Seattle Now & Then: 6th and Marion

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: The city's regrading forces reached Sixth Avenue and Marion Street in 1914. A municipal photographer recorded this view on June 24. Soon after, the two structures left high here were lowered to the street. (Courtesy, Seattle Municipal Archives)
THEN: The city's regrading forces reached Sixth Avenue and Marion Street in 1914. A municipal photographer recorded this view on June 24. Soon after, the two structures left high here were lowered to the street. (Courtesy, Seattle Municipal Archives)
NOW: The corner's final "humiliation" came as a ditch was dug and lined with concrete in the early 1960s for the Seattle Freeway section of Interstate 5. (Jean Sherrard)
NOW: The corner's final "humiliation" came as a ditch was dug and lined with concrete in the early 1960s for the Seattle Freeway section of Interstate 5. (Jean Sherrard)

In 1880 or ’81 Joseph and Virginia McNaught began building their home at the southeast corner of Marion Street and Sixth Avenue. It sat on a high point that made it stand alone against the sky when viewed from the waterfront. The couple took some kidding about having moved so far east of town.

Soon after following his brother, James, to Seattle in 1875, Joseph drove a herd of cattle from the Willamette Valley to a beef-poor Seattle. With the profits he then returned east for a law degree and marriage to Virginia. Returning to Seattle, the McNaughts became one of the area’s most entrepreneurial couples with investments in transportation, mining, shipbuilding, Palouse homesteads and stockyards.

For much of the two square blocks between Sixth and Seventh, Marion and Cherry — all of it part of the Interstate 5 ditch now — First Hill was mostly no hill. Parts of it even lost altitude before joining the climb east of Seventh Avenue. With the grading of Sixth Avenue, first in 1890, the home was lowered a few feet. That year it was also pivoted 90 degrees, so what is seen here facing north at 603 Marion previously was facing west at 818 Sixth Ave. The regrade of 1914, seen here, lowered the site about two stories to the grade of this bricked intersection.

By then the McNaughts were in Oregon raising alfalfa hay and living in Hermiston, one of two town sites they developed. The other was Anacortes. Virginia named Hermiston, and it includes a Joseph Avenue.

Later, the old McNaught mansion was expanded for apartments. All the Victorian trim was either removed or lost behind new siding. Through its last years it was joined with its big-box neighbor as part of a sprawling Marion Hotel until sacrificed for the freeway.

Have you anything to add for this scene Paul?    Jean I do but will start out modestly – or rather unprepared.  I need to get to bed.  But I’ll post a few pictures and include minimal captions, which I’ll elaborate on later.

A West Shore Magazine feature on some of Seattle's new landmarks ca. 1887.  Note the McNaught home is included bottom-left.
A West Shore Magazine feature on some of Seattle's landmarks mid-1880s (I'll get the publishing date later.) Note the McNaught home is included bottom-left.
Looking up the draw (now the freeway route) between Sixth and Seventh Avenues from near Jefferson Street ca. 1886. Cherry street, bottom-left dips to the east making this photograph the best evidence for how much of First Hill between Sixth and Seventh and between Jefferson and Marion features a slight pause and regression in the climb of First Hill. There's a pedestrian trestle in there, and also road work on the Seventh Avenue, on the right.  Central School in the block bounded by Madison, Marion, Sixth and 7th Avenues was destroyed by fire in the spring of 1887.  This view may be compared to the next, which was taken later although not much later.  Note the McNaugth mansion to the left of the big fated school.  (Courtesy, Seattle Public Library)
Looking up the draw (now the freeway route) between Sixth and Seventh Avenues from near Jefferson Street ca. 1886. Cherry street, bottom-left dips to the east making this photograph the best evidence for how much of First Hill between Sixth and Seventh and between Jefferson and Marion one featured a slight pause and regression in the climb of First Hill. There's a pedestrian trestle in there, and also road work on the Seventh Avenue, on the right. Central School in the block bounded by Madison, Marion, Sixth and 7th Avenues was destroyed by fire in the spring of 1887. This view may be compared to the next, which was taken later although not much later. Note the McNaugtht mansion to the left of the big fated school. (Courtesy, Seattle Public Library)
Similar scene and time as the one directly above, although a little later.  This scene also shows the nearly level topography on Cherry Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues.  The dip between Sixth and Seventh is hidden behind the homes on the right.
Similar scene and time as the one directly above, although a little later. This scene also shows the nearly level topography on Cherry Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. The intersection of Sixth and Cherry shows above the center of the photograph. The dip between Sixth and Seventh is hidden behind the homes on the right. The McNaught mansion appears again this side and to the left of Central School on the right.

4 thoughts on “Seattle Now & Then: 6th and Marion”

  1. Regarding the May 1st article “Seattle Now & Then”, truly eye catching. Are there any pictures showing how they lowered the house or other like it?

    Thank you,

    Gary Saaris

  2. Thanks for the follow-up article! I especially love the photo showing the ped bridge on Cherry.

    I doubt it’s a coincidence, but the Muni Archives posted a couple of regrade-related photos to Flickr a couple weeks back. I finally ran across them and looked up their stories. Great quote from the owner of the Frances regarding Yesler Hill (knoll) in the second.

    Condemned building at 5th and Terrace, 1911

    Boarding house at 5th and Yesler, 1909

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