Seattle Now & Then: Monty's Stump

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: Ambrose Kiehl, the engineer who first surveyed and laid out Fort Lawton, survey’s the fort from the helpful prospect of a tall cedar stump. Behind him is the inlet between Shilshole and Salmon bays, circa 1898. (Photo courtesy University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections.)
NOW: Jean Sherrard photographed his repeat from the second floor of Monty West’s home on West Commodore Way. Before it was hauled away Monty’s stump was behind Jean in the back yard, up the hill and near the family swimming pool.

This Sunday afternoon, March 10, the Magnolia Historical Society celebrates its tenth anniversary with what it expects to be an “entertaining and informative” open meeting. Those who attend will reflect together on Magnolia’s history, sharing a heritage that includes this tall landmark stump.

Monica Wooton, the society’s engaging leader, professes that this record of engineer Ambrose Kiehl surveying Ft. Lawton from this unique prospect is her “favorite photograph” among the large collection of Kiehl’s negatives,

Society member Monty Holmes is confident that Kiehl’s sawyer-made platform was once his.  The alert 82-year old Magnolian was born and raised on the Magnolia side of the Chittenden Locks.  During the Great Depression, for ten cents a bottle young Monty sold fresh milk got from the family’s cows to the WPA (Works Progress Administration) workers who with shovels and wheelbarrows made a graded West Commodore Way out of what the locals still often chose to call West Cow Manure Way.

In 1984 Holmes moved to his new home on West Commodore and the tall charred cedar stump that came with it.  Seeing this scene published last fall in the historical society’s quarterly gave Holmes his eureka! moment. “Here I am overlooking the Shilshole Bay inlet and that stump struck me as the same!”  Holmes explained that in the end his stump was a mere “thread of itself held together by the net of Oregon Grape that covered it.”

Come if you can between 2 and 4 this afternoon to Our Lady of Fatima Parish at 3218 w. Barrett Street.  It is in Magnolia’s verdant Pleasant Valley, which was once a green pasture for the neighborhood’s dairy farms.  Monica will be there, of course, Monty will be there too, and Jean and I as well.  Among other subjects we will be reviewing Monty’s stump story.  He is quite confident about it all, but we still cannot resist the fun of a silly pun.  We are, we confess, for the moment stumped by the stump.


Anything to add, Paul?

Yes, Jean, much, much more, but you’ll have to click on Web Extras to get to it.


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