Seattle Now & Then: Lowman and Hanford

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: For more than half a century Lowman and Hanford was an active printing business in the Pioneer Square neighborhood. This view looks southeast through the intersection of First Avenue and Cherry Street, on the left, to the building row still standing along the eastern edge of Pioneer Place – or Square. (Courtesy Michael Cerelli)
NOW: The Lowman Building at the southeast corner of Cherry and First was completed in 1906. It was recently remodeled inside for low and middle-income housing offering, the ads say, “all the charm of years gone by, updated with amenities for today.”

Aside from the pyramid tower that originally topped the Pioneer Building  (Far right, it was pioneer Henry Yesler’s last contribution to Pioneer Place or Square), everything has survived between this “then” and this “now.”   (As a precaution the tower was removed following the city’s 1949 earthquake.) The historical photo was recorded sometime between 1902 when the top three floors of the slender Lowman and Hanford Building – here covered with signs at the scene’s center – were added to it’s seventh story, and 1905 when the temporary wood structures at the southeast corner of First Ave. and Cherry Street were razed for the construction of the Lowman Building, the dominant structure in Jean’s Sherrard’s repeat.  Here we will insert a front-on photograph also recorded sometime between 1902 and 1905.

The sensational part of the first of these two scenes is surely that signage, all of it promoting the principal commercial interests of James Lowman and Clarence Hanford.  The former arrived at his older cousin Henry Yesler’s invitation in 1877 and was directly made the assistance manager of Yesler’s Wharf. Within the decade he was managing Yesler’s affairs while also in business with pioneer Clarence Hanford running a joined job printing shop and stationary store that also sold books, pianos and such.

Plastering or painting the side of a brick building with signs is, of course, easier when there are no – or few – windows.   Clearly, when he added floors to his and his partner’s business address next door, James Lowman had his taller namesake building envisioned for the corner.  The signs would be short-lived and windows not needed.

(If you CLICK the “web extras” immediately below you will have opened to you four or five more historical features clustered around Cherry Street and supported with many more illustrations.)


4 thoughts on “Seattle Now & Then: Lowman and Hanford”

  1. I read the Sunday Times article with interest because my Uncle Ed Johnson drove one of the large cab-forward Ford delivery trucks for Lowman & Hanford in the 1930s, 1940’s, and 1950’s. Lowman & Hanford also supplied the Seattle Schools with desks, chairs, and other school supplies. (I had one of the adjustable desks with swivel seat).

  2. Bill
    Never did I have a swivel seat with adjustable desk in all my years of schooling. I did learn how to make a rigid chair and desk “adjustable” by slouching in my seat and lifting a leg – usually the left one – to the desk top. You might try this at the kitchen table – when the family is away.

  3. I have a Lowman and Hanford oak desk. It was my grandfathers and I am trying to find out if they manufactured it or someone manufactured it for them. It has a metal nameplate on it that says Lowman and Hanford Co Seattle. Does anyone have any information?

  4. I have the same desk, or at least a large oak desk with the name plate Lowman & Hanford Co Seattle on the front under the middle drawer. Mine looks a lot like a large teachers desk, but nicer. Solid wood/oak. I am curious what it is worth, if anything.

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