(click to enlarge photos)
Twice I have heard from persons who were working downtown – one in the Exchange Building and the other in the Smith Tower – during the Second World War who described the strange bomber, trailing smoke, sputtering and flying much too low over the business district as it headed south in what test pilot Edmund T. Allen probably knew was a hopeless attempt to make it back to the Boeing Field it had left minutes earlier.
At 12:23 they heard – and many also saw – the still secret B-29 Superfortress first sever with arcing explosions the power lines north of Walker Street and then slam into one of the biggest structures in the industrial neighborhood, collapsing the northwest corner of the Frye meat packing building that was dedicated to the slaughter of pigs and the manufacture of, among other products, Frye’s big buckets of Wild Rose Lard. (The cans were famously illustrated with its namesake rose.)
Those who heard the surreal chorus of squealing pigs that followed the explosion described it as terrifying.
The death toll for that Feb. 18, 1943, included one fireman, twenty Frye employees and the ten from Boeing who stayed with the plane and two who did not. Most were engineers. Earlier when the bomber was close to colliding with Harborview Hospital, two engineers bailed out but there was not enough distance between the plane and First Hill for their parachutes to open. Eighty pigs did not make it to slaughter.
This famous press photo and scores more are included in Dan Raley’s new book “Tideflats to Tomorrow: The History of Seattle’s SODO.” For readers who have not heard, SODO – meaning “South of the Dome” – is the name for the neighborhood south of King Street, long ago reclaimed from the tidelands, but more recently divested of its Kingdome. All that is recounted in the book and much more.
Reader’s can contact the publisher via email@example.com, or check their neighborhood bookstore – those that have survived.
Jean is away in Illinois attending a Knox College theatrical performance in which his youngest son, Noel, plays one of the principal parts. When the last performance was completed and the congratulations too, Noel went off with the players for the cast party and dad returned to his room in a converted Ramada Inn on the town’s principal square. There from his lap top he inserted this week’s story of the B-29 crash into this blog and asks me, “Anything to add, Paul?” Yes Jean we’ll put up the map we arranged to help locate the proper spot on which to shoot your “now.” And it also shows the crash site at the northwest corner of the Frye Plant. And we have grabed a low-resolution aerial that shows the damage looking to the southeast. A look at the Frye’s first plant on the same site when it sat of pilings over the as yet unreclaimed tideflats follows. Then up to the Frye Mansion on First Hill, at the s0utheast corner of 9th Avenue and Columbia – one block south of St. James Cathedral. Here we first insert a photograph of the old Coppins Water Tower. From the mid 1880s to about 1901 the big well below that tower was the principal provider of fresh water on First Hill. The Frye mansion took it’s place. Emma and Charles Frye collected genre paintings and . . . well more is told below with the feature that first appeared in The Times in 1997.
(As Ever – Click Images to Enlarge Them – sometimes click twice.)
[Here we hope to insert the “now” that appeared in Pacific in 1997. It is temporarily in a shuffle of negatives – somewhere in this studio.]
THE FRYE’S SALON
(This first appeared in Pacific Magazine, April 6, 1997)
Here’s an aside to the hoopla encircling the reopening in new quarters of the 45 year old First Hill institution, the Fry Art Museum: a short notice of whence came these paintings of cattle, angles, graybeards and bucolic paths.
After returning from Europe in 1914 with more paintings for their swelling collection the Fryes joined a large gallery to the south wall of their big home on the southeast corner of 9th Avenue and Columbia Street. Soon its four walls were filled “salon style” with ornately framed oils crowding one another from the Persian rugs on the floor to the skylights. This view of the gallery’s northwest corner reveals a fair sampling of the type of often sentimental realism the couple preferred in their art.
Charles Frye who made his considerable fortune as the Northwest’s biggest meat-packer, was especially fond of animal subjects including the German master Heinrich Zuegel’s “Cattle in Water”, here the second oil up from the floor in the second row right of the gallery’s West (left) wall. In the contemporary scene Zuegel’s cattle have been returned with the help of real estate maps, aerial photography — the gallery skylights show well from the sky — and a 100 ft tape measure, to within five or six feet of their original place on the north gallery wall.
(Now we identify below some persons as seen in the “now” photo that appeared in Pacific, but again, not yet here. We will insert that photo from 1997 – when we find it . . . again. Temporarily we will include, directly below, the clip from Pacific.)
All this figuring puts the painting in the living room of the St. James Cathedral Convent which replaced the Frye home in 1962, ten years after the Frye collection had been moved one block east to the then new namesake museum. Standing about the painting — and supporting it — are Sisters Anne Herkenrath and Kathleen Gorman, right and center respectively, both distinguished members of the order Sisters of the Holy Names and therefore long-time Seattle educators.
With the sisters is artist and author Helen E. Vogt. The Frye’s great niece was practically raised in the Frye home and lived with them in the early thirties while an arts student at the University of Washington. As part of my “art direction” for the “now” scene I asked Helen Vogt to hold a copy of her most recent book Charlie Frye and His Times. Before the opening of the Seattle Art Museum in 1933 Seattle’s largest art gallery was the Frye’s, and the public was free to visit it. Pacific Readers wishing to know more about Seattle’s early art history should consult Vogt’s biography of Seattle’s one-time cattle king — packed and framed. Those wishing to make a closer inspection of Zuegel’s deft impression of Cattle in Water, and hundreds more paintings from the Frye’s collection should visit the museum at 704 Terry Avenue. The admission is still free.