Seattle Now & Then: Mercer Island’s Industrial School, 1904 (now Luther Burbank Park)

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THEN1: In summer 1904, more than 30 boys wearing sailors’ whites stand at attention on the north end of today’s Luther Burbank Park, where they sheltered in tents awaiting construction of the Industrial School’s first dormitory. Major Cicero Newell sits at far left, also dressed as a sailor. His wife, Emma, sits beside him. The school continued, in various incarnations, through the mid-1960s. (Courtesy RON EDGE)
NOW: Videography students from Bellevue’s Hillside Student Community explore the concrete remains of the Industrial School’s practice dairy farm. In the foreground, from left, Liam Wallace, James Doyle and Ashton Westfahl. In 1970-79, Hillside rented upper floors of the then-Mercer Island Community Center’s brick headquarters.

(Published in The Seattle Times online on Sept. 29, 2022
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on Oct. 2, 2022)

Jean’s note: We must assign credit where credit’s due. The “then” photo attached to this column–and the original notion to tell the story of Major Cicero Newell–came from the ever-inventive and perpetually helpful photo historian and collector Ron Edge, whose name we praise! Thanks a million, Ron!

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Stepping ashore on Mercer Island, my friend Mark and I were thrilled by our discovery. Both 13, we were keen to explore and plunder. Before us stretched acres of golden, waist-high grass, dotted with fruit trees and thorny Himalayan blackberry bushes, as well as crumbling old buildings promising untold treasures.

On this early summer 1970 day, we had paddled from Bellevue’s Enatai Beach, passing under arches of the old East Channel bridge (just days earlier, on a dare, we had leapt from the span’s deck) then muscling north to the grounds of evidently abandoned Luther Burbank Park. We did not know we were repeating a journey in reverse made 66 years earlier.

Just past midnight on a cold, wet November night in 1904, 13-year-olds William Kiger and Albert Cook, wearing only their skivvies and chained together with ankle manacles, cradled the shackles to stop them clanking. Labeled incorrigible “bad boys,” they were forging a second attempt to escape from Major Cicero Newell’s Industrial School, which had recently relocated to a dozen rural acres on Mercer Island’s north shore.

Kiger and Cook crept out of the recently built dormitory and down to the water’s edge. Having earlier noted a neighbor’s decrepit rowboat tied up nearby, the boys clambered in and pushed out into the channel.

“For hours they paddled, making little headway,” the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported. “Several times their frail little craft came near swamping, and one of the boys had to bail water to prevent it from going to the bottom. Soon after dawn, the boys, exhausted and all but unconscious, made land opposite the island on the east shore of the lake.”

Sympathetic Northern Pacific belt-line workers used hammers and chisels to cut off the boys’ leg chains and wrapped the pair in borrowed jackets.

Newell (1840-1913), a Civil War veteran commended for bravery by President Lincoln and respected among the Sioux as an Indian agent, had arrived in Seattle in the early 1890s.

THEN2: A portrait of Major Cicero Newell in 1863. He commanded the White Horse company of Michigan’s Third Cavalry.

With wife Emma, he founded the Boys’ and Girls’ Aid Society, sheltering “homeless, neglected and abused children.” They garnered strong community support, including a Seattle School Board eager for solutions to a growing problem.

Early in the 20th century, however, Newell’s increasingly punitive methods, including beatings and chaining, drew increased scrutiny and criticism. Following newspaper accounts and public outcry, Newell was quietly replaced as school principal in spring 1905.

William and Albert were not recaptured, according to the P-I story.  “The boys were allowed to go on their way. Nothing has been seen of them since.”

William Kiger became a Seattle truck driver with a large extended family until his death in 1962. No further record can be found of Albert Cook.


For our 360 degree video of this column, please visit our YouTube channel.

Here’s several newspaper articles from the digital archives regarding Maj. Cicero Newell.

The first is an open letter from Newell published in 1900 that seems reasonable, laying out methods for addressing the needs of young delinquents which might help rather than harm. Within two years, however (see the next archival article from 1902), the Major’s shocking practices belie his stated good intentions.

Before moving to the Mercer Island Industrial School site in 1904, Newell located in Seattle. The 1902 escape of another boy–this one eight years old, found wandering on the waterfront, raised questions about the Major’s tactics.

The article from which we quote in the column is included below.

And, also courtesy of Ron Edge, a copy of Cicero Newell’s book about his years as an Indian agent. He found much to admire, even venerate, during his tenure with the Dakota Sioux.


Seattle Now & Then: Roosevelt High, 1969

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THEN1: Positive and reversed negative images from the title page of the 1969 Roosevelt High School yearbook show students on the school’s front walkways. (Courtesy Lea Vaughn)
NOW: In white logo T-shirts, Roosevelt Alumni for Racial Equity (RARE) leaders, along with other alums and supporters, gather Aug. 20 during the school’s centennial celebration. They are (front row, from left): Tami Brewer, new principal; Lea Vaughn, video lead, RARE co-chairs Tony Allison and Joe Hunter, Les Young, Allan Bergano, Robin Balee Ogburn, Kristi Blake, Leyla Salmassi, Robin Lange, Bruce Johnson, Jane Harris Nellams, Michelle Osborne, Gregg Blodgett, Tim Hennings, Hillary Moore, Jude Fisher, Steve Fisher and Bruce Williams; (back row, from left) Nejaa Brown, Catherine Bailey, Doug Seto, David Kersten, Duane Covey, John Richards, Cynthia Mejia-Giudici, Carol Haffar, John Vallot, Brooks Kolb, Doug Whalley, Janet Sage Whalley, Leslie Fikso Newell, Delos Ransom, Kris Day, Michael Bogan and Kim Peterson. RARE is open to Roosevelt alumni, students and supporters. For more info and to see the documentary film, visit (Jean Sherrard)

Published in The Seattle Times online on Sept. 22, 2022
and in PacificNW Magazine of the printed Times on Sept. 25, 2022

Roosevelt alums create film to prompt ‘difficult’ talks about race
By Clay Eals

It probably was intended purely as creative expression, but today it holds potent symbolism.

When Roosevelt High School students designed their 1968-69 yearbook, on the title page and on each of six section-introduction layouts they paired two versions of a large photo — the first appearing conventionally and the second in a reversed, negative format, as in this week’s “Then.”

Thus, in the first version, the faces of students at the largely white north-end school appeared as just that, largely white. In the reversed version, the faces became dark.

It was the first year in which Seattle Public Schools implemented its Voluntary Racial Transfer Program, an effort to avoid litigation over a perceived failure to integrate schools as mandated by the famous 1954 Supreme Court decision that struck down “separate but equal” education.

As shown in Roosevelt’s 1969 yearbook, the program had a relatively small but visible impact there. Of 1,865 students, about 75 (or 4%) were people of color, many bused from southern neighborhoods. One of those was Lea Vaughn, a biracial sophomore whose parents (father Black, mother white) chose for her to bus from the Central District, near Washington Park, to highly regarded Roosevelt and back.

Vaughn, a retired attorney and emerita University of Washington law professor, is at the core of a grassroots nonprofit, Roosevelt Alumni for Racial Equity (RARE), formed via Zoom during the national upheaval over the 2020 murder of George Floyd.

With a 21-member multi-ethnic board, RARE provides scholarships for students of color and has produced an engaging half-hour documentary, “Roosevelt High School: Beyond Black & White,” which aired twice this year on KCTS-TV and is available online.

With historical data and footage, along with provocative observations from 20 alums, educators and present-day students, the film seeks to “stimulate difficult discussions about race and education.” Interviewees conclude that despite Seattle’s efforts at voluntary, then mandatory busing, racial equity in city schools remains elusive.

THEN2: This is a portion of a 1936 Kroll map that color-coded areas of Seattle as green (“best”), blue (“still desirable”), yellow (“definitely declining”) and pink (“hazardous”). (Roosevelt Alumni for Racial Equity video)

They also characterize a perceived “Seattle nice” as “performative, not reformative” and address the “baked-in” effects of racist covenants and redlining in real-estate sales and rentals that the city finally upended in 1968. Startling is a 1936 Kroll map that codes areas of Seattle as green (“best”), blue (“still desirable”), yellow (“definitely declining”) and pink (“hazardous”).

Today, Vaughn lives in a Ballard neighborhood that her family would have been disallowed to inhabit when she was young. But she asserts, “I think because we used busing as the Band-Aid to not face redlining, we never really dealt with it.”

Clearly, the complexities of race bolster the longtime name of Roosevelt’s yearbook: “Strenuous Life.”


Thanks to Lea Vaughn, Peggy Sturdivant and the members of RARE for their help with this installment!

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

Below are two PowerPoint presentations prepared for RARE by Vaughn and a list of discussion questions from the RARE video.

Click the image above to see a PowerPoint prepared for RARE by Lea Vaughn, “Schools, Property, Wealth and Inequality.”
Click the image above to see a PowerPoint prepared for RARE by Lea Vaughn, “What ARE You?”
Click the image above to read the pdf of discussion questions prepared by RARE.

Seattle Now & Then: Neah Bay Salmon Fleet, 1910

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THEN: Neah Bay’s active harbor circa 1910. The “salmon fleet” portrayed by Wischmeyer includes vessels of every shape and size. Many also would have sought the more highly prized halibut in the open ocean. (Paul Dorpat collection)
NOW 1: From the roof of Brian Parker’s Dia’ht Hill home, the view of Neah Bay is largely unobstructed. The original location of the Spanish fort is center left, at the shoreline surrounded by flags. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in The Seattle Times online on Sept. 15, 2022
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on Sept. 18, 2022)

Philip Wischmeyer’s stunning panoramic view of Neah Bay circa 1910 features the Makah fishing fleet at its most active, comprising more than 200 hard-working vessels.

And while today’s protected harbor at the northwest tip of the Olympic Peninsula is much less busy, particularly after two years of pandemic quarantine, the Makah reservation reopened to visitors on March 15, 2022.

For Brian Parker, who graciously provided access from his Dia’ht Hill rooftop to repeat this week’s “Then” photo, the isolation was difficult but necessary to protect his community. Nevertheless, he welcomes the surge of vacationers who snapped up all summer lodgings in and around the bay.

Two-hundred-and-thirty years ago, this natural harbor, home to the Makah for millennia, briefly hosted another group of outsiders. Geopolitical competition among colonial rivals England, Spain and America to map and claim possession of the sketchily charted Pacific Northwest coast approached a high-water mark.

On April 29, 1792, English naval Capt. George Vancouver guided his vessel HMS Discovery into the strait of Juan de Fuca, beginning his mission to survey the inland waters of today’s Salish Sea.

Just two weeks later, on May 11, American merchant ship Capt. Robert Gray’s Columbia Rediviva negotiated the treacherous sandbars of a huge river and sailed into its estuary. After conducting initial surveys, Gray named the river Columbia after his ship.

On May 29, the Spanish naval frigate Princesa offloaded 70 seamen, 13 soldiers, 4 officers and a chaplain at Neah Bay. The settlers cleared land and built Fort Núñez Gaona, the first non-Native American structure in the future state of Washington.

NOW 2: Dedicated in 2008, the combined Fort Núñez Gaona/Diah Veterans Park commemorates the first non-Native American structures in the continental Pacific Northwest and honors Makah military veterans. (Noel Sherrard)

Just across a stream from the Makah village of Diah, these modest barracks, storehouses, and a bakery — as well as palisades with gun mounts — promised a significant Spanish toehold at the entrance of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. But unanticipated hurdles proved difficult to overcome.

The bay itself was too shallow to accommodate larger vessels. What’s more, says Makah Museum Executive Director Janine Ledford, the native residents of Diah, upon returning from annual spring fishing and whaling camps on Tatoosh Island, began to actively resist the invaders.

NOW 3: A view from the re-opened Cape Flattery trail, looking west towards Tatoosh Island. Its historic lighthouse (1854), decommissioned and crumbling, stands on land sacred to the Makah. (Jean Sherrard)

On Sept. 29, after the volatile summer, the fort was abandoned and the Spanish returned to their home port at Vancouver Island’s Nootka Sound, never to return.

At this year’s annual Makah Days festival on Aug. 26-29, the first held since 2019, guests were welcome to celebrate the reinvigorated culture, community and health of these proud people. And the Makah choice to isolate during the pandemic proved wise. Not a single tribal member died during the quarantine.

Seattle Now & Then: Priteca and the Coliseum, 1916, 1925, 1950, 1987

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THEN1: Designed exclusively as a movie house, the Coliseum at 500 Pike St. in August 1925 promotes actress Colleen Moore in the silent film “The Desert Flower.” For more Coliseum details and many more photos from the 1920s, visit (Frank Jacobs, courtesy Historic Seattle)
THEN2: In June 1950, the Coliseum’s altered half-dome marquee advertises “Kill the Umpire,” a baseball comedy with Seattle diamond clown Bill Schuster in a bit part as a shortstop. (David Eskenazi collection)
THEN3: In May 1987, nearly three years before the Coliseum closed, its rotating circular marquee with neon pillar, sans Oscar statue, advertises “Evil Dead II.” (Courtesy Colin Campbell Design)
NOW: Boarded up and backed by the 520 Pike Building, the 1916 terra-cotta Coliseum Theatre (until 2020 a Banana Republic store) shines in the late July sun. (Clay Eals)


Published in The Seattle Times online on Sept. 11, 2022
and in PacificNW Magazine of the printed Times on Sept. 8, 2022

Priteca’s captivating Coliseum still shines brightly downtown
By Clay Eals

Back in 1989 when I was helping to save West Seattle’s Admiral Theatre, word came out that downtown’s Coliseum Theatre, which opened in 1916, also was endangered. So I did what came naturally — went there to see a film. In it, Morgan Freeman portrayed the notoriously tough New Jersey high-school principal Joe Clark. Based on a song, its title was “Lean on Me.”

To appreciate the grandeur of what was considered the nation’s first movie palace, I climbed to the top of its balcony. The view was startling. I sat mere feet from the Italian Renaissance-style ceiling beams. The rake was so steep that only by splaying my knees could I glimpse the screen far below.

Today, as a theater, the Coliseum is largely a memory, its closing night coming 32 years ago, on March 11, 1990, with the sci-fi thriller “Tremors.”

When a plan emerged in 1992 to restore and convert the Coliseum to a Banana Republic outlet, then-Seattle Mayor Norm Rice declared, “There won’t be a more stunning building this side of the Taj Mahal” in India. The clothier operated inside the city-landmarked structure from 1994 until the pandemic sank the store in 2020.

THEN4: In 1916, young architect “Benny” Priteca works inside the Coliseum building he designed. (Museum of History & Industry 2011.49.29)

The trendsetting, terra-cotta Coliseum was one of 60 major West Coast theaters (including the Pantages chain and, yes, the still-operating Admiral) designed by architect Bernard “Benny” Marcus Priteca (1886-1971). With 2,400 seats and hailed by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer as “the last word in picture playhouse construction,” the Coliseum opened when Priteca was just 26.

Scotland-born into an eastern European Jewish family, Priteca had been lured to Seattle by the city’s first world’s fair, the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition. His affection blossomed. As he told The Seattle Times’ Don Duncan while puffing on a cigar eight months before his death, “Washington and Oregon are the world!”

His designs — the lifelong bachelor never retired — extended to Seattle’s Bikur Cholim synagogue (now Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute), Renton’s now-gone Longacres racetrack and even a Paige auto grille and windshield. But the stage was his steadfast siren.

Arguably his most captivating creation was the Coliseum, whose showcase signage changed with the times. Notably, its concave corner half-dome, topped by a massive glass cupola, gave way in late 1950 to a rotating circular marquee and neon pillar featuring filmdom’s golden Oscar. The weather-damaged statue was removed in 1966.

Priteca told Duncan he wished that “Seattle would just stop growing, period.” Perhaps he also would have liked his Coliseum to screen movies forever. It still shines at Fifth & Pike. As the “Lean on Me” lyrics proclaim, “… there’s always tomorrow.”


Thanks to Lawrence Kreisman , Wendy Malloy, Dave Eskenazi, Colin Campbell and Gavin MacDougall for their help with this installment!

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

Below are an additional video, 28 additional photos (including a gallery of 22 early 1920s Coliseum images from Historic Seattle) and 49 historical clips from The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) and Washington Digital Newspapers, that were helpful in the preparation of this column. These include five previous “Now & Then” columns related to Priteca and the Coliseum by column founder Paul Dorpat!

(VIDEO: 6:51) Click the image above to see video of Seattle theater historian Lawrence Kreisman discussing archiect B. Marcus Priteca and the Coliseum Theatre. (Clay Eals)
An alternate view of the magnificent exterior of the Coliseum. (Clay Eals)
An alternate view of the magnificent exterior of the Coliseum. (Clay Eals)
An alternate view of the magnificent exterior of the Coliseum. (Clay Eals)
An alternate view of the magnificent exterior of the Coliseum. (Clay Eals)
An alternate view of the magnificent exterior of the Coliseum. (Clay Eals)
1923 Coliseum, “The Fighting Blade.” (Frank Jacobs, courtesy Historic Seattle)
1924 Coliseum, “A Self-Made Failure.” (Frank Jacobs, courtesy Historic Seattle)
1924 Coliseum, “A Son of the Sahara.” (Frank Jacobs, courtesy Historic Seattle)
1924 Coliseum, “Cytherea.” (Frank Jacobs, courtesy Historic Seattle)
1924 Coliseum, “Her Night of Romance.” (Frank Jacobs, courtesy Historic Seattle)
1924 Coliseum, “Inex from Hollywood.” (Frank Jacobs, courtesy Historic Seattle)
1924 Coliseum, “Sandra.” (Frank Jacobs, courtesy Historic Seattle)
1924 Coliseum, “Sundown.” (Frank Jacobs, courtesy Historic Seattle)
1924 Coliseum, “Those Who Dance.” (Frank Jacobs, courtesy Historic Seattle)
1925 Coliseum, “Graustark.” (Frank Jacobs, courtesy Historic Seattle)
1925 Coliseum, “Her Sister from Paris.” (Frank Jacobs, courtesy Historic Seattle)
1925 Coliseum, “If I Marry Again.” (Courtesy Historic Seattle)
1925 Coliseum, “Infatuation.” (Frank Jacobs, courtesy Historic Seattle)
1925 Coliseum, “New Toys.” (Frank Jacobs, courtesy Historic Seattle)
1925 Coliseum, “Shore Leave.” (Frank Jacobs, courtesy Historic Seattle)
1925 Coliseum, “The Half Way Girl.” (Frank Jacobs, courtesy Historic Seattle)
1925 Coliseum, “The Marriage Whirl.” (Frank Jacobs, courtesy Historic Seattle)
1925 Coliseum, “The New Commandment.” (Frank Jacobs, courtesy Historic Seattle)
1925 Coliseum, “The Talker.” (Frank Jacobs, courtesy Historic Seattle)
1925 Coliseum, “Why Women Love.” (Frank Jacobs, courtesy Historic Seattle)
1926 Coliseum, “Mlle. Modiste.” (Frank Jacobs, courtesy Historic Seattle)


1925 Coliseum, “Soul Fire.” (Frank Jacobs, courtesy Historic Seattle)
Jan. 9, 1916, Seattle Times, p5.
Jan. 9, 1916, Seattle Times, p13.
Aug. 13, 1918, Seattle Times, p7.
Feb. 23, 1930, Seattle Times, p28.
Jan. 6, 1935, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p81.
Nov. 26, 1950, Seattle Times, p29.
Dec. 25, 1950, Seattle Times, p21.
Dec. 26, 1950, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p14.
Dec. 27, 1950, Seattle Times, p15.
Dec. 28, 1950, Seattle Times, p9.
Dec. 29, 1950, Seattle Post-Intelligener, p4.
Feb. 5, 1961, Seattle Times, p39.
April 17, 1966, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p104.
July 14, 1968, Seattle Times, p139.
Jan. 24, 1971, Seattle Times, p152.
April 25, 1971, Seattle Times, p46.
Oct. 3, 1971, Seattle Times, p82.
Oct. 3, 1971, Seattle Times, p82.
Oct. 5, 1971, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p34.
Oct. 7, 1971, Seattle Times, p49.
Nov. 8, 1974, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p53.
July 25, 1975, Seattle Times, p16.
Oct. 6, 1975, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p10.
Aug. 29, 1976, Seattle Times, p105.
Sept. 5, 1976, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p112.
Sept. 5, 1976, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p114.
Jan. 22, 1978, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p77.
Jan. 22, 1978, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p81.
Jan. 24, 1978, Seattle Times, p14.
Dec. 17, 1978, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p82.
Dec. 6, 1985, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p135.
May 10, 1987, Seattle Times, p124.
March 3, 1989, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p64.
April 5, 1989, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, pA8.
March 5, 1989, Seattle Times, p130.
Aug. 24, 1989, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p5.
Dec. 19, 1989, Seattle Times, pA11.
March 5, 1990, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p22.
March 10, 1990, Seattle Times, pA1.
May 20, 1990, Seattle Times “Now & Then” by Paul Dorpat.
Dec. 23, 1990, Seattle Times “Now & Then” column by Paul Dorpat.
March 11, 1990, Seattle Times, p1.
March 11, 1990, Seattle Times, p7.
March 11, 1990, Seattle Times, pA1.
Dec. 16, 1992, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p17.
Dec. 16, 1992, Seattle Times, pB3.
Dec. 18, 1992, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p9.
Feb. 21, 1993, Seattle Times “Now & Then” column by Paul Dorpat.
Sept. 4, 1994, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p117.
Nov. 19, 1994, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p15.
April 21 1996, Seattle Times “Now & Then” by Paul Dorpat.
March 10, 2013, Seattle Times “Now & Then” by Paul Dorpat.
The still-intact Coliseum balcony, sans seats, seen in 2019. (Beau Iverson, Seattle Magazine)

Seattle Now & Then: The Empty Space Theatre, 1970

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THEN 1: A 1970 cast photo from the production of “The Wax Monkey and Other Tales.” This company-created confection received its world premiere during the Empty Space’s first season. The cast included John Kauffman, John Avinger, Jim Royce, Dan Mahar, Joe Baltz, Pat Campbell, John Clark, Liz Briggs Tom Spiller, Lois Salisbury and Lee Shallat
NOW 1: Several Empty Space performers assemble in Post Alley below Pike Place Market to re-create M. Burke Walker’s original cast photo: (clockwise from lower left) M. Burke Walker, R. Hamilton Wright, Rex McDowell, Tom Spiller, Jim Royce, Lori Larson, John Clark and Kurt Beattie. Spiller, Clark, and Royce also appear in the 1970 photo.

(Published in The Seattle Times online on Sept. 1, 2022
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on Sept. 4, 2022)

In the after-hours during the early 1970s, the Pike Place Market neighborhood was run-down and gritty, even dangerous. Rex McDowell, a young actor who found digs off Post Alley below the Market, kept a knife near his front entrance to thwart would-be intruders. “When they’d bang on our double doors or try to break in, we’d stick the long blade into the gap and waggle it up and down to frighten them off.”

Rent was cheap and youth fearless.

Where Post Alley makes a sharp turn uphill and to the east (just beyond today’s “gum wall”), was wedged a tiny storefront. Reputedly a former speakeasy, it was first home to Seattle’s legendary, 50-seat Empty Space Theatre.

Fresh from the University of Washington theater program, founder M. Burke Walker sought to build a new and vibrant company featuring edgier, often experimental voices. In the underbelly of the then-untouristed Market, the minuscule stage became a hothouse of creative ferment while its somewhat unsavory setting kept costs low.

The seminal 1968 book “The Empty Space” by British stage director Peter Brook triggered the troupe’s name and offered keen theatrical philosophy. “I can take an empty space,” he wrote, “and call it a bare stage.” For a young company cobbling together budget-conscious productions, austerity was a welcome challenge.

“It was the best training ground for the best theater artists this town has ever known,” says musician-composer John Engerman.

“From the start, it was a great ensemble,” adds fellow company member Kurt Beattie, now artistic director emeritus of ACT Theatre. “Great ensembles make great theatre.”

The company also played a vital role in Seattle theater, says playwright Carl Sander: “The Seattle Rep was the living room, ACT was the dining room, but the Empty Space was the kitchen.”

The Space created and presented hundreds of celebrated productions over more than three decades while migrating to Capitol Hill, Pioneer Square and finally Fremont. Though the final curtain fell in 2006, Space alumni continue to serve as chefs de cuisine of Seattle theatre whose savory fare still inspires.

On a roasty July evening, more than 150 Empty Spacers gathered at Seattle Center’s Cornish Theatre to celebrate the company’s Covid-delayed 50th reunion. They included Walker, fellow founder Jim Royce, and other Seattle theater luminaries, sans one beloved ensemble member. Renowned actor John Aylward, who had hoped to attend, died on May 16 at age 75.

THEN 2: Actor John Aylward (1948-2022), a founding member of the Empty Space’s ensemble, went on to work extensively in film and television, perhaps most prominently in “ER” and “The West Wing.”

“For John,” memorialized Walker in words that readily apply to the Empty Space itself, “play was always a verb first and a noun second.”


A few photo from the reunion:

NOW 2: At the Empty Space’s 50th Reunion, actor Kevin Loomis holds forth, accompanied by musician/composer John Engerman.
NOW 3: Chanteuse Joanne Klein offers up musical delights.
NOW 4: Space regulars R. Hamilton Wright (left) and Rex McDowall sing “Burnt Angel.”
NOW 5: Singing a showstopper from “They Came from Way Out There,” Jayne Muirhead, Lori Larson, R. Hamilton Wright, and Rex McDowall.

Seattle Now & Then: Virginia V centennial, 1922

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THEN1: Backed by a working Seattle waterfront, the Virginia V takes its first voyage on June 11, 1922. (Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society, Williamson Collection)
NOW1: Flanked by sailboats while gliding west from Lake Union, the Virginia V cruises toward the Ballard Locks and Shilshole Bay on July 9, prior to a Bainbridge Island Historical Museum cruise the following day. For info on chartering, tours, field trips, events (such as in Olympia Sept. 3-4) and volunteer opportunities, visit (Jean Sherrard)
THEN2: As shown in the June 20, 1922, Seattle Times, Seattle Camp Fire Girls and counselors board the Virginia V at the downtown waterfront for a two-week stint at Camp Sealth at the southwest corner of Vashon Island. The name Lisabeula, on the life ring, represented a community north of the camp, reportedly named for two women who operated its tiny post office. (Seattle Times)
NOW2: At the Historic Ships Wharf at Lake Union Park near the Museum of History & Industry. replicating the 1922 photo are (from left) John McClintock, crew member; Sara Intriligator, passenger; Debra Alderman, foundation executive director; Rebecca Laszlo, passenger; Ed Brown, senior docent; John Arnesen, passenger; Will Wagner and Steven Walsh, crew members; Tad Bixby, passenger; and Mark Miller, finance manager and crew member. Above are (from left) Alison Greene, passenger; and Megan Kolenski and Le Qi Huang, crew interns. (Jean Sherrard)

Published in The Seattle Times online on Aug. 25, 2022
and in PacificNW Magazine of the printed Times on Aug. 28, 2022

The magical Virginia V: a century of weaving maritime memories
By Clay Eals
THEN3: Dressed somewhat like 100 years earlier, Brad Chrisman (left) and Clay Eals of the Southwest Seattle Historical Society strike a pose serious enough for 1888 while standing at the bow of the Virginia V during a Dec. 10, 1988, cruise to celebrate the centennial of the first ferry on Puget Sound. (Brad Chrisman collection)

We all seek to create indelible memories. One of mine came in 1988 when I helped lead a Southwest Seattle Historical Society cruise to celebrate the first voyage of the City of Seattle, the first ferryboat on Puget Sound. Sadly, the original craft had ventured south to become a houseboat in Sausalito. So, standing — or, shall I say, floating — in was another vintage vessel, Seattle’s legendary passenger carrier, the Virginia V.

What a glorious two-hour trip we had. Though 200 were aboard, the steamer felt like a comfy cottage, a buoyant sanctuary. Our vice-president, Neal Lockett, joked that everyone must have had a good time because no one left early. But the sentiment transcended jest. We’d been soothed equally by tradition and tranquility.

For 100 years, the Virginia V has woven such maritime magic. It is the last of five “Virginia” ships, the first incarnation named for Virginia Merrill, whose later marriage resulted in a vast Bainbridge Island garden known today as Bloedel Reserve.

The 120-foot-long Virginia V originally was operated by West Pass Transportation Company, an indication of its headquarters and midway stop in regular runs between Tacoma and Seattle along the west side of rural Vashon Island. On the National Register of Historic Places since 1973, the Virginia V remains the sole surviving Mosquito Fleet steamship among hundreds of private craft that once plied Puget Sound like a swarm of busy bugs.

THEN5: The Virginia V’s first regular sailing schedule, from the June 23, 1922, Vashon Island News-Record. (Washington Digital Newspapers)

Before transporting farmers, freight, excursionists and even World War II soldiers, the Virginia V forged its earliest identity as the summertime vehicle for hundreds of Seattle Camp Fire Girls to reach the recently purchased Camp Sealth on Vashon’s southwest shore. Before being towed to Seattle for installation of its boilers and engines, the Virginia V was christened March 2, 1922, by Camp Fire secretary Ellen Bringloe.

“If sea traditions are to be trusted,” the Seattle Times reported, “Dame Fortune smiled favorably upon the Virginia V, for with one blow Miss Bringloe shattered the bottle of grape juice over the keel, and as if cheered by this good luck, the boat glided smoothly down the ways, splashed gently into the Sound and floated proudly off.”

THEN4: Shown in the Oct. 22, 1934, Seattle Times is the severely damaged Virginia V during a storm near tiny Olalla. The wreck imperiled 25-30 passengers. A few were injured, and many lost luggage, but amazingly, the vessel’s power plant and hull were unharmed. Six weeks and $11,000 worth of repairs later, the boat went back into service. (Seattle Times, courtesy Virginia V Foundation)

After a century of service — including a 1934 wreck during a storm near the Kitsap County hamlet of Olalla and a brief 1942 Portland-Astoria run on the Columbia River, along with expensive latter-day restorations mounted by a dedicated foundation — the Virginia V still invites passengers to tour Puget Sound.

Seemingly unscathed by modern modes of transit, it continues to make memories for us all. Did I mention its exhilarating steam whistle?


Thanks to Debra Alderman, Alicia Barnes, Wendy Malloy and the crew of the Virginia V for their help with this installment!

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

Below are 2 videos, 9 additional photos and 42 historical clips from The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) and Washington Digital Newspapers, that were helpful in the preparation of this column.

(VIDEO: 11:49) Click the image above to see video impressions of a July 9, 2022, cruise on the Virginia V. Be sure to listen for the steam whistle! (Clay Eals)
(VIDEO: 22:30) Click image above to see video of  the Southwest Seattle Historical Society cruise aboard the Virginia V on Dec. 10, 1988, to commemorate the centennial of the first ferry on Puget Sound, the City of Seattle, which ran between downtown and West Seattle starting Dec. 24, 1888, through 1913. This video consists of audio of the onboard program, supplemented with stills, song lyrics and other annotation. (Clay Eals)
The Virginia V passes beneath the Aurora Bridge. (Jean Sherrard)
The Virginia V passes beneath the opened Fremont Bridge. (Jean Sherrard)
The Virginia V passes beneath the Ballard Bridge. (Jean Sherrard)
The Virginia V arrives at the Ballard Locks. (Jean Sherrard)
Virginia V plaques. (Clay Eals)
Virginia V deck, in Lake Washington Ship Canal. (Clay Eals)
Virginia V heading west toward the Ballard Locks. (Clay Eals)
The Virginia V plies the Lake Washington Ship Canal. (Tad Bixby)
In a 360-degree view, Tad Bixby enjoys the Virginia V cruise. (Tad Bixby)

You can find additional Virginia V photos by Tad Bixby here.

March 29, 1893, Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
June 8, 1900, Seattle Times, p8.
July 11, 1905, Seattle Times, p1.
July 12, 1905, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p5.
Feb. 4, 1921, Vashon Island News Record.
Aug. 21, 1931, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p61.
Jan. 1, 1922, Seattle Times, p20.
March 2, 1922, Seattle Star.
March 4, 1922, Seattle Times, p7.
March 5, 1922, Seattle Times, p31.
March 10, 1922, Vashon Island News Record.
Feb. 5, 1922, Vashon Island News Record.
May 12, 1922, Seattle Times, p10.
June 11, 1922, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p26.
June 16, 1922, Seattle Star.
June 16, 1922, Vashon Island News Record.
June 16, 1922, Vashon Island News Record.
June 17, 1922, Seattle Times, p5.
June 18, 1922, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p26.
June 18, 1922, Seattle Times, p27.
June 23, 1922, Vashon Island News Record.
July 1, 1922, Seattle Times, p11.
July 19, 1922, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p1.
July 21, 1922, Vashon Island News Record.
July 22, 1922, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p3.
Sept. 24, 1922, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p43.
Sept. 24, 1922, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p44.
April 20, 1923, Seattle Times, p23.
April 24, 1923, Seattle Times, p2.
Oct. 22, 1934, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p4.
Oct. 22, 1934, Seattle Times, p8.
Oct. 22, 1934, Seattle Times, p10.
Aug. 2, 1941, Seattle Times, p14.
Feb. 21, 1942, Seattle Times, p10.
Feb. 22, 1942, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p2.
April 2, 1942, Seattle Times, p16.
April 3, 1942, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p24.
Aug. 26, 1942, Seattle Times, p17.
Dec. 4, 1942, Seattle Times, p30.
Dec. 5, 1942, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p9.
Feb. 18, 1944, Seattle Times, p26.
May 26, 1944, Seattle Times, p10.
July 15, 1972, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p17.

Seattle Now & Then: The Shanty Tavern, late 1940s

(Click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN1: Mack’s Shanty Tavern, late 1940s, along Bothell Way, now Lake City Way. The cars include, starting second from left, a 1946/47 Pontiac Streamliner, 1939 Chevrolet Coupe and 1939 Chevrolet. (Courtesy the Shanty Tavern)
NOW1: Authors (from left) Peter Blecha and Brad Holden join Dayna Spaccarotelli and her father John Spaccarotelli of the Shanty Tavern in front of the shack-themed sign. (Jean Sherrard)

Published in The Seattle Times online on Aug. 18, 2022
and in PacificNW Magazine of the printed Times on Aug. 21, 2022

Scandals and soul fueled ‘Lost Roadhouses’ at Seattle’s outskirts
By Clay Eals
NOW2: The cover of “Lost Roadhouses” by Peter Blecha and Brad Holden, who will host their book launch from 2 to 5 p.m. Aug. 27 at the Shanty Tavern, 9002 Lake City Way N.E. Bottoms up!

A new book by historians Peter Blecha and Brad Holden, “Lost Roadhouses of Seattle,” showcases more than 60 dance halls and speakeasies on the city’s outskirts whose heyday foamed in the Prohibition and repeal days of the 1930s and 1940s.

“It’s a nod to Seattle’s naughty past,” Holden says.

Blecha adds, “It’s almost like a lost civilization.”

So it brings a smile that the book also profiles something easily found — the last roadhouse still operating on a local highway, the Shanty Tavern at 90th and Lake City Way. On Fridays from 4:30 p.m. to 2 a.m., the Shanty rocks with live music and conversational buzz, moderated by 91-year-old John Spaccarotelli and his daughter Dayna.

Dayna and John Spaccarotelli. (Jean Sherrard)

“I like the music, I like the people. I like to talk with people especially,” says the elder owner, who leased the place 61 years ago and bought it two years later. “It’s just a fantastic thing to have a business and not only love it but live it.”

Built by Doris McLeod in 1932 on 22nd Avenue Northeast, the Shanty building moved twice before settling at its current site in 1948. The “Mack” nickname of Doris’ son Bill adorned the nightspot until Spaccarotelli took its reins in 1961.

The Shanty Tavern sign.

Over the years, it’s drawn celebrities from actor David Arquette to hydroplane racer Chip Hanauer, who have mixed with neighbors and motorists spotting the tavern’s unpretentious sign in the shape of a shack, complete with off-kilter stovepipe.

The sign is an uncanny cue to the devil-may-care spirit of the book’s neon-lit dine-and-dance establishments, where chicken dinners and musical spectacle consorted with headline-grabbing liquor and gambling scandals. All of this was fueled by car culture and a desire to flee the city limits via Highway 99 and the Bothell Highway to find, as the book asserts, “the sordid underbelly of Seattle’s peripheral nightlife.”

Impresario John H. “Doc” Hamilton. (Courtesy Peter Blecha and Brad Holden)

With Arcadia as their publisher, the authors sprinkle the book with 93 photos, ads and news clippings, but its text also covers a broad swath, from the countless musicians who played the roadside “joints” to cleanup efforts by Snohomish County prosecutor (and later U.S. senator) Henry “Scoop” Jackson. Showing up throughout are the detailed legal travails of infamous impresario John H. “Doc” Hamilton.

Page by page, from the north-end Duffy’s Roadhouse to the south-end Spanish Castle, it’s like the old Lay’s potato-chip commercial: You can’t read about just one. And the vignettes reveal that behind the roadhouses’ notoriety lay a lot of soul.

Dayna Spaccarotelli would agree. The Shanty means “everything” to her. “This is my life,” she says. “It’s like a second home.”

THEN2: Sunset Bottling Co. delivers beer to Mack’s Shanty Tavern in 1941. Note the truck’s cable-operated turn-signal arm. (Puget Sound Regional Branch, Washington State Archives)


Thanks to Bob Carney for his help with this installment!

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

Below are two videos and 10 historical clips from The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) and Washington Digital Newspapers, that were helpful in the preparation of this column.

(VIDEO: 6:05) Click image above to see John Spaccarotelli and his daughter Dayna talk about the history of The Shanty Tavern. (Clay Eals)
(VIDEO: 4:45) Peter Blecha and Brad Holden discuss their new book “Lost Roadhouses of Seattle.” (Clay Eals)
April 9, 1942, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p22.
Oct. 29, 1948, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p25.
Aug. 26, 1952, Seattle Times, p25.
April 12, 1955, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p1.
April 12, 1955, Seattle Times, p5.
April 13, 1955, Seattle Times, p24.
Feb. 10, 1962, Seattle Times, p22.
June 12, 1962, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p18.
June 12, 1962, Seattle Times, p5.
April 12, 1963, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p15.
Nov. 9, 1975, Seattle Times, p146.
Nov. 9, 1975, Seattle Times, p147.


Seattle Now & Then: the Mukilteo ferry, 1932

(Click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN1: This 1932 image, made into a postcard, looks north and slightly west, showing the private Mukilteo ferry dock, fronted by a baseball field. The state’s new Mukilteo Ferry Terminal, opened in December 2020, stands one-third mile to the east of the old landing. (J.A. Juleen, Northwest History Room, Everett Public Library)
THEN2: A close-in view, likely taken the same day, of the Mukilteo ferry. Vehicles are (left) a 1930-31 International and a 1929-30 Chevrolet. (J.A. Juleen, Northwest History Room, Everett Public Library)
NOW1: The state ferry Suquamish cruises northwest toward Clinton as it passed the old Mukilteo dock, now a street end next to Ivar’s. To reach the new terminal, cars must turn one-third mile east. (Colleen Chartier)
NOW2: With a Native longhouse design and fronted by interpretive signs and benches, the new Mukilteo terminal awaits vehicles boarding the Suquamish ferry. (Colleen Chartier)

Published in The Seattle Times online on Aug. 11, 2022
and in PacificNW Magazine of the printed Times on Aug. 14, 2022

Century of Mukilteo ferrying leads to new Native-themed terminal
By Clay Eals

Sooner or later, for functionality or fun, most of us living in Puget Sound get out on the water. So let’s time-travel to the era when motor vehicles first came into vogue.

You’re a saltwater town at the foot of a hill, near the mushrooming metropolis of Seattle, and also just four miles across the brine from a beckoning island paradise. What do you do? Launch a ferry.

THEN3: Shown in 1921, the privately operated Mukilteo ferry opened in 1916. Aboard is a 1917-1920 touring car. (Courtesy Mukilteo Historical Society)

Mukilteo did so in 1916, connecting with equally tiny Clinton on the southern tip of Whidby (no “e” at the time) Island. The ferry ran two times daily, twice that on weekends. The fare was $1 for car and driver, a quarter per additional passenger.

The Mukilteo-Clinton ferry cinched a scenic loop that had been fostered three years earlier with establishment of a north-island ferry at Deception Pass, whose classic bridge wouldn’t be built until 1934.

The outcome: a trip of “much beauty,” wrote Douglas Shelor, automotive editor, in the Sept. 20, 1916, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, “a diversion that every motorist looking for something a little different from the general run of two-day trips should not fail to take.”

THEN4: Circa 1918, cars line up for the Mukilteo ferry facing west along Front Street. The background smokestack was part of Crown Lumber, which closed in 1930. It could produce 200,000 board feet of lumber per day. The Crown site was used for ammunition transfer during World War II and as a “tank farm” (aviation fuel depot) during the Korean War. It now is home to the new Mukilteo ferry terminal. Cars shown are (from left) possibly a 1914 Cadillac, a 1916-17 Studebaker, a 1917-18 Ford Model T, unidentified, a 1917-18 Ford Model T and others. (Courtesy Mukilteo Historical Society)

Vessels were small, holding only a few vehicles at a time, but the P-I assured that “those who may feel timid in driving their machines on the ferry under [their] own power may roll the car on in perfect safety.”

Fast-forward through a century of growth: Puget Sound’s cluster of competitive ferry operations morphed into the Black Ball Line, which the state bought in 1951. Mukilteo’s dock was reconstructed in 1952 and modernized in 1980.

But usage also ballooned. During 2019, the most recent pre-COVID year, the 20-minute crossing carried 2,276,967 vehicles, the highest number of any route in the state system. To say Mukilteo suffered traffic tie-ups would be like saying Elvis sold a few records. Standstills became the norm.

NOW3: Beneath circular Native art at the new terminal, two men hustle up a stairway to board the Suquamish ferry at Mukilteo. (Colleen Chartier)

In response, the state built a much larger, seismically safe terminal one-third mile east. Partly in recognition of Mukilteo as the site of the landmark 1855 Point Elliott Treaty signing, the state fashioned the $187 million terminal as a Native American art-filled longhouse summoning the rich heritage of the Coast Salish People, specifically the Tulalip tribes. Since the terminal opened in December 2020, it has netted more than 25 awards.

The terminal’s designer, Seattle-based LMN Architects, will be showcased Aug. 20-26 at the Seattle Design Festival, Given the terminal’s ties to the past, improved transit links, sustainable elements and the potent symbolism of travel, the festival’s 2022 theme of “Connection” is apt.

Just like our relationship with the water itself.

The Mukilteo lighthouse, west of the old ferry terminal, in 1932. At far right is a 1924-26 Chevrolet, and the car with a trailer is a 1928-29 Ford Model A. (J.A. Juleen, Northwest History Room, Everett Public Library)
NOW4: The new terminal showcases Native-themed artwork. (Colleen Chartier)
NOW5: One-third-mile east of the old Mukilteo dock, solar panels top the Native longhouse design of the new terminal. (Colleen Chartier)


Thanks to Peter Anderson, archivist for the Mukilteo Historical Society; Molly Michal of the Seattle Design Festival; Alicia Barnes of Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society; Diane Rhodes, Suanne Pelly and Ian Sterling of Washington State Ferries; Priscilla Strettell of the Northwest History Room of Everett Public Library; Bob Carney, automotive expert extraordinaire; and especially photographer Colleen Chartier for their help with this installment!

A good backgrounder on the Mukilteo ferry terminal is an article from the Dec. 30, 2020, edition of the Lynnwood Times.

Below are two documents and 24 historical clips from The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) and Washington Digital Newspapers, that were helpful in the preparation of this column.

And in lieu of a 360 video, we top off this installment with a gallery of 43 additional present-day photos of the Mukilteo terminal by Colleen Chartier!

Letter from Mrs. Frank Hatten to the Mukilteo Historical Society, June 22, 1967. (Courtesy Mukilteo Historical Society)
Click the image to see a pdf of interpretive signboards for the new Mukilteo ferry terminal. (Washington State Ferries)
Feb. 23, 1904, Seattle Times, page 10.
Sept. 13, 1913, Seattle Times, page 10.
June 18, 1913, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 10.
May 9, 1916, Seattle Times, page 17.
Sept. 20, 1916, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 39.
Sept. 20, 1916, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 40.
July 4, 1919, Labor Journal.
July 8, 1919, Seattle Times, page 20.
June 4, 1920, Seattle Times, page 12.
Aug. 8, 1920, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 15.
Aug. 22, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 38.
May 16, 1922, Seattle Star.
May 16, 1922, Seattle Times, page 21.
May 20, 1922, Seattle Times, page 5.
Jan. 16, 1924, Seattle Times, page 23.
Feb. 10, 1926, Seattle Times, page 13.
June 6, 1926, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 70.
Dec. 3, 1926, Seattle Times, page 26.
May 21, 1927, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 10.
June 2, 1927, Anacortes American.
June 18, 1927, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 11.
June 26, 1927, Seattle Times, page 33.
May 14, 1928, Seattle Times, page 23.
Sept. 11, 1939, Seattle Times, page 17.
May 29, 1949, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 23.



Seattle Now & Then: ‘You’ll Like Tacoma,’ 1910

(Click to enlarge photos)

THEN 1: From 1910, this view looks south along Tacoma’s Pacific Avenue, featuring the Northern Pacific headquarters (center left) and city hall. Mount Rainier (aka Tacoma) floats above Commencement Bay. (Paul Dorpat collection)
NOW: A nearer prospect emerges from an offramp with the aid of a 20-foot pole. The Northern Pacific Headquarters, now an office building, was last remodeled in 1983. Old City Hall, placed on the most endangered list of the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation in 2011, is being extensively restored by developer SURGE Tacoma and due to reopen in 2023. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in The Seattle Times online on August 4, 2022
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on August 7, 2022)

Municipal portrait makes ‘You’ll Like Tacoma’ a winning slogan
By Jean Sherrard

Distracted by the trio of natural and architectural jewels strewn across the skyline of this 1910 photo of Tacoma’s north downtown, we easily can miss the discreet banner stretched over a roadway in the foreground shadows.

Its crisp caption: “You’ll like Tacoma.”

The year-old slogan originally had been adopted by Tacoma promoters during arch-rival Seattle’s first world’s fair, the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, meant to encourage visitors to venture south to the self-styled City of Destiny.

Directly across Lake Union from the fairgrounds (today’s University of Washington campus), boosters had erected their Paul Bunyan-sized solicitation in huge, electrically illuminated letters.

THEN 2: Nearly 20-foot-high letters broadcast Tacoma booster’s “modest” message to visitors at the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in 1909.

The motto was both “an invitation and a prophecy,” gushed the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, “and it fit [Tacoma] like a new glove: neat, apt, modest and winsome.”

The $30,000 campaign also included buttons, flyers and paid ads. Even a “patriotic march song” was commissioned to amplify the message:

You’ll like Tacoma
Where rail meets sail,
Where all are prosperous,
Hearty and hale,
Down on Commencement Bay,
A New York’s growing, day by day,
Tacoma, the peer of all.

THEN 3: Sheet music cover for the promotional song “Tacoma.” (Tacoma Public LIbrary collection)

For Paris-born photographer Paul Leo Richards, his popular “Then” photo, captured a year after the exposition, was a valentine to his adopted city. Fresh off the boat in 1891, the ambitious Frenchman wore many hats — inventor, investor and innovator — but is best known for documenting and celebrating the shining attributes of Tacoma.

This notable municipal portrait also subtly tweaks the Tacoma-Seattle rivalry. Just for fun, let’s keep score:

The Mountain That Was God, a mere 40 miles to the southeast, looms gloriously large. Tacomans persisted in calling it Mount Tacoma or Tahoma, its native moniker, disparaging the Seattle- (and USGS-) approved namesake, English Rear Admiral Peter Rainier. Names aside, Tacoma has always rocked the mountain view.

Point: Grit City.

At center, Northern Pacific Railroad’s Headquarters, completed in 1888, overlooks train-track ribbons and Commencement Bay. The creamy, stucco-covered structure also commemorates Tacoma’s 1873 triumph over Seattle, when the railroad chose the tiny (population 200) unincorporated town as its western terminus, in one fell swoop breaking more than a thousand Queen City hearts.

Point: the City of Destiny for the snub.

At right, just across Pacific Avenue, stands Tacoma’s commanding Old City Hall, built in 1893. A superb example of Italian Renaissance style, its eight-foot-thick foundation walls support a freestanding clock/campanile tower, slightly tapered to emphasize its soaring 10 stories. Seattle, having just erected a more utilitarian flatiron city hall in 1909, might well have expressed envy.

Point: You’ll prefer Tacoma, for the win.


A 360 degree video will be forthcoming but Jean is in his second day of Covid – not too serious thus far, but his dry cough keeps ruining vocal takes!
And at last here’s the 360 (in the first couple minutes, a cop tries to convince Jean to get out of traffic. Jean nods, and smiles agreeably but continues recording).

We have a handful of extras this week, including more materials featuring photographer Paul Richards.

But this just in! Lane Morgan, daughter of legendary historian Murray Morgan (author of ‘Skid Road’ and many other monumental books of regional history, as well as being mentor and close friend of this column’s founder Paul Dorpat), sends along the following delightful odes to Tacoma, written by her grandfather Henry Victor Morgan between 1912 and the early 20s.

Her favorite:


Livin’ in Tacoma is one long delight,
Just a been attendin’
Poultry show tonight;
Every hen a-singin’–
Red and white and blue—
“Gee we like Tacoma, Bet your life we do!”
All together sayin’, “Isn’t this sublime?
Don’t you like Tacoma? Ain’t the climate fine?

Ever see such weather on a New Years Day
That is why we’re happy. That is why we lay.”

One Rhode Island biddy
Filled the room with cackle,
Said Tacoma’s Leghorn: “She is from Seattle.”
Answered biddie’s Chanti
Rolling up his eyes,
“Yes, we’re from Seattle,
And we won third prize.”

One lone bird seemed dumpy
At the poultry feast
Said the White Minorka,
“She is from the east;
She is like a trolley, off the beaten track,
Dumpy? She is thinkin’ that she must go back.”

Then the roosters proudly
All began to crow,
“No place like Tacoma! Watch Tacoma grow!”

And, as promised, a bit more about Paul Richards:


The only extant photo of Paul Richards, from his passport taken two years before his death

After building a life in Tacoma, he joined the US Army as a photographer and documented the First World War in France. Certainly, he also served as a translator as well. In the final months of the war, tragedy struck in the form of mustard gas. Severely wounded, Richards spent three years convalescing but died in 1921 of his injuries.

Seattle Now & Then: Woman’s Relief Corps, 1908

(Click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN: Twenty-two members of the Bothell post of the Woman’s Relief Corps (and two men) sit and stand outside the 1893 William Hannan home in Bothell in 1908. Standing, from left: Josephine Bothell Burns, Della Bothell Young, Etta Adams, Isabelle Woody, Kitty Burgess, Ida Anderson, May Bothell Platner, Alta Elliott Violet Hanschel, Mrs. (first name unavailable) Ellis, Neal Bothell Baley, Jemima “Mima” Hannan (wife of William) and Rachel Keener. Seated on chairs, from left: Amy Campbell, Maggie Dutton, Aunt Bessy (last name unavailable), Mrs. S.F. Woody Sr. and Grandma Annis (full name unavailable). Seated in front, from left: unknown, Marie Campbell, Bertha Dutton Ross and Hannah Staples. At rear left are homeowner William Hannan and, to his right, son Almon Hannan. (Courtesy Bothell Historical Museum)
NOW: Repeating the pose at the William Hannan home, now situated at Bothell Landing and housing the Bothell Historical Museum (, are 18 women, four girls and a man, including several descendants of historical city figures. Complete identifications follow. Standing, back left: Bill Carlyon, great-grandson of Bothell pioneers William and Jemima Hannon and grandson of Gladys Hannan Worley, their daughter, who was born and married in the parlor. Standing, from left: Pat Pierce, Jill Keeney, Jeanette Backstrom, Sue Kienast, Melanie Carlyon McCracken (daughter of Bill and Emmy Carlyon and great, great granddaughter of the Hannans), Pippin Sardo, Emmy Carlyon (wife of Bill Carlyon), Margaret Turcott, JoAnne Hunt, Linda Avery, Margaret Carroll, Mary Evans and Pamela McCrae. Seated, from left: Terry Roth, Iva Metz, Carol King, Nancy Velando and Mary Anne Gibbons. Children in front, from left: Wendy Stow (Linda Avery’s granddaughter) and Camille, Evelyn and Mira McCracken (great, great, great granddaughters of the Hannans). Camille and Evelyn flank a life-size doll. (Jean Sherrard)

Published in The Seattle Times online on July 28, 2022
and in PacificNW Magazine of the printed Times on July 31, 2022

Born of war, Woman’s Relief Corps fed nation’s ‘higher sphere’
By Clay Eals

One of my mentors — the late Elliott Couden, an open-housing advocate in the 1960s who 20 years later founded the Southwest Seattle Historical Society — once lamented that as a boy, he had to learn history by memorizing timelines keyed mostly to wars. “We didn’t get very much into what relation we as individuals have to this society,” he said.

NOW: Historian Richard Heisler at Bothell Pioneer Cemetery. For info on his Aug. 3 talk, click here. (Clay Eals)

He could have been reading the mind, and heart, of Richard Heisler. During the pandemic, the energetic equestrian artist and historian, 49, focused his research on the estimated 3,500 Civil War veterans and their families who migrated to King County near the turn of the 20th century. Heisler, of Bothell, has unearthed direct links between these vets and the rise of the town east of Lake Washington’s northern tip.

Nationally, starting in 1866, many of the war’s surviving Union soldiers formed the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) fraternal organization. In 1883, their wives, along with daughters and other descendants and supporters, began gathering in posts of an auxiliary, the Woman’s Relief Corps (WRC).

THEN: An alternate view of the Woman’s Relief Corps gathering at the William Hannan house in 1908. (Courtesy Bothell Historical Museum)

The Bothell WRC post began in 1902, and 22 of its members (plus two discreetly positioned men) populate our “Then” photo from 1908. They pose outside the city’s 1893 William Hannan home, which stands today at Bothell Landing along the Sammamish River, a half-mile west of its original site. Pristinely restored, it houses the Bothell Historical Museum.

NOW: At Bothell Pioneer Cemetery, the two-sided monument for David and Mary Ann Bothell includes a Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) insignia for David and a Woman’s Relief Corps (WRC) insignia for Mary Ann. The FCL acronym on Mary Ann’s side indicates the GAR and WLC slogan: “Fraternity. Charity. Loyalty.” (Clay Eals)

Bothell, the city, derives from a family by the same name. Heisler pointedly notes that the only graphic symbols on a Bothell Pioneer Cemetery monument for founder David Bothell (1820-1905) and his wife Mary Ann (1823-1907), parents of George, the city’s first mayor, are of the GAR for David and WRC for Mary Ann.

Other local luminaries had ties to the war’s Union forces and their abolitionist, Lincoln Republican ways of thinking, Heisler says. “We think it was all so distant,” he says, “but many veterans and their families came west and walked the streets all over this county.”

WRC posts produced patriotic Memorial Day observances, installed flags and monuments and even supported women’s suffrage. At an 1885 Seattle gathering, the GAR’s J.C. Haines saluted their role: “We welcome you because you have demonstrated that woman has a higher sphere than any that man can ever lay claim to — a sphere as broad as human sorrow, as lasting as humanity itself.”

Today, the WRC has receded locally, but it lives on in Heisler’s talks, including one set for 6 p.m. Aug. 3, at the Bothell Library, for the Bothell museum. “This is not an abstract thing,” he says. “These are people.”


Thanks to Bill Woodward, Pat Pierce, Jill Keeney and especially Richard Heisler for their help with this installment!

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

Below are two additional photos, two videos and 22 historical clips from The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) and Washington Digital Newspapers, that were helpful in the preparation of this column.

THEN: Complete with a live Statue of Liberty, a 1908 Bothell Independence Day float salutes the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR). The FCL flag stands for: “Fraternity. Charity. Loyalty.” (Courtesy Bothell Historical Museum)
NOW: In this alternate view, posing before the William Hannan home (now headquarters of the Bothell Historical Museum) are, standing from left, Pamela McCrae, Jill Keeney, JoAnne Hunt, Margaret Carroll, Emmy Carlyon, Terry Roth, Margaret Turcott, Pat Pierce, Mary Evans and Bill Carlyon and, seated from left, Nancy Velando, Mary Anne Gibbons, Carol King, Camille McCracken, Melanie Carlyon McCracken, Mira McCracken, Iva Metz, Pippin Sardo and Evelyn McCracken. Historian Richard Heisler peeks over umbrella at left. (Jean Sherrard)
VIDEO (14:00): Click the image above to see historian Richard Heisler describe the Civil War connections to early leaders of Bothell, Washington, at Bothell Pioneer Cemetery. (Clay Eals)
VIDEO (2:12): Click the title card above to see three Bothell residents talk about the importance of their ties to the past. (Clay Eals)
March 27, 1884, Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
April 16, 1885, National Tribune, weekly for Civil War veterans and families.
Oct. 2, 1887, Seattle Star.
Sept. 18, 1888, Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
Aug. 27, 1896, Seattle Times, page 8.
July 27, 1898, Seattle Times, page 8.
Feb. 26, 1899, Seattle Times, page 6.
Feb. 28, 1899, Seattle Times, page 1.
May 30, 1899, Seattle Times, page 2.
June 24, 1899, Seattle Times, page 14.
March 10, 1900, Seattle Times, page 17.
Nov. 1, 1899, Seattle Times, page 4.
June 25, 1901, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p12.
March 1, 1902, Seattle Star.
May 31, 1902, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p10.
March 2, 1902, Seattle Times, page 39.
July 14, 1963, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p13.
July 14, 1963, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p10B.
Oct. 24, 1966, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p19.
June 4, 1975, Seattle Times, page 35.
April 15, 1973, Seattle Times, page 101.
March 19, 1976, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p41.
May 28, 1978, Seattle Times, page 14.




Now & Then here and now