Seattle Now & Then: 3rd and Pine 1917

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: Where last week the old Washington Hotel looked down from the top of Denny Hill to the 3rd Ave. and Pine St. intersection, on the left, here the New Washington Hotel, left of center and one block west of the razed hotel, towers over the still new Denny Regrade neighborhood in 1917. (Historical photo courtesy of Ron Edge)
THEN: Where last week the old Washington Hotel looked down from the top of Denny Hill to the 3rd Ave. and Pine St. intersection, on the left, here the New Washington Hotel, left of center and one block west of the razed hotel, towers over the still new Denny Regrade neighborhood in 1917. (Historical photo courtesy of Ron Edge)
NOW: Using his extension pole, Jean Sherrard took care to show the Securities Building at Third and Stewart by moving his prospect a few feet closer to Third Avenue then the position taken by the historical photographer. In the “then” the top three stories of the Securities Building show, upper-right, above Fire Station #2.

First introduced last Sunday as a ca. 1905 subject, here is 3rd Avenue and Pine Street a dozen years later on Jan. 23, 1917.   Ron Edge, who found the photograph, also uncovered its occasion by using his Seattle Public Library card and searching The Seattle Times on-line.

Ron determined that this is the first stop on a long funeral cortege that carried the body of fire Chief Fred Gilham from the department’s Headquarters, then at 3rd Ave. S. and Main, to the Chief’s assigned Station #2 facing Pine here at Third.  The white hearse, here uncannily lit by the winter sun, next led a brass band (you can see the horns across Third Ave. on the left) and long lines of uniformed “fire fighters from eight cities in two states,” The Times reported, to First Presbyterian Church for the funeral service.  From there the hundreds of mourners went on to Lake View Cemetery for the interment.

Nearly twenty-five years with the department, Gilham died from effects of a Saturday morning fire that three days earlier crashed the roof of the Grand Theatre on Cherry Street.  Attempting to reach the cries of his men – all of them survived – Gilham became lost in the smoke and fell from a balcony to the theatre floor.

Fred Gilham’s brick Station #2 on the right (of the top photo) replaced a wooden one in 1906. (More on this below.) In 1921 the station moved to its then new quarters at 4th and Battery, and this two-story brick corner was arranged for sales including the United Auto Stage Terminal on 3rd, the Fashion Bootery, and the Smart Shop Ladies Apparel, “we give credit.”   The Bon Marche (in the “now” as Macy’s) replaced the shops and the entire block in 1928-29.

For the Oct. 14, 1900 opening of "Whose Baby Are You?" Pioneer photographer Peiser recorded the Seattle Grand Opera House interior from the stage with a great flash!


Anything to add, Paul?

Yes Jean I have collected a few subjects and as early morning fortitude allows I’ll put them up.  (I mean, I may have to finish it much later this morning and after breakfast.)

First an advertisement for the Seattle Opera House.  It is not dated.  The poor lighting hints that it was copied at a window.  The tableau – I presume – of the Harlem Railroad Bridge tragedy might have used the high ceiling of the theatre’s stage to create the effect . . . unless I am corrected by someone with better understanding of theatre mechanics.

Next a variety of subjects from the neighborhood.

A "now" for this, when it is found, will look directly into the east facade of the Bon Marche facing 4th Avenue. Courtesy Louise Lovely


The looming presence of the Denny Hotel, looking down on the city from its prospect atop Denny Hill, was a sublime delight mixed with nervousness. Soon after its construction this Victorian showpiece became increasingly more of a specter than a hotel. Planned before the city’s Great Fire of 1889, the Denny was built in the first two years after the fire. Squabbling among its developers – which included city father Arthur Denny – kept the imposing landmark closed and unfurnished.

The sudden crash of the 1893 economic panic kept the doors shut for another 10 years. It took Teddy Roosevelt to unbar them during his brief visit to Seattle in May 1903. Seattle super-developer James Moore managed to both exorcise the dismal record of the hotel – he renamed the Washington Hotel – and fulfill its great promise almost instantly with one good night’s sleep for the president of the United States.

Moore’s hotel prospered through the summer. Consequently, rather than fight the city’s plan to cut into the Hotel’s landscape when it regraded Second Avenue north of Pine Street, Moore announced that he would cooperate and build a block-long-theater along the exposed east side of Second between Stewart and Virginia streets.

Moore’s plan for a blending of the hotel he had saved with a theater to memorialize him failed. Moore got his namesake theater (it survives at the southeast corner of Virginia Street and Second Avenue) but soon lost his hostelry when the razing of Denny Hill lowered the site of the “Scenic Hotel of the West” by about 100 feet between 1906 and 1907. With it went the grass, the Victorian terrace and the view.

The top scene is made especially pleasing by the inclusion of the row of nearly new terraced apartments at the southwest comer of Fourth Avenue and Stewart Street.



(First published in Pacific on Feb. 18, 1996.)

This view of the Washington·Hotel lobby was published mid-summer 1903, in an advertisement in the periodical Pacific Northwest. The caption reads, in part, “It is impossible to print more than a hint of the praise that has been spoken of the Washington of Seattle. Suffice it to say that within the two months after the date of the opening, May 16, 1903, the hotel was completely filled each day, and many who had not engaged rooms in advance were turned away.”

This is an architectural shot meant to reveal the glory of the place – the soft chairs, plush Persian carpets, stuffed elk and grand stairway. Most likely the photograph was taken before the hotel’s first patron, President Theodore Roosevelt, registered that spring during his tour of the West.

Planned in 1888, construction began on the Denny Hotel (its first name) in the summer of 1889. Through the same months many other buildings – including several new hotels – were also being raised below it, as the city rebuilt after its Great Fire of June 6 of that year.

Inflated building costs, rancor among the hotel’s promoters and the economic crash of 1893 combined to keep the Denny Hotel dark and empty. It loomed above the city for 13 years before Seattle’s greatest early-century promoter, James A. Moore, filled it with furniture and opened it as the Washington. Less then three years later he closed it, persuaded to allow the hotel’s destruction for the razing also of Denny Hill.

For comparison with the "old" Washington Hotel lobby, here is the lobby to the New Washington Hotel, which still stands at the northeast corner of 2nd Ave. and Stewart Streeet as the Josephimun.

Moore’s turreted hostelry looked south in line with Third Avenue, its lobby about mid-block between Stewart and Virginia Streets. The contemporary photograph (when I find it) looks west across Third Avenue and through the elevated former site of the landmark, at about the level of its ground floor. It was recorded from an open window on the ninth-floor stairwell of the Securities Building, about 90 feet above the regrade.



Fire Station #2 at its original location, the northeast corner of Third Ave. and Pine Street.


(First appeared in Pacific Feb. 11, 1996)

Seattle’s Fire Station #2, at the northeast corner of Third Avenue and Pine Street, was one of three fanciful frame and shingle stations quickly built after the Great Fire of June 6, 1889. It opened for Captain W. H. Clark’s Engine Company No. 2 on July 21, 1890, two weeks after Station No.3 opened on Main Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues South. Three months later Station No.4 completed the. triad at Fourth Avenue and Battery Street.

An early 1890s look east on Pine Street from near First Avenue with the Methodist Church on the right at the southeast corner of Pine and Third, and the Fire Station on the left. The photo is by LaRoche.

The city’s volunteer fire department was demoralized and disbanded by its failures during the ’89 destruction of the business district. Although many of these volunteers were soon hired as professionals by Gardner Kellogg, the city’s first paid fire chief, they resented the weight that insurance companies charges gave to their charged inadequacies, rather than to the failures of mechanics and water pressure in the city’s private water system. The new stations, new rigs and, of course, new uniforms helped some to dissipate these ill feelings.

A LaRoche recording of the city from the top of Denny Hill in the early 1890s. Both Fire Station #2 and the Methodist Church are held in the lower left corner.

The top portrait of Fire Station No.2 and its crew was probably photographed between the 1901 publication of the Seattle Fire Department Relief Association’s history of the department – the view does not appear in the book – and the 1903 lifting of the entire station one-half block east on Pine Street during that street’s regrade. The three women posing on the balcony above the steam fire engine, hose wagon and crew pose are probably wives of the fire fighters.

The new #2 at the northeast corner of 3rd and Pine.

By late 1906 a new brick station was built here and this short-lived frame creation beside it destroyed. Immediately the work of regrading Denny Hill began behind the new quarters. Station No. 2’s last move came in 1921 to its present location at Fourth Avenue and Battery Street, across from the original site of Station No.4, which in 1908 moved north to the future site of the Space Needle.

The new #2 with its teams posing at open doors.
After it was deserted for a new station at 4th and Battery, Fire Station #2 was refitted for shops.



(This caption also dates from Oct. 2, 2002.) Built in 1890, the Methodist Protestant Church at the southeast corner of Third Ave. and Pine St. was razed when it was still young for the 1913 construction of a commercial building.  There, under golden arches, countless cheap burgers have been sold.  Now the nonprofit Housing Resources Group (HGR) is replacing the upper floors of the Third and Pine Building with 65 unites of low-income housing and renaming it the Gilmore Building after John Gilmore, the retired president of the Downtown Seattle Association who helped found HRG in 1980.


(First appeared in Pacific, Oct. 20, 2002.)

The first two churches in Seattle were both Methodist, although one was Methodist Episcopalian and the other Methodist Protestant (MP). The Methodists had split in 1830 over how much power to give bishops. In 1865, when the Methodist Protestants of Seattle built their church, the primary difference between it and the other was not doctrine but color. The first church was white and the new MP sanctuary was painted brown. From then on they were known simply as the white and brown churches.

Looking from Denny Hill across the rear of the Methodist Church to First Hill.

Here, however, the brown church has lightened up. Actually, this is the third “permanent” home for the MP congregation. The original brown church at the northwest corner of Second Avenue and Madison Street was replaced in 1883 with an enlarged sanctuary. Its new stone veneer skin, however, did not save it from the “Great Fire” of 1889.

This is the parish that the congregation, after worshiping for a year in tents, built in 1890 at the southeast corner of Pine Street and Third Avenue.

Looking southeast from the roof of the New Washington Hotel to the razing of the Methodist sanctuary at Third and Pine. The Federal Hotel, bottom right, is the old Plummer Block that was moved to this position from its original location at the southeast corner of Third and Union - before the Post Office. Behind the church, additional stories are being added to the Northern Bank and Trust Co. Building at the northeast corner of 4th and Pike. It is now called the Seaboard Building.
Another and later look from the roof of the New Washington Hotel. The church has been replaced by a new and modest business block. The new Fire Staiton #2 is at the lower-left corner.

Clark Davis became pastor in 1885. He bought the lot and built this church for about $40,000.  Next door he raised a comfortable parsonage for himself, his wife Cleo and their two sons. The Gothic Revival sanctuary could seat 1,000 and often did. Clark was a “go-getter” and in 1896, after resigning his pastorate, he went for and won the jobs of registrar at the University of Washington and secretary to its Board of Regents.

The Methodist church is here busy with the Third Avenue Theatre, on the right. On the far side of Pine, Denny Hill is nearly razed - that part of it. The Third Ave. Regrade has added a story to the church-as-theatre and also to the frame hotel on the far left.

The Pine Street Regrade (1903-06) lowered this comer 10 feet and converted the church basement into its first floor. With regrades on Third Avenue and Denny Hill coming at them, the parishioners sold their comer for $100,000 and moved in 1906 to a new stone church on Capitol Hill. As soon as the Methodists moved out, the Third Avenue Theater moved in.




This curious look into the Denny Regrade peers north across Pine Street.  The photograph was recorded mid-block between 3rd and 4th Avenues probably in either late 1906 or early 1907.   The brick paving on Pine Street was laid soon after the street was lowered about twelve feet at 3rd Avenue. Completed in the Spring of 1905 the Pine Street regrade was prelude or practice for taking away the rest of the hill: the two humps of it north and south of Virginia Street.

The two regrade “inspectors” sitting on the planks to the right of the power pole are looking north into what little remains of the south hump.  Only a few months earlier Denny Hill had risen 100 feet higher than shown here and held above it the grand architectural pile of Gothic towers and wide porticos first named the Denny Hotel.  Because of its lordly prospect this landmark was publicized through its brief life as “The scenic hotel of the West.”

Another but more modest landmark missing from this hole is the old North School that opened in 1873 directly in front of the knees of the “inspectors.” The school closed in 1887 the year Fire Station #2 was built next to it to the west.   The arched doorway on the left is the eastern bay of Fire Station.  Some of the dirt taken from this part of the hill survives a little more than one block east beneath Nordstroms.  It fills what was the swap at 5th Avenue.

North School at Third and Pine before Fire Station #2.

The distant row of houses at the scene’s center is imminently doomed.  They face 4th Avenue from its east side directly north of Stewart Street.  The ornate structure with the small tower, right of center, has been moved temporarily from harms way to the east side of 4th Ave.  It was originally built on the west side of Fourth.

The narrow gauged railroad engine on the right of this early-20th Century Denny Regrade scene can be imagined as plowing into the Bon Marche’s window display near the corner of Pine Street and 4th Avenue – except that the Bon was built in the late 1920s, a quarter of a century after this week’s historical photograph was recorded.



(First appears in Pacific, Dec. 13, 1987)

In 1889 Edward Plummer, the 29-year-old son of the deceased Seattle pioneer Charles Plummert, used some of his inheritance to purchase the southeast comer of Third Avenue and Union Street from another pioneer, Sarah Denny. Plummer financed the $32,OOO asking price half in cash and half via mortgage. The site had formerly held John and Sarah Denny’s home.

After the Great Fire of 1889 accelerated the city’s spread north the opportunistic Plummer quickly erected an ornamental two-story frame lodging and commercial building and named it immodestly after himself. “The building was a gold mine.” the Post-Intelligencer observed later. “Plummer’s revenue is said to have been no less than $850 in rentals each month. By the time that turn-of-the-century description was printed,  the corner had been purchased as the site of a new combined federal post office, customs house and courthouse.

The government paid $174,750 for the corner but Plummer didn’t get a cent of it. The P-I noted that “like many other property owners who were caught in the crash that came in 1893, Plummer thought the golden stream would never stop flowing and used his income in speculation. One morning he woke up bankrupt. Plummer thereafter “earned his living by hard labor” the newspaper reported, working for the city’s water department as a coal passer and then a pick-and-shovel hand.

Plummer’s building, however, was saved by moving it up the center of Third Avenue to the southwest junction with Pine Street. Plummer’s name,  however, was stripped from its corner tower, and the building was renamed the Hotel Federal.

Hotel Federal at the southwest corner of Pine Street and Third Avenue before the Third Ave. Regrade.



Above: The southeast corner of Third and Union before the post office was built and after the Plummer Building was moved two blocks north up Third Avenue. Below: The dismal glass curtain Post Office below has had its skin modified – and improved – since this shot of it was taken a few years back.


(First appeared in Pacific, Sept. 15, 2002)

It is likely that the intended subject in this scene is its vacant lot. In 1901 the federal government paid Seattle clothier Julius Redelsheimer $174,000 for this comer. A year earlier he purchased it for a mere $60,000 from Sarah Denny, the widow of John Denny, the father of Seattle founders Arthur and David Denny.

Years earlier, this southeast comer of Third Avenue and Union Street was the home site of John and Sarah. After her husband’s death, Sarah sold the comer in 1889 to Edward Plummer, the son of another Seattle settler.  Plummer put up his Plummer’s Block, an ornate, two-story business block that brought him good rents until the “Panic of 1883” bankrupt first his renters and then Plummer himself.  His namesake cashcow then reverted to Sarah.  (This is recounted in the feature printed on top of this one.)

The government chose the comer, in part, because real-estate agents proclaimed: “Our site is perfectly level and will not have to be filled or excavated. More important still, it will not be affected by a regrade on Third Avenue.”  In this they were wrong. When the Third Avenue Regrade interrupted construction of the classical post office, the width and elevation of Third were changed sufficiently to require steps to ascend to the lobby from a narrow sidewalk.

Federal Building under construction. Plymouth Congregational Church at the northeast corner of Third and Univesity Street, shows right-of-center.

On one of the longest planning and construction schedules set for any local building, the job of building the Post Office ran from 1901 to 1909. By then the Armory, facing Union on the left, was replaced with a brick business block while Plymouth Congregational Church on the right was only two years from being replaced by Alexander Pantages’ namesake theater. Many locals will still remember the beau-arts post office and terra-cotta clad theater. The classical post office was replaced with an undistinguished glass-curtain one, and a parking garage long ago dislodged the theater.

The nearly new Post Office / Federal Bldg.




(First appeared in Pacific, May 10, 1998.)

Perhaps Washington State’s most prolific postcard photographer was a Marysville schoolteacher who was persuaded in 1926 to stop preparing for classes and instead purchase a photography studio in Arlington. J. Boyd Ellis might have dedicated himself to wedding work were he not convinced by an itinerate stationery salesman to make real photo postcards of streets, landmarks and picturesque scenes that the salesman would peddle statewide. Postcard collectors such as John Cooper, from whom this week’s scene was borrowed, are thankful. .

It’s fairly easy to date this home front street scene, which looks south on Seattle’s Third Avenue from Pine Street. Across the street and just beyond the very swank Grayson women’s apparel is Telenews, a World War II entertainment oddity that showed only newsreels. The marquee promises “50 World Events.” We can figure the date from the headline emblazoned there: “YANKS TAKE BIZERTE!”

On May 7, 1943, the North Africa campaign was all but over when Allied forces marched into Bizerte on the north coast of Tunisia. Five days later about a quarter million Axis soldiers capitulated.

Across Third Avenue at the Winter Garden – most of the marquee is visible at far right – James Cagney’s “Yankee Doodle Dandy” is playing. The vaudevillian George M. Cohan’s life story was one of the period’s great patriotic hits. It is likely that both the newsreels and the song-and-dance biography were well-attended. With war work running around the clock, many theaters, including the Winter Garden, never closed.

This is Ellis scene No. 1011; Cooper has more than 3,000 Ellis cards. For the collector Ellis is a great confounder, for he used some numbers more than once. Ellis’ son Clifford carried on his father’s recording into the 1970s. Cooper suggests that their most popular card shows a young Clifford riding a geoduck. That card is still for sale.



(First appear in Pacific, July 13, 2003.)

In 1979, the 59-year-old Winter Garden theater, on the west side of Third Avenue mid-block between Pike and Pine streets, was closed and remodeled for a Lerner’s store. A downtown branch of Aaron Brothers, an art-supply chain, is the most recent proprietor.

In the summer of 1920 one of the last remaining pioneer homes on Third Avenue was razed for construction of the Winter Garden. This mid-sized theater of 749 cushioned seats was made exclusively for movies – not vaudeville. The Winter Garden opened early in December, taking its name from a famous New York City theater, the successor of which staged the 15-year Broadway run of “Cats.”

The proprietor of Seattle’s Winter Garden, James Q. Clemmer, was the city’s first big purveyor of motion pictures. He got his start in 1907 with the Dream Theater where he mixed one-reelers with stage acts. Eventually, he either owned or managed many if not most of the big motion-picture theaters downtown.

Except for a few weeks in 1973 when the IRS closed it for nonpayment of payroll taxes, the Winter Garden stayed open at 1515 Third Ave. until 1979. In the end it was known simply as the Garden, a home for X-rated films where the house lights were never turned up. Here it is in 1932 showing a remake of a 1919 silent film, “The Miracle Man.”

In the late 1950s, when television cut into theater attendance, many of the downtown theaters, the Garden included, played B-movies in double and triple features. In 1962, an eleven-year-old Bill White would walk downtown from his home on Queen Anne Hill and spend the quarter his mother gave him for bus fair to watch movies in what he describes as “the dark comfort” of the Embassy, the Colonial and the Garden. White, whose mom thought he was at the YMCA, grew up to be an expert on films and a movie reviewer.



We have asked Bill White to let us print a dark – or flickering – confessional excerpt or two from “Cinema Penitentiary,” his early education in the motion picture theatres of Renton, first, and then Seattle.  And he has agreed.  Here’s Bill who was writing reviews regularly – both film and music – for the Post-Intelligencer before it cashed in.

Here are two excerpts from my movie house memoir, “Cinema Penitentiary.”   The manuscript runs 90,000 words and covers the years 1958-1981. These selections are from the early chapters, and are set in and around the Garden Theater.

At the corner of Third and Pike, I felt like a gnome caught between two giants. I peered through Kress’s glass doors, and saw a machine popping fresh popcorn in the center of a display featuring vertical glass tubing filled with marvelous candies.   Then I looked across the street to Woolworth’s and wondered if it too was like some imagined, idyllic theater lobby, filled with the smell of popcorn and the sweetness of a candy factory.  The crosswalk light changed, and I was carried further up Third Avenue in the current of Saturday afternoon’s shopping crowd.  Then I was in front of the theater. From the outside, The Garden seemed fancier than The Embassy, if only because of its larger marquee. Since I didn’t want to worry my mother by arriving home four hours late, I waited until the following Saturday to go inside.

The Garden was like the Roxy theater in Renton  in that it combined adult and family fare.  But instead of getting a preview of “Butterfield 8” before a Jerry Lewis movie, the Garden often double-billed the adult feature with a family movie.   After seeing “Peyton Place” and “Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison,” I walked up Pine Street to 4th Avenue and discovered The Colonial. It was smaller that the Garden, and also offered   double features for a quarter.

Since “Peyton Place” had been over twice the length of two horror movies, it was already getting close to the time my bus was scheduled to leave Second and Madison, so I shouldn’t have gone in, but I paid my quarter anyway, figuring that if I just watched one movie, I would be able to catch the next bus, and wouldn’t get into much trouble.

One of the things I noticed about the adults in these theaters was that they rarely arrived at the beginning of a movie.  They came and went as they pleased, so I did the same, coming into the middle of  “Battle Hymn,” which had Rock Hudson as an ex-bomber pilot who rescued over 1,000 people from an orphanage that was in the path of invading Chinese during the Korean War to atone for having killed 27 children in an accidental bombing of a German orphanage during World War Two.

At the Garden, I was no child among parent-like people, but one of the anonymous figures taking refuge in a movie theater. The woman who sold me the ticket never told me I was too young to see the features inside.  I paid my quarter, got my child’s ticket, and went inside where the secrets of the adult world were brought into the open where I could contemplate and try to understand them.

In the summer of 1962, I was learning more about my father from “Home From the Hill” than I had while playing center field for the little league team he used to coach.  He had put me in center field because I was a lousy ball player and did not have many opportunities to embarrass him way out beyond the batting capabilities of most of the kids. Once in a while I would fumble a pop fly, but there was always the sun to blame for my lack of hand to eye co-ordination. My inability to hit the ball was another issue, one that could not be so easily explained away.

“Don’t be afraid of the ball,” the coach would yell at his sissy son, like some French officer in charge of the firing squad telling the Spanish prisoners not to be afraid of the bullets. When I realized that I was just as likely to be hit by the ball by standing there dumb as by swinging the bat, my father’s estimation of my athletic abilities was fractionally heightened.  “Go out swinging, boy!” he would cry, seeing no shame in failure if the failure was the failure of action and not the result of passivity,

Unlike Robert Mitchum in “Home from the Hill,” my father had no bastard son to take on hunting trips.  He had no source of secret pride.  The only manhood he had was his own, and violence toward those weaker than he was the easiest expression of that manhood.  Maybe if my mom had also been a drunk, my father wouldn’t hit her so much,” I thought while watching “Days of Wine and Roses.”  Although the movie was about alcoholism, it didn’t have much to tell me about my dad’s drinking.  This drinking between a man and a woman created a different world from that of an alcoholic family man.

I did learn one thing from that movie, though.  I learned that when a serious movie was made about adult problems, it was usually shot in black and white.  The opposite was the case for movies about troubled adolescence.  Whereas the cheap JD movies came out in black and white, the important ones, like “Rebel Without a Cause” were in color.  I guessed this was a way of telling the audiences that, even though the movie was about bad kids, it wasn’t just for thrill-seeking teenagers, but for the contemplation of serious-minded adults.

Inane war movies like “Marines, Let’s Go” were in color, but the ones with ideas, like Phil Karlson’s “Hell to Eternity,” about how the attack on Pearl Harbor affected the friendship between a white kid and a Japanese-American family, were in black and white.  Musicals were almost always in color, as were Westerns.  “The Man who Shot Liberty Valance,” which I saw with my father in a South Dakota drive-in, was in black and white.  This bothered me. Years later, when I was reading books on Hollywood directors, I discovered that movie had bothered a lot of people, but for different reasons.  It was dismissed as an “indoor western,” which meant, I guessed, that it lacked the rock formations that distinguished many of John Ford’s Westerns. That didn’t bother me, though, because I saw it at an outdoor theater, surrounded by the black hills of Dakota.  I think it failed because   the adults did not consider it a serious enough Western to warrant its being filmed in black and white.



A few of the ornaments or details above have not survived into the below – like the two newsboys standing in the niches above the first floor.


(First appears in Pacific, June 4, 2006.)

In “CARL F. GOULD: A Life in Architecture and the Arts,” authors T. William Booth and William Wilson tell us that when the aesthete Gould took his eclectic talent into company with Charles Herbert Bebb, it was a splendid marriage.  The architect-engineer Bebb brought to the new partnership a portfolio stuffed with influential . political and commercial contacts.

Bebb also carried a number of projects from his former prosperous partnership with Lois Leonard Mendel. Among these was the “ensemble” of buildings at the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, the splendid Beaux Arts Times Square Building (a former home of The Seattle Times), and the less ambitious but still tasty Puget Sound News Co. building seen here on the west side of Second Avenue, second lot south of Virginia Street.

Gould and Bebb joined their complementing talents in 1914, the year Gould also founded the Department of Architecture at the University of Washington. The following year the university named Gould head of the department, and awarded Bebb and Gould the commission to plan the UW campus into the field of mostly Gothic landmarks we cherish today. With its Gothic ornaments, the terra cotta-faced Puget Sound News Co. building can be easily imagined on that campus.

Booth and Wilson put the construction date in 1915, though the tax records have it one year later. A tax assessor’s photo of 1937 includes the north facade, where we learn the nature of this “news” company. The company sign reads (without benefit of commas) “The Puget Sound News Co. Wholesale Booksellers News Dealers Stationers School Supplies Holiday Goods.” They might have added “Postcards,” for a quick internet search of the company name brings forth many examples of regional postcards for sale that were published early in the 20th century by the PSN Co.



(First appeared in Pacific, May, 12, 2002.)

Here is Belltown school, but when the photo was taken is uncertain. The draft of “Building for Learning, Seattle Public School Histories, 1862-2000” gives a “circa” date of 1880, and that will do. It is exactly halfway into the life of this sturdy but stuffed schoolhouse at the northwest corner of Vine Street and Third Avenue.

Belltown School was built during a bit of a boom in 1876. Austin Bell, namesake for it and the neighborhood, sold the comer property to the school district for $200, and for another $2,642 a local contractor named M. Keezer put up this two-story structure.

At Third and Vine, the new schoolhouse was only eight blocks north of North School, on Pine near Third. (A photograph for that is attached directly below.)  The psychological distance, however, was greater, for Denny Hill then still stood between them.

By 1882 all of Seattle’s public schools were overflowing. At a January mass meeting in Yesler’s Hall, “10 gentlemen and five ladies” were appointed to visit and describe the schools. At North School, teacher Miss Sandersen declared that for her 40 seats she had 74 students, and that if any more enrolled she would “commence hanging the little fellows on the hooks on the walls of the room.” The air at North School was so stale that the newspaper reporter who tagged along noted that more than one of the visitors left with a headache.

The investigating committee concluded that if changes were not made, the city’s schools would soon become a “disgrace and a stench in the nostrils of all public-spirited citizens.” The following year the 12-room Central School was opened at Sixth and Madison, and in 1884, after another multi-room school, Denny School, was built nearby at Fifth and Battery, Belltown School was closed.













Our Daily Sykes #409 – Collected Cartoons

A small collection of clipped cartoons figure in Horace Sykes collection of Kodachrome slides – at most a dozen.  Here are seven, which I have titled.  A title is a kind of second caption.  Two of these date from 1955, which is a year before Horace’s death.  I am old enough to remember all  these cartoon artists, although I could not name them – never could.  It is worth remembering when they were published.  But I’d not know what insights follow – easily.

Common Sense


Our Daily Sykes #408 – Approaching Storm (over the Snake) #2

This is revealing. I figured that this was probably the Snake River, but then it occurred to me that long ago near the beginning of these daily sykes I put up another storm over the snake - with #30 , I think. (Or near it.) What is revealing is how different they are. Some of the same landmarks are shown and they were photographed form the same prospect, but the earlier one shows more sky and this more earth - land that with this coloring and line resembles - somewhat - an animal. Between them the Kodachrome processing, and photoshop/scanning too, joined to "express" the volatility of this emulsion and color generally.

Seattle Now & Then: 3rd and Pine

(click to enlarge photos – sometimes click twice!)

THEN: The steps, left of center, and above the steps the one-block long counterbalanced trolley connect to the front door of the Washington Hotel at the top of Denny Hill. The unnamed photographer looks across Pine Street and north on Third Avenue. (Courtesy Lawton Gowey)
NOW: Since 1928/9 the Bon Marche – now Macy’s – has held the northeast corner of Third and Pine and much else. For nearly a quarter century previously it was home for Seattle Fire Station No. 2.

This week and next we will abide near the southeast corner of Pine Street and Third Avenue.  The two subjects are but twelve years apart, however, as you will see next week the difference is total.  An exception might be the curb showing here, in part, behind the man crossing Pine Street.  The shadowed hole to the right of the pedestrian was home for Seattle Fire Station No. 2 until 1903 when it was moved a half-block east to make room for a new brick station that will be revealed in next week’s “then.”

While not the earliest of the several regarding projects that cut into Denny Hill the Pine Street regrade was still early. It began in 1903 and continued into 1905 when it paused waiting for the earth movers to return in 1906 to begin carving away the south summit of the hill seen here with the Washington Hotel atop it.

I’ll pick late 1905 for this recording but it could be early the next year.  The classy closing party for the hotel was held on May 7, 1906, which was only three years after it first opened to its first guest, then Pres. Theodore Roosevelt.

On the occasion of the landmark’s last good-byes, one of the more influential characters in Seattle history, Judge Thomas Burke (of the museum, trail and monument) lamented to the press “It is a matter of the greatest regret that the Washington Hotel is to be taken down . . . It would have been much better to have saved Denny Hill and to have carried Third Ave under it, (with a proposed tunnel) thus . . . preserving the natural beauty that means to much to any city . . . The site would have been ideal for a park, or even for an art gallery.”

Next week a new corner.


Anything to add, Paul?

Yes Jean but less than planned.  I have made a blog blunder.   That is, I prepared extras for a different feature, one that comes around, it seems, in two weeks.   Still in a scramble I have tried to make a small redemption with a few things having to do with the hill and the hotel.  I am also a little shy about confessing what a horde of features I have written about that damn hill and hotel.   So here is only a pinch.  We’ll start with two looks at the counterbalance that took folks up the one block from Pine Street to the portico of the hotel.  We’ll follow that by grabbing an early feature that appeared in the first collection of the now-and-then contributions in 1984, “Seattle Now and Then, Vol. One.”  It is a pretty long feature on the Denny Hotel.  Again we will grab and half-illustrate it.  It was first written when I was still doing two pages in Pacific.   The joint operating agreement with the P-I put a stop to that – I think it was.

A close-up of Moore's counterbalance to his hotel, renamed Washington, from Denny, when he first opened it in 1903.
Both the hotel and its counterbalance mostly destroyed. On the right is the new fire station at the northeast corner of 3rd and Pine and still under construction.
The city as seen from the "scenic hotel," photographed by A. Wilse before the hotel opened or its counterbalance installed. Third Avenue is below and a part of the old frame fire station appears at the bottom left corner. A likely range of dates is 1898 to 1900. Courtesy Lawton Gowey.

The above first appeared in Pacific on May 29, 1983.  The “now” below was photographed this year (2011) for the pair’s part in our exhibit on “Repeat Photography” currently up at MOHAI until next June, 2012, when they take it down and leave the 1952 plant for their new one in the revamped naval armory at the south end of Lake Union.   (Historical picture courtesy of Murray Morgan)


For 16 years from 1890 to 1906, the Denny Hotel stood high above the city. From where it topped the front hump of Denny Hill, the Denny, renamed the Washington in 1903, nearly met the hotel’s huckstering attempts to exaggerate its glories.  And example: From this “largest and best equipped hotel in the Pacific Northwest,” one could have “one of the most beautiful views that can be found anywhere in the United States.”

For years Arthur Denny had reserved this six-acre double block atop his original donation claim for a state capitol. He called it “Capitol Hill.” However, in 1888 he was convinced by fellow patriarchs, Thomas Burke included, to abandon these political dreams for another stately speculation.

A clear-cut Denny Hill, on the left, as seem from Elliott Bay in the late 1880s. Here the hill is still without the hotel or much else. The front hump (or south summit) shows but not much of the back elevation.

As the local historian Thomas Prosch described it only a few years later: “It was thought that if a large, showy, modern house were built upon an eligible, commanding site, with spacious grounds and grand view, properly managed and with the money-making idea of secondary consideration, that tourists from all parts of the country would be attracted to it, and that the town would be greatly benefited thereby.”

Denny agreed that his most eligible hill would be the first asset of the Denny Hotel Company. And the plans were indeed lavish, inspired by something more like civic pride than a quick profit. The 200,000 locally subscribed dollars were for a hostelry with 100 more rooms than the competitive Tacoma’s prestigious Tacoma Hotel.

The Tacoma Hotel as seen from the Murray Morgan Bridge, although long before it was so renamed. Courtesy of Murray Morgan.
A steamer's stack hides the center portion of the Denny Hotel, when it was still a work-in-progress. Construction shots of the hotel are more than rare. This is the only one I've seen - I think. (Please show me more.) It was photographed by Haynes, the Norther Pacific Railroad's official photographer on his visit here in 1890.

The beginning of construction on the Denny was announced in the March 20th issue of the Weekly Intelligencer, only two-and-a-half months before the Great Fire of June 1889 would wipe out most of Seattle’s hotels. Ten years and ten days later, the March 30, 1899 issue of the P.I. still vainly promised that “within six weeks from today the building which bears the honored name of the pioneer founder of Seattle, will be completed to the original plans and ready for occupancy.” It actually would not open to its first guest, Teddy Roosevelt, for another four years. What happened?

The cost of building the Denny Hotel had more than doubled when the international crash of 1893 stopped the work and put all parties in the courts. While this litigation dragged on toward the twentieth century, the city was running wild with a population and building boom that by 1900 would completely surround Denny’s vacant hotel and make it the centerpiece of over 500 structures that covered his namesake hill. But for more than a decade only a solitary watchman lived in this nearly completed “castle” whose looming presence above the  city must have seemed haunted on moonlit nights.

There had been no “quick profits” with the Denny. Yet, after the developer James A. Moore took it over in 1903, spent over $100,000 repairing and appointing it, and renamed it the Washington, it became a paying hotel every day. (It is not recorded whether T. R., its first patron, paid for this inaugural slumber.)

The Denny Hotel fitted with opening-day bunting. Teddy Roosevelt's portrait hangs over the front door. Courtesy, University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections.

Moore set competitive rates with the “hotels downtown by the depots,” attracted special events and conventions to its larger halls, and proclaimed the clumsy but effective line, “a trip to Seattle without a stop at the Washington is no kind of a trip to brag of at all!”

But even before the spring day in 1903, when the Washington Hotel opened to its impressed guests, the regrade rhetoric was preparing for the “great work” of both closing the hotel and dropping the hill beneath it into the sea. Only when Moore was at last convinced that a “New Washington” highrise (today’s Josephinum) on lowland could make more coin than this grand hotel on the hill, did he surrender to the city engineers and their urge to flatten North Seattle into today’s Denny Regrade district.

Mr. and Mrs. Moore hosted the Old Washington’s last hurrah on Monday night May 7, 1906. The lobby and grand ballroom were draped with scotch broom, Easter lilies, ferns, palms, rhododendrons, roses, and carnations. Red tulips shaded the lights. Mrs. Moore was draped in cream silk, lace, and diamonds. Many more of the distinguished guests wore black lace, white chiffon and taffeta, yellow satin, and lots more diamonds.

Both one of the party guests and one of the hotel’s original investors, Judge Thomas Burke, on the hotel’s last day announced to the press: “It is a matter of the greatest regret that the Washington Hotel is to be taken down, and what used to be known as the Denny Hill is to be leveled . . . From a commercial point of view and certainly from an aesthetic one, it would have been much better to have saved Denny Hill by carrying Third Avenue under it, [with a proposed tunnel] thus obtaining the desired result while preserving the natural beauty that means so much to any city . . . If the city could have acquired the hotel, the site would have been ideal for a park, or even for an art gallery.”

This might sound familiar. (Footnote from 1984. “In 1983, when I first wrote this, I was thinking of the failed proposal for an art museum in Westlake Mall.  However, there is a long list of frustrated opportunities for preservation and innovative use of old and cherished resources – buildings and hills included. To think the City Hall might have been moved from its travel lodge into the Smith Tower.”)

This postcard is slightly misleading. While the center photo of the three the "same spot," it is also seen from the opposite direction.
The artist's vision of "the city on a hill" includes it's own hill, the pimple-like swelling on the far left. Otherwise it is all city-grid and most importantly those ships in Elliott Bay, the artist's real affections.
Heads up for the hotel in it last days intact. Courtesy Ron Edge
The Hotel is more than half razed, but a gleaming new Washington Annex holds the southeast corner of Stewart and 2nd Avenue - now a parking lot. The first steel members for the new Washington Hotel at the northeast corner of 2nd and Stewart are evident on the left.

Above: An early 20th-Century scene during the Second Avenue Regrade looking east into its intersection with Virginia Street.  A home is being moved from harm’s way.  The hotel on the hill behind it would not survive the regrade’s spoiling.  (Photo used courtesy of Ronald K. Edge) Below: The Moore Theatre at the southeast corner of Virginia St. and Second Avenue and, behind it to the right, the New Washington Hotel, replaced the hill here and the old hotel.  (Photo by Jean Sherrard.)


Like the next “now and then” comparison below, this one looks towards the front entrance of the Moore Theatre.  We may imagine this view also peeking into the lobby, or where its plush appointments would be admired about two years after this unique photograph was recorded.  It looks east through the intersection of Virginia Street and Second Avenue, during the razing of Denny Hill for the Denny Regrade.

Use Jean Sherrard’s “now” view to grab a sense of where the Moore marquee would later stand after the regarding on Second Avenue was completed and the theatre quickly constructed.  It would materialize to the far side of the steam-power excavator with the black roof, which stands right-of-center beyond the house-moving trestle.  This crude but workable timber skid temporarily crosses the curving tracks used for the regarding work of removing the hill, most of it into Elliott bay.

Of the scores of homes that covered Denny Hill few were saved.  This Italianate box being inched along the skids was one of the survivors.  The grand Victorian landmark looming behind it was not.  The Washington Hotel was one of the greater architectural losses in our still brief history.

Built in 1890 straddling Third Avenue on the front (south) hump of the hill, the hotel did not open until 1903 when James Moore – of the theatre – purchased it from its squabbling owners, and welcomed Theodore Roosevelt that spring as it first guest.  Moore’s first plans were to enlarge the hotel and put a roof garden on his promised theatre that would blend with the landscaping for the hotel.   About the time this photo was recorded in late 1905 or early 1906 he changed his mind, and allowed the hotel to be destroyed with the hill.

ABOVE: Steel beams clutter the center of a freshly regarded Second Avenue during the 1907 construction of the Moore Theatre.  The view looks north towards Virginia Street. Courtesy,  Lawton Gowey   BELOW: One hundred and one years later, the Moore is one of early-20th Century famed theatre architect Edwin W. Houghton’s few survivors.  (Pic by Jean Sherrard)


(First published in Pacific in 2008)

Last year (2007) with deserved fanfares and events, the Moore Theatre celebrated its centennial.  First imagined in 1903 by its namesake James Moore, Seattle’s super-developer at that time, the opening night curtain did not open until Dec. 28, 1907.  Many in the overflow crowd were devoted to live theatre, but then the dulling effects of television were still decades away although the delights of silent films were available.

The inaugural night’s VIPs, included Governor Albert E. Mead who from the stage gave a learned speech on the part played by history in theatre, for the Moore’s inaugural faire was an operetta, “The Alaskan.”  The scenario was taken from the book of the same name, written by Joseph Blethen who was also the librettist.  Since the author was the son of Seattle Times publisher Col. Alden J. Blethen, the family newspaper fittingly declined to review what was described in another newspaper as “the event of the season.”

This moment in the Moore’s construction was also recorded in 1907.  The theatre was built very quickly.   Moments before the doors opened to the happy crowd, workers were still installing their seats.

James Moore was another one to climb the stage to share some wit.  Once the thankful and admiring applause stopped — and here I borrow from Eric Flom’s historylink essay on the theatre — “Moore’s comments were brief and, quite literally, off-the-cuff.  ‘In anticipation I wrote out a very good speech.  I wrote it on my cuff and I laid out that cuff tonight to wear.  Mrs. Moore is a careful sort of woman and she discovered what she believed as a soiled cuff and took it away.  So I come before you speechless.’”

Now (that is, in 2003) but four years short of its centennial, the Moore Theater at Second Avenue and Virginia Street has run touring plays, vaudeville, opera, concert series, musicals, political rallies and lectures.  Beginning in 1935 it became the venue for impresario Cecilia Schultz, one of Seattle’s cultural treasures, and in 1976 the Seattle International Film Festival got its start here.


(First published in Pacific in 2003.)

When the Moore Theater opened in December of 1907 its namesake James Moore, then Seattle’s resident super-developer, claimed it was the third largest in the county.   Moore was himself both large and large-mannered.  When he died in a San Francisco hotel in 1929 this motivating maxim was found in his papers: “Make no little plans. They have not magic to stir men’s blood.  Make big plans.”

At the opening night performance of “The Alaskan” a packed crowd gave Moore a standing ovation.  Some were already standing for the audience was a few hundred more than the 2436 seat fire code capacity.    From every point on the floor one could see Moore, for the innovative balcony was supported by such hefty steel girders than none of the action or oratory on the widest and deepest stage in town was obscured by posts.

That was on the inside.  On the outside the Moore was restrained like we see it here looking north on 2nd Avenue towards Virginia Street.  This is still very early in the life of the theater.  Construction is not yet completed on most of the store fronts to either side of the also unfinished stone arch to the Moore Hotel.  Most likely it is the spring of 1908. “Coming Thro The Rye” a fine fair weather musical fabricated from the lines of the poet Robert Burns is advertised on the marquee.   (Burn’s ballad is now a popular selection for karaoke artists.)

A part of the old Denny Hill neighborhood is glimpsed on the far left across Virginia Street.  Moore first proposed his theater in the fall of 1903 when Seattle contractor C.J. Erickson started lowering Second Avenue to its present grade between Pine and Denny Streets.  Before this Second Avenue regrade the intersection at Virginia Street was in the valley between the south and north summits of Denny Hill.  It was described as the “saddle on a two-humped camel.”

After the road work the intersection at Virginia was the highest on Second — as it is now.  For those who wanted it lower, like city engineer R. H. Thomas, it was forever after the regrade’s stupid “terrestrial dunce cap.”  The intersection’s altitude was left as is to serve the theater because the megalomaniac Moore had won his argument with Thomson to keep it so. It was one of the few concessions that Thomson, whom The Seattle Times described in 1907 as one who could “bring the mayor of the city on his knees begging favors,” made in his nearly 20 years with the city.

Readers wishing to learn more about this landmark theater can consult  for the detailed essay on it by Eric L. Flom.

Above: Webster and Stevens, the studio responsible for recording these soldiers marching south on Second Avenue towards Stewart Street, describes the scene simply as “drafted men.”  The next photo in the studio’s numbered stock at the Museum of History and Industry is also a parade shot and it is dated September 20, 1917.  We may safely assume that this too is that parade.  (Courtesy Museum of History and Industry)  Below: A few of the most substantial structures survive from the 1917 parade scene into the contemporary street setting that also looks north on Second Avenue to Virginia Street.


By the fall of 1917 Seattle was well practiced in patriotic parading.  The first wartime parade for Prepardeness stuffed the central business district with flag wavers on June 10, 1916.  It required another nine months of Pres. Woodrow Wilson’s promoting the idea of joining a war to “save the world for democracy” before the periodic hoopla turned outright bellicose.  On April 3, 1917 congress was ready to back Wilson’s war plan and the following day uniformed sailors paraded the downtown sidewalks carrying signs reading, “We are recruits and have answered our country’s call.  Why don’t you?”

Also on the 4th, Seattle’s third daily, The Seattle Sun, got downright threatening.  Across the top of the front page it trumpeted, “Today, in this land of ours, there are only two classes of people.  One class consists of Americans.  These will stand solidly behind President Wilson.  All others are TRAITORS.”

Two days more and on April 6 congress voted 373 to 50 to fight Germany – or “the Hun” or “Kaiserism” or “Prussian savagery.”  That evening a “monster parade” was staged downtown.  Then after weeks of arguing for conscription the president got it on April 28 when the draft law passed.  Eight senators voted against it.  The Star tarred these with a shame list explaining that this war was, after all, “a fight made in behalf of all humanity.”

For its June 18 night parade the Red Cross asked merchants to “darken all electric signs” in order to “enhance the value of the spectacular features of the parade.”  The next big parade – this one from Sept. 20 — was called to exhibit Wilson’s new warriors.  And filling the force had been made easier in early July when the war department revised its policy about small men.  Thereafter one needed to stand shoeless at least 5’1” and weigh at least 110 lbs when stripped to shorts.   One recruit, a 21-year-old janitor at St. James Cathedral, ask for an exemption because he had earlier lost most of his trigger finger.  He was denied and told to use his middle finger.

The startling differences between this week’s now and then are the results of more than 110 years of development.   The older photograph looks northeast from a 4th Avenue prospect on Denny Hill. The contemporary scene was recorded in line with the old but from the top of the 4-story garage on the east side of Third Avenue.


When detailed panoramas like this rare look from Denny Hill to Capitol Hill are printed small we are left for the most part with describing impressions and larger features like the fresh grade of Denny Way, upper-right, where it begins to climb Capitol Hill.

The original print shares the photographer’s name, A.J.McDonald, on the border.  McDonald is listed only in the 1892-93 Corbett Seattle Directory.  Perhaps the economic panic of 1893 drove him back to California.   The California State Library preserves a large collection of his San Francisco subjects but only a few Seattle scenes survive in local collections.   Probably most of his Seattle subjects – maybe all -were taken during the photographer’s brief stay here.

The street on the right is Stewart, and its most evident part is the then still steep block between 8th and 9th Avenues.   The large box-shaped building at the northwest corner of 9th and Stewart is home for Hendrick Bresee’s Grocery.  He appears in the 1892-93 directory with McDonald.  Ten years later it was J. M. Ryan’s Grocery.  In 1910 the intersection was lowered fourteen feet.   One block west at 8th Avenue Stewart was also raised with fill, thereby creating the contemporary gentle grade between 8th and 9th appropriate for the Greyhound Bus Depot built there on south side of the street in 1927.

In 1892-93 Westlake Avenue between Pike Street and Denny Way is still 15 years in the future and Virginia Street, one block north of Stewart, has not yet been developed through the two steep blocks east of 8th Avenue.  Cascade School, one of the scene’s future landmarks opened in 1895.  But the scene is dappled with many residents.  All of them are relatively new, the creations of Seattle’s explosive growth in the early 1890s, including the Gothic steeple of the Norwegian Danish Baptist Church at the northeast corner of 6th Avenue and Virginia Street that appears at the border on the left.

Ten years before McDonald recorded this cityscape it was practically all forest.  A few stragglers stand above City Park (Volunteer Park since 1901) on the rim of the ridge that in 1900 James Moore, its primary developer, named Capitol Hill.   [For more on Capitol Hill history please consult]

Bert in Robert, Wisconsin gets a letter from  . . . whom?  Perhaps it is Eva.  And is that Eva posing with a dirt “spike” on the Denny Regrade behind her?   Eva – if it is she – lives in Hermiston, Oregon, and misses Bert, if we can believe her.   We cannot know what is wrong with Uncle Will.  The postcard “taken in Seattle last summer”  is a rare moment of candor, even if it is posed.   Most regrade shots are about the often dramatic public works with the human content incidental.  (Click to Enlarge)

Our Daily Sykes #403 – MESA VERDI with SHOE

Closer yet and yet not the same camp - it seems. Although similar, these details are different than the parts of the Square Tower that can be studied in #400 and #402. Here for the pleasure of your hide-and-seek there is a human foot (with shoe) to search for and easily find. And there are also many footsteps. Perhaps it is no longer permitted to walk around these ancient ruins. And yet there are neither taggings nor graffiti shown here. (Click to Enlarge)