Seattle Now & Then: Poulsbo’s Front Street

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THEN: Poulsbo’s Front Street in the 1920s.
NOW: Today’s Front Street shows off some of Poulsbo’s post-war Scandinavian embellishments.

One of our first now-then features for 2018 begins with a book and a town.  The chosen book is for lovers of our state and good writing.  Once in your hands or waiting in a library, you may want to open Washington: A Guide to the Evergreen State for one or more of those wonderfully absorbed little reads that visit us before slumber.   The 1941 classic state guide is filled with more than 650 pages of skillfully interpreted visits to our state’s communities. Alas, it is also long out of print, but like many other cherished tomes, you may find it in a used bookstore.  Poulsbo, our town of choice, has a few.

Today, to quote from the guide, this “picturesque fishing village on Liberty Bay” has a population of about 9,000.  In the 1950 reissue (its last revision) of the WPA – funded guide, Poulsbo’s population is set at 639, an accounting done probably with the help of the 1950 federal census. Federal depression-time funds were also paying salaries to the book’s many out-of-work skilled authors.  Using well-calibrated distances traveled on state and federal highways, Poulsbo, part of Tour 9A, is first reached on page 572.

Poulsbo is introduced as stretching “along the sinuous shoreline of Liberty Bay. Substantial frame and brick buildings line the main street.”  Poulsbo’s main street is named Front, and is seen here in the 1920s looking into the long curve from its intersection with Jensen Way N.E.  (This refers to the featured photo at the top, and not the one that follows, below.)

Jean and I have lost our notes for the date and booster’s name of this community sprucing, but we imagine on hints from the printed dress and other sartorial clues that this is from the 1950s when the locals were feeling some fervor for painting the town.  And now  we expect letters. 

For his repeat from the same prospect, Jean Sherrard had to settle for an early winter mist.  He missed last year’s white Christmas by one day.  A comparison of the “now” with the “then” reveals why the well-preserved Poulsbo attracts visitors to admire the old world charms of its towers, gables, rustic murals, half-timbered decorations, well-wrought balconies and flower baskets like those, we imagine hanging in Valhalla. As Washington: A Guide to the Evergreen State continues, it surely presages some changes:  “Farms crowd the town from the hillsides.”  Now there are also developmentsThe Guide’s demographic claim of 1950 no longer apply.  It reads, “Approximately 90 percent of the persons living at present along the bayshore are Norwegians.” Today, visitors to Poulsbo may wish to study its residents and calculate their own statistic.

An earlier look down Poulsbo’s Front Street that comes with its own caption. “Front Street on a busy day at the intersection of Jensen Way. Note the oil lamp on the post at left.  The bridge in the foreground was replaced by a  culvert, thus dating the picture as 1912.”  [Yes, the sentence just completed requires some evidence that “supplies” its “thus” with its conclusive certainty about the date, 1912.  We probably misplaced it years ago when we published our book “Washington Then and Now.” ]

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Here we will interrupt our Poulsbo anecdotes of  yore with Jean’s breaking news: his part in today’s parade from Capitol Hill to Seattle Center.   Along the way Jean managed to repeat a 1950s parade shot showing a uniformed band reaching the intersection of Fourth Avenue and Pine Street where today’s parade made its 90 degree turn to the north on its last happy leg to Seattle Center.  We will feature that repeat in an upcoming now-then.  

WEB EXTRAS

Again, we strolled amongst the marchers today to capture another Now & Then classic. We’ll drop in a few photos here from a drizzly but energized day:

Coming down Pine Street into town
The first several thousand marchers approach 4th and Pine
A clever rebus…
Many wonderful women, one Wonder Woman!
As always, cell phones capture the moment

Anything to add, fellahs?   Alas not much on Poulsbo.  Although we do have several kitsap-related clippings among our about 1800 features those have not yet been scanned.  (Any volunteers are welcome.)  Instead we will visit some suburbs  (including distant ones like Oregon and Dakota) and wander along the waterfront hinting at our yearning to cross the Sound.  We will also favor a Scandi tone to much of it.

THEN: Tied momentarily to the end of the Union Oil Co dock off Bay Street, Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen’s ship Maud prepares to cast-off for the Arctic Ocean on June 3, 1922. (Courtesy, Ron Edge)

THEN: The now century-old Norway Hall at the corner of Boren Avenue and Virginia Street opened in 1915, on May 17, Norwegian Independence Day. (Courtesy, Nordic Heritage Museum)

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THEN: The S. S. Suveric makes a rare visit to Seattle in 1911. (Historical photo courtesy of Jim Westall)

Then Caption: Amateur photographer George Brown most likely took this view of Portland’s 1905 Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition from the north porch of the Washington State Building. Brown also played clarinet in Wagner’s popular concert and marching band, which was probably performing at the Expo. (pic courtesy of Bill Greer)

THEN: Twenty years ago the Mukai Farm and Garden on Vashon Island was designated a King County Landmark. (Courtesy, Vashon Maury Island Heritage Association)

THEN: For his May Day, 1901 portrait of the Seattle City Council, the photographer, Anders Wilse, planted them, like additions to the landscape, on the lawn somewhere in the upper part of Kinnear Park. (Courtesy, Seattle Municipal Archives)

THEN: Captioned Salmon Bay, 1887, this is most likely very near the eastern end of the bay where it was fed by Ross Creek, the Lake Union outlet. (Courtesy, Michael Maslan Vintage Posters and Photographs)

THEN: Built in 1910, Ballard’s big brick church on the northwest corner of 20th Avenue NW and NW 63rd Street lost the top of its soaring tower following the earthquake of Nov. 12, 1939.

THEN: Swedish Lutheran (Gethsemane) Church’s second sanctuary at the northeast corner of Ninth Avenue and Steward Street circa 1920, photo by Klaes Lindquist. (Courtesy, Swedish Club)

THEN: James Lee, for many years an official photographer for Seattle’s public works department, looks south over Ballard’s Salmon Bay a century ago. Queen Anne Hill marks the horizon, with a glimpse of Magnolia on the far right. (Courtesy, Museum of History and Industry)

THEN: This panorama could have used a tower (or drone) to better survey the size of the June 1, 191l, crowd gathered in Fremont/Ross to celebrate the beginning of construction on the Lake Washington Ship Canal. (Courtesy, Museum of History & Industry)

THEN: Hugh Paradise neither named nor dated his photograph looking down from a basalt cliff onto the Yakima River. (Courtesy, Byron Coney)

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POSTSCRIPT:

“One Hot Hotel,” the last title above, is a reminder that in newspapers of size, like The Seattle Times, there are title specialists who are thought to be especially clever in dragging readers into the copy.   Sometimes these specialists are, indeed, very clever.   However, often they are mildly pathetic victims of the restraints in humor that come with any publication that runs on advertising.

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« L’Arbre du Voyageur » the bookstore around the corner

Sophie and David are setting up their windows with care. It is true when we walk down Rue Mouffetard we are attracted by this smart shop and its selection of books. Inside, there are pleiade of interesting literature, with an original choice , corresponding to each one. We receive excellent advises. It is difficult to resist .

Sophie et David veillent avec attention à la mise en place de leur vitrine. C’est vrai que lorsque nous marchons rue Mouffetard, nous sommes attirés par ce magasin pimpant et par sa sélection de livres. A l’intérieur, il y a une pléiade de littérature intéressante, avec un choix original et qui correspond à chacun. On reçoit d’excellents conseils. C’est difficile de résister.

Place de la Contrescarpe Paris 5th

Fanfare at the Contrescarpe

Sunday morning with the Ernestophone, the fanfare of the École Normale Supérieure (the highest french school of science, litterature and philosophy) for the happiness of young and old…

Dimanche matin avec l’Ernestophone, la fanfare de l’École Normale Supérieure (la plus grande école de science, litterature et philosophie) pour le bonheur des petits et des grands…

Seattle Now & Then: Polson Building Fire, 1974

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THEN: The Alaskan Way Viaduct side of the Polson Building on Columbia Street during its 1974 fire. Photographed by Frank Shaw
NOW: The sturdy concrete and timber Polson Building on the south side of Columbia Street between Alaskan Way and Western Avenue has survived big fires in both 1974 and 1996.

The Alaskan Way Viaduct was shut-down on the afternoon of June 14, 1974 when the still standing six floor Polson Building beside it at Columbia Street, was first ignited by an arsonist (apparently) and then bathed by the heavy streams seen here shooting above Alaskan Way.  There were other spouting hoses aimed at the Paulson, those from its east façade facing Western Avenue.  The first single alarm was made at 1:32 pm and fire fighting continued until 5:50 pm.

Later that afternoon, Photo by Frank Shaw from the Western Avenue side of the Polson and Western buildings.  The Poulson is on the right.  The Columbia Street access to the Alaskan Way Viaduct covers the top of Shaw’s shot.  The buildings in the haze far left are on the south side of Yesler Way between First Avenue and Alaskan Way. 

The Fire Department keeps good records. Galen Thomaier, the department’s historian as well as the curator of the Last Resort Fire Department, an interpretive museum for retired fire-fighting artifacts, was there in 1974.  (Ron Edge has inserted at the bottom of this blog a button to Thomaier’s museum web page.) Although that day not on duty he was there and surprised by the “four throbbing three-and-one-half inch lines (hoses) that were laid across Alaskan Way.  They led to a manifold that distributed both the salt water from the bay and municipal water from the hydrants.  Thomaier followed the hoses to their source, and found the Duwamish, then still  “the world’s most powerful fire boat afloat.”

Photo by Ellis, Courtesy John Cooper ( We do not mean to suggest with this postcard that the Duwaumish shot at the Polson fire with its canons.  It contributed through hoses laid across Alaskan Way and under the viaduct.)

Frank Shaw, one of our favorite historic photo sources, recorded these well-composed tableaux.  Near its center, uniformed fire fighters wrestle with a 55-foot long ground extension ladder while other fighters are implied by the bright silhouette that includes three steams shooting at the smoking building.  The atmosphere of spray gives back a shower on what Thomaier describes as a  “six person crew assigned to the six person ladder.” They wear helmets. Sixteen of the day’s crew temporarily wound up in the hospital from smoke inhalation.  There is also some falling debris in this mix.  Flying embers burned two of the Polson fire’s many uncovered pedestrian gawkers. The single man in the sports coat with a camera dashing across the puddle in the featured photo at the top was, according to Thomaier, “probably media and should not have been there.”  Shaw stands as close as allowed.

Surveying the damage, the top two floors of the Polson suffered the most fire damage.  The bottom four floors were soaked.  . (photo by Frank Shaw)
Some of the coverage appearing in The Times four days later on June 18, 1974.

Years after the 1974 Polson fire, an investigative reporter with whom internal fire department records were shared, concluded a “most plausible theory…that the blaze had been set by pull-tab manufacturers from Chicago who were fighting the Polson Buildings owner, Benjamin Mayers (of Ace Novelty) for control of the Seattle-area pull-tab gambling market.”  In 1996 another un-caught arsonist torched the Polson, again taking the top two floors: the only two by then not guarded with sprinklers.  The principle victims of the 1996 fire were artists. The Polson had become what local art pundits described as one of the largest artists’ colonies on the West Coast.  When the renters were at first not allowed into the ruins to inventory loses, they joined a protest by painting on the street.

A ca. 1948 aerial of the Colman Dock with four of Black Balls fleet, including the Kalakala, in her slips. The Alaska Way viaduct was completed in 1953 (for the most part) and so is here not yet in place.  The “Welcome Home” banner on the dock’s west facade is, we assume, for both citizens and returning vets.  (Courtesy, Michael Maslan)

WEB EXTRAS

Anything to add, lads? Yes Jean, Ron has supplied a rugged sampler of our more recent features that apply – somehow – to this one, and I following Ron have come home from fishing for some of the older of the roughly 1800 examples of repeat photography, hereabouts, that we have stocked in our now thirty-six year old pond.

THEN: From boxcars and rooftops to the planks of Railroad Avenue, excitement builds for the ceremonial re-enactment of the S.S.Portland’s 1897 landing with its “ton of gold” on the Seattle waterfront, the city’s first Golden Potlatch Celebration. [Courtesy, Michael Maslan]

THEN:Ruins from the fire of July 26, 1879, looking west on Yesler’s dock from the waterfront. (Courtesy Museum of History and Industry)

THEN: This post-1889 waterfront block of sheds and ships was replaced in 1911 by the Grand Trunk Pacific Dock, described at the time as “the largest wooden finger pier in North America.” The exception was Fire Station No. 5 on the left at the foot of Madison Street. A brick station replaced it in 1913. (Museum of History & Industry)

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: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: Frank Shaw’s late winter composition of waterfront landmarks at the foot of Madison Street in 1963. (Photo by Frank Shaw)

THEN: In this 1887 look up Columbia Street from the waterfront is the bell tower of the fire station, tucked into the hill on the right. It would soon fail to halt the city’s Great Fire of June 6, 1889. The station and everything between it and Elliott Bay were reduced to ashes, smoldering bricks and offshore pilings shortened like cigars. (courtesy, Kurt Jackson)

THEN: The driver, lower left, leads his team towards First Avenue up a planked incline on Madison Street. (Courtesy MOHAI)

THEN: Arthur Denny named both Marion and James Streets for his invalid brother, James Marion Denny, who was too ill to accompany the “Denny Party” from Oregon to Puget Sound in 1851. (Courtesy, Gary Gaffner)

THEN: Looking north-northeast from the corner of Main Street and Occidental Avenue two or three weeks after the city’s Great Fire of June 6, 1889. (Courtesy the Museum of History and Industry – MOHAI)

THEN: F. Jay Haynes recorded this ca. 1891 look up the Seattle waterfront and it’s railroad trestles most likely for a report to his employer, the Northern Pacific Railroad. (Courtesy, Murray Morgan)

THEN: Constructed in 1890 as the Seattle Fire Department’s first headquarters, these substantial four floors (counting the daylight basement) survived until replaced by Interstate Five in the 1960s. (photo by Frank Shaw)

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Front Street (First Ave.) showstrip ca. 1887 lookng south from Columbia Street. (Courtesy, Kurt Jackson)

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Seattle Now & Then: Golden Potlatch Parade, 1911

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THEN: A Golden Potlatch parade from 1911 (Courtesy, Dan Kerlee)
NOW: The Waverly Apartments, razed in 1926, were replaced by the still-standing Mayflower Park Hotel. Since 1916 the terra-cotta clad Times Square Building has filled the flatiron block bordered by Olive Way, Stewart Street, on the left, and Fourth Avenue, in the foreground.

After Seattle’s summer-long 1909 Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition, many of its VIP citizens, those who could “make things happen,” longed for more of its multifarious fun.  For new excitement they got the “joyous week of July 17 through 22,” the Golden Potlatch of 1911.  It was the first of several Potlatches produced sporadically by community impresarios up until World War II when public demonstrations became limited to fairwells and welcome-home celebrations for veterans.

Most likely this featured scene on top is  from the first Potlatch’s Industrial Parade.  Judging from the printed banner attached to the roof of the float at the scene’s center, this well-knit wagon carried a loom backed on both sides by women costumed with its knitted dry goods.  Both the rug stretched for a roof and the rug on the floor are examples of this “industry on parade.”  Surely it was very colorful,

more at least than the costumes worn by those watching here (in the featured photo at the top)  as the southbound horse-powered parade takes a turn off Fourth Avenue to Olive Way.  The seemingly idle electric trolley on the left of the featured photo with “express” written on its signboard is probably parked for the duration.  It was here on Stewart Street that streetcars that used Fourth Avenue turned around by moving forward-backward-forward through a t-shaped terminus.

Courtesy: Museum of History and Industry, AKA MOHAI
Details of 4th, Stewart and Olive Way from the 1912 (left) and 1908 (right) Baist Real Estate Maps.
Before: Pan looking east from the Denny (aka Washington) Hotel on Denny Hill (see its shadow at the bottom) to the Capitol Hill horizon, with Fourth Avenue at the bottom and the triangle block of Steward, 4th, 5th and Olive Way, split at the bottom-right corner. The block is home for  the first sanctuary of St. Marks Episcopal.   Lake Union is far left. (And Wallingford too!)  CLICK TO  ENLARGE
After: Lower-right corner, the triangular block bordered by 5th, 4th, Stewart, and Olive Way, taken from the New Washington Hotel, looking east to the Capitol Hill horizon.
Same flatiron block,, here with The Seattle Times Building. This taken from the Securities Building.

You will be correct to discern a vacant city block behind the rug float (in the fatured photo).  It is shaped like a flatiron or triangle. The grade is a new creation of the then work-in-progress, the Denny Regrade, before which this was the steep southeast corner of this eponymous hill.  In 1906 the intersection of Fourth and Stewart was still several stories higher.  That year Westlake Avenue was cut through from Fourth and Pike to Denny Way making the intersections along Westlake considerably more imaginative.  Here in 1911 Westlake barely touches the southeast corner of itself, Fifth

The same triangular block seen here looking west from Fifth Avenue with the Denny aka Washington Hotel behind it on the south summit of Denny Hill, and so before the regrade.

Avenue and Olive Way. In 1890, well before the regrade, St Mark’s Episcopal built it first sanctuary on the hillside triangle.   When they relocated to a larger First Hill sanctuary in 1897, the abandoned church was first converted into a livery stable and then the “We Print Everything” Cooperative Printing Company.  In 1916 the long vacant flatiron block was filled with the well-loved and still-standing Time’s Square Building, the terra-cotta confection that Jean Sherrard shows off in his repeat.

The well-fitted clerk above is not Diana James, author of Shared Walls and expert on Seattle’s Apartment Houses history.  We  do not know his name.  Below are “Season’s Greetings” in a Times photo of itself from the 1920s,  This, of course (by now) is the eastern border of the triangle block on 5th Avenue and so looking west. 

Finally, we turn right to the four-story apartment house on the south side of Olive Way.  It was the Waverly and is now a studied object of interest for preservationist and historian Diana James.  (The northwest corner of the Waverly appears in the first photo beyond this point.  It is the southeast corner of Fourth Ave. and Olive Way, and so the origin of Olive Way at its west end.) What I know of these apartments – and many others – I learned directly from Diana.  Jean and I have, in the past, featured a number of her discoveries, which PacificNW readers may also know from her book “Shared Walls”, a history of Seattle’s early apartments.  Thankfully, her research continues.

WEB EXTRAS

Anything to add, boyos?  Surely Jean, and starting, again, with the appropriate or relevant features (usually from the neighborhood) grabbed from recent features, followed by older ones presented, with few exceptions, merely as clips scanned from older Sunday Times.  So please click away.

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: 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: Where last week the old Washington Hotel looked down from the top of Denny Hill to the 3rd Ave. and Pine St. intersection, on the left, here the New Washington Hotel, left of center and one block west of the razed hotel, towers over the still new Denny Regrade neighborhood in 1917. (Historical photo courtesy of Ron Edge)

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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)

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)

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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: A motorcycle courier for Bartell Drugs poses before the chain’s Store No. 14, located in the Seaboard Building at the northwest corner of Fourth Avenue and Pike Street, circa 1929. (Courtesy Bartell Drugs)

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: 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: Sometime between early December 1906 and mid-February 1907 an unnamed photographer with her or his back about two lots north of Pike Street recorded landmarks on the east side of Third Avenue including, in part, the Washington Bar stables, on the right; the Union Stables at the center, a church converted for theatre at Pine Street, and north of Pine up a snow-dusted Denny Hill, the Washington Hotel. (Used courtesy of Ron Edge)

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: 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)

THEN: Swedish Lutheran (Gethsemane) Church’s second sanctuary at the northeast corner of Ninth Avenue and Steward Street circa 1920, photo by Klaes Lindquist. (Courtesy, Swedish Club)

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.

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Now & Then here and now