbell, were written there.  Pazina concluded that the photo was most likely taken between 1880 and 1886, the years that Frederick Wald and James Campbell owned and ran the store together.

WEB EXTRAS

Anything to add, blokes?   The blokes, neither of whom either smokes or uses snuff,  did poke about their stuff and found some things that are old and not sold and yet could have a price.

Then: Looking north from Pioneer Place (square) into the uptown of what was easily the largest town in Washington Territory. This is judged by the 3218 votes cast in the November election of 1884, about one fourth of them by the newly but temporarily enfranchised women.Tacoma, in spite of being then into its second year as the terminus for the transcontinental Northern Pacific Railroad, cast 1663 votes, which took third place behind Walla Walla's 1950 registered votes.
Then: Looking north from Pioneer Place (square) into the uptown of what was easily the largest town in Washington Territory. This is judged by the 3218 votes cast in the November election of 1884, about one fourth of them by the newly but temporarily enfranchised women.Tacoma, in spite of being then into its second year as the terminus for the transcontinental Northern Pacific Railroad, cast 1663 votes, which took third place behind Walla Walla’s 1950 registered votes.
THEN:In late 1855 the citizens of Seattle with help from the crew of the Navy sloop-of-war Decatur built a blockhouse on the knoll that was then still at the waterfront foot of Cherry Street. The sloop’s physician John Y. Taylor drew this earliest rendering of the log construction. (Courtesy, Yale University, Beinecke Library)
THEN:In late 1855 the citizens of Seattle with help from the crew of the Navy sloop-of-war Decatur built a blockhouse on the knoll that was then still at the waterfront foot of Cherry Street. The sloop’s physician John Y. Taylor drew this earliest rendering of the log construction. (Courtesy, Yale University, Beinecke Library)

THEN: For the first twenty years of his more than 40 years selling tinware and other selected hardware, Zilba Mile's shop looked south across Yesler Way down First Ave. S, then known as Commercial Street.

THEN: The Moose float heads south on First Avenue at Columbia Street during the 1912 Potlatch parade of fraternal and secret societies. Behind them are Julius Redelsheimer's clothing store and the National Hotel, where daily room rates ran from 50 cents to a dollar.

THEN: The Terry-Denny Building, better known in its earlier years as Hotel Northern, was part of the grand new Pioneer Place (or Square) neighborhood built up in the early 1890s after the old one was reduced to ashes by Seattle's Great Fire of 1889.

THEN: With the clue of the ornate Pergola on the right, we may readily figure that we are in Pioneer Square looking south across Yesler Way.

THEN: A winter of 1918 inspection of some captured scales on Terrace Street. The view looks east from near 4th Avenue. (Courtesy City Municipal Archives)

THEN: Local candy-maker A.W. Piper was celebrated here for his crème cakes and wedding cakes and also his cartoons. This sketch is of the 1882 lynching from the Maple trees beside Henry and Sara Yesler’s home on James Street. Piper’s bakery was nearby (Courtesy, Ron Edge)

THEN: During the few years of the Klondike Gold Rush, the streets of Seattle’s business district were crowded with outfitters selling well-packed foods and gear to thousands of traveling men heading north to strike it rich – they imagined. (Courtesy, Museum of History and Industry)

THEN: In Lawton Gowey’s 1961 pairing, the Smith Tower (1914) was the tallest building in Seattle, and the Pioneer Square landmark Seattle Hotel (1890) had lost most of its top floor. (by Lawton Gowey)

THEN: Adding a sixth floor to its first five in 1903, the Hotel Butler entered a thirty-year run as “the place” for dancing in the Rose Room, dining at the Butler Grill, and celebrity-mixing in the lobby. (Courtesy Museum of History and Industry)

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A FEW OTHER HARDWARES

Early Seattle Hardware at the northeast corner of Second Avenue and Pike Street.
Show window for Seattle Hardware in the Colman Building at the southwest corner of First Avenue and Marion Street, with the post-fire landmarks at the facing corners reflecting in the plate glass window.  (Can you identify the reflections.  None are yet standing.)

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Woodlawn Hardware in East Green Lake.

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Here is hardware man Campbell’s home at the southeast corner of James Street and Boren Avenue. The photograph was given to me in the early 1980s by Carrie Campbell Coe the girl sitting on the far right and, perhaps, recoiling from the family dog Lee Hung Chang. I visited with Lucy several times in her Washington Park home in the early 1980s. Below is a photo of this couple sitting for tea in her home. 

Seattle Now & Then: Pike Market Soap Box Derby, 1975

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: Either starting or about to start at the Pike Place Market’s 1975 Soap-box derby. Photo by Frank Shaw
NOW: Hillside students in Jean’s video editing class pose here at the Pike Place Market.

Especially on weekends, Frank Shaw, a retired Boeing employee with a Hasselblad camera, would often be pulled from his Lower Queen Anne apartment to the attractions of Seattle’s waterfront and its neighbor the Pike Place Market. Other popular subjects for Shaw were high school soccer matches at Seattle Center, public art works-in-progress, and community festivals, both in Seattle and its suburbs.

Here on May 25th or 26th Shaw found a place along the crowded railing above the landmark block where Pike Alley reaches its intersection with First Avenue, Pike Street and Pike place.  In 1975, Shaw was not yet attracted by the colorful lava-looking montage of posters and the Alley’s gum-splattered sides some of which Jean shows in his “now”.  A weekend earlier Shaw recorded a bongo jam at the University District Street Fair.  Mid-week he snapped the sternwheeler W.T. Preston Leaving Colman Dock, and Shaw also visited Westlake Mall where sculptor Rita Kepner was busy chipping away at her 3600 pound objet d’art commissioned by the city for its “The Artist in The City” program.

Having temporarily lost the UDistSt.Fair bongos I’ve substitute another mix of Shaw and drums wit this Pike Market jam.
Meanwhile the leader, we presume, in another heat, The sign attached to the “box” names its sponsor the Duchess Tavern, we assume.

In the mid-1970s, Kepner and many fortunate others – myself included – were supported by the Seattle Arts Commission in the making of public art. I consider it one of the nicest things to ever happen to me.  Much of the art survives delicately scattered about the city.  Ultimately the art was funded by the Nixon Administration, in the year following Watergate and his 1974 resignation. Those of us who were funded continue to enjoy the irony of Nixon’s part in making the daily stresses of life easier for us.  Now nearly a half-century later I can still confess that “Nixon was very very good to me.”

Unidentified contestant No. 69 after the race and perhaps injured. But never mind there’s a can of refreshing Rainier Beer resting beside him on the hood of the car he uses for support.

1975 was year – or one of them – for bell bottom pants.  How many pairs can you count in the horse show of race spectators standing near the starting line?  I figure about nine.  One or more of them may have been purchased at Block’s Menswear, signed here “Block’s Bell Bottoms” on the north side of Pike Street  mid-block between First and Second Avenues.  I had three pairs which I bought not from Block but at the Wise Penny, the Junior League’s thrift store on Capitol Hill’s Broadway Avenue.

Market Mayor Billy King gets a grooming from artist Gertrude Pacific on Pike Place. (P. Dorpat sometime in the early 80s, perhaps)

On the authority of the artist/promoter Bill King, the Pike Place Market Mayor into the 1980s, the Markets soap box races began with perhaps two boxes in the 1970s, but it rapidly expanded. Billy got the idea for a derby from Doug Payson, an architect who lived near the market in the basement of the Bay Building. Next King carried the idea to the owners of the Market’s taverns – three of them.  With their support  began thus a bacchanalian affair but with good manners protected by the prudent friends of the market and also somewhat by a complicit police department.  For his role as mayor master of ceremonies, Billy wore a tuxedo and a PA system.  The race needed a caller at its single dangerous corner, a short block west of First Avenue. Distinguished in his tux, King stood on a chair at the corner describing the progress of the several races to their two collections of spectators, those east of the corner and those south of the corner, on the longer part between the corner and Union Street.  (We share a map on the dorpatsherrardlomont blog.)

This Seattle Times clip from May 27, 1976 makes note of the upcoming “fifth annual Pike Place Market Street Fair, and the running again of the “annual soapbox derby.”

When I asked Bill King if he could identify either of the two racers about to let gravity have its way, or, for that matter, anyone in the crowd, he answered, “Nope, all the regulars were in the taverns!”  Billy had been elected by the regulars sitting on Victrola Tavern stools.

WEB EXTRAS

Anything to add, lads?  Features galore instructor Sherrard.

THEN: The Pike Place Market’s irregular block shapes and bluff-side topography joined to create a multi-level campus of surprising places, such as this covered curve routing Post Alley up into the Market. Here, in 1966, the “gent’s” entrance to Seattle’s first Municipal Rest Room (1908) is closed with red tape and a sign reading “Toilet room, closed temporarily for repairs.” The Market was then generally very much in need of repair. (by Frank Shaw, courtesy, Mike Veitenhans)

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THEN: A circa 1920 look north along the tiled roofline of the Pike Place Market’s North Arcade, which is fitted into the slender block between Pike Place, on the right, and Western Avenue, on the left. (Courtesy, Museum of History and Industry)

THEN: The Hotel York at the northwest corner of Pike Street and First Avenue supplied beds on the American Plan for travelers and rooms for traveling hucksters. (Courtesy Lawton Gowey)

THEN: In this April morning record of the 1975 “Rain or Shine Public Market Paint-in,” above the artists, restoration work has begun with the gutting of the Corner Market Building. (Photo by Frank Shaw)

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THEN: Friends of the Market president, architect Victor Steinbrueck, leads a cadre of Friends marching for Market preservation in front of the Seattle City Hall most likely on March 18, 1971. (Photo by Tom Brownell from the Post-Intelligencer collection at MOHAI)

THEN: Mark Tobey, almost certainly Seattle’s historically most celebrated artist, poses in the early 1960s with some Red Delicious apples beside the Sanitary Market in the Pike Place Market. (Courtesy, Museum of History and Industry)

THEN: The 1974 fire at the Municipal Market Building on the west side of Western Avenue did not hasten the demise of the by then half-century old addition of the Pike Place Market. It had already been scheduled for demolition. (Courtesy, Seattle Municipal Archive)

THEN: Charles Louch’s grocery on First Avenue, north of Union Street, opened in the mid-1880s and soon prospered. It is possible – perhaps probable – that one of the six characters posing here is Louch – more likely one of the two suited ones on the right than the aproned workers on the left. (Courtesy RON EDGE)

THEN: The Moose float heads south on First Avenue at Columbia Street during the 1912 Potlatch parade of fraternal and secret societies. Behind them are Julius Redelsheimer's clothing store and the National Hotel, where daily room rates ran from 50 cents to a dollar.

THEN: Seattle Architect Paul Henderson Ryan designed the Liberty Theatre around the first of many subsequent Wurlitzer organs used for accompanying silent films in theatres “across the land”. The Spanish-clad actor-dancers posed on the stage apron are most likely involved in a promotion for a film – perhaps Don Q, Son of Zorro (1925) or Douglas Fairbanks’ The Gaucho (1929) that also played at the Liberty. (Courtesy Lawton Gowey)

THEN: Steel beams clutter a freshly regraded Second Avenue during the 1907 construction of the Moore Theatre. The view looks north toward Virginia Street.

THEN: An early-20th-century scene during the Second Avenue Regrade looks east into its intersection with Virginia Avenue. A home is being moved from harm's way, but the hotel on the hill behind it would not survive the regrade's spoiling. Courtesy of Ron Edge.

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THEN: Looking west on Pike Street from Fourth Avenue, the variety in the first block of this retail district includes the Rhodes Bros. Ten Cent Store, Mendenhall’s Kodaks, Fountain Pens and Photo Supplies, Remick’s Song and Gift Shop, the Lotus Confectionary, Fahey-Brockman’s Clothiers, where, one may “buy upstairs and save $10.00”. (Courtesy, MOHAI)

THEN:The early evening dazzle of the Roosevelt Theatre at 515 Pike Street, probably in 1941. (Courtesy Lawton Gowey)

THEN: Looking south from Pine Street down the wide Second Avenue in 1911, then Seattle’s growing retail strip and parade promenade. (courtesy of Jim Westall)

THEN: Part of the pond that here in 1946 filled much of the long block between Massachusetts and Holgate Streets and 8th Avenue S. and Airport Way. (Courtesy, Ron Edge)

THEN: Looking southeast over the open acres of the Western Washington Fair Grounds following the matinee performance of Cheyenne Bill’s Wild West Show during the summer of 1909. (Courtesy, Old Seattle Paperworks)

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: In 1910, a circa date for this look north on First Avenue across Virginia Street, the two corners on the east side of the intersection were still undeveloped – except for signs. The Terminal Sales Building, seen far right in Jean Sherrard’s repeat, did not replace the billboards that crowd the sidewalk in the “then” until 1923. (Seattle Municipal Archive)

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MORE SOAP – MORE BOXES

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Now & Then here and now