Seattle Now & Then: The Heroic John McGraw

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: One of Seattle’s early examples of honorific public art, caste in bronze, Gov. John McGraw looks over Times Square. Behind him is the freshly lowered and nearly vacant Denny Regrade. The large and all wood Hotel Rainbow on the left barely survived the regrade. (Courtesy, Lawton Gowey)
NOW: Last week Jean Sherrard looked over the governor in his repeat of a ca. 1926 Independence Day parade on 5th Avenue with his own record of the Lions International parade last month. This time he is still with the Lions, and has shifted a few feet to the right of the historical photographer’s prospect in order to remove a light standard that would have otherwise seemed attached as a crown to McGraw’s bronze head.

Here facing southeast from his own little park stands this state’s second governor, John Harte McGraw — born in 1850, dead by typhoid in 1910, honored by public subscription with New York sculptor Richard Brooks’ heroic monument.

McGraw was elected governor in 1892, just in time to face the depression that followed the bank panic of 1893. Because of the weak economy he was not re-elected in 1897, the first year of the Alaska-Yukon gold rush. Instead, the former governor packed a miner’s outfit and boarded the S.S. Portland, whose arrival in Seattle days earlier had started the rush.

Although traveling first class, McGraw was peculiarly broke. It was judged that he owed the state $10,000 from some unwarranted expenses during his term. His hopes to find it in Yukon dirt did not pan out, but when he returned to Seattle, his deep connections and investments did. He wound up president of both the chamber of commerce and Seattle First National Bank.

Before his time in Olympia, McGraw had three terms as the sheriff of King County. Earlier this year, at the dedication of the McGraw Square Plaza, the governor’s great-great grandson, Scott Pattison, noted that McGraw considered his “proudest moment” his standoff as sheriff with the anti-Chinese mobs of 1886. It was also his luckiest. After the sheriff took three bullets — one through his hat, two through his coat — the vigilantes scattered.

Seward's statue in Volunteer Park (known then as City Park) with the Conservatory behind it.

In 1909 during ceremonies for the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific exposition, McGraw was squeezed beside the rotund President W.H. Taft in a parading motorcar. McGraw also attended the expo’s unveiling of a statue honoring William Seward. Of course, he could not have known that the same sculptor (Brooks) would soon be casting his likeness in Paris for an unveiling on July 22, 1913.


Anything to add, Paul?  Not so much this morning, Jean.   A few asides on McGraw and a few other examples of public art – that’s all.  This brings to mind a feature printed here earlier that includes a dozen or more Seattle examples of public sculpture.  It is named for the piece that was showcased at the top, The Naramore Fountain.   Now forward to McGraw and more – a little more.

While alive the former governor was, no doubt, also known for the grand sweeping bush hiding his upper lip,
The McGraw portrait chosen for the cover of this memorial chapbook shows an older ex-governor with a restrained moustache. (Courtesy, Ron Edge)

Aside from his imposing statue in Times Square, McGraw is most often recalled – or rather, named –  when one uses or looks for McGraw Street.  Below is a clip copied from a Seattle Times Pacific Mag feature that shows the McGraw Street bridge on Queen Anne Hill when it was still a timber trestle.  (Click to Enlarge)


In August 1902 this classical arch welcomed both locals and visitors to the two weeks running of the Elks Carnival. It was temporarily mounted at the intersection of Second and James.


Street arches – often spectacular and always temporary  – were once almost expected of Seattle’s big events.  For its 1902 Seattle Carnival the Elks (the fraternity that started after the Civil War as a club for thespians called the Jolly Corks) raised three unique arches, all gleaming white by day and electrified at night.  The above welcome arch at Second and James was similar in size to the arch at First and Columbia, the address also for the Elk’s Seattle headquarters.

The Elks Arch at First and Columbia.

The Elk’s third arch spanned Union Street between 3rd and 4th Avenue.  It served as gateway to the old University of Washington Campus that was walled off for the event  — like Seattle Center for Bumbershoot.  Although then already seven years abandoned by the school for its “Interlaken Campus” the old campus on Denny’s green knoll (not to be confused with Denny Hill) was not yet developed and so offered a wonderful lawn on which to set up the fair that ran through the second half of August.

The Elk's third arch: Union Street and Third Avenue. The view looks east on Union.

The Elks Carnival was really Seattle’s first experiment with an extended summer festival and so an early rehearsal for the Potlatch Days of 1911-1913 and later Seafair.  However, as far as I know neither the Potlatch nor Seafair mounted arches.

It was probably the Knight Templar who mounted the last monumental street arch hereabouts for their 1925 Seattle convocation.  Spanning Second Avenue at Marion, with its cross on top the Knight’s arch reached six stories. The first welcome arch for which there is photographic evidence was artfully constructed mostly with fir trees and mounted in Pioneer Square for the Independence Day celebrations of 1868.

Framed here on the left by Henry and Sara Yesler's home at the northeast corner of Front (First) and James, and the Occidental Hotel on the right (now the site of the Sinking Ship Garage in the pie-shaped block bordered by Yesler, James and Second Avenue.) This may be the first arch constructed by locals. They did it for the Fourth, and for the visitors from both Whatcom (Bellingham) and Olympia. Both came by way of "Mosquito Fleet" steamers.

Except for Sunday every day during the 13 day Elks Carnival featured a parade and, of course, the parade route was drawn to pass through the arches.  Even without parades and arches street life in 1902 was considerably different than it is now.  The automobile was then still an extreme novelty and mobility generally meant walking or for distant destinations taking a trolley.  Consequently the city streets of 1902 were stages for a cosmopolitan culture that was generally gregarious and even intimate.  And sometimes — as with the arches — it was also playfully grand.



Of the temporary and monuments scattered about the University of Washington campus for its 1909 makeover into the Alaska Yukon and Pacific Exposition, the Alaska monument was the most pretentious. Three draped figures symbolizing mining, hunting and fishing were set about the base of an 85-foot-high fluted classic column.

Visiting the sculptor’s studio when sculptor Finn H. Frolich’s three “perfect Valkyrian” women were still being shaped from clay, a Seattle Times reporter described the “sublime figures” as revealing the “message and underlying principle of Seattle’s big Exposition  – opportunity, glorious, almost infinite – a free offering to a world that now knows it not.”

Frolich was an old master in creating these “magnificent female figures with every line beautiful, every proportion splendid,” to continue the newspaper’s rhapsodic preview. A New Yorker trained in Paris, Frolich returned to the United States to break in big at Chicago’s 1893 Columbian Exposition, for which he created his first set of monumental figures.

Thereafter Frolich was in demand at the string of expositions that followed and largely copied the classical Beaux Arts style of the Chicago fair. In Seattle he set up his studio in the old Territorial University building in downtown Seattle, where he taught classes for the local Beaux Arts academy.

Of Frolich’s three seated female figures, this one, obviously, represents fishing. With her muscular left hand, the figure holds a salmon against her knee. But hanging higher from her right hand is another of the AYP’s preoccupations: electricity. At night the fair was illuminated with 250,000 lamps to emphasize the classical lines especially of the exposition’s Arctic Circle, the “white city” for which the Alaska Monument was its symbolic centerpiece.


A nearly new Plymouth Congregational sanctuary, facing Sixth Ave.
Plymouth Congregational Church, Aug. 5, 1964. Photo by Robert Bradley


One of our more curious local landmarks is the arrange•ment of four fluted columns and their surrounding screen of trees that look over Interstate 5 from a triangular patch of park at the northwest comer· of Boren Avenue and Pike Street. This week’s “repeat” has followed these now-headless shafts from their original location near the northwest corner of Sixth Avenue and Seneca Street, where they were formerly united for 44 years with their classical capitals above the grand front door to Plymouth Congregational Church.

The mother church of local Congregationalists had its cornerstone laid at this location in July 1911, and ten months later opened all 136 doors of its new sanctuary to the admiring community. The architecture was sober and demure and, except for the classical portico and belfry, showed little ornament. As explained in “The Congregational Washington,” it was a “plain, chaste example of classic architecture . . . peculiarly characteristic of New England.” In “Seeking To Serve,” her history of Plymouth,  Mildred Tanner Andrews notes that plans for this church were influenced by the “practical reformist and democratic positions of many of its members.”

Plymouth, March, 21, 1966 - Photo by Frank Shaw

Demolition began the first week of March 1966. By the 20th, all that remained were the columns, and on the 29th, these were pushed and pulled down by a tractor and crane. Meanwhile, the congregation worshiped nearby at the 5th Avenue Theatre.

The four stone columns were reconstituted largely by local builder and art collector John Hauberg, influenced, perhaps, by the example of his wife, art activist Anne Gould Hauberg, and the then relatively new enthusiasm for preservation.

Plymouth’s pillars – each of their seven four-ton segments in place – were dedicated at their new location on Oct. 24, 1967. Thirty years later, the park’s trees have considerably softened the standing stone’s austere formation.  (It is an often put – mistakenly – that these columns were saved from the ruins of the Territorial University.  Those wooden columns were salvaged, but not here.  They have their own “Sylvan Theatre” on the University of Washington campus.)


Pulled from an early 20th Century U.W. yearbook.


Above:  Neighbors pose on the front steps of photographer Lawrence Lindsley’s Wallingford home sometime in October 1918 when the city was “dark” and closed-down during the Spanish Flu’s Seattle visit.  The masks were required although the law was rarely enforced.  (Picture courtesy of Dan Eskenazi) Below: Wallingford neighbor’s repeat the 1918 flu shot behind masks pulled from one of the group’s mask collection.   Only one among the seven is neither hidden nor unnamed: the Chihuahua Sparky.   (now photo by Jean Sherrard)


Dan Eskenazi, Seattle photo collector and old friend of mine, first shared with me these masked ladies posing with masked cats on the unlikely chance that I might know the porch.  Had the snapshot revealed a street number the choices would have been narrowed city-wide to a few hundred front steps.  But Dan’s little 3×4 inch print does better.  The names of the women are penciled on the back.  The flipside caption reads,  “Top row, Anna Kilgore, E. K. Barr, Ms Anna S. Shaw.  Lower row, Penelope and Tommy, Mrs. Shaw and Golly.”

So seven creatures including the cats Tommy and Golly and all of them wearing masks by order of the mayor.  By the time the 1918 flu epidemic reached Seattle at the end of September la Grippe had caused more deaths world-wide than the First World War. When the rule about masks was lifted for good on Armistice Day, Nov. 11 the streets were quickly filled with bare-faced revelers.  Still Dr. T. D. Tuttle, the state’s commissioner of health, warned that “people who have influenza are in the crowds that are celebrating victory.  They will be in the street cars, in the theaters, in the stores.” Tuttle also confessed, “the order had been more or less a farce as far as the masks are concerned.”  (This explains, perhaps, why there are so few mask photos extant.)

Returning to the snapshot’s penciled caption, four of the five women are listed in the 1918 city directory living at 108 E. 43rd Street, in Wallingford.  Since that address is about 100 steps from my own I was soon face to face with Dan’s unidentified porch, except that it was one house west of 108.  But this slight move presented an opportunity.  It hints, at least, of the photographer.

104 E. 43rd Street was built in 1918, the year that the photographer Lawrence Denny Lindsley, the grandson of city founders David and Louisa Denny, moved in.  Perhaps Lindsley took the snapshot of his neighbors sitting on his new front steps soon after he took possession with his bride Pearl.  Married on September 20, 1918, tragedy soon followed.  Both Pearl and their only child Abbie died in 1920.  Lindsley married again in 1944 and continue to live at 104 into the 1970s.   When he died in 1974, this son of the pioneers was in his 90s and still taking photographs.



The Indians of the West were shot twice: fIrst by the cavalry and then by touring photographers. In 1889 the Northern PacifIc Railroad capitulated in its hostility towards Seattle and began giving the city regular service at rates comparable to Tacoma’s. A year later the railroad sent out its offIcial photographer, F. Jay Haynes, in his own plush car to record Seattle’s progress. His subjects included the city’s harbor, its mansions, churches, parks, and one shack.

While she was yet alive and cameras began to proliferated, Princess Angeline, Chief Seattle’s eldest daughter, was the most photographed subject in Seattle.  In his search for the photogenic city, Haynes found her resting beside her shack in the neighborhood of what is now the Elliott Bay side of the Pike Place Market.

One year later a Post-Intelligencer reporter accompanied by a pioneer who helped him translate Angeline’s Chinook jargon into his own English journalese, visited the “humble palace of this wizened aboriginal princess.” This time Angeline was inside sleeping. While his guide stirred her, the reporter paused outside to begin his report. His paragraph and Haynes’ photograph “read” somewhat alike.

“Her cabin or shack is about 8 x 10 feet in size, with a roof of split cedar shakes. Half of one of the gable ends has the clapboards put on diagonally . . . At one comer of the house is a huge pile of driftwood, gathered from the ruins of fallen cabins in the neighborhood or picked up from the Bay near by. In the front yard are half a dozen tin and wooden buckets rusty and dirty . . . A narrow, dwarfed door, and a little dirty pane of glass constitute the means of getting into the palace. A horseshoe and mule’s shoe are nailed immediately above the entrance. The door stands open all the time.”

Apparently, the window and shoes had been added to the door since Haynes’ visit, but it was still open, and the reporter followed his guide inside, where “the only space in which the floor was visible was about three feet square. Two low bunks and a shorter one, covered with remnants of dirty blankets, a rickety little cook stove and a few rude cooking utensils and a wagon load of rags, old shoes, pans, boxes etc. were stacked upon the beds, under the beds and on the floor.  When Mr. Crawford (the guide) asked Angeline how long she had lived in her present house, she held up her two hands, spreading out her fingers to indicate ten years.”

Despite the reported attempts of “various benevolent ladies to move her to more comfortable quarters,” here Princess Angeline stayed until her death at 86 in the spring of 1896.  The door to her shack was then closed and draped in black crepe. She was moved to Lakeview Cemetery and buried in a canoe-shaped casket with a paddle resting on the stern. Princess Angeline was carried there in a black hearse drawn by a span of black horses and followed by the funereal company of what was then left of Seattle’s pioneers.


Angeline's last home was built by lumberman Amos Brown who befriended her. It sat nearby the old footprint at the foot of Pike Street. This photo by Ye Olde Curiosity Shop was produce - it says - in 1910, or fourteen years after Angeline's death.



There are probably dozens of photographs of Chief Seattle’s daughter, but very few so candid as this one. And yet Princess Angeline probably agreed in an instant to sit for this portrait on the board•walk beside Pike Street and a half block west of Front Street (First Avenue). She was, by all descriptions, not shy. Most likely she also expected to be paid something for her modeling.  A quarter was considered equitable.

At the time Angeline was interrupted by the unnamed photographer, she may have been moving between her home near the waterfront foot of Pike Street and Charles Louch’s grocery nearby at First and Union. In the early 1890s the Board of King County Commissioners instructed the prosperous English grocer to give Angeline whatever she needed and to pass the bills on to the county. The meager $1.25 bill for November 1891 included a pack of cigarettes, probably for her grandson, Joe Foster, who then lived with her.

Angeline also moved into a new cabin in 1891 built for her by another pioneer neighbor, the lumberman Amos Brown. Two years earlier, she received her greatest celebrity with a drawing and description in the popular national magazine Harper’s Weekly. The Harper’s correspondent, Hezekiah Butterworth, seems to be imagining a caption for this photograph when he writes, “Her flat, tan-colored face, fiery black eyes and black hair are a familiar picture in the streets of the new city, where she sits down daily on some log or shoe box to marvel at all that is going on.”

Larry Hoffman, my friend and oft-times instructor, introduced me to this portrait at a gathering for his 98th birthday at Hamilton House, the senior center in the University District. Thanks, Larry.  (Larry has since passed away.)

For the “now” to Angeline’s posing on Pike you can choose from two – both taken by Jean.  The one looks into the subject from Pike Street a few feet west of First Ave.  The other looks up from the first arm of the Post Alley as it makes its descent to the waterfront.



KICK-I-SOM-LO, the name of Chief Seattle’s daughter before her pioneer friend Catherine Maynard renamed her, received a lot of whimsical attention from local newspapers in her last years. With layered clothing, unmatched shoes, “skin like the bark of a tree” and bent form, she was at once picturesque and grotesque, a figure for parody.         On March 31, 1892, the Seattle Press Times reported under the headline “A Princess Prophecies” that Angeline had visited the local police headquarters and announced that the world would end the following June. Her informant, she explained, was the spirit of Wah-Kee-Wee-Kum, legendary medicine man of her tribe. June came and went, however.

Angeline died four years later on May 31, 1896. For her June 6 requiem Mass, Our Lady of Good Help parish was packed with pioneers and draped with black crepe. The procession to Lake View Cemetery was a stately parade behind black horses and hearse. Everything was donated, including a headstone paid for with ‘pennies and nickels by the schoolchildren of Seattle (partial atonement, it was noted, for years of taunting her), a canoe-shaped casket and the little triangular part of the Henry Yesler lot, No. 111. It was Angeline’s request to be laid next to her friend Yesler, who had died in 1892.

Angeline had also requested of Catherine Maynard that a tree be planted beside her grave. The windblown young maple behind her headstone may well be it.  The photograph was recorded mostly likely in 1909. On the left is a portion of the granite curbing for the Yesler gravesite and a slice of the Carrara obelisk topping the plot of real-estate agent Phillip H. Lewis, who died in 1893.

While the dead have slept, much else has changed at Lake View. Dirt paths have been covered with grass, as have many of the old granite curbstones. With the cemetery’s great sweeping lawns, the effect is now more like a park than a pack of plots.

This slide is dated 1997.

In 1958, the Seattle Historical Society attached a commemorative bronze plaque over the original chiseled but worn inscription on Princess Angeline’s headstone.

Chief Seattle in Pioneer Square with Underground Tour guide Celeste Franklin (aka Estelle), ca. 1997.









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