(click to enlarge photos)
Here’s a lesson in the sleeping befuddlements that may nestle for long naps with mistaken captions.
In this instance we return a quarter-century to the mid-1980s when Clay Eals, then the editor of the West Seattle Herald, was busy assembling the West Side Story, the very big and revealing book of West Seattle History written and illustrated by volunteers, (myself included) with Eals our guiding hand and kind support.
But then briefly and undetected something bad happened in the editor’s office. Clay made a mistake, or rather he repeated one. Eals, who led the neighborhood’s forces of preservation in a successful save of its threatened landmark theatre, The Admiral, received the print shown here from a credible and even venerable West Seattle source and so felt confident enough to include it in the big book as the Portola Theatre, the predecessor of the Admiral. After all, “Portola” is how it was identified with a label stuck to flip side of the print originally loaned to him.
Here, and recently, enters one of Seattle’s silent film era experts David Jeffers who was not convinced. First, there is no “Portola Marquee” showing for what is still obviously a motion picture theatre with film posters pasted to it. With a sharp enlargement – and no deadline – Jeffers studied the scene in detail. Knowing where Seattle’s now “missing theatres” were once located he soon determined that this was not West Seattle’s Portola but Queen Anne’s own neighborhood theatre at the northwest corner of Queen Anne Avenue and Boston Street.
Jeffers reflects, “Much of our history is forgotten, not lost, and only awaits re-discovery. Just as every neighborhood has a branch of the Public Library, in the years before television they all had a movie house, typically within easy walking distance. One of these forgotten theaters stood on the Northwest corner of Queen Anne Avenue North and West Boston Street. The Queen Anne Theatre opened for business in 1912 and closed, as did many, with the advent of sound in the late 1920s.”
Jean writes: Just a couple of extras from my end this week, Paul. The first is a sweet pair of perpendicular shoes across the street from the now-horizontal Peets:
And the second, Clay Eals himself, about to slurp from the water fountain at the base of the Queen Anne water tower. Some may note his Cubbies hat and recall that Clay recently authored a masterful biography of Steve Goodman, songwriter/musician known for writing ‘The City of New Orleans’ but also the immortal “A Dying Cubs Fan’s Last Request’ (amongst many others). For more about Clay and Goodman, click here.
Observant readers may recall that Clay appeared in a previous SN&T column at the beginning of the year.
Anything to add, Paul?
Yes Jean, I have some more “web extras” or as we sometimes call them “blogaddendums.” Many years ago – in the 1980s – I was given Lawton Gowey’s slides of Queen Anne Hill where he had lived all his life. Previous to his death by heart attack Lawton was a collector-student of local history. He especially liked trolley history. He died suddenly on a Sunday morning while preparing to go once more to play the organ at his Queen Anne church (Presbyterian). His collection was quite large and most of the prints in it were directed by his family to the University of Washington’s Northwest Collection. All of the below are pulled from about 300 (or more) slides of Queen Anne he left. Some others have been sorted into “programs” (carousels) that were not examined for this selection. Among those are others scenes for our intersection of Queen Anne Avenue and Boston Street, but I have not as yet found them. I’ll come upon them most likely when preparing a slide lecture – later. Jean, if you like, you may wish to take some repeats for these when you have time, for instance, on your way downtown. They are all of Queen Anne and easily found. I will give short captions for each with location and date. All of the colored slides were photographed by Lawton.