Seattle Now & Then: Lewis Whittelsey's Survey

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: Looking north from Seneca Street on Third Avenue during its regrade in 1906.  (Photo by Lewis Whittelsey, Courtesy of Lawton Gowey)
THEN: Looking north from Seneca Street on Third Avenue during its regrade in 1906. (Photo by Lewis Whittelsey, Courtesy of Lawton Gowey)
NOW: With the reduction of Denny Hill west of 5th Avenue in 1911, 3rd Avenue was continued north through the new regrade.
NOW: With the reduction of Denny Hill west of 5th Avenue in 1911, 3rd Avenue was continued north through the new regrade. (Jean Sherrard)

Lewis Whittlesey, a clerk with the Seattle Water Department, visited the Third Avenue regrade in 1906 and took several photographs of its upheaval, including this one that looks north from Seneca Street. After graduating from Amherst College, Whittelsey joined a Rand and McNally expedition into Montana’s Bitterroot Mountains in the late 1890s. It was his first great adventure and last. Upon leaving the expedition, the young surveyor moved to Seattle and was hired by the city, which kept him until his retirement in 1940.

Trained in public works, the city clerk would have known the details of this street work. The parallel timber forms leading up the center of Third probably have to do with the eventual path of the trolley on Third. The stacked bricks to the side are most likely for paving.

With his wife, Delia, Lewis was an active Congregationalist, and he may have chosen this prospect to record the impressive brick pile of Plymouth Congregational Church on the northeast corner of Third and University. Farther on, the sandstone columns of the new federal post office were still a work-in-progress in 1906 and would be for two years more. In the distance, and blocking Third Avenue, the ruins of the Washington Hotel tentatively held on atop the southern summit of Denny Hill. The hotel had its closing ball on May 7. By the end of the year it was razed, and the hill followed.

Within a year of his retirement, Lewis Whittelsey died at the age of 71. His wife donated much of his library to Everett Junior College when she learned of its need for books. She also made a gift of her own book of poems, “Thoughts by the Way.”

Anything to add, Paul?   YES Jean – three groups of photographs for three 3rd Ave. locations related to the above now-then.

POST OFFICE – SOUTHEAST CORNER of 3rd and Union.

Looking south on 3rd Avenue from Union Street in 1902.  Third north of Universithy and much of Union Street too has been gated for that summer's Elks Carnival.   Part of Plymouth Congregational Church is evident upper-left at University Street.
Looking south on 3rd Avenue from Union Street in 1902. Third north of University and much of Union Street too has been gated for that summer's Elks Carnival. Part of Plymouth Congregational Church is evident upper-left at University Street.
This image is new to me.  It surely is the southeast corner of Union and 3rd, but is it also another scene from the 1902 Elks Carnival.  I suspect it is, but have yet to convince myself.   Part of Plymouth Church is on the far right and part of the old Armory is on the left.
This image is new to me. It surely is the southeast corner of Union and 3rd, but is it also another scene from the 1902 Elks Carnival. I suspect it is, but have yet to convince myself. Part of Plymouth Church is on the far right and part of the old Armory is on the left.
The future Post Office corner has been cleared for construction of - the Post Office.  Date is ca. 1904.  Note the Univesity of Washington up on its Denny Knoll (not hill): the first campus.  Again, the congregationalist and the assorted rifles are right and left respectively  Courtesy Lawton Gowey.
The future Post Office corner has been cleared for construction of - the Post Office. Date is ca. 1904. Note the University of Washington up on its Denny Knoll (not hill): the first campus. Again, the congregationalist and the assorted rifles are right and left respectively Courtesy Lawton Gowey.
Post Office under construction.  Plymouth Church top-center.
Post Office under construction. Plymouth Church top-center.
The Post Office when new, ca. 1909.  View looks southeast with Union Street on the left and Third Ave. on the right.
The Post Office when new, ca. 1909. View looks southeast with Union Street on the left and Third Ave. on the right.
The "modern" class curtain post office.  I do not remember when I took this snapshot but estimate about ten years ago.
The "modern" glass curtain post office. I do not remember when I took this snapshot but estimate about ten years ago.
This arrived today, May 18,2010, from Matt the Journeyman showing, he explailns "last year's facelift" to the old straight ahead modern glass curtain P.O. from the 1950s. Thanks much Matt. Readers should know that Matt has his own blog. He writes "Kind of you to post my blog address, though not necessary at all. If you like, the blog name is "Just Wondering" on WordPress but there are a million Just Wondering blogs so the best approach is the URL: http://bythedarkofthemoon.wordpress.com and if you would rather direct them specifically to my post about Third Avenue (since I write a lot about family and other topics, too) you could direct them here: http://bythedarkofthemoon.wordpress.com/2009/11/21/the-return-of-third-avenue/

THIRD AVENUE LOOKING SOUTH FROM PIKE STREET

My unattributed caption reads "Third Avenue looking south from Pike Street, ca. 1898.  The landmark Plymouth Church is in the picture but no Post Office yet a block away.
My unattributed caption reads "Third Avenue looking south from Pike Street, ca. 1898." The landmark Plymouth Church is in the picture but no Post Office yet a block away.
Same block as the above but now the Post Office is in place a block to the south.  The sign on the trolley for the Alaska Yukon and Pacific Exposition guarantees us the year: 1909.  Remember we celebrated its centennial last year.
Same block as the above but now the Post Office is in place one block to the south. The sign on the trolley for the Alaska Yukon and Pacific Exposition guarantees us the year: 1909. Remember we celebrated its centennial last year.
My old friend, now long gone too, Lawton Gowey took this on August 3, 1967: the "Summer of Love."   It too looks south on Third through its intersection with Pike Street.
My old friend, now long gone too, Lawton Gowey took this on August 3, 1967: the "Summer of Love." It too looks south on Third through its intersection with Pike Street.

MORE CHANGES ON THIRD – LOOKING NORTH FROM NEAR SENECA

Note the distant Plymouth Congregational Church at University Street.  This is before the upheaval that began on 3rd in 1906.
Note the distant Plymouth Congregational Church at University Street. This is before the upheaval (directly below) that began on 3rd in 1906. Please note the three story clapboard with two bay windows facing third - on the right, in part behind the power pole. A later version of this structure will be shown below.
The Third Ave Regrade in 1907.  A partially razed Washington Hotel is on the horizon, and Plymouth Church escapes it.  The two-gables structure is on the rigth and to this side a new structure with a tiled front, which would suvive until the city's modern preparations for Century 21.
The Third Ave Regrade in 1907. A partially razed Washington Hotel is on the horizon, and Plymouth Church escapes it. The two-bay structure is on the right and to this side a new structure with a ceramic front, which would survive until the city's modern preparations for Century 21 demanded, we assume, a modern facade.
The same block east side between Spring and Seneca in the early 1950s.  Note that the two-bay-windows three story structure has somehow managed to hold on, but with a faux "war brick" siding.
The same block east side in the early 1950s. Note that the two-bay-window three story structure - now on the left - has somehow managed to hold on, but with a ersatz "war brick" siding. (Courtesy Lawton Gowey)
The Sparkman Realtors prepare their facade for one more in conformity with Century 21.  Date is June 28, 1961.  Another Lawton Gowey snapshot.  Bless him.
Sparkman and McClean prepare their facade in the spirit of and in conformity with Century 21. Date is June 28, 1961. Another Lawton Gowey snapshot. Bless Lawton.
And the modern consquences seen here in 1970.  Thankfully much else in the Central Business District was left along for the Worlds Fair.
And the modern consequences seen here in 1970. Thankfully much else in the Central Business District was left along for the Worlds Fair. This was also photographed by Lawton Gowey.

ANOTHER THIRD AVENUE – A DIFFERENT ONE

We conclude by getting off our own Third Avenue and visiting Vancouver, Washington's 3rd at Washington Street, circa 1942.
We conclude by getting off our own Third Avenue and visiting Vancouver, Washington's 3rd at Washington Street, 1942. Photo by Simmer

9 thoughts on “Seattle Now & Then: Lewis Whittelsey's Survey”

  1. I don’t have a comment for this photo but wondered if you had Paul Dorpat’s email address. I have some old Wallingford photos (Sunnyside street specifically) that I would like to email him.

    Thanks.

    Elaine Carpenter

  2. Jean,
    Thanks for this great then-now. How do you go about taking photos in the middle of downtown streets? Do you don a neon vest and set cones around yourself or do you just pause in the crosswalk.

    Paul, the picture that shows the old University on Denny Knoll is amazing. I’ve seen other, older photos that show it sitting there backed by tall firs in a landscape that seems really alien to my modern sense of place. This is one of those historic photos that ties together those older views and my current knowledge of the landscape. What a find!

    Thanks gents!

  3. Thanks Matt.
    I agree, the view of the old University seen through the keyhole of the big buildings in the foreground does give is a living context. And thanks Matt for sending you Snapshot of the most recent changes on the Post Office at 3rd and Union. I’m going to put it in the story itself in proper place following the one I took years ago – the one your’s “corrects.” And I’ll thank you again in the caption. Also I let anyone who reads this deep in dorpatsherrardlomont that you have a blog of related materials and print – next – a link to a relevant story. Here is comes. If this does not work please let me know what I have done wrong.

    http://bythedarkofthemoon.wordpress.com/2009/11/21/the-return-of-third-avenue/

  4. Paul,
    I’m going to get a big(ger) head with all you’ve done here. But the link works fine and I thank you for the shout out.

    In looking at the 1967 Gowey image above, I see a big KRESS sign opposite the Woolworth’s. This surprises me and intrigues me. As I described in the post you linked to on my blog, Kress is the name of the IGA grocery store that opened a year or so ago on that block, but I didn’t know that the Kress name was associated with this block earlier. Here it is bigger than life in 1967. What gives?

  5. I have never been to Seattle, so I am trying to piece together what I can from the internet. I have found a similar photo to the one you have of the post office in it`s completion. What is getting to me is that the building in the background looks like the Cobb building, but geographically I have to be wrong.

    Do you know anything of that corner building in the background?

  6. Ikah,
    Not sure whether you got an answer privately from Paul, but the post office is on the same block as the Cobb. PO is in the northwest quadrant, Cobb the southeast. I don’t know which photo you’re referring to, but the 1909 one above that shows the completed Post Office shows a building in the background (east, across fourth at the corner of Union) that looked very similar to the Cobb and occupied the block across the street from it, but that’s the White Building. I believe the Cobb and the White Bldg were created by the same folks at the same time as part of some design of the university’s, but I’m not sure. The White Bldg was razed in the early 70s to make way for the Rainier Plaza (“pedestal building”), but the Cobb is still there.

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