Seattle Now & Then: The Top of Queen Anne

(Click photos to enlarge)

THEN: Facing First Avenue North, north of Howe Street in 1889-90, these pioneer homes did not survive the wave of Seattle’s booming growth through the 1890s. They were soon replaced with the “better homes and gardens” that are still familiar on top of Queen Anne Hill.
NOW: Dorretta Reynolds’s descendants pose at the Northeast corner of Queen Anne Avenue and Howe Street with a fire hydrant, which one of the sisters explained is “The brother we never had.” Both views look to the northeast. (Jean Sherrard took the “now.”)

Through forty years now of looking at old photos of where we live – widely conceived – this is surely one of the best finds – except that I did not find it.  Rather Margo Ritter sent me a copy thinking that I might be interested.  And how!

Still I will compliment my intuitions.  Margo advised me that this subject was somewhere on top of Queen Anne Hill, and on studying the photo I soon imagined that the topography worked best when looking northeast from near Queen Anne Avenue and Howe Street.  With sleuthing help from Kim Turner* of the Queen Anne Historical Society, and historians Ron Edge and Greg Lange, that, as it developed, is where we posed Margo with her two sisters for the repeat.  Margo is on the right, Rhonde Rouleau, in the middle and Dorretta Prussing, on the left.

Dorretta is also a “repeat” from the “then” – although she and her sisters’ four or five year old grandmother is not easy to see.  Wearing the speck of a brilliant white skirt, right of center, is great-grandmother Julia Zauner, and sitting on the fence beside her in a white pinafore is her daughter Dorretta Reynolds.  Dorretta’s stepfather Sebastian Zauner, a sashmaker by trade, is with them, in black, and to the left of Julia.

Following Albert and Ed King (other specs in the photo) the Zauners were pathfinders to the top of Queen Anne Hill.  The grouping of these same homes can be found in the 1891 birdseye of Seattle.  There, like here, they are all alone at the end of the road to the summit of the hill.   This surely is the excitement of this photograph.  Here a mere 110 years ago is the first residential development near what would become the commercial heart of the unique “village” on top of Queen Anne Hill.

* A slide of Kim Turner leading a Mt. Pleasant Cemetery tour is included below with the feature on the I.W.W. graves there.

In this detail of the 1891 Seattle birdseye the homes shown above appear at the end of the road, and are circled - here only - with a red marker. Note the Jog near the center of the detail. That is at the intersection of Queen Anne Ave. (Temperance St. then) and Galer St.. North of Galer the road did not follow the present route of Queen Anne Ave. but jogged around that small head and then one block east to First Ave. N. or something that preceded it. We will attach below a larger detail - one which shows the entire Queen Anne Hill neighborhood and more. (Courtesy U.W. Special Collections for this one.)
All of Queen Anne Hill and Lake Union too and more are included in this detail from the greatest of all Seattle birdseye views, the one from 1891. (CLICK to ENLARGE - click TWICE to Enlarge the Enlargement AKA Superenlarge.)


What a lovely story, full of serendipities. Anything to add to it, Paul?

Yes Jean much to add, and time to do it, at least until I lay me down to what we now call our “Nighty Bears” after the leadership of William Burden, known here for other thoughts with his own linked blog Will’s Convivium, for which he recently revealed he is about to write again.   Some of what follows you know from your trek through this balmy sodden Saturday taking a variety of “repeats’ or “nows” for other Queen Anne subjects.  Some of this will land here this evening.  Some through the week.  For the most part we will stick to the hill, up its sides and to the top like what is on top.   First a confession.  For all our prideful intuitions mentioned in the copy above, and for all the help we got from the local experts, we were told later by Margo (see above) that the photograph had a caption on the back of it – a revealing one.   Here it is, and you will note that it names names, gives a date, and even an address!  All our playful research was confirmed long ago by someone in the family scribbling on the back of the photograph.

There were at least three other photographs taken that day by an unnamed photographer.  They follow.

The home here appears in the first photo to the far left of the row of houses that ran north-south. This one is at a right angle to that row. So this view looks northeast. And here again are, left to right, Albert and Ed King, Julia, her daughter Dorretta (whose father died), and Dorretta's stepfather Sebastian Zauner. Dorretta holds a long handle to a small chariot. Is it a toy, a tool, or both?
Julia and Sebastian with Dorretta with her doll. And here we first notice that Dorretta has had a change of clothes. This looks to the northwest.
Dorretta again with her doll.
Mother Daughter - Julia & Dorretta, 1899.
Dorretta was 16 when she married George Landon. They pose here for their wedding portrait. George and Dorretta are the grandparents of the three sisters posing in the "now" above with the fire hydrant.
The Zauners joined the King brothers in what is called the "Cove Addition" in this 1890 real estate map, which idealizes the then still rough hill and its unsettled top with the markings of dedicated streets, meaning they were declared but not necessarily made. The Zauners did not live for long on top of the hill, and soon moved into Belltown quarters.
Julia and Sebastian soon produced a brother for Dorretta. Here Spencer poses with his dad Sebastian and the family cow beside the family home at 6th and Bell, which was then, before the Denny Regreade, about 65 feet higher than it is now.
Julia show her admiration for the cow with the caress of one arm while holding a pale of milk - we presume - with the other. We suspect that we will learn more about Julia and her family later on.
Dorretta and George had six children. The two oldest, Anna, born in 1902, and Leona, born in 1904, pose here with their grandmother Julia Zauner in the yard of Julia and Sebastian's new home at 2610 First Avenue. The date is 1907. (Editorial note: Their grandmother is beautiful.)
Anna and Leone with there father, George Landon. The first two of the couple's six children died young. Anna at age 12 in 1915, and Leone at age 5 in 1910. The fourth child, Julia died also at age 5, in 1914. The three surviving children all had families: Robert born in 1906 died in 1966, Margaret born in 1911 and died in 1982. The last child Yvonne was born in 1913 and lived until 2006. She was the mother of, again, the three sisters posing above with the hydrant. Dorretta's half-brother Spencer, see posing above with his father Sebastian and the family cow, also died in 1914 at the age of 21.
Dorretta's oldest child Anna posses with her doll on First Ave. front lawn - or back yard - in 1907.
Two ducks - most likely residents - on the same lawn in 1907.
Two tots and one stump also on the lawn in 1907.
Dorretta Landon later

JOHN HAY SCHOOL:  The feature that follows  was first published in Pacific on August 14, 1988.  By now it features a few anachronisms.)

John Hay faces 4th Avenue West north of Newton Street. (Courtesy Lawton Gowey)
Life-long Queen Anne resident Lawton Gowey took this slide through the playground's fence with John Hay reflecting the afternoon sun on March 8, 1981.

In 1905, U.S. diplomat and statesman John Hay died. In Seattle, Rueben Jones, secretary of the school board, suggested Seattle name its new school on Queen Anne Hill after Hay. His widow agreed and sent along a portrait of her husband. John Hay School opened in 1905, and for decades the portrait of the school’s namesake diplomat welcomed the grade school students of east Queen Anne. Now 83 years later, the twin-towered landmark whose back window’s looked across Bigelow Avenue North and down to Lake Union is closed, its fate uncertain. (This feature first appeared in Pacific on Aug.14, 1988.)

School closures on Queen Anne Hill have become a common thing of late, first West Queen Anne in 1981 followed soon after by Queen Anne High.  Now John Hay is closing – or rather moving. John Hay’s faculty and students are relocating five blocks south to Luther Field, across Galer Street from the old Queen Anne High, where a brand new John Hay is being built. This move is not the fault of the old timbered school, which apparent1y is still sturdy, but rather of its 1922 brick addition along Boston Street. The school board has determined that the brick plant might not withstand a serious earthquake. This is ironic because the addition was originally constructed as far north as possible on the school’s lot because, it was thought, the wooden structure’s years were numbered. Now it appears the brick addition may be dragging down the old flexible frame landmark with it.

However, there may be a brief reprise. The new John Hay, which is scheduled to open this fall (1988), may not be ready. Consequently, the old John Hay, which held its last open house for students and alumni this spring, may have to open again. When the students do at last take their five-block walk, the portrait of John Hay will lead them.

Although the image wants for more clarity, John Hay school does escape the Queen Anne Hill horizon in this look across Lake Union from Capitol Hill. Note that Westlake along the western shore still requires a mix of pilings and fill to keep it in service. The scar that runs across the face of the hill marks the western side of Dexter Avenue. Aurora is far from being developed as a speedway in the early 1930s. Some work on Taylor Avenue shows its scars upper-left.
Another soft print, and another look at John Hay, this time from the Queen Anne water tower or standpipe. The view looks northeast, and may be compared to comes below.
In 1978 Queen Anne resident Lawton Gowey climbed to the top of the standpipe and took slides in most directions. This one looks northeast and, again, John Hay can be found in it.

THE BAGLEY HOME Now leaving the top of the hill for its distinquished southern side and a look down and across at the first mansion there: the towering home of Alice and Clarence Bagley.  (First published in Pacific Mag, 9/27/1998)

Clarence and Alice Bagley were the first family to build a big home on the south slope of Queen Anne hill. This view looks over the rooftop of the Bagley mansion, and the tower where Clarence loved to study. The resi­dence was built in 1885 at the northeast comer of Second Avenue North and Aloha Street on a lot given them by Alice’s widowed father, Tom Mercer. Mercer School appears just beyond the home. Capitol Hill is on the horizon and the southern end of Lake Union is barely visible on the left.

Clarence Bagley is perhaps the name most important to the historiography of Seattle and King County. He was only 9 in 1852 when the Bagleys, Hortons, Mercers (including Alice) and Shoudys came west by wagons over the Oregon Trail. When his family moved on from Salem, Ore., to Seattle in 1860, they were the first settlers to arrive here in a wagon.  Clarence walked ahead of the horse. Already scholarly, he was about to begin a life of study on Puget Sound that more than a half-century later would yield six big volumes of history in our pioneer canon.

Bagley learned the skills of journalist and job printer until he settled in as a public works bureaucrat. In 1900, he was appointed secretary to the Seattle Board of Public Works. All the while he was collecting.  He did it so well that when The Seattle Times lost a large portion of its back issues in a 1913 fire, he helped replace them. The University of Washington’s Northwest Collection is also well stocked with Bagley’s clips and other revealing ephemera.

All the Bagley children – four daughters and one son – were married in the family mansion. They regularly returned with their own children, especially for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. Alice died there May 10, 1926, and Clarence followed Feb. 26, 1932. He was 88. During most of the Depression the big house sat empty.  It was tom down in 1944.

This "repeat" was taken in closest possible rear window in 1998.
I've never found nor sumbled upon an satisfying portrait of the Bagley mansion. This one was copied from a processes print - in an old newspaper.
What replaced the Bagley home at the northeast corner of 2nd Ave. N. and Aloha Street.
Another look south over the shoulder of the Bagley mansion.

MERCER SCHOOL (First published in Pacific Mag. Aug. 28, 1988.)


In 1890, Seattle was a community in which most residents were newcomers.  Approaching 50,000 citizens, the city had grown ten fold in 10 years, and the shock that this immigrant flood had on public works and city services required some drastic solutions – especially in education. Four new schools were opened in Seattle in 1890:

T.T. Minor, named after a former mayor who died in a hunting accident the year before; Rainier, named after an English admiral who fought against the colonies in the War for Independence; Columbia, a name derived from the Italian explorer whose search for India led to discovery of a new continent; and Mercer School, shown here at the foot of Queen Anne Hill and named after Thomas Mercer, a respected elderly settler who lived nearby.

Perhaps the best indication of the community’s affection for Mercer was that after he sold the city the site for the school, they named it after him. Thomas Mercer was also an early director of the school district. Given his overall prominence, we might assume the man standing beside the cow in the foreground is Thomas Mercer himself: There is nothing about the figure that would contradict this speculation. (Included here – nearby – is a short feature on the Mercer home.)

Mercer School was packed its opening year with nine teachers and 456 students in seven grades in seven classrooms. At its peak the school enrolled 649 students. Relief came in 1902 when Warren School was opened at the present site-of the Seattle Coliseum and Mercer’s enrollment was almost halved to 361.  Mercer School closed in 1933, but occasionally was used after that as a training center for public school custodians. The building was razed and replaced with the Seattle Public Schools Administration Building in 1948.  More recently the northwest corner of 4th and Valley has been filled with Merrill Gardens, another upscale retirement community.

Lawton Gowey's 1978 record of the Seattle School District Headquarters that took the place of the old Mercer School in 1948.

QUEEN ANNE’S SOUTH FACE (First published  Nov. 26, 1989 in Pacific Mag.)


This mid-1890s view looking north from lower Queen Anne to the Queen Anne Hill horizon was copied from an old album in the Museum of History and Industry library. The scene was recorded from David and Louisa Denny’s home site, between Queen Anne Avenue on the left and the right-of-way for the as-yet ungraded First Avenue North on the right. Mercer Street is screened behind the Dennys’ fence, which transects the scene. The prominent duplex just right of center sits at the contemporary site of Easy Street Records, formerly the home of Tower Books.

Most evident is the swampy condition of the land at the foot of Queen Anne Hill. In the foreground the Dennys have done some clearing, grading and landscaping for a few fruit trees, but across Mercer Street the thicket between the duplex and Queen Anne Avenue is still dense and rooted in a bog. Now the hill’s clear-cut horizon has been replanted with a deciduous forest, which shades a neighborhood of generally low-profile homes and apartments.

Another of Lawton Gowey's 1978 photographic expedition through his own neighborhood.

BOBTAILS to LOWER QUEEN ANNE (This first appeared in the May 3, 1992 Seattle Times Pacific Magazine.)

This recording of Seattle horse trolley nears its lower Queen Anne terminus was shared with my by Lawton Gowey.  Lawton knew the history of Seattle transportation as well as anyone and his photo collection on the subject was most impressive.

Lawton was life-long Queen Anne resident and for years finance director for the Seattle Water Department.  He began his study of Seattle’s trolleys as a teenager. Gowey wrote on the back of the photo: “View apparently taken on what was later 1st Ave. West, between Mercer & Roy Streets. Shows a horse car still in service although overhead had been installed for electric operation.”

Frank Osgood’s Seattle Street Railway began running up Second Avenue Sept.

23, 1884. By the end of the year the system included three miles of track, four cars and 20 horses. Because of Seattle’s steep grades, Osgood was forced to use teams of horses. By the end of the following year the company’s service was extended to Lower Queen Anne, where we “apparently” see it here.

On March 30, 1889, the Seattle Electric Railway began service on the old horse-drawn tramline. A few horse cars continued to operate until April 5. This indicates that this view was likely photographed on a sunny spring day in 1889.

The last evidence of rail transportation nearby on Second Ave. West. (Not First) Preparations are made for tearing up the tracks, ca. 1941. Chandler Hall (apartments) are at the center.

ST. ANNE’S (First appeared in Pacific Mag on Nov. 26, 1995)

Click to Enlarge

The Spanish Mission that Queen Anne Catholics chose for their first parish atop the hill was an exotic landmark among the neighborhood’s clapboards. The rains that swept across the face of the hill soon penetrated its stucco skin. Even in this view, photographed within a few years of the church’s 1908 dedication, the weather’s marks are taking shape on the facade.

The dedication in 1923 of a school behind the church was an addition expected of most prospering parishes. Of course, the new school required a convent for the sisters who taught there. During the school’s construction there arrived from Limerick County what the church’s thumbnail history described as “the handsome Irish priest.” This event was especially fortunate for the new school, for it quickly became the young Father Thomas Quain’s primary interest. Marcelli Hickman, a St. Anne’s parishioner since the mid 1930s, remembers the persuasive Quain’s promotions.

Once the priest announced from his pulpit that he was about to descend to take up a collection for new baseball uniforms and did not want to hear any jingling, only rustling, as he passed the plate.

By the time of Father Quain’s arrival the church was practically a ruin. In 1926 it was rebuilt inside and out and the crumbling stucco was covered with shingles. The congregation grew so that in 1946 the parish converted the basement hall into a second chapel and two 11 o’clock morning Masses were run concurrently, upstairs and down.

When he died in 1959, Father Quain had been at St. Anne’s’ for 37 years. On Dec. 24, he was laid in state in the church’s chancel, surrounded by candles and hundreds of parishioners; many baptized, confirmed and married by this priest. Within four years the congregation moved into its new sanctuary across Lee Street, and the old parish site was cleared to expand the school playground.

THE WOBBLIES in MOUNT PLEASANT CEMETERY (First published in Pacific for June 22, 1997)

Courtesy University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections
The McClure Middle School students posing in the "now" photo beside the three IWW members' single gravestone were taking part in the Queen Anne Historical Society's May 8 (1997) tour of the cemetery led by members of the Queen Anne Historical Society.

This portrait of Industrial Workers of The World members – Wobblies – is either of mourners or celebrants. John Looney, Felix Baran and Hugo Gerlot were among five IWW members killed aboard the “mosquito fleet” steamer Verona as it met a hail of bullets fired by members of the Everett Improvement Club in an event known since as “the Everett Massacre.”

We might expect this to be a scene at the interment of the three at Mount Pleasant Cemetery on Seattle’s Queen Anne Hill after the Nov. 5, 1916, mayhem on the Everett waterfront. However, this may rather be a moment in the 1917 May Day parade when, after several thousand Wobblies and supporters marched from union headquarters in the Pioneer Square district north on Second Avenue and up Queen Anne Hill to the grave site, they marched back again to the county jail. Surrounding it they sang, with the IWW prisoners inside, the songs of Joe Hill, another Wobblies martyr.

Four days later all 74 accused “Verona men” were released after their acquittal in the deaths of two Everett “improvers” the previous fall.

Among the hundreds buried at Mount Pleasant are pioneers William and Sarah Bell, Mayor George Cotterill, Elisabeth Cooper~Levi, founder of the Jewish Benevolent Society; Bertha Pitts­Campbell, founder of the nation’s first black sorority; Sam Smith, longtime Seattle city councilman; and the unclaimed bodies from the 1910 Wellington train dis­aster on Stevens Pass.

The McClure Middle School students posing in the “now” photo beside the three IWW members’ single gravestone were taking part in the Queen Anne Historical Society’s May 8 (1997) tour of the cemetery, which included the reading by students of a poem by Filipino-American poet Carlos Bulosan, who is also buried there. Eighty years and seven days earlier, as part of that May Day parade, a portion of the ashes of another poet, Joe Hill, was also interred at Mount Pleasant while union members sang his songs.

Everett Massacre victims shot while on board the Verona.

Kim Turner, tour leader for the Queen Anne Historial Society, pauses for only a partial repose in the Mt. Pleasant Cemetery on Seattle's Queen Anne Hill.

CLICK TO ENLARGE the 1912 Baist Real Estate Map detail of the Mt. Pleasant Cemetery.

WEST QUEEN ANNE PRIMARY SCHOOL (First printed in Pacific, 6/5/1988)

West Queen Anne School looking northwest from Lee Street and 5th Ave. West.

It is gratifying that no distressing differences exist between this week’s “now” and “then” photos of West Queen Anne School. The survival of this Romanesque landmark is one of Seattle’s better preservation victories. (This appeared first in Pacific’s June 5, 1988 issue.  Since then the “now” negative has been filed in a keeping so safe I cannot find it, Jean’s more timely “now” – taken yesterday Oct. 9, 2010 – proves the preservation point just as well – or better.)

After construction in 1896, the school’s dark red brick made it more of a silhouette than a reflecting surface. This solidity was emphasized first in 1900, when the larger and contrasting light brick high school was built on Queen Anne’s eastern summit, and again in 1916 when West Queen Anne’s wide southern wing was added. The school’s southern wing is the one big difference in this comparison.

The older photo was shot sometime after 1902, when a four-room addition gave the structure its symmetrical appeal. Although the 1916 addition upsets this U-shaped balance, its design and brick and stone detailing are faithful to the original. It was a prudent addition, for by 1918 West Queen Anne enrolled 643 students. This was the height of the neighborhood’s fecundity. A slow decline in the birth rate followed, and enrollment steadily declined until, in 1981, the doors were closed for good. Happily, they were opened again in 1984 to 49 living units.

The conversion from classrooms to condominiums was the consequence of cooperation between the Seattle School District, the Historic Seattle Preservation and Development Authority and a private developing group known as West Queen Anne Associates.

West Queen Anne School when it was nearly new, an imposing interruption on the Queen Anne skyline noticeable from Beacon Hill.
ANOTHER detail from the 1912 Baist Real Estate Map, this one showing the location of West Queen Anne School, St. Anne's Catholic Church, the Fire Station, and much else. We plan to soon put up the entire 1912 Baist Map in its 34 pages and also illustrate them - through time - with clickable dots revealing photographs, clippings and such.

(DOUBLE-CLICK all that follows to find the Old Scratches in the DETAILS)

West Queen Anne School and much else seen in Lawton Gowey's 1978 recording from the old and since razed standpipe.
Here Lawton has turned his lens to the northwest to repeat the historical photo shown below. This too dates from 1978.
The print for this look to the northwest from the Queen Anne standpipe gives it a 1911 date. Note the intersection of Galer St. and Queen Anne Ave. at the bottom.
Continuing Lawton Gowey's 1978 top-of-the-hill survey from the Standpipe. This looks north-northwest.
Lawton Gowey's 1978 look north from the Queen Anne standpipe.

The McGRAW STREET BRIDGE Under the 1916 SNOW (This first appeared in Pacific on March 11, 2001.)

The 2001 "Now" for this Big Snow of 1916 recording of the McGraw Street Bridge has gone temporarily missing as have so many other slides, negatives, prints, clips, all of them still confidently within twenty feet from my shoulders - somewhere.

Early in February 1916, Elizabeth Utke Jorgensen climbed the stairs to the second floor of her and her husband Carl’s home on Nob Hill Avenue and took this photograph of the McGraw Street Bridge. The timber trestle crossing the Third Avenue North ravine was a temporary link in the Queen Anne Boulevard that hill residents promoted and helped pay for during its construction between 1911 and this, the year of the “Big Snow” of 1916.

More than 60 feet deep, the ravine is a unique feature on the hill, and the Queen Anne Historical Society’s published history “Queen Anne Community on the Hill” includes a good description of both its ice-age geology and public-works history.

One of the first women to graduate from the University of Copenhagen, Elizabeth Utke immigrated in the early 1890s to the United States, where she found her degrees in logic and mathematics useless. Pursuing two of the few occupations open to her, she attended secretary school while earning her way as a seam­stress with a knack for “fancy work.” She married Carl Jorgensen, a Norwegian sea captain, and the couple toured the West Coast before winding up in Nome, Alaska, during the gold rush in the early 20th century.

In Alaska Elizabeth designed and built shallow draft landing craft that she and her husband operated in a prosperous lighterage (barge) business, moving miners and supplies between the ships they arrived on and the shallow shoreline of Nome. After returning to Seattle and constructing their home overlooking the ravine, the couple raised a family while Elizabeth continued to practice her skills in photography, sewing and watercolors. Margaret DeLacy has cherished examples -including this snow scene -of her grandmother’s work in all three media.

The contemporary photograph, (missing for the moment), was recorded from the rear window of the Queen Anne Hill home where 75 years earlier Elizabeth Jorgensen photographed a timber-trestle McGraw Street Bridge, above. The 1936 concrete arched bridge that replaced it is now barely visible (indeed) through the branches of the trees that more than fill the Third Avenue North ravine below the bridge.

NOTE: More Queen Anne Hill related features will appear as Queen Anne Addendums through the coming week. (We still have to uncover some of the imagery.)

3 thoughts on “Seattle Now & Then: The Top of Queen Anne”

  1. Love the photo of Julia and her cow. It reminds me of a very similar photo I shot in rural Ethiopia some years back of a woman who was delighted that her cow could be included in the picture. She draped her arm around the beast just as your Julia does.

  2. Chris – our webmaster – howz about e-mailing that pix to us and we will put it near Julia with your explanation?

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