(click on photos and thumbnails for full size)
In 1908, some weeks before Holy Names Academy was completed on Capitol Hill, M. L. Oakes, then one of Seattle’s more prolific “real photo” postcard photographers took this distant view of the school from the water department’s nearly new Volunteer Park tower or standpipe. The Academy’s dome tower is still without its topping cross, and scaffolding for the stone work on part of the front (west) façade is also in place, although difficult to make out at this size.
Practically all these architecturally diverse homes between the park and the school are new or nearly new. Most of them also survive as landmarks homes of English Cottage, Bungalow, Tudor Revival, Classic Box and other styles. Parts of three of the six Capitol Hill Additions that Seattle’s then super-builder James Moore first developed in 1901 – when he also named the hill – are included in Oakes’ postcard,
Oakes scaled the standpipe to its observatory by the protected stairway that winds between the tower’s steel tank and its clinker brick skin, as did Jean Sherrard for his repeat 101 years later.
Jean notes, “It had been several years since I’d climbed the water tower. After completing its 106 clanging steel steps one is rewarded with enchanting views through the sixteen windows that encircle the observatory. They attract locals and visitors alike.
On a chilly sunny Sunday, I competed for prime spots in front of the arched iron-grills, which both interrupt suicides and make wide-angle photography a challenge. The lush trees that surround the tower, I imagine, have been sensitively pruned to reveal the horizon.”
Another reward for following Oakes and Sherrard is the Olmsted Interpretive Exhibit that adorns the red brick interior walls of the tower’s observatory.
It provides an illustrated “overview” of Seattle parks’ Olmstead Bros legacy.
(Below, a close-up of Holy Names Academy then and now)
Please visit our Now & Then archives for the full story on Holy Names…
2 thoughts on “2009-03-01 Seattle Now & Then: A View from the Water Tower”
When I saw the before photo in yesterday’s paper I knew right away that it mathched a postcard I found in an antique store in LaCrosse, WI a few years ago when visiting my in-laws. I remember flipping through the postcards and thinking that building sure looks like Holy Names and when I read the caption it was. Since I went HNA I had to to purchse the postcard.
The card is numbered 1761–Capitol Hill and Holy Names Academy, Seattle, Washington
Made in America by Edw. H. Mitchell at San Francisco, California
My card is postmarked June 8, 1915
Thank you for again sharing another wonderful old photo of Seattle History!
I’m not familiar with Edw H. Mitchell of the Bay and his postcards. If you have a scan of it send it along and we will post it with your response. That way you will be illustrating your own reply. If you like.