(click to enlarge photos)
For this subject a photographer from the Webster and Stevens studio stood near the center of the intersection of Fourth and Seneca and aimed north on Fourth into an intended mess made by teams of sturdy horses. Beginning in 1861 this was the original University of Washington Campus on Denny Knoll.
Note both the small bluff on the left side of Fourth Avenue, and other and higher vestiges of the knoll hinted on the far right. The subject most likely dates from late 1907. Had the photographer chosen this prospect a few months earlier, he or she would have looked across the green lawn of the campus to the tall fluted columns of the impressive portico to the university’s principal building used then as the city library.
At the scene’s center the light Chuckanut sandstone Federal Building, aka the Post Office, is getting a roof for its 1908 opening. To its left the impressive spire of Plymouth Congregation Church (1891) points to heaven above Third and University, although the congregation was then anticipating a sale and looking three blocks east to their current location.
Far left and nearing completion the eight-story Eilers Music Building became home for one of the region’s biggest retailers for pianos and organs that also promoted itself as “Seattle’s Talking Machine Headquarters” selling Victor’s Victrolas, and Columbia’s Graphonolas. To this side of both the music makers and the Congregationalists is the subject’s oldest structure, the big home of Angus and Lizzie Mackintosh. (Lizzie was one of the immigrant “Mercer Girls” of 1866.) The prosperous couple took residence there in 1887. By 1907 they had retired to California for the weather and sold their mansion to Bonney and Watson Funeral Directors.
Anything to add, Paul?
Yes Jean – for the most a random sampler of the neighborhood. We have now packed this blog with enough stories that the reader who is interested in a subject suggestion by anything might find more with a key work search on the site. We will start, however, first on 4th a few blocks south at looking north up 4th from Yesler. (Whatever I cannot complete by “nighty bears”* time I’ll insert after breakfast.)
* Bill Burden holds all sleeping rights to the phrase “Nighty Bears,” which we expect will at some ineffable time begin to sweep thru our culture like the current much reported proliferation of bed bugs.
Both historical views – before the regrade and during it – and the contemporary too, look north from where Terrace Street joins Yesler Way. In the “now” view (below) the King County Courthouse is on the left and the familiar waffle iron windows of the county’s administrative building can be glimpsed behind the tree on the right. (Historical photo courtesy Lawton Gowey.)
FOURTH AVENUE UPHEAVAL
Under the headline “Many Evidences of Progress,” The Sunday Times of Nov. 22, 1908 reported that the completion of the Fourth Avenue regrade “comes doubtless something of a surprise to many who did not realized the progress that has been made.” Looking at the evidence of this photograph that looks north on Fourth from the Terrace Street overpass two days earlier we may also be surprised.
But we shouldn’t be. While the new street is not yet completed the lowering of it to a new grade has been. Within a year all of the structures — save for the middle one of five on the right — would be destroyed including the historic Turner Hall on the left. Built in 1886 it survived the city’s Great Fire of 1889 to be renamed the Seattle Opera House, although its standard faire was not Mozart or Verdi but minstrel shows. (Note: on the Friday night this photograph was shot Maud Powell, America’s greatest violinist of the time, played Ernst’s ‘Fantasia’ on airs from Verdi’s Othello to more than 1000 packed into the U.W.’s then new gymnasium.)
Also in the Sunday Times just noted, Henry Broderick, then the most quotable of local real estate agents, shared his philosophy of progress in this upheaval. “Someone has said that, in an American sense, a dead town is one in which the streets are not all torn up.” Broderick added this statistic, “It is interesting to know that at the moment there are not less than 15 lineal miles of Seattle streets in various processes of improvement.”
Finally, November 1908 was also a month for spiritual upheaval between two Presbyterian ministers: the Rev. C. H. Killen and the Rev. Mark Matthews. Speaking at Matthew’s invitation before the Ministerial Federation of Seattle, Killen warned his fellow preachers that if they did not institute early Christian practices like “feet washing ceremonies, love feasts and holy kissing bees” that they with their flocks would “tumble head foremost into perdition.”
Embarrassed at having been “buncoed by a religious crank” Matthews soon put it strait on who is really going below. “There is no place where the ruin of young lives can be carried on so easily as in Seattle. The pernicious dance hall, the wine room and the quack doctor are inseparably involved in the steps of progress toward destruction. After that ring down the curtain, for the next act is in hell.”
TERRITORIAL UNIVERSITY from the HORTON HOME
This view of the Territorial University was photographed from the back of the Dexter Horton home at the northeast comer of Third Avenue and Seneca Street. (Horton was the founder of Seattle’s first bank, which was named for him.) The university’s main classical building stood one block east at the northeast comer of Fourth Avenue and Seneca Street. Its south wall, on the right, was about 80 feet north of Seneca.
The campus is about 35 years old here. If the scene was recorded in the fall of 1895 or after, it is no longer the home of the university, which that year moved to its new campus north of Lake Union’s Portage Bay and west of Lake Washington’s Union Bay. (Fittingly, the new campus was called the “Interlaken Campus” by some.) After 1895 the old campus and its main building were used for a variety of meetings and assemblies and for a time served as home of the Seattle Public Library.
This main building measured 50 feet by 80 feet and was constructed in a hurry during the summer of 1861. Clearing of the 10-acre campus from gigantic first-growth forest began on March 1 and the school opened Nov. 4. Only one of its students, Clarence Bagley, was of college age. Rebecca Horton was one of the other 29 scholars, and the young Asa Mercer, taught them all. The 22- year old was faculty, principal and janitor.
The details of the campus’s construction are included in a Dec. 4 report to the Territorial Legislature by Daniel Bagley, Clarence’s father. Yesler’s mill provided the rough lumber, and the finished pieces came from Port Madison or Seabeck on Hood Canal. The stone for the foundations was quarried near Port Orchard and the sand was extracted from a bank nearby the site at Third Avenue and Marion Street. The bricks were hauled in from Whatcom (Bellingham), and all the glass, hardware and other finished items were imported from Victoria. The capitols above the fluted columns were carved by A.P. DeLin, who had learned his woodworking as a craftsman for Chickering Piano Works.
(Above) The Dexter Horton home at the northeast corner of Seneca St. and Third Avenue. (Below) The same intersection and prospect ca. 2000.
SEATTLE Circa 1874 – SEEN FROM The TERRITORIAL UNIVERSITY BUILDING
(First appeared in Pacific, July 2, 1995)
This unique view of Seattle was originally photographed and printed in stereo. The date – possibly 1874 – is cautiously deduced from a caption applied to an accompanying stereo mounted and aged like this, describing a pile driver placing the first piles for the Seattle and Walla Walla Railroad in 1874. Also, in an 1878 panorama photographed from the end of Yesler’s Wharf, these blocks appear considerably more developed.
The photographer’s roost was the territorial university’s campus, either the top-floor of its two-story central building, or perhaps from the bell tower. The avenue in the foreground is Third. The primitively graded street on the right is University.
The scene includes at least four orchards. The largest, far-right, is Arthur & Mary Denny’s half-block-sized orchard between First and Second Avenues and north of University Street. While most of the other features in this scene would change in the following quarter century, Denny would resist the urgings of other capitalists to develop his, or replace his frame home – out of the frame to the right – with a modern business block.
Of the few dwellings that appear in this scene, the most distant may be the home of the insurance agent S.F. Coombs, whose residence is the only listing in the city’s 1876 directory (its first) at the corner of Front (First) and University. Reviewing the city’s construction history, the directory lists 758 structures (barns and sheds included) in Seattle in 1874. As judged from other and later panoramas, the landmark tree beside the home was the tallest deciduous tree in town. By 1882 it had been cut down.
A description of Seattle’s residential areas in 1872 still rings true here: “The main portion of the city occupies a gradually sloping plateau . . . Its location is very picturesque . . . In its quietude it resembles a suburban New England town . . . were it not for the ungraded character of some streets.”
VILLARD’S 1883 WELCOME
This street scene and its lineup of livestock and citizens was photographed on Sept. 14 or 15, 1883. The long afternoon shadow across Third Avenue suggests the former. The sun may have also been shining on the 15th, but Henry Villard and his entourage of distinguished guests arrived in Seattle at about 4 in the afternoon on the 14th and left later than night. These cattle are probably waiting for Villard to enter the University of Washington campus through the ceremonial arch, right of center, erected for the occasion on University Street.
Villard saw many more celebrations between here and Minneapolis after he completed the Northern Pacific Railroad to Puget Sound. Six days earlier and 847 miles away in Montana, Villard drove the golden spike that bound the transcontinental link between New York and Tacoma. Beside him in an entourage of 300 were former President Grant, many senators and the governors of every state along the rail line. Seattle was represented by its mayor, Henry Struve, and its “father,” Arthur Denny.
In this picture we get a sense of what prominence the territorial university held for the community atop Denny Knoll. The University Building is decked with garlands made from fir boughs – like the arch. For this day many of the city’s streets were, to quote
Thomas Prosch’s “Chronological History of Seattle,” “thoroughly cleaned and adorned for miles with evergreen trees, arches, bunting and appropriate emblems and sentiments.”
Villard arrived in Seattle not by train from Tacoma but aboard the vessel Queen of the Pacific. Villard’s promise to bring the Northern Pacific directly to Seattle was not completed until the following year, and by the his railroad was in other hands whose interests in Tacoma economy meant poor and often no rail service to Seattle.
We may have inserted this next story on an earlier week end, but since it requires little effort to include here (again?) we do it, because it is ‘in the neighborhood” and about regrading its streets.
SPRING & 6TH AVE. REGRADE
(First appeared in Pacific on June 18, 2006.)
When its last of several additions was attached along Madison Street in 1901, Providence became the largest hospital in the Pacific Northwest. Mother Joseph,”The Builder,” as she was called – of this and many more structures for the Sisters of Providence – died the following year in Vancouver, Washington, where she first “answered the call” with her Bible in 1856.
This rear view of the hospital looks west across the intersection of Sixth Avenue and Spring Street, most likely in the spring of 1909 when the city was regrading Spring and Seneca streets east of Fourth Avenue. The cut here at Sixth, as revealed to the left of the steam shovel, is at least 20 feet.
Aside from its central tower facing Fifth Avenue, the part of the hospital most evident here is the first wing that was dedicated on Feb. 2, 1883. With architect Donald McKay, Mother Joseph designed a three-story frame hospital with a brick foundation, large basement, open porches and the first elevator in town. Mother Joseph also supervised the construction.
Despite the heavily Protestant town’s general prejudice toward Catholics, the hospital was busy. Epidemics of many sorts and accidents at work were commonplace. A laborer’s commonplace workday of 12 hours did not shrink to 10 until 1886.
In 1911, Providence moved to its new plant at 17th Avenue and East Jefferson Street. Two years later, Seattle’s progressive mayor George Cotterill temporarily converted this old Providence – then vacant – into the Hotel Liberty for homeless and unemployed men. However, as Richard Berner explains in his book, “Seattle 1900-1920: From Boomtown, Urban Turbulence, to Restoration,” there were no sisters of any sort at the hotel. “Women were not allowed . . . and had to shift for themselves.” (Berner’s first volume, if you haven’t noticed, is up and ready to be read on this blog.)
A few weeks more than 95 years separate this “now and then.” Both views look south on 4th Avenue and through its intersection with Spring Street to the Seattle Public Library, left of center. The north façade of the Rainier Club at Marion Street is also evident, right of center, in the historical view.
PREPAREDNESS PARADE – 1916
Considering their still dapper demeanor these members of the National Grocery Company’s marching band appear to have been prepared to march for preparedness. They are nearing the end of perhaps four hours of marching up and down the avenues of the Central Business District on the hot Saturday afternoon of June 10, 1916. The last of two reviewing stands was constructed on the stairway to the Carnegie Library, upper-left, facing Fourth Avenue and the serpentine procession’s estimate 25,000 marchers disbanded just behind the unnamed photographer at Fourth and Seneca.
Judging from the parade schedule this may have been first of the twenty bands that entertained the estimate 200,000 spectators that packed the avenues to watch a parade of flags – mostly. No direct advertising was allowed and the few floats were simple ones like the truck that carried Herbert Munter, his aeroplane and employer Bill Boeing or the stuffed elephant float followed by 500 republicans chanting “Hughes Hughes Hughes.”
Chief Justice Hughes, of course, was their candidate for the upcoming presidential election that Democratic president Woodrow Wilson would still win in part on his reputation as the one who “kept us out of war.” But on this day one must at least seem to be prepared to fight. Still the marching members of the King County Democratic Club carried a banner that read “Down with Jingoism, Imperialism and Militarism. We are celebrating the enactment by congress of Wilson’s preparedness program.”
The “Six-Footers” – about 600 of them – soon followed with a banner reading “We are Long For Preparedness.” And hidden just behind these statuesque patriots came “The Runts” who chanted in a monotone ‘we are not six feet tall; we are not six feet tall.”
The Northwest Business Men’s Preparedness League organized the Preparedness Parade, and labor was not very evident. Rather, the powerful Central Labor Council of Seattle advised its members to stay away from an event it described as designed to “increase hysteria [and] thwart the cool, calm and deliberate judgment, which is so necessary to the proper solution of this great question.” The question was answered the following April 17, when America joined the war.
The historical view of the foundation work beginning on the old Carnegie Library was photographed from within the library block. The contemporary construction scene looks into the library block across Madison Street from 5th Avenue. (Historical scene courtesy Seattle Public Library)
CENTURY of LIBRARIES
The distance between these two construction scenes is about forty yards and a century. Both are of the Seattle Public Library’s central branch at 4th Avenue and Madison Street although with the new library soon to open in 2004 it might as well be described as sited at 5th and spring, for the footprint of Dutch Architect Rem Koolhaas’s imaginative pile covers the entire block with 13 floors of acute angles and soaring masses.
In 1902 the newly constituted Library Board chose the home site of one of the library’s founders, James McNaught. The McNaught’s 1883 mansion was so grand that it was saved with a move directly north across Spring Street. Across 4th Avenue it faced the First Presbyterian Church seen here on the far right.
Library philanthropist Andrew Carnegie paid for the institution’s first permanent home on what was called the “Meacham Block” after the real estate dealer who swung the deal in favor of the established downtown interests. They had successfully convinced the library board not to build the city’s first oversized classical structure “far uptown” at 8th and Union.
“Starting the Basement” is written along the planks near the bottom left corner of the historical scene. If we trust the Webster and Stevens studio’s negative numbers (“1843” is written in the lower left corner) as an indicator for the year (a convenience ordinarily but not always warranted with the Webster and Stevens firm) then this scene was recorded one hundred years ago in 1903.
The grant Carnegie Library opened on Dec. 19, 1906 with its front door facing the Lincoln Hotel, upper left, across Fourth Avenue. It was destroyed in 1957 and replaced in 1960 with the modern International Style library whose own term was a brief forty years. Given its fantastic size, futuristic design, and a functionality that is meant to serve whatever it is that libraries will be doing down the digital years ahead of us the Koolhaas Library would seem to have a good chance of standing longer than its two predecessors.
Above: The make-over of the University of Washington’s old campus in downtown Seattle began with regrading “Denny’s Knoll,” the hill the campus rested on, and digging pits for foundations of the several new buildings built on the lowered campus between 1908 and 1915. (Courtesy Lawton Gowey) Below: The Metropolitan Company’s grandest block, bounded by 4th and 5th Avenues and University and Union Streets, was razed for the 1977 completion of the Rainier Bank Tower and the many low-rise shops that are attached to it.
WHITE BUILDING PIT
The original negative for this construction scene tells us, lower right, that this the “White Building Site” on January 30, 1908. If you were born that Thursday you would now, of course, be a few months older than 100, and so understandably thankful for both your genes and for not having run into something much bigger than yourself. If you are – or rather were – Franklin Delano Roosevelt, you would be celebrating your 26th birthday with Eleanor, who married you three years earlier on the promise, we assume, that you would behave.
If you were the photographer you would be standing near the curb of Fourth Avenue and Union Street, at the northern border of the University’s original campus, and looking southeast into the excavation pit for the White Building. The White was the first of the many substantial constructions put up by the Metropolitan Building Company on acres leased from the UW to build their “city within a city.”
A few men are standing on the new 5th Avenue on the far side of the pit. One-half block east from there, the old 5th was an alley-sized street that marked the eastern border of the campus and is here easily “implied” by the row of rental clapboards that face it. These homes used to look into the loved landscaping of the old campus. In the smaller and shallower pit between the row of homes or rentable flats and the new 5th Avenue sits the Skinner Building since 1927 with its sumptuous 5th Avenue theatre.
The original campus sat on a hillock named Denny Knoll after Arthur Denny who contributed most of the 10 acres to the campus. In 1905, ten years after the campus had moved north to its present “Interlaken” location, the knoll was still a green sward dappled with small pines, larger maples and a few structures including the original territorial university building from 1861. Regrading of the campus began in 1907 and continued at intervals into 1911. At 4th and Seneca the knoll was dropped 22 feet in 1907, while two blocks north — here at 4th and Union — there was no change in elevation.
A Happy Homeopath’s Home
Not at the very top of Lake View Cemetery but near it lie Kitty Sweet Bagley Glenn and her two husbands, the homeopath physician Herman Beardsley Bagley and the Civil War veteran Col. Mitchell Glenn.
Katherine Sweet and Herman Bagley were 19 when they married in Michigan in 1864. In four years Herman had his homeopathic degree and in four years more a surgery professorship at the Michigan Medical College in Lansing. This they gave up for Seattle in 1875.
Here, Herman rapidly became one of the community’s core of brilliant boomers, and in 1879 he was rewarded with a seat on the City Council. Bagley was as prescient in real estate as he was in medicine, and his fortunes grew. Sometime in the 1880s he and Kitty moved into this home at the northeast corner of Spring Street and Fourth Avenue. In the 1890s, they purchased 600 acres bordering the Black River. There, to quote a 1903 biographical sketch, “they lived very happily, surrounded by beautiful scenery and enjoying all the comforts that go to make life worth the living” – until Feb. 8, 1899, when the physician died too suddenly to cure himself. They had no children.
Two years later, the 57-year-old Katherine married the vital 75-year-old colonel. Glenn was a retired manufacturer from Minnesota and a popular Democrat in what was then its Republican metropolis. He came within 137 votes of being elected mayor of Minneapolis. Glen and Katherine lived 22 years looking down on Renton, the Green River Valley and, after 1916, a dry Black River channel. That year, the river was drained when Lake Washington was lowered to complete the Ship Canal. Part of their Renton property was developed into the Earlington Golf Course.
Both views look east on Union Street from 3rd avenue. In the historical scene Union Street has been closed and appointed for the 1902 Elk’s Carnival. Historical view courtesy, Bill Greer
The Fattest Babies
For thirteen days, beginning Monday the 18th of August, 1902, the Elks Lodge managed to fence off a sizeable section of downtown Seattle and produce the city’s first multi-day summer festival, “The Elk’s Carnival.” We may compare this temporary gate to Bumbershoot, which cordons Seattle Center for a long weekend of ticketing and celebrating. And with the One Reel Vaudeville Show as its producer since the early 1980s Seattle’s annual arts festival also behaves in a few of its many corners like a carnival.
The Elks furnished its “center” with booths, circus tents, and rides on the then still open and green acres of the old University campus on Denny’s Knoll. From the northern border of the old campus the closed carnival grounds extended west on Union Street from Fifth Avenue to a grand entrance arch that spanned Union half way between Second and Third Avenue. A shorter arm of this enclosure also ran one block south on Third Avenue to University Street. This section was lined with booths offering, the Seattle Times reported, “the best products of the best city on earth.”
In this scene with his back to Third Avenue the photographer looks east on Union Street to the old Armory, which has been freshly painted “royal purple and purity white” for the carnival. The camera has also captured the rump of “Regina.” The carnival’s “Queen Elephant” is heading in the direction of what a Times reporter described as her own “corner of the campus [where] standing alone in her magnificence” she attracted “an ever increasing crowd of men and boys content . . . to worship humbly at the shrine of one of Africa’s greatest children.”
Meanwhile Seattle’s greatest babies were being judged in a “pretty booth” in the Armory. There were, of course, prizes for the “prettiest girl” and the “handsomest” boy, but there was also an award for the “largest and fattest baby sixteen months old.” A week “over or under sixteen months” was considered “no bar to entry.” After making the awards, the judge, a Dr. Newlands, confided to a reporter, “I have about concluded that it will be wise for me to disappear for a while.”
UNION STREET West from FOURTH AVENUE
Here, it seems to me, is an inviting street scene. The photographer has stepped into Union Street and sighted west across its intersection with Third Ave. On the right is the ornamented terra-cotta façade of the Joseph Vance building, Built by a lumber-baron-turned-developer, Joseph Vance’s namesake office building was completed in 1929, two years after his namesake hotel. Both were designed by one of the busiest of Seattle’s historical architects, Victor Voorhees.
Across Union Street on the left is the heavy pile of the Main Post Office. In the 20-plus years it has been in service – it opened in 1908 – the Chuckanut sandstone has grown a few shades darker. In 1936 the Third Avenue Association wrote a letter to the postmaster general lamenting that the “Seattle Post Office is about the dirtiest and filthiest building on Third Avenue and is very much in need of cleaning.” From this view their complaint is hard to figure. Anyway it did not get cleaned in time for the Shriners’ grand parade later that summer.
Across Third Avenue from the P.O. is another satisfying tile office building with an elegant cornice, the Thirteen Thirty One Third Avenue Building. Completing the circuit of the intersection, the neon sign for G.O. Guy drugs hangs over the sidewalk at the northwest corner of Third and Union. A short way down Union Street from the drugstore are the Embassy Theater and an institution still fondly remembered by many: a Mannings Coffee Shop. The elegant touches of this scene include the light standards beside the Post Office steps and, on the right, the ornate street clock for Bender Bros. Jewelers. There is nothing plastic in this scene – except, perhaps, rayon. Nor, as yet, is there a John O’Brien.
In 1942 -about the time he was first elected to the state Legislature – a man who now has his own namesake building in Olympia, then a C.P.A. and politician, John O’Brien moved into the Joseph Vance Building. When this feature was first published he was still there, near the top floor. However, in the interim, John “Mr. Legislature” O’Brien passed in 2007 at the age of ninety-five.